Organisations face continual and relentless change in today’s technologically-driven marketplace. Market disruption and shifting social contexts call for new and creative ways of working in organisations. That the global workforce is intergenerational, increasingly connected across borders physically and virtually and are more diverse in every way means that organisations need to focus on nurturing cultures that enable their employees to meaningfully connect, engage and leverage on this diversity to flourish.

Leaders in organisations that embrace and understand the role of leadership at every level in this new landscape will seek to develop High-Performing Teams which take responsibility to create and maintain their most productive work environment.

In every High-Performing Team, no matter the talents and performance of individual team members, areas that leaders must focus on to empower effective collaboration in today’s agile market need to include three pillars or essentials of High-Performing Teams: Purpose, Clarity, and Psychological Safety.


Because teams are diverse, what motivates employees is different for each individual, leaders need to engage their employees to develop a clear vision that empowers the Purpose for the organisation. This Purpose needs to be owned by every unit or team and every individual in the organisation must know how their team’s work ties back to their organisation’s priorities. What are the organisation’s goals and what do these goals serve the community? Who are their customers? How will the team’s work benefit the customer? What role does the team play to help the organisation succeed?

With a clear understanding of Purpose, leaders can facilitate the understanding of individual roles, projects, and plans in relation to the Purpose of the organisation as a whole. Leaders can facilitate Clarity between individuals in teams and across teams and align priorities around the different functions such as business development, market analysis, stakeholder engagement, ideation, product development and implementation, outreach and marketing. This will enable innovative and productive teams to flourish and avoid misunderstandings and conflict.


This Clarity in purpose, roles and responsibilities will enable clarity of accountability and incentives for individuals and teams and engage every team and their members to commit to work together towards the organisation’s goals to help the organisation succeed.

Diversity of talent also means that each individual bring different strengths, interests, needs, work style preferences. Beyond a clear understanding of Purpose, shared values and ways of working within the group are essential aspects to consider. While team leaders may need to have strong functional skills and proven abilities, their role requires them to empower the success of the whole team. That means leaders must prioritise and nurture what builds and supports a collaborative culture for high-performance teams.

Psychological Safety

A key aspect that leaders seeking to nurture High-Performance Teams need to focus on is how they behave and communicate and how different members behave and communicate with each other. Leaders set the tone for this in their teams. Research by Harvard Professor Amy Edmondson has identified Psychological Safety as being critical in developing openness and trust to nurture High-Performance Teams. To give an example, if a leader’s usual style is to show up as highly knowledgeable, independent, and decisive, this may inadvertently “discourage” crucial feedback from members of their team especially those who may be more compliant in their orientation.

Another example of how a leader can help develop openness and build trust necessary for Psychological Safety is when he or she is willing to admit mistakes and take measures to continually learn and improve. As Trust starts with the actions of the team leader, his or her willingness to be transparent and vulnerable with his or her team in the interests of being accountable to continually improve, innovate and seek excellence in what they do, will go a long way to encourage others to do the same.

Leaders who take into consideration what helps each individual to be their best self at work will take time to build understanding within their teams of the interests, needs, work style preferences of each individual on their team. When each member of the team can be transparent with each other without judgement, it will enable the team to work more effectively and collaboratively as a team whilst minimising unproductive misunderstanding and conflicts in the team.

Birkman data and insights can help leaders to nurture High-Performing Teams

As High-Performing Teams are collaborative and often cross-functional, leaders who understand themselves and members in the teams they lead can also facilitate this understanding of how different individuals are different in their strengths, interests, needs and work style preferences for their teams. This understanding can make all the difference to empower individual team members to relate to and work with each other in more productive and effective ways to enhance collaboration in their teams.

Birkman data and insights can help with this understanding and help leaders work together with their teams to develop the three important foundations of Purpose, Clarity, and Psychological Safety to empower High-Performing Teams within your organisation.

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