What do high performing leadership teams look like?

What do high performing leadership teams look like

How do you know what an effective leadership team looks like? Although we’ve come a long way in identifying what makes organisations successful, many companies still struggle with the make-up of their leadership teams.

Winsborough’s “The effectiveness of senior teams” research revealed five factors effective leadership teams have in common. “We compard the data of the executives who rated their teams positively with those who rated them poorly and identified key factors where the gap in performance was widest between these two groups,” says Gus McIntosh, Winsborough CEO.

“Overall we saw that better teams are clear about goals, standards and approach. These teams have members who help each other for the overall good and critically reflect on their combined performance. Decision making is clear, and all agendas and concerns are on the table. Decisions are taken clearly and executed. We see that the whole team contributes well and no-one ‘withholds their effort’ while the overall environment is one of openness, support and trust,” he says.

Below we share the five characteristics portrayed by effective leadership teams. With a strong leadership development process in place, these characteristics can be benchmarked and continually measured to keep your senior team on track.


How do you measure your leadership team’s effectiveness? Let Winsborough help, with a Senior Team Analysis. Find out more here.


Characteristic #1: Task focus

This is described as a ‘united pursuit of goals’, similar standards of performance and being prepared to help others achieve team goals. Leadership teams with a high level of task focus are united in their goals and know what they need to do to achieve them. This comes from effective briefing and clear outlining of team goals.


Characteristic #2: Development

This is where leadership team members consciously consider team performance, and invest time in improvement. When there is task focus, identifying where development is needed is much easier – and team members will be able to readily identify these areas too. If all senior team members are striving towards the same standard of work, it is unlikely anyone will be left behind.


Characteristic #3: Norms and decision making

Leadership teams which have a clear, formal process for decisions, no hidden agendas, and use consensus among members, prove to be more effective. When there are clear team goals and ways to achieve these goals, members can be open about their agendas and easily understand ways they can solve problems with guidance from their organisation.


Characteristic #4: Trust and safety

Teams that trust their colleagues, surface conflict and admit to mistakes easily create a more open and safe environment. Formal processes for decision making can lead to easier management of conflict, while minimising hidden agendas creates more trust. This in turn can result in more satisfied members, and more effective leadership teams.


Characteristic #5: Contribution to team

By participating in the team, holding up their end of the role, and adding value to the team, members can create a more effective leadership team. This can be seen as a result of the collection of the previous points, where clear task focus, development, great decision making and a trustworthy environment leads to greater contribution by leadership teams.


Winsborough’s leadership research also revealed that appropriate nurturing of an organisation’s leadership team is a key contributor towards organisation success. Reviewing and monitoring progress can ensure team member expectations and perceptions are aligned, and if they aren’t, there’s an opportunity for issues to be corrected.