Being a “high performer” typically leads to valuable rewards, both tangible and other — higher compensation, bonuses, recognition and prestige. If you aspire to live a high-performance life, it’s important to recognize that your efforts have to extend beyond you. It’s about the people that you surround yourself with — including your team.
“Teamwork Makes The Dream Work”
Your team is the most important factor to living a more successful and high-performance life. This is why it is critical that you build your team strategically and thoughtfully. If you build your team the right way, placing the right people in the right positions, they can amplify your success to a level you’ve never experienced before. In my experiences of mentoring high performers, people make their biggest mistakes when they get lost in themselves. As pastor, speaker and New York Times best-selling author John Maxwell says, “Teamwork is what makes the dream work.”
Five Critical Elements of Teamwork
Let’s look at five critical factors that are extremely important in working with your team. Focusing on these elements of high performance can lead you to reach new levels of success.
1. Your role
The first critical factor to focus on is your role on your team and within your organization. What are you great at, and where do your strengths lie? So many times, high performers try to do it all. They feel like they are the best at everything. Maybe they can do a little bit of everything, but no one excels at everything. Once you recognize what you do best, you can surround yourself with team members who excel in the areas that are not your strong suit.
• Build your team thoughtfully. Be strategic about the people you surround yourself with. As leaders, we are only half as good as we can be if we haven’t put the right people in place to bring our ideas to life.
Multiple times in my career, I’ve had to stop, take a step back and acknowledge that I am a visionary. I’m the type of person who loves to lay out the plan, chart the course and break the idea down in a multitude of ways. I excel in this area, which means I must surround myself with people who are skilled at executing those plans and ideas. When I do that, I’m free! I’m free to envision, plan and map out exactly where we need to go so we can all be successful.
• Know your role and your strengths! What skills, talents and knowledge do you contribute that no one else can? It is crucial to establishing the right team and building a high-performance life.
2. The common goal
The second critical element of building an effective team is the common goal. Everybody needs to be marching to the same spot.
Where are you going? Why are you going there? What is the purpose behind that destination? Does everybody know where you’re going and why? Can everybody say it? Do you have a mutual mission or goal as a team?
• Make sure your team is moving in unison. If I know I’m going somewhere and I need everybody else to help me get there, I’ve got to make sure we all know the what, the why and the how so we’re moving together. Everyone on your team needs to understand that common goal and support it. If they don’t support it, find out why. Open, honest communication is paramount. Then, when you step forward, everybody steps forward. When the team members step back, you step back. The entire team moves in unison.
• Set meaningful goals. For both individuals and teams, goals are key to achieving anything you want. Yet they have to be attainable. You don’t want to set goals so ambitious that no one can achieve them. I’ve seen many high performers set goals that are so far-reaching that people on the team can feel like they’re never winning. Having your team members feel defeated all the time won’t move you toward success.
• Make sure you celebrate even the small wins along the way! Big wins are the ones that will really move the needle forward, but the small wins will keep your team feeling inspired about moving toward the goal.
Most high performers understand the importance of those first two elements of teamwork — their role and their goal. The third factor, however, is one that many high performers take for granted: positivity.
• Recognize that positivity is a crucial ingredient to success and life. If you are not generally positive in your outlook — if you do not find the positivity in even apparently disappointing situations — you will fail, and you will fail quickly. Now, this doesn’t mean you are always wearing rose-colored glasses and looking at the positive aspect of every bad situation to the point where you miss the lessons you could learn from that situation. Instead, positivity means doing what you do with a smile on your face, accepting things the way they are and moving on from there. That is a real talent.
• Your mindset is half the battle! The high-performance life is all about building something around a positive mindset. If you can get positivity to be the first thing you think of instead of focusing on everything that’s wrong, everything that’s broken, and everything that’s going in the wrong direction, that is a key hallmark of high performers and successful entrepreneurs.
• See all the good and all the bad, but don’t focus on the bad. They examine each situation to figure out what’s working, why it is working, who is working best and what can be done to improve the outlook. They examine strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to optimize their success.
4. A growth mindset
“If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” That famous quote has been attributed to William S. Burrough, Tony Robbins, Lou Holtz and others. I’ve lived by this quote my entire life.
