Why L&D is the Key to Unlock the Potential of High-performing Teams

19 May, 2023Ravianne Van Vliet

What makes a winning team? And more importantly: what are the keys to cultivating them? In this blog, we delve into high-performing team attributes and talk about the critical role that L&D plays in unlocking the untapped potential of your talents. Because a culture of continuous learning will not only empower your talents to achieve their goals, become the best version of themselves and elevate each other. It also means that you will get the best from them in return.



  1. Intro: Is There a Secret Recipe for A-team Performance?
  2. The 6 Characteristics of a High-Performance Team 
  3. Building High-Functioning Teams Through L&D
  4. Keys to Unlocking High-Performance Teams

1. Intro: Is There a Secret Recipe for A-team Performance?


Imagine a team that works together like a well-oiled machine, achieving one exceptional result after the other and consistently delivering excellence. They adapt to change with agility, support each other no matter what, and communicate openly – even about critical subjects. What sets these teams apart? Is it their inspiring leader? Is it the great chemistry among individual team members? Or is the company’s culture simply so remarkable that its people naturally demonstrate a strong sense of ownership and commitment?

The truth is, there is no secret recipe for outstanding team performance. Sometimes it’s just a matter of luck and serendipity, for instance, when the right mix of personalities come together at the right time. These individuals may possess unique skills, experiences, and perspectives that synergize and complement each other, resulting in cohesive and productive dynamics.

But in most cases, if you want to develop high-performance teams, you need to make intentional efforts. Creating a culture of continuous learning is one of them. But before we dive into the world of strategic team development through L&D, let’s first have a look at the characteristics of effective teams


2. The 6 Characteristics of a High-Performance Team 


There are numerous models for team effectiveness which can help HR leaders to understand their teams better and support their success. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at Pat MacMillan’s famous ‘High-Performance Team’ model. It was minted in his book The Performance Factor in 2001 but remains relevant today.

According to this model, a high-performing team is characterized by 6 key elements, which all revolve around one central goal: the business results. 


Characteristics of highly effective teams:

1. Common Purpose: The Reason for Cooperation 

Teams need a shared, unifying purpose that is clear, relevant, urgent, and achievable. It is the foundation that aligns team members’ efforts and directs them toward common goals and objectives, ultimately determining their effectiveness and driving their collective efforts to reach the desired result.


2. Setting Clear Roles: The Strategy for Cooperation 

Each team member in a high-performing team has a well-defined role that aligns with their skills and expertise. Clear roles minimize confusion, promote accountability, and ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and contributions.


3. Accepted Leadership: The Structure for Cooperation 

Managing high-performance teams requires an effective team leader. Someone who provides guidance, support, and direction while also fostering an environment of trust and collaboration. These types of leaders empower their team members, encourage growth, and create opportunities for them to excel. They have the talent to adjust to different situations and personalities.

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4. Effective Processes: The Method of Cooperation 

One of the qualities of a high-performing team is that they don’t let chaos and vague goals undermine their performance. They have a well-defined process in place that streamlines their workflow and optimizes the way they work together. They often monitor the effectiveness of this process, set up a performance plan, evaluate team performance, recognize points of improvement, and adjust it when it doesn’t lead to the optimal result. 


5. Solid Relationships: The Climate of Cooperation

Successful, innovative teams invest in solid relationships that are based on mutual trust, understanding, and respect. Team members have confidence in one another’s abilities, intentions, and decisions. The objective is not to become best friends with your colleagues but to know how to lift each other up, support each other and embrace diversity – whether it’s a different background, gender, or skill set.


6. Excellent Communication: The Means of Cooperation

Effective communication is essential for high-performing teams. Team members communicate openly and transparently, sharing information, ideas, and feedback freely. They actively listen to one another, seek clarification when needed, and ensure that messages are conveyed accurately and clearly.


The primary difference between a team and any other type of group is synergism. Many groups have a common purpose; most even see some level of cooperation. But in a true team, the combination of factors and the intensity and consistency with which they are applied allows a team to experience exceptional results on a regular basis.

Pat MacMillan, author of The Performance Factor: Unlocking the Secrets of Teamwork


3. Building High-Functioning Teams Through L&D


Now that we understand the attributes of a high-performing team, the next question is how can you re-create these same conditions in your own teams? After years of investing in attracting and acquiring top talent, many CHROs realize that it takes more than just hiring skilled A-players to drive business success – especially with the competitive labor market the corporate world faces today. It’s time for a fresh approach: invest in the talent you already have on board and set up a strategy that unlocks their true potential – both on an individual and team level.


Unleashing the true potential of your teams 

To unlock the potential of your existing teams, you need to create a  learning culture that inspires and empowers your employees to develop and excel in their roles continuously. Whether they are first-time leaders or seasoned professionals, whether they are new teams or have been working together for years: fostering a commitment to learning and development is key to unleashing their full capabilities and helping them pursue their career aspirations. This approach creates an engaged and motivated workforce with a sense of purpose and belonging within their team and equips them with the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the present and future. On top of that, by emphasizing learning and development initiatives, team members will feel valued and fulfilled. It will motivate them to genuinely want to contribute to the teams and business results.


4. Keys to Unlocking High-Performance Teams


What is important to focus on in terms of high-performance team building? Here are some things you can do to help your teams be successful.


Strengthen interpersonal skills

When it comes to team performance, it’s not just about the abilities of individual team members and their expertise in their respective fields. It’s also about their interpersonal skills – which is an absolute requirement to reach great heights as a team. So alongside continuously developing their professional skills, it’s crucial to nurture their soft skills. For example: a scrum team that has a smooth workflow, but struggles to convey their message clearly during a team meeting? A sales team that shows great short-term results but experiences high-stress levels? They will never evolve into a sustainable high-performance team. That’s why it’s crucial you are aware of these skill gaps and help team members to develop their strengths.


You might want to consider these high-performance team training essentials

  • Training your team on Collaboration & Influence: the most extraordinary results come from employees who are able to express their ideas clearly and bring others along
  • Training your team on Resilience: it helps them manage their energy and optimize their day-to-day work by having more focus


Invest in developing your leaders

Developing and leading high-performing teams starts with a manager or leader who can build authentic connections and engage in meaningful conversations. Each team member brings a unique blend of experiences, skills, and talents to the table, so as a leader, you need to allocate time to talk and sincerely get to know each individual on your team. When you uncover what motivates them, you can assign roles in projects accordingly. And when you recognize their potential, actively support their growth, and acknowledge their value, you’ll cultivate a motivated and engaged team that is driven to achieve high performance.


You might want to consider these leadership training essentials

  • Training your (first-time) leaders on empowering leadership: leadership of the future means not just leading employees but empowering them to become the best versions of their professional selves
  • Create a continuous learning culture: tap into your employees’ limitless potential for personal and professional development, and for developing a  growth mindset


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Lepaya is an L&D Technology and Power Skill training provider with a vision to connect people’s potential to business impact. We’re designed to offer learning content, methodology, and technology in one platform as part of your learner’s flow