The Scientific Way To Create A High Performing Team

If you are a manager, leader or owner of a company… You desire a high performing team.

You want a team that is cohesive, that works for each other and for the greater good. A team that is comfortable and secure enough to challenge each other. A team that welcomes new ideas and originality, rather than following the accepted standard.

Adam Grant, in his latest book ‘Originals’, has a chapter dedicated to the science behind which leadership strategies create the highest performing teams.

Adam Grant reveals five common strategies that leaders use to build their teams. Which one do you use?


The aim is to recruit and attain the best skilled team possible. Whatever the task in hand is, this type of leader will seek out the highest skilled team possible. This team will then be given challenging tasks and autonomy to deliver on them.


star-employee-1The leaders who utilise the ‘star’ strategy, don’t concern themselves with the specific skill set of their team members. What these leaders are interested in is the future and potential of individuals within their team.

They will seek out the brightest, sharpest people, who demonstrate the brain capacity to become world-class at what they do. Within this approach, the team will be given challenging tasks and the autonomy to decide how these tasks should be accomplished.


This strategy is based on cultural fit.

The leader will build a team of people who share the same the values and beliefs as themselves. In essence the leader surrounds themselves with people who believe what they believe. This team will be lead with high challenge, autonomy and strong emotional bonds to the mission.


This approach shares similar attributes as the professional strategy. The focus is on skills, with individuals with the highest skill set being the most desired. The difference in this approach is, rather than allowing their teams an autonomous environment, this strategy leans heavily on financial based incentives and micro-management.


bda-on-red-tapeThis strategy is based on recruiting and growing a team based on skills. The difference is that these teams will be managed with challenging tasks combined with very detailed rules and regulations on how to deliver on these tasks.

What strategy would you choose?

The aim is to get a high performing team. A high performing team is a team that will push each other, can challenge one another and which will welcome new ideas and originality.

Hopefully it is obvious that Autocracy and Bureaucracy won’t generate a high performing team… These approaches would only deliver average results and conforming, non-challenging team members, due to the micro-management and rules and regulations management style adopted.

If you have a basic level task, which you need a low level of performance and you don’t want your team to think about what they are doing and how to improve on it… then Autocracy and Bureaucracy are the options for you.

However, if you want a high performing team, then you are left with three options… Professional, Star and Commitment.

The most commonly adopted approach is Professional. Get the highest skilled people possible… On the surface this is a reasonable assumption to make.

But it’s the opposite – The research clearly demonstrates, this approach is the worst at building high performing teams out of the remaining options. The shocking truth is that it is at least three times more likely to fail than the others!

The second most popular approach is Star. Building a team of people, who have the capacity to grow and become world-class appears seductive.

However, the data once again shows us that this is likely to fail – twice as much as the last remaining option…


This is the least adopted strategy by leaders across the world, yet the data proves, time and time again, that this approach is the most likely to produce a high performing team!


Why does a Committed strategy produce a high performing teams?

  • They demonstrate more passion and intensity.
  • They believe in the same things as the leader, so everyone is emotionally bought in to a shared vision.
  • Being surrounded by people who share the same values automatically create a strong sense of belonging and loyalty.
  • A team that is emotionally connected and driven will be more willing to speak up and share new ideas.
  • Those ideas are more likely to be accepted and listened to, because everyone knows that the best interests of the team are at heart.
  • Making the right decision for the team, takes precedence over any ego or status quo.

No matter which strategy was your preference when we started – we all know that a team who share values, beliefs and feel trusted will perform.

Skills can be taught, beliefs on the other hand can not… Surround yourself with people who believe what you believe and you will have a high performing team.

As Adam Grant says in his book “Skills and Stars are fleeting, commitment lasts”.

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