• Are you growing, or are you dying? Like positivity, a growth mindset is an underrated yet critical aspect of high performance. Because, if you excel at what you do but are unwilling to learn new things from the talented people around you, it’s difficult to grow.
• Choose an abundance mentality vs. a scarcity mentality. If you have an abundance mentality, you will freely share your knowledge and wisdom with your team members to make them stronger as well. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey compares an abundance mindset with a scarcity mindset. The two are direct opposites. Believing there’s enough success for everyone is a hallmark of an abundance mentality, and it leads to greater success. As a result, everyone will thrive more than if you kept your wisdom to yourself. If you maintain a scarcity mindset, you are much less likely to achieve success.
• Be curious. One way I maintain a growth mindset is by reaching out to people I admire who are experts in areas I don’t know much about. I want to learn more about their areas of expertise. If I don’t understand their approach, I often say, “Help me understand the ‘why’ behind this because I want to know more. I want to understand this from the ground up.”
• Take the time to “fail forward.” When we are open to learning from others, we can benefit both from their knowledge and from any mistakes they’ve made so we can avoid making similar mistakes. Make it a point to learn from other people why something isn’t working or moving in the right direction. Learn a little bit every day. Take the time to read, to grow, and to learn from others.
5. Leadership development
Leadership is very important to becoming a high performer, but we need to take that one step further and foster leadership development. I opened this blog post by saying becoming a high performer needs to go beyond yourself. Leadership development, the fifth critical factor in team building, is a perfect example.
• Embrace your role as the coach. Yes, you want to develop your own leadership skills, but that’s just the beginning. To ensure that everyone on your team is performing optimally, you must develop their leadership skills as well. As the leader of your team, you are the coach. You are the person who can help your team grow with every single interaction you have with them. This means listening carefully, both to what your team members are saying and what they’re not saying.
How you deliver a message is often just as important as the message itself. Take a deep dive into every conversation so you can get to the heart of their concerns. Encourage them to share what’s going well for them and what isn’t. Also, interact with each team member in the way they respond to best.
• Notice opportunities, and point them out to your team. How can you develop your team to be stronger every single day? This is one responsibility you have as a leader. A stronger team grows together best when they have a strong leader who is willing to point out opportunities, who’s willing to make sure they know when they’ve done something really, really great. Your team looks to you to know when and how something needs to be tweaked just a little bit so they can pivot. One small tweak can make a major difference; take the time to recognize these opportunities and to teach your team how to take advantage of them.
• Make sure you are focusing on your team’s development, not just your own. Too many times, high performers think, “I could do this much faster if I just do it myself and not get anyone else involved.” That is not leadership development. Share your approach, your wisdom, with your team members to help them recognize when tweaks need to be made. Yes, it might take a little bit more time if you get them involved, but once they do something new a couple of times, they could potentially get even better than you’ve ever been at that task.
Leadership development is a crucial part of a team mentality. Strive to develop your team not just so they can excel today, but also so they can grow and become high performers themselves. This is a valuable mindset for high performers.
As a high performer, you likely understand your own space very well — what’s important to you, what makes you click and how you can be successful. Yet a true leader is one who can do the same for everyone on the team as well. The stronger your team members are, the more they can contribute to that common goal. That will free up your time and focus to do what you do best.
Teamwork is so valuable to our company’s success that over the years, I’ve always spent a little more on people and human capital than on branding and marketing. Why? Because I have found that having a larger, stronger and more successful team leads to high performance in all areas of the company. In my space, I know what I need to be most successful. I am careful to recognize areas that I should ask someone else to handle so I can optimize my productivity doing what I do best.
What are you doing right now that isn’t the best use of your time? What could you accomplish if you delegated those tasks to someone else on your team? Don’t get bogged down in details that someone else could handle better.
What does a high-performance life really mean to you? Figure that out, and then focus on building your best possible team. Teamwork can’t make the dream work if you don’t know what your goal in life really is.
Every leader, team and organization is different. Take some time to identify the unique elements that enhance your success. What makes you click? What makes you successful? And to what extent do you define your success based on the team behind you, rather than yourself?
Even if you don’t run a company, you still have a team. Your team can be your family, your best friends or the people in your network. So once you recognize that your team is more powerful than its individual members, you can accelerate your achievement of the high-performance life at a whole new level. Your quality of life will shoot higher every single day. You will be achieving life optimization, which translates to freedom!