Empowering high-performance teams in modern workspaces

Listen to the podcast episode on high-performing teams with Clive Foley and Andreas Creten of madewithlove

In the dynamic landscape of modern workspaces, the traditional command and control management model quickly gives way to a culture rooted in trust and autonomy. This shift is not merely a trend but a transformational approach to fostering high-performance teams, particularly in remote work environments.

How to get to a high-performing team?

High-performance individuals or teams are usually purpose-driven and results-oriented groups of individuals. The purpose definitely comes before the results. The why is just as important, if not more important, than the result itself.

High-performance teams are distinguished by their output, deep sense of purpose, and commitment to collective goals. These teams thrive on trust, which is the foundation for open communication and healthy conflicts. In such an environment, team members feel safe to express dissent, suggest innovations, and take ownership of their tasks without fear of retribution for mistakes. Instead, errors are viewed as learning opportunities, contributing to continual improvement and innovation.

High-performing teams have a mission, a goal, and a purpose—something they all rally around and commit to achieving together. That purpose drives them forward and unites them as a group, enabling them to achieve the results they're trying to achieve.

What are indicators of high-performing teams?

These elements create a dynamic and effective team environment where innovation, productivity, and continuous improvement are possible.


A fundamental aspect of high-performing teams is the presence of trust among team members. Trust enables team members to feel safe speaking up, sharing ideas, and expressing disagreements without fear of negative repercussions. This environment allows for open communication and critical feedback, which is essential for growth and improvement.

Healthy Conflict

High-performing teams do not shy away from conflict. Instead, they engage in 'healthy conflict'—an interaction where differing opinions are valued and debated constructively. This approach ensures that the best ideas are surfaced and implemented, irrespective of who they come from within the team.

Commitment to Goals

Teams that perform at high levels are deeply committed to their goals. This commitment is about agreeing to target outcomes and being actively engaged in pursuing these outcomes. Members of high-performing teams hold each other accountable and are focused on results, which drives them to achieve their objectives.


Accountability is key in high-performing teams. Team members take responsibility for their actions and contributions to the team's objectives. This accountability ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction and that issues and challenges are addressed promptly.


Lastly, these teams are intensely focused on outcomes. They measure their success by the results they achieve, which aligns closely with their predefined goals. The clarity of purpose and the pursuit of measurable outcomes keep the team aligned and motivated.

How to deal with teams with low trust?

Dealing with teams that suffer from low trust can be a complex challenge, but there are effective strategies for rebuilding and strengthening trust within the team.

Leadership by example

Leadership within these teams is not about overseeing every detail but providing clear context and empowering team members. This involves a vulnerable leadership style where leaders admit they don't have all the answers and are open to ideas from all team members, regardless of rank. Such leaders focus on the 'why' behind tasks, ensuring everyone on the team is aligned with the organization's goals and values. This behavior humanizes the leader and encourages a more open and trusting atmosphere.

Open communication

Promote an environment where open and honest communication is encouraged. This includes acknowledging errors without blame and viewing them as learning opportunities. It is essential to create a space where team members can speak freely about their concerns and challenges without fear of ridicule or reprisal.

Clarify roles and expectations

Sometimes, distrust stems from confusion about roles and expectations. Clarifying each team member's role and what is expected of them can prevent misunderstandings and reduce conflicts, thereby building trust.

Focus on shared goals and values

Aligning team members with shared goals and emphasizing the team’s collective purpose can help bridge trust gaps. When team members are committed to a common goal, they are more likely to work cooperatively and trust each other.

Foster a culture of feedback

Implement a system where constructive feedback is exchanged regularly and in a structured manner. Feedback should target behaviors and processes, not individuals, to ensure it is received as intended for improvement and not as personal criticism.

How to measure trust?

Collect stories

One effective way to gauge trust within a team is by collecting stories that reflect team behaviors. During interviews or meetings, ask team members to share experiences related to the team's projects or daily interactions. These narratives can provide insights into how trust is practiced within the group. Listening to how team members describe their interactions can reveal a lot about the presence or absence of trust.

Observe behaviors consistent with stated values

Another method is to observe whether team members' behaviors align with the team's stated values and principles. This requires a clear understanding of the team's values and a keen observation of how team members live out these values in their work. Inconsistencies between stated values and behaviors can indicate trust issues.

Use feedback from peer reviews

Implementing structured peer reviews can help measure trust by providing insights into how team members view each other's contributions and reliability. This feedback should focus on specific criteria that reflect trust, such as dependability, openness, and supportiveness.

What are the characteristics of a trustworthy team member?

Comfortable with open communication

Trustworthy team members are comfortable speaking their minds and expressing their ideas or disagreements. They communicate openly and ensure their perspectives are heard, contributing to a transparent team environment.

Engages in healthy conflict

They do not shy away from conflict; instead, they engage in healthy conflict. They are prepared to challenge ideas and discuss differences constructively, which is crucial for innovation and finding the best solutions.

Supportive of teammates

Such team members are focused on their success and supportive of their colleagues. They help out when needed, demonstrating a cooperative and collaborative spirit.

Committed to team goals

They show a strong commitment to the team's goals and objectives. This commitment is evident in their dedication to achieving set targets and motivation to contribute effectively to the team’s success.

Accountable for actions

Trustworthy team members take responsibility for their actions and decisions. They are accountable for their contributions to the team and are willing to learn from mistakes without deflecting blame.


They focus on achieving results and are driven by a desire to meet and exceed the expectations set for the team. Their results-oriented approach ensures that they consistently work towards delivering high-quality outcomes.

What makes a leader trustworthy?

Service-oriented leadership

A trustworthy leader focuses on making everyone around them successful. This involves putting the team's needs ahead of personal accolades or power, embodying a service-oriented approach to leadership.

Provides context and clarity

Trustworthy leaders ensure that their team understands the context of their work—what they are doing, why they are doing it, and why it matters. This clarity helps to align the team’s efforts with the organization's goals and enhances their motivation and commitment to the work.

Supports team autonomy

A hallmark of trustworthy leadership is granting team members autonomy in their roles. This includes trusting them to take ownership of their tasks and approach the leader only when they need support or issues arise. This autonomy is crucial for fostering responsibility and growth among team members.

Resource provision

Trustworthy leaders actively work to provide their teams with the resources they need to succeed, whether that's training, tools, information, or support. They are proactive in ensuring that barriers to success are removed.

Open communication

They maintain open lines of communication, encouraging team members to share updates when things are going well and when they are not. This type of communication builds trust and ensures that the leader can act swiftly to address any issues.

Encourages accountability

While providing support and resources, trustworthy leaders also hold their team members accountable for their contributions. This balance of support and accountability helps to maintain high performance and continuous improvement within the team.

Listen to the podcast episode on high-performing teams with Clive Foley and Andreas Creten of madewithlove

Does remote work have an impact on trust or performance?

In remote settings, the principles of high-performance teams require even more rigor in communication and decision-making processes. Remote teams benefit from systems that support asynchronous work, allowing flexibility and ensuring that all decisions and communications are documented and accessible to all. This setup demands high visibility and accountability from each team member, encouraging a culture where everyone is informed and engaged in the team's progress.

As workplaces evolve, the emphasis on building trust-based, purpose-driven teams will only grow stronger, proving essential for organizations aiming to thrive in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced world.