6 Ways to Lead High-Performing Teams Effectively

Leadership Capability: Leading High Performing Teams

This blog is part of a 16-part series focused on what capabilities make a strong leader. Sounding Board has identified 16 leadership capabilities that the strongest leaders possess. These were developed from research-backed leadership theories, leadership competencies used for evaluation from top business schools, and 25+ years of practical coaching application. 

Many people are called leaders. But not all of those leaders are effective at leading their people to success, particularly when it comes to high-performing teams. To do so requires reliable and consistent leadership. It takes time and resources, communication, a willingness to learn from mistakes, and it may even take some leadership development and coaching.

Managing a team well can be challenging, but it’s a skill worth honing. 

What is a high-performing team?

A high-performing team is often made up of extraordinarily qualified team members. The organization may rely on these individuals to generate solutions, each contributing their own expertise and skills to complement one another in collaboration, innovation, and productivity.

They constantly provide high-quality results, overcoming obstacles, and working through any internal conflicts effectively without impacting the quality of their work. They are the Holy Grail or the A-Team of organizational teams. 

Of course, these teams aren’t built overnight. It can take time. Further, behind every high-performing team is a skillful and efficient leader who knows how to lead these talented individuals and help to ensure the group’s success.

How to lead high-performing teams effectively

We’ve all seen high-power teams. We know the work ethic they demonstrate and the results that follow. But what do their leaders do differently to ensure their success? We believe it’s a combination of the following tactics:

1. Set standards for group performance, group problem-solving, and decision making.

Team leaders are required to set clear expectations and standards for a team to follow. There should be clear communication channels to share and process information appropriately to prevent miscommunication among team members. They should also set transparent priorities and project deadlines so that each member can prioritize effectively. This ensures proper time management and keeps everyone focused on achieving the same organizational goals.

2. Create an open environment to give and receive constructive feedback.

One way to ensure a team meets set standards is to consistently offer productive feedback. Giving feedback is a simple and obvious solution, one critical to improve a team’s performance. It allows team members to understand their successes, mistakes, and how to grow and improve moving forward. Yet it is often stymied by some degree of fear. Leaders have to overcome the very natural urge to avoid giving critical feedback, and then master how to constructively criticize, commend strengths, and avoid triggering team members’ threat response. Leaders who invite feedback as openly as they give it often create a more welcoming environment for team growth and productivity. As with many leadership skills, the ability to give high quality, actionable feedback can be developed over time, given appropriate leadership development and coaching.

3. Delegate responsibilities equitably, and play to people’s strengths.

When leaders create a rapport with their teams, it gives them all a chance to get to know each other better. It creates a window into each person’s needs and capabilities. This can help leaders assign roles that play to each person’s strengths and improve on their weak spots. Collectively, this helps to produce better organizational outcomes. 

When delegating responsibilities, it is important to ensure that work is divided equitably. Define each team member’s roles and responsibilities clearly to minimize confusion and conflict. This obvious facet is too often forgotten. Then clearly communicate roles to enable a smooth workflow within the team, and create an environment of accountability when it comes to time, resources, and deadlines.

4. Measure progress and performance by creating effective metrics.

It’s one thing to commit to effective leadership practices. But how will you know what works and what doesn’t? Measurement is key. Tracking team members’ performance is an invaluable asset when measuring their performance and response to leadership. Here are some of the various metrics available:

  • Attendance: Leaders can keep tabs on team members without micromanaging. Do they show up to work, whether virtual or in person? Are they on time? Do they leave early, or take an unusual number of sick days? Try to understand where they are coming from and how their attendance is or isn’t affecting their performance.
  • Efficiency: Efficiency is an essential measure of team members’ performance. It involves understanding how people manage their resources, meet their deadlines, and the overall quality of their work.
  • Initiative: A good leader ensures team engagement. Helping others take ownership is an important part of being a good leader and improving team performance. Leaders can assess employee initiative to see which team members are not afraid to ask for help and which members are willing to lend their team members a helping hand. Give kudos to show team players they are valued, and to demonstrate to others that this is a key asset they too should hone.
  • Quality: This is perhaps the most important metric to show a team’s productivity. All team members need to submit work that meets set standards. Both poor and high quality work should be acknowledged, albeit for different reasons, so that expectations are clear. But maintain a mindset that encourages improvement; no one is perfect.

5. Collaboratively resolve team differences and tensions.

Conflict and tension among team members can quickly deteriorate into drama, miscommunication, and lead to poor-quality work deliverables. It is natural for members of a high-performing team to have their differences when accomplishing their work. Leaders must know when to intervene and prevent differences from getting out of hand before they disrupt the team’s overall culture and performance. Further, to lead high-performing teams effectively, leaders should, on some level, be able to anticipate conflicts and be prepared to deal with them healthily and efficiently.

6. Create psychological safety in the workplace.

Psychological safety in the workplace refers to a work environment where team members feel comfortable airing their ideas openly, whether they’re good or bad. It is highly advisable that leaders pay great attention to their team members’ thoughts and opinions, and encourage them to pursue their ideas. Be their biggest champion, provide the necessary tools and motivation to encourage them to succeed. Push them towards victories, and involve them in decisions that affect them. This is how a great team leader creates an environment of trust and honesty.

Putting it all together

High-performing teams are led by people who aim to bring out the best in that team. It takes time to build the necessary experience and skill to be a high-performing team leader. At Sounding Board, we offer high quality leadership coaching services to improve your leadership skills so that you can create and manage high-performing teams.

Our coaches are experienced and certified to design leadership coaching programs that best suit your organization’s needs. Request a demo today, and take a major step towards enjoying the benefits that follow a high-performing team.

Subscribe to Our

Stay up to date with new releases, features, how-tos, leadership tips, and more. (Don’t worry, we won’t flood your inbox or share your address.)

We Develop The World's Most Impactful Leaders

Sounding Board offers virtual and scalable enterprise learning solutions that are flexible enough to adapt to rapidly changing work environments. Powered by behavioral science and core leadership capabilities, our proven coaching methodology drives measurable business impact.

Niall MacGearailt

SVP of Finance
Niall MacGearailt leads Sounding Board’s finance division as the SVP of Finance and Operations. Niall earned a solid track record of improving P&L and operational expense management for leading companies such as Whirlpool, Logitech, Avaya and most recently Soraa, where he prepared the business for acquisition by leading hi-tech lighting company, Ecosense. In his role, he is responsible for building and leading the finance & relevant operations functions for the company.

Ron Buell

VP of Engineering
Ron Buell is the VP of Engineering at Sounding Board and an accomplished software professional with extensive experience in leadership, software engineering, project management, and product management. Ron has led the development of highly scalable systems and applications across a variety of technologies for companies including OpenFeint (acquired by GREE), Rdio (acquired by Pandora), Lyris Technologies, and Lotus/IBM Software Group. In his role at Sounding Board, Buell is responsible for all engineering efforts in developing, deploying, and maintaining the enterprise software platform and team for the company.

Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

Drive hiring, retention, engagement, and DEI initiatives with Sounding Board’s leadership coaching solution

Sounding Board is the first leadership development platform that combines technology to scale with world-class coaches – empowering companies to solve urgent people-problems and gain a long-term talent advantage.

Join our coaching team

Our expert coaches combine top notch coaching, business acumen and organizational savvy to truly become your leadership “Sounding Board”. Sounding Board coaches are all industry certified and strongly vetted going through a 3 step qualification process and receiving ongoing supervision and development.

Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.