9 Vital Leadership Traits to Build High-Performing Teams

Hannah Stampke
March 10, 2022

Are you trying to build a culture of high-performance in your teams?

Noelle Smit, CEO and Co-Founder of Teamgage, interviewed Michael Bromley, CEO at Stone & Chalk Group, about how to create a culture of high-performing teams. Here are 9 essential leadership traits from the conversation.

1. High-performance requires focus and distance

‍ High-performance doesn’t just happen. It requires a constant approach and focus and needs to be cultivated.

Once you have high-performance, the last thing you want to do is throttle it or tell it what to do - give it freedom and responsibility. Sit back a little and let it go, but always keep your eye out and support your teams when needed.

2. High-performance leaders need to use context, not control 

Control is telling people what to do; context is giving people guidelines to get your team to their goal.

Context is a thousand times more important than control. It’s not about telling people what to do, it’s about conveying what you’re trying to achieve.

To give someone context about a project correctly, you must tell them these specifics:

  • Why you are doing the project
  • What the stakes are
  • What happens if you achieve your projects goals
  • What happens if you don't

You want to be able to say "I hired you to get us there, not to tell you what to do".

3. Use your behaviour to lead transformation

Take those core behaviours, skills, and values that you want your business to reflect and display them yourself. Be the change that you want to see and let others follow in your footsteps.

Make sure to recognise and reward others for displaying the behaviours and values that you want within your business. Let the whole team understand that you can’t walk by certain action or behaviour, if you do, you’re allowing them to grow in your community.

4. Leaders need to generate passion for a high-performing team 

Nobody wants to work in an emotionless environment. Teach your people to have the passion for the destination and goals.

Involvement and empowerment are vital to retain staff.

If you let people own their actions and give them context, then they will adopt the company's purpose.

5. Leaders need to ingrain the purpose into their team members

Purpose statements are only as good as the people in the company that issue them.

Big companies often make up bull**** values and purpose: they’re often just for show. Values and purpose actually need to be implemented and ingrained into the staff.

Businesses need their people to live the outlined purpose and values. They also need to give their people the green light to explore that purpose.

If you are detached from the company's purpose and values, no matter how big that company may be, that is a failure of your leadership.

If some leaders don’t quite understand the company purpose, then go to the higher ups. Hold them accountable because that is a failure of leadership at the top level.

6. Don’t just expect culture, nurture it

When it comes to who is in charge of business culture: nobody’s responsible, but everyone's accountable.

Culture is the by-product of the interactions of human beings.

The only way you can influence culture is to implement the purpose and values, and get people to self-regulate their alignment with these.

Culture is like growing a plant. You fertilise the ground, you add water, add some plant food. The plant will grow healthily. But we don’t know what that plant is going to look like, but we know it’s healthy and that's what matters. It can actually be quite simple and easy to grow company culture.

7. There are no brilliant jerks

It's worth remembering this one important fact: there are no brilliant jerks, they’re just a bad hire.

Having high performers is great, having pretend high performers is tough, and they either need to be converted or removed.

8. Learn to identify a true high-performer

Leaders need to learn to identify if a team member is a true high-performer. They need to observe, not only their deliverables, but also their behaviour.

If you want to identify a high–performer, watch out for these characteristics:

  • Understands the purpose and values of the business
  • Works to drive and discover, not just complete their tasks
  • Communicates well and gives context
  • Voices their opinions, but does it respectfully

9. Hire the right people

Leaders need to focus on hiring the skills and the mindset that can feed your business and culture.

For example, if you are a start-up or small business, you can't afford to NOT have high performers on your team.

When hiring new staff, it pays to have a strategy. Plan your interview tactics and your way forward before you hire. Don’t leave it up to luck.


CEO @ Stone & Chalk Group 

Following a 10 year career as an investment banker in the US, Michael is now building sustainable high performing teams in Australia. Michael is a digital & innovation change agent. He is currently leading Stone & Chalk Group, Australia’s home for emerging technology. With over 15 years’ experience as a member of Executive Leadership Teams in telecommunications, financial services, online services, and consulting.

Michael’s accomplishments include digital transformation, product development and delivery for many iconic organisations including; AOL, Blackberry, Telstra, the National Broadband Network (NBNCo) and IAG. Michael is a two-time Founder and has been an integral part of 5 different start-ups in the USA and Australia.

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