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Is Your Team World-Class? Here’s How to Get There


Have you ever wondered what differentiates the very best teams in the world? Would you like to know how world class teams develop; how they become great? Sport psychology consultant and performance coach Simon Hartley has worked with many such teams and discovered that there are six key characteristics they all share. Those characteristics are:


  • Highly Focused
  • Shared Standards & Expectations
  • Total Appreciation of Each Individual
  • Draw Strength from Diversity
  • Brutally Honest
  • Always Learning


You can read summaries of each characteristic here.


Of course, it’s one thing to know what makes a brilliant team, and another to use that information to improve your own team. Is it just ‘interesting’ or could you apply it in practice? How could you use these valuable insights, from the best teams on the planet, to make your team better?


Placing performance on a scale

A helpful way to start is to score your team on each characteristic. Try it now – get a pen and notepad, or print out the sheet at the end of this page, and score your team on a simple 0–10 scale, where ten equals ‘perfect, flawless and cannot be improved’ and zero equals ‘there’s nothing good about it’.


Once you have a score, take a moment and think how you could improve this score by just one point. For example, from a 6/10 to a 7/10. There is a sound reason why it’s suggested to look for just one-point improvement, rather than asking how you could get to 10/10 (and it’s not a lack of ambition). A one-point improvement is a tangible step. Think:


  • How does a 7/10 differ from a 6/10?
  • How will we know when we get to a 7/10?
  • What will we see and hear that’s different when we’re a 7/10?
  • What do we need to do differently to become a 7/10?


If I were to ask you how you could get to 10/10, I’d be asking how you create perfection, which is arguably an impossible task. Of course, when you become a 7/10, you can ask the same questions to become an 8/10 and so on. In doing so, you can become ever better.


Focus on your highest-priority area first

There’s a chance that you’ll look at your improvement goals and think, ‘How am I going to do all that?’. It is often wise to identify your most critical area and focus on that first. You might even find that sometimes working on one characteristic will be a catalyst for change in the others. Note that the highest priority area isn’t necessarily where you’ve scored the lowest (although it might be).


Once you know what to focus on, and how to increase your score by one, you’re away! This very simple thought process, revisited on a regular basis over a long period of time, is what powers many performers to become world class.


Many people will read over these questions without really taking time to find the answers or to work out how to implement them. If you finish reading this article and describe it as ‘interesting’ or ‘enjoyable’, you’ll have missed a valuable opportunity. If you give this thought and then take action, you may describe it as ‘transformational’.


Here is a helpful worksheet that you can print out and fill in.


Characteristic Score (0-10) How can we improve by one point? Priority
Highly Focused
Shared Standards & Expectations
Total Appreciation of Each Individual
Draw Strength from Diversity
Brutally Honest
Always Learning