Five Reasons Why High Performance Teams Are So Rare

One of many reasons it is difficult to judge the performance of a team is that most fail to define what “High Performance” means. How can you measure something you haven’t defined?

To solve that problem, I’ve created a framework called Team Quotient, based on 15 years of studying leadership teams. It defines High Performance Teams as those that have an abundance of eight specific elements, summarized in the framework below. The bars are for representative purposes; they show how a team might stack up.

Viewed in this manner, High Performance shifts from a generalized concept to something specific that you can measure. Now that we can measure it, I can tell you just how rare High Performance Teams are.

Why is that? I see five fundamental reasons:

1. High Performance is unnatural: You just don’t gather a group of people together and they instantly perform that way. It contradicts our human nature. We come into this world as a baby, all about our own needs. In adolescence, we search for our own identity and typically seek to establish our own independence. Most of us begin our careers with a sense of personal ambition. We are focused on our own self-preservation and enrichment. It is not natural to say this team is more important than my own welfare. It takes a real leap and conscious effort to be able to do that.

2. High Performance requires a ton of hard work: First, you need an intention and alignment around the goal of becoming such a team. You have to know where you are at present, and measure it (that’s the purpose of Team Quotient). Getting there is a multiple year journey; you don’t just have an offsite and... there you are. It takes a minimum of one year to get there, and more often two or even three years. You are creating a new team culture and even developing a new language for communicating with each other.

3. High Performance takes time: As the “VIVRE FAT” framework shows, you will be working on eight different elements, from developing your vision all the way to developing a sense of fun, camaraderie, and spirit. Out of all of the eight elements, trust is the hardest to develop and protect.

4. Leaders don’t know how: It’s a daunting task to build a High Performance Team. Leaders and companies spend so much money on executive education, coaching, and developing the best leadership skills. They get good at vision, coaching, and formulating strategies… but they seldom learn how to build such a team. As a result, they feel quite insecure about it.

5. Lack of understanding: By and large, most leaders don’t understand the true potential of a High Performance Team. Most teams come together as siloed members. They compete a little, don’t share that much, and create little synergy.

The way around these five stumbling blocks is to use a tool like Team Quotient to define current and future states in the context of your team. By understanding the eight elements, you create a path to where you want to go and a way to measure your progress.

Douglas Gerber is Founder and CEO of Focus One, a consulting firm that helps leaders create High Performance Teams. After 23 years as a corporate executive, he developed a reputation for building successful teams. Later, as a consultant, he has personally worked with leaders from over 70 companies to develop their own winning Teams. Drawing from his own extensive background and 10 years of research, Douglas innovated the concept of “Team Quotient” (TQ). He is a thought leader in the area of team transformation. Learn more about Douglas and his upcoming book Team Quotient: How to Build High Performance Leadership Teams that Win Every Time on

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