Hallmarks of a High Performing Team.

Neil Cooper
Super Teams
Published in
3 min readAug 11, 2020

Mind the energy. Engage. Explore.

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

How might leaders help their teams adopt high performing behaviours?

It will not be surprising to learn that a shared purpose, good energy levels and creativity are characteristics of a high performing team. Nor will it be a leap of faith to know that great communication is the glue that binds members in such teams.

But what does effective communication look like and how might we foster it in our teams?

The Three Es of Great Communication.


It’s important to bring the energy at the right time. This might be when new ideas are shared or acknowledging when significant contributions are made. But energy is a finite resource. Not all communication exchanges have to be high energy, it’s about having a balance of energy between Engagement and Exploration …


Every time we communicate with another team member we are engaging with them. Exchanges are best when they are frequent and short. In the highest performing teams, engagement is spread evenly among members so everyone feels they have a similar opportunity to contribute.


Explore by looking outside the bubble of your team. Have conversations with other people in your organisation or beyond. These outside connections are an opportunity to gather fresh perspectives and add to the creative thinking of the core team.

How Great Communication Can Thrive in Your Team.

Encourage team members to talk and listen in equal measure. Keep it short and sweet.

Prioritise face to face conversations where possible. Inject energy through your tone of voice and hand gestures.

It’s OK to communicate using phone and videoconference are OK (although, the fewer participants the better). Email and DM should be used sparingly.

Encourage all team members to connect with each other. Communication shouldn’t just be via the team leader.

Encourage side conversations among team members. It doesn’t have to all be shared a group setting. Problems can be solved without distraction and fresh thinking can be shared back at the right time.

Encourage members to explore outside of the core team. Have conversations with a diverse group of people. Bring those fresh perspectives back in to spark new ideas.

Find your charismatic connectors. They have short, high energy conversations; equal parts listening and talking. They make everyone feel heard and spread ideas among the team.

Data to Back This Up.

Look outside the meetings. The level of Energy and Engagement outside of formal meetings accounts for ⅓ of the variation in team productivity.

Face to face rules. 35% of team performance variation can be explained by the number of face to face exchanges team members have.

Talk outside the group. Find balance in the situations where team members communicate — 50% group discussion, 50% 1 on 1.

Get social. Social time accounts for more than 50% of positive changes in communication patterns.

For a deeper dive on the data points above and the wider points raised, check out this HBR article.

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Neil Cooper
Super Teams

Innovator and Strategist @Sense_Worldwide | I write about the mindsets, tools and techniques to design better products, services and experiences.