3 Things That Set High-Performance Teams Apart ( and How To Build One )

Massive growth and results great sports teams, corporations, startups or nonprofits achieve, happen predominantly on the back of high-performance teams, whose essence consists of fit with the organization, bias for action to reach excellence in execution, and an inspirational vision. Whether you are aiming to scale a business or impact the community around you, always hire people who will display those three traits. Here’s how you do it:

Fit. Joining a new company or organization is a commitment that may signify a long-term relationship with a very broad group of people. Fit with the organization if the number 1 goal you should have in mind when hiring or becoming part of a new team. The “Flight Test” — would you be amazed or mad by seating next to a person during a 16-hour flight from San Francisco to Singapore — is a great barometer to measure whether a person represents a fit or not. Ensure your entire team embark on that flight with that candidate and ask each one them, after landing, how great the experience was. Did the team feel they respected, admired and learned from that person or it was like walking in the desert without water? If the latter no more words are needed.

Zappos, a Fortune’s Top 100 best companies to work for, offers its customer service employees $3,000.00 to leave the company after a week into their initial training. The ones who do not have a fit with the culture and environment will voluntarily accept it.

Another important driver of “fit” is diversity. Most teams I have been part of — where there was a higher percentage of women, members of the LGBT community, representatives from various countries, religion etc — had higher levels of engagement, and it naturally creates a bigger sense of community, camaraderie and ultimately inclusion. A McKinsey&Company research performed with 366 public companies, showed those in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above industry average.

Lastly you do not have to love your teammates, but need to respect who they are,  their caliber and legacy. Hire the ones who will not only adapt to the culture but help your company evolve it.

Excellence in Execution. “Rent a thinker and hire a doer” should be your mantra when searching for a new hire. Ultimately, teams have to deliver and those whose results are always above the average are formed by players who always cross the finish line with superb performance.

Doers believe they are in constant development or in “permanent Beta” and see challenges as a mean for growth, which Dr. Carol Dweck calls growth mindset, as opposed to some who have a fixed mindset — think “I am either good at it or I am not” and  “my potential is predetermined” — individuals who usually present an average performance overtime.

Another important trait doers have is Grit — people whose DNA is coded with the belief effort matters more than anything else when it comes to achievement. According to Dr. Angela Duckworth, teams whose members have Grit achieve higher performance, as they work harder and display more discipline in the journey for end-state goals. Look for those whose extracurricular activities can tip off signs of brutal effort in what they do and how they do it. A good way to do it is hiring ex-athletes or people who are fanatic about playing sports. Solid runners, climbers, triathletes must have a routine of training  that set them apart from the crowd. Besides they rebound faster and have more stamina. Find and hire those who believe in effort.

Go search for candidates in organizations with a proven track record of high-performance and bias for action. The military space is by far one of the best. Veterans in transition and out of MBA schools are an amazing source of excellence in execution. They come with a level of discipline, loyalty and focus, ordinary people do not possess. Last year, Amazon announced they plan to hire 25,000 veterans during the next five years and former president, Barack Obama, once said “ if you want to get things done, hire veteran”.

Passion and Energy are also excellent predictors of superior execution. When people love what they do, you will see them  in “flow”. Their attitude captivate the masses and provoke others to challenge the status-quo. Assess it by observing how people talk about their accomplishments in life, enthusiasm and pride of they do outside of work.

Lastly great achievers hate poor performance and do not tolerate B players. Avoid the latter by not hiring them first place, and you continue to challenge your top performers to raise the entire organization’s bar.

Vision. A person or organization’s dream is what will make people fall in love with your cause. I am writing this article from a remote village in Tanzania, Africa, part of group of volunteers who came to support Karimu ( an NGO ) rebuild a school and develop the quality of life of the local community. As I go back in time, I was first invited to donate  money to the effort, but I actually got hooked up by the why they asked for those funds. Karimu is a non-profit whose vision and  dream inspired me to go above and beyond.

What one stands for will define the collective personality of a group or organization, and those whose vision is inspiring end up changing the world by attracting the best talents who will perform like nobody else.

Putting it all together high-performance teams are those formed by people passionate about achievement through excellence in execution, inspired by a collective cultural fit and driven by a vision that will make them run to the fire to create legacy wherever they chose to operate and impact.

What are the characteristics of a high-performance team? Please share your ideas in the comments section below. I also want to learn from you.


Vinicius David is a tech executive, a passionate for talent development and fanatic to drive innovation.

