Taking a leaf from the All Blacks – Building a high performance team

A team is a team. It doesn’t matter much about what level said team is performing at – they all have the same needs that must be fulfilled to reach their purpose. A professional rugby team needs to put points on the opposition in the same way that any business needs to tear market share from its competitors. We bring up the rugby comparison not only due to the gloriously relevant timing of the rugby world cup, but also because of how intrinsically linked the two examples of high performing teams can be. However, there are (hopefully) less knocks to the head in your office than on the field. Here are some of our guidelines and other theories that can maximise team cohesion and overall performance!  

Building a high performance team

The concept of performing highly as a team isn’t quite as open to interpretation as you may think, but the process of attaining it is numerous in possible avenues. This is providing you are working in a team of individuals who are all attuned to the goals they wish to accomplish, and are willing to collaborate effectively and accountably to achieve these results. Don’t you wish it were as simple as the New Zealand rugby team? They’re approaching this world cup with a seemingly uncomplicated goal – win the competition and be the best team in the world. Don’t get too jealous, the means of getting there obviously aren’t so modest. Acting from openly displayed priorities and with organisation and discipline will yield higher productivity, faster and better market responsiveness, and the improved profitability that comes with such high-performance teamwork. It takes a lot of work for the All Blacks to be at the top their game for such a long time, but their name is synonymous with superlative rugby performance. Can your business be associated with similar levels of success?

Barriers to team performance

Where better to start than with bad habits that need scrubbing out? Status and ego, low standards and ambiguity are more than mere stains on a jersey, they’re negative character traits that Patrick Lencioni theorised to be the root of the five dysfunctions of a team. When absence of trust, the evasion of accountability and a lack of commitment are a few examples, it’s easy to see how this can impact team performance in a significant way. Now, it’s unreasonable to expect your team to work as a hive mind – thinking in complete harmony - but changing attitudes in basic ways can go a long way to opening the door to team growth.


Ken Blanchard stated that “none of us is as smart as all of us.” You may have people on your team who think otherwise, and they would certainly need to be persuaded otherwise. It’s Belbin who introduced the importance of team roles, playing to people’s strengths. The three roles that he theorised are: Action oriented, people oriented, and thought oriented. These roles allow for the breaking down of skill sets and attributing certain functions to team members with the corresponding aptitudes. Think about these examples in terms of rugby roles:

Players: The action-oriented role that sees the implementation of ideas and strategies fulfilled. They complete tasks in a timely manner and are generally complete finishers.

Coaching Staff: The people-oriented role coordinates the team and encourages cooperation in a specific manner. They investigate resources and work flexibly within different teams.

Head Coach: The thought-oriented role presents new ideas and approaches to improve team performance, often a specialist who monitors and evaluates the scenario as a whole.

Building trust

It was mentioned as a brick in the wall that forms a barrier to high performance, but a lack of trust needs emphasising. Trust should be non-negotiable. People do their best work when trust is high, but a 2018 survey by Ernst & Young found that less than half of global professionals trust their employer, boss or team members. This shocking figure has come about from an unwillingness to admit mistakes, not committing to actionable promise or general negative comments. Building trust isn’t even a complex process, as adults we all have the capacity to do it. You can actively listen and be consistent, open and genuine. Whether you’re packed in tight in a scrum on the pitch or working in the office to meet a deadline, you need to be able to trust the people next to you.

These are just a few of the ways in which your team can reach new heights of performance. If you want to find out more about unleashing your inner All Black then contact us today! We’ll show you how being part of a high performance team can benefit your business and how to achieve it.


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