Act as One

4 Practices Shared by all High Performing Teams

Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

“When leadership is haphazard and alignment is unclear, engagement will tank and execution is a hope, not a strategy.”

The $10 billion chicken franchise, Chick-fil-A, sent a team guided by Mark Miller, VP of High Performance Leadership on a quest to discover what is required to be a high performing organization. They studied some of the best retailers in the world, Navy Seals and even an America’s Cup sailing team. The quest revealed there are four common practices shared by all high performing organizations:

Bet on Leadership— High performance organizations are purposeful, intentional and strategic about hiring and developing great leaders. There is no compromising on leadership, everyone is held accountable to the same leadership standards. And be warned, if any toxic behavior is ignored because of high performance, accountability is questioned, engagement tanks and culture suffers.

Act as One— In high performance organizations everyone rows in the same direction. Everyone is aligned and unified in accomplishing specific goals. And alignment can differ in each business. Some companies are hyper-aligned around strategy, service, purpose, values or growth and perhaps they’re aligned around a combination of things. As an example, we work closely with a company that is aligned around driving improvements in four pillars of success: People, Performance, Profits and Purpose.

Win Hearts— High performance organizations have highly engaged people, people who are invested with their heads and their hearts in doing the work. When people are engaged, when they take on a task, they own it, personalize it and elevate it to the next level. There is nothing mediocre about the performance levels of engaged people. They care.

We frequent a restaurant in our neighborhood and the Chef, Tara, is passionate about creating a culinary but family-friendly dining experience. There is nothing stuffy about this place, it is big-hearted hospitality, comfortable yet elegant ambiance and fabulous flavors all rolled into one. Once Tara learned one of us is a vegan, every time we make a reservation she creates a one-of-a-kind vegan’s dream dinner. She owns the reservation, personalizes the dish and elevates our experience every time. She is highly engaged and her leadership in the kitchen cascades out to the servers and the guests alike. Her heart won our hearts.

Excel at Execution— A lot of leaders hold execution as their top priority, thinking yep, that’s my language, but they are remiss in thinking execution can happen without managing all of the above first.

The formula is: leadership + alignment + engagement = execution

When leadership is haphazard and alignment is unclear, engagement tanks, energy suffers, focus is confused, productivity wanes, inefficiencies compound and execution becomes a pipe dream.

What can you do?

Questions to ask yourself and your team:

  • Is your business or your team high performing?
  • What practices defined above are in need of more attention?
  • Would your team benefit from more leadership development?
  • Is everyone rowing in the same direction? Is the team, department or business acting as one, headed in the same direction?
  • Are people willing to own a project, personalize it and elevate it? If not, what can you do to win or re-engage the hearts of your people?

Develop strong consistent leadership, align everyone around common goals, win people’s heads and hearts and execution will follow.