Why top performers love to be challenged

After years working with great teams and grooming talents in a fortune 50 company I became intrigued by what drives the motivation of my top people and how to retain them.  The following note, which I received from a shining star, brings it all together.
“Before I shut down for the holidays I want to send a note to thank you for a great 2015.  I have felt more challenged & and rewarded this past year than I have in a long time and I attribute that to your leadership.  I know we are doing great things for HP and I continue to be energized by my work and my team, so thank you!”
As a leader this is the most precious gift your team can give you because it makes you reflect about the power of challenging them to set the bar higher and taking their performance to the next level.

Here`s what challenge means in our world.

Expose your people to assignments they will have no choice other than lead others
Be thoughtful your own most important goal must be guarded by your top performers; assign it to those special individuals right away. In the military world this is why the Navy has its “Seals” and the Army its “Rangers” special forces. So do you in the corporate environment. Most importantly be direct by letting them know where they stand in the rankings and what makes them part of your elite team. They are your face, your highest chance of success. Simply put if they know they are responsible for their leaders` own life at work they will lead on your behalf, and crave it daily. Throughout my journey I found it easy to implement when someone knew he or she was my right hand person. I just let they become me, do what I had to do and truly lead for me. The little-known secret is that the best ones will not ask for permission to sit on your chair and you must incentivize it.

Show them the purpose
Instant gratification moves average employees but the ones who can look at the big picture and connect their mission to the organization`s vision will be more adaptive, resilient and burn the ships as needed. When the purpose is made clear, as a leader you can get the job of 50 average people done by a few extraordinary talented members of the team. This is also where your values as leader play a key inspirational role in the development of your top employees. As humans we are in a constant search for role models in life and if you have not been one inside of your own organization, people will simply go find another one, and without loyalty you do not get optimum performance. A clear purpose will enable greater results, faster and the daily achievements of your team will compound into something amazing for their careers in the future.

Hard charge the environment with passion
Super energetic leaders communicate from the bottom of their heart and they are not afraid of that. The explosion of intensity enables the chemistry a team needs to do more and believe in what they do. Most critically why they should do it. It will also connect people more deeply with your aspirations and objectives. Your passion at work has to be transformed into what I call magnetic leadership, displayed attributes and actions that transform employees into allies.

Do not tolerate B players
If you are coaching a team defending an NBA championship would you hire an average player or even tolerate low performance from one of your existing crew members? Not if you are serious about staying at the top, regardless of the company, non-profit or other organization that you lead. People suffer from good and bad influences. If you are exposing your top stars to class B performance, they will not play effectively, they will become impatient, and may leave at any time. They reached the top by working more, playing among the best and in an environment in which challenge is constant. Your job as a leader is simple: hire A+ players, challenge your top notch people by sharing accountability of finding more top talent and protect them from mediocrity.

Bringing it all together
Every assignment you give to your people has the opportunity to challenge them and, a chance to reward and retain your best talent. Simple things that compound overtime like asking them to step up and lead on your behalf with passion and energy will inspire them. It is also critical to ensure they are playing for the best team in the league, not the one winning daily, but the one whose members play to perfect their game and exhaustively try to join the hall of fame, a place where only A+ performers get access to.

Have you seen the same principles in business? Do you agree with it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, as this can help me perfect my own game and keep on growing as a leader.

Vinicius David is an executive in tech, a passionate leader for talent development and fanatic to drive innovation.

Thanksgiving Leadership

writer-605764_1280In a few days the US will celebrate the most important holiday of the year and I am giving back differently at this time.

I will spread and recognize leadership, which has deeply infused values and attitudes in my life. It has ultimately defined who I am: A servant human being, an enthusiastic and a passionate worker.

The intersection of these three vectors in perfect harmony has daily brought me happiness to the extend it`s now a great and deserved moment to say THANKS to all the leaders of my career and life.

They  were the ones who told me to act with integrity, to do what I said I would and to aggressively be the best in whatever I decided to do, and above all, do it with passion.
In retribution to your  mentorship, I commit to propagate, develop and perfect the roots of your thoughtful leadership.

Together we will continue fighting mediocrity in the world and helping others to thrive.
I give thanks and wish you all happy thanksgiving, specially to the ones who were patient and believed in the power of leadership development and the importance of teaching it.

Your mission has not been in vain. We will carry it on by making more humans to shine. Today I give back by also making it my own mission in life.