High Performing Teams

High Performing Teams

Tom Forrest

Tom Forrest

Senior Consultant

Arcadia recently held the second in our three-part Webinar series on building Purpose & Potential. The topic last week was High Performing Teams (HPT), when Mark Weston and Mark Albas discussed the mindset and behavioural changes needed to drive alignment and high performance within an intact team.

The pandemic has massively affected businesses requiring significant changes to processes, systems and controls. To survive, organisations have had to be agile and pivot to new products and services, bringing in new hires and forming new teams. In a fractured work environment, this has increased the focus on how to align them and encourage the best performance.

The High Performing Teams Model

The HPT model is built on two Fundamental Characteristics – Purpose & Direction and Trust on which we can build the four pillars (Optimising Characteristics) of Communication, Collaboration, Conflict and Accountability. If an organisation sets the foundations in place and builds the optimising Characteristics, then the Results will follow.

Fundamental Characteristics

Purpose & Direction –what sort of team they want to be, what binds them together and what do they stand for.

Trust – this means both trust in each other as individuals and also in the team itself as a whole. Credibility, reliability and intimacy and (lack of) self-interest are all important.

Trust Builders

Credibility means more than having good credentials. Credibility is derived from what you know, and how well you communicate it – to the betterment of the team. 

By contrast, reliability typically has to do with actions. Reliability is grounded in consistency, predictability, and a feeling of familiarity. 

Intimacy refers to the safety that your team feel when entrusting you with something. It also refers to the depth of understanding you have of their motivations, needs, and values.

Self-orientation is most often seen as a significant opportunity for improvement. It is all about focus, more specifically, where your focus is – you or the team? To build trust, your focus needs to be on your team, minimising self-orientation. 

Optimising Characteristics

Communication – everyone has a different style of communicating and different preferences and styles. How you communicate clearly has a massive impact on your ability to build relationships.

Collaboration – here we talk about “Reciprocity Styles”, which includes Givers, Takers and Matchers. Ideally the organisations should move to a culture of giving where individuals put the other person’s needs first.

Conflict – although this characteristic seems counter-intuitive, without healthy conflict and debate a team will not innovate.

Accountability – ultimately this is the goal for every team where every individual in the team takes collective accountability. However, it is important to distinguish between responsibility and accountability.


If teams can unite under a common purpose, and individuals can put self-interest aside then the team can come together to develop the accelerators that achieve results. Ultimately, a sign of success is when daily disciplines are practiced effectively, and where the team take collective ownership for problems and challenges. By using the HPT model you can create a simple and sustainable framework for success, addressing each theme in turn.

If you would be interested in attending future events or would like further information on this topic please get in touch with either Tom at tom.forrest@arcadiaconsulting.com or Vincent at vincent.romano@arcadiaconsulting.com.

Want to Learn More?

Your Story is Your Power

Your Story is Your Power

Quinn Lo

Quinn Lo

Operations Director, APAC

I grew up in a highly competitive environment.

Living in Hong Kong, I spent 7 years of my teenage years in a “grade A” local school, where the culture considered a “good student” as somebody who is academically outstanding, musically talented or good at sports.

I wanted to show that I was a good student too. However, I was always mid-range level in my grades, nor did I have any talent on music or sports. I never seemed to be able to have a voice, and I didn’t receive support in the school environment.

At age 15, my class teacher complained to my Mother on parent’s day and said, “she is not cooperative”. In response, my Mother answered, “what you describe there is nothing like my daughter, she is a good girl, and a diligent student”. I will never forget how she defended me.

I am not sharing the above story to complain about the education system in Hong Kong, but to highlight a personal growth journey that brought me to where I am today.

Society are not giving children and young adults a fair chance to grow and thrive into their adult and professional years if they are not supported in a way that allows them to unleash their own talent and potential. They need to feel empowered to believe there is something they are good at.

In my situation and throughout my teenage years, I suffered from what I call ‘I am not good enough’ syndrome. I believed that what I did, didn’t have much value and that I didn’t have anything that I was particularly good at. This naturally impacted all aspects of my life and prevented me from being a better version of myself.

A conversation with a colleague a couple of years ago completed shifted my mindset and perspective on how I see things. I shared that I believed my role was relatively easy in comparison to other, what I believed were, more important roles. They replied, “you think your job is easy because you are naturally good at it, and it doesn’t mean everyone can do your job.” This powerful moment answered a question I had been searching for a long time to answer, “what am I good at?”.

This conversation not only changed how I see things, but also invited me to be more self-compassionate and confident in myself. It allowed me acknowledge that I matter. Through sharing my story and my willingness to be vulnerable, I was able to find courage and resilience in my life journey.

“Your story is the most powerful part of who you are, the struggles, failures, success and everything in between. Remember always to stay open to new experiences and never let the doubters get in the way"

To all those who are thinking you are not good enough, remember that life is a bumpy journey that shapes you to become stronger.

Want to Learn More?

Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders

Leadership Development for Emerging Leaders

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis


Leadership development demands attention much earlier.

Why now?

Organisations need to move from survive to thrive. To do so they will need leaders and leadership. New hybrid working, change, productivity, global market shifts, net zero, D&I and continued technology demands strong leaders. The problem is that it seems organisations are late to the party and possibly inviting the wrong people. Despite increases in spending on corporate leadership programs in recent years, the quality, rigor, and investment for leadership efforts remain uneven across companies. High-performing companies outspend their competitors on leadership by almost four times (O’Leonard and Krider, Leadership Development Factbook 2014).

As organisations shift from a structured hierarchy to a network of teams, companies require different types of leaders with inclusion and collaboration capabilities. There is a stronger demand for people who can lead at all levels of the company. Companies in this environment are finding that they must identify potential leaders much earlier in their careers and accelerate their movement through the leadership ranks.

Flatter and more dispersed teams means companies need better strategies for developing leaders to perform both as individuals and in teams. Important to this effort is to think systematically about leadership. A portfolio approach that simply assembles a selection of offerings from different vendors is unlikely to promote consistency in leadership development or to ensure that future leaders receive the training they need to direct today’s team-focused organisations. Identifying and developing exceptional leaders require a far more disciplined process, including:

1.   The use of evidence and analytics to identify game-changers rather than relying on manager nominations.

2.   Expanding the use of 360 and psychometric tools to enable organisations to identify high-potential employees earlier in their careers and potential leaders around the world.

3.   Better use of leaders and emerging leaders to team with, mentor, reverse mentor and sponsor.

4.   End to end blended development learning solutions (on-line, face to face, assessment, on the job) that follows the career journey from recruitment, HiPo identification, succession planning, performance management.

5.   Comprehensive development of future leaders in advance of promotions rather than after them.

6.   Identification of key capabilities that are fit for the context .e.g. in 2021 – inclusive leadership, hybrid working, driving net zero, collaboration, leading change, developing confidence in others, innovation, driving digitisation, influencing skills, developing an agile learning culture.

When should future leaders be developed in leadership?

Many organisations provide individual contributors with technical or hard skills training but put off doing leadership or soft skills training until individuals are promoted into management.

Research from Zenger Folkman shows that training opportunities did not occur for many promoted into management until more than a decade after that promotion.

The Ashridge Management Index (AMI) 2012/13–1, carried out by Ashridge Business School, found that many businesses are failing to future-proof their leadership teams: 48% of managers say their organisation is not doing enough to develop the next generation of leaders.

“Talent management programmes and succession planning are essential. Without investment in developing the skills and experiences of younger managers it is hard to see how such organisations will continue to be successful. Businesses are at risk of holding back economic recovery by failing to do enough to develop the next generation of leaders.” says Viki Holton, Research Fellow at Ashridge Business School and the report’s co-author.

The assumptions behind the decision to hold off on leadership or soft skills training until people are in management positions are either that managers are in a better position to utilise and take advantage of that training or that it is not needed until then.

The difficulty is that when we promote individuals into managerial and leadership roles they can be overwhelmed by the new responsibilities and as such they lean on their individual contributor skills to get by. They can then fall into the trap of developing bad leadership habits which will only cost more time and budget to unlearn later.

The consensus amongst researchers, leaders and learners contend that the future leaders will need to balance the trends of humanity, technology and performance. The Davos Manifesto of 2020 now recognises the purpose of a company to serve not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. To deliver this leadership must focus on soft skills, hard skills and technology. Those that manage this will deliver significantly more productivity and contribution than those with just soft skills or just hard skills.

What should future leaders be developed in?

Researchers and Leadership authors Zenger Folkman identified the impact of individual contributors who had both ‘hard skills’ as well as ‘soft skills’ The results below show the overall effectiveness ratings for leaders as the graph demonstrates, hard skills are more highly valued for individual contributors than soft skills. The more meaningful and much more substantial difference is between those who were in the top 25% on both skills.

Hard skills defined as:

  • technical expertise,
  • problem-solving ability,
  • drive for results,
  • and taking the initiative.

Soft skills were defined as:

  • ability to communicate,
  • relationship building,
  • coaching and supporting others,
  • development of colleagues,
  • and collaboration and teamwork.

In addition to this analysis, Zenger Folkman looked at the individual manager’s performance ranking on productivity and effort. When individual contributors were highly skilled at both, 91.6% of those individuals were given the top performance rating.


Organisations would be well served to invest in systematic leadership identification and development for high potential colleagues before they get promoted. Not only will this deliver productivity returns in their current role but reduce leadership development costs in the future and further aid in identification of the best leaders.

Using a robust 360 assessment and psychometrics will reduce bias and investing in the wrong talent or letting the best talent slip through the net.

HR and its role in the war on talent, the war on skills, wellbeing, inclusion and diversity, hybrid working, culture, organisational brand will be further enhanced by it’s reputation for developing leaders of the future.

Want to Learn More?

Choose your language