Skip to content

Generate more high-performing teams

Four questions every team leader should be asking right now

We’ve been building and coaching working teams for over a decade. In our experience, this particular moment is proving to be one of the most challenging times to lead teams. Many are either experiencing or fearful of looming layoffs, trying to figure out how to make hybrid work workable, all while setting the bar for performance higher at a time of what feels like permanent uncertainty.

To drive passion and high performance in your team while leading them through challenging circumstances, ask these four questions:

01. Does our team have a purpose that we all actually believe in?

For teams to make it through tough times, they have to have a galvanizing shared vision everyone is pulling for. If you can’t say what that purpose is in a sentence, your team members probably don’t know what it is either.

02. Are we clear and aligned on what we each “give” and “get” to help each other be successful?

Underperforming teams usually have misalignments on what each person is supposed to be contributing to the others to support their shared success. Ask your team members to lay out what information, expertise and resources they need from each other to fulfill their roles. Identify and troubleshoot pain points in the give-get relationships that your team depends on.

03. How do we handle conflict and disagreement?

The best teams aren’t always “nice.” They’re able to push each other when it matters BECAUSE they care about their shared success. Consider the typical flashpoints that come up when you have to make decisions and give feedback. Lead a team conversation on how each person approaches these tough conversations and talk about how you want to handle them before they arise.

04. Do we have a few key rules of the road that every single team member follows?

High performing teams have 3-5 key norms, we call them operating principles, that guide each person on how to collaborate effectively. Think of these as team values articulated as behaviors so that they are practical and actionable.

We help leaders answer each of these questions for their own teams, through everything from facilitating engaging, high-impact retreats to regular team coaching sessions. Reach out to learn more about how we can help your team reach peak performance, even (or especially) in times like these.


→ Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance – Co-authored by Derek Newberry

→ Making Dumb Groups Smarter – HBR

→ How to Turn a Group of Strangers Into a Team – Amy Edmondson, TED

By Derek Newberry

Senior Strategy Director, Organization & Culture Design

Derek Newberry is an organizational development consultant who specializes in helping leaders build great cultures and drive transformational change. He is co-author of The Culture Puzzle: Harnessing the Forces that Drive Your Organization’s Success, and Committed Teams: Three Steps to Inspiring Passion and Performance.