3 Pillars of High-Performing Teams

  1. Build safety
  2. Share vulnerability
  3. Establish purpose

5 drivers of team performance

  1. Everyone in the group talks and listens roughly equal measure, keeping contributions short.
  2. Members maintain high levels of eye contact, and their conversations, gestures are energetic.
  3. Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader.
  4. Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team.
  5. Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with the others.

Words are noise. Group performance depends on behavior that communicates 1 powerful idea We are safe and connected.

Not coincidentally, successful groups have adopted family-sequel identifiers like Pixarians, Googlers, Zapponians.

Magical Feedback Phrase

I’m giving you these comments because I’ve very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.

Physical Proximity builds up Emotional Closeness

The closer the people, the more efficient the connection between them.

Action to build safety

  1. Overcommunicate my listening – yes uh gotcha
  2. Spotlight my fallibility early on – that’s just my two cents, what am I missing? what do u think
  3. Thank the messenger – never ever shoot the messenger
  4. Preview future connection – make small but telling connections between now and the vision
  5. Overdo thank-yous

First, we leap, to build trust

Often, we build trust, then we leap. But science is showing us we got it backward.

Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust – it comes before trust.

Ask my team 3 questions

  1. What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like to me to continue to do?
  2. What’s one thing I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often?
  3. What can I do to make you more effective?

After Action Review (AAR)

  1. What were our intended results?
  2. What were our actual results?
  3. What caused our results?
  4. What will we do the same next time?
  5. What will we do differently next time?

Before Action Review (BAR)

  1. What are our intended results?
  2. What challenges can we anticipate?
  3. What have we or others have learned from similar situations?
  4. What will make us successful this time?

Build a wall between PR and PD

So, the emotions caused by performance review don’t influence professional development.

Mental Contrasting

  1. Think about a realistic goal that I’d like to achieve.
  2. Take a few seconds and picture the obstacles between me and the goal as vividly as possible.

It improves our behavior and motivation to reach our goal. What seems like repetition is, in fact, navigation. Do nurses and surgeons need to be told their role in a surgery is important? Do they need to be informed that if someone makes a mistake they might want to speak up?

Remember belonging and higher-purpose needs to be continually refreshed.

Disaster is necessity

The fact that most projects (Toy Story, Up…) at Pixar started out as a disaster is not an accident but a necessity. All creative projects are cognitive puzzles involving thousands of choices and potential ideas, and I almost never get the right answer right away.

Unleash the creativity

Wave of creativity and innovation can be unleashed by something as mundane as changing systems and learning new ways of interacting.


Kyaw Wai Yan Tun

Hi, I'm Wai Yan. I love designing visuals and writing insightful articles online. I see it as my way of making the world a more beautiful and insightful place.