High Performing Teams handle with care!

High Performing Teams handle with care! Every organisation I know wants high performing teams. After all, if your team is performing well then you will get more things executed in a manner that far exceeds your expectations. Unfortunately not every organisation has high functioning teams, perhaps a collection of individuals thrown together in a group. It’s not enough to insist this group is a team, you have to create the environment to enable this to happen.

Over the years I have noticed that many leaders assume that they know exactly how to put together a high performing team. They will tell me all about Tuckman’s model of forming, storming, norming and performing. Some will even recall the adjourning stage. Or if they have a high performing team, they change the environment so the team struggle to perform at the peak they once were.

To ensure that a team is high performing, however, means more than slavishly following Tuckman’s model … it requires innovation!

Firstly there is a recognition that for good work to appear in the workplace then you need to allow your employees to bring their wholeselves to work. Not just the parts that you want to segment as ‘work’.

The ‘personal’ side of individuals may be messy at times, however, employers have a role in enabling their employees to harness the whole of who they are.

After all Maverick Leadership is about who you ARE and what you DO!

Who am I?

As the founder of the Maverick Leadership philosophy and the Maverick DRIVEN Leadership Methodology, it probably makes sense to say who I am.

I’m a values driven Socialised Maverick, who thinks differently, challenges often and influences people and solutions to achieve better outcomes for all.

At the core of what I do, is my ability to:

  • Strategise
  • Innovate
  • Execute

Who I am, and what I do, doesn’t change regardless of whether I’m working within the Maverick Paradox or with another company – or indeed when I’m not at work. Maverick Leaders are the same wherever they are, although how they demonstrate their thinking and skills will change with the circumstances.

This is why I like working with The Change Maker Group. They don’t require me to change myself to work with them. They accept this serious, slightly quirky, playful, Maverick Change Maker into their midst!

There are many reasons why we understand exactly what makes a High Performing Team, and I thought it would be interesting to hear it from the mouth of one of our clients.

I have taken the LinkedIn personal testimonial left for me by Sophia Severin, Corporate Transformation Manager as a base, for this article. You will recognise the testimonial because it is shown in quotes throughout the text.

I have also included a couple of video testimonials, taken together with the LinkedIn testimonial, you will be able to see the impact a high performing team can make on an organisation.

Setting the scene

“Putting together a new Transformation Team from scratch, that would be required to challenge the organisation (and its partners) to think radically to tackle future issues and achieve their ambitions, with and for Kingston communities, was no easy task.

It would require individuals to form a high performing team ethos very quickly, and have the ability to form and become part of cross service high performing teams across the business”. 

Sophia Severin

This was the situation that we found ourselves in. We were asked whether we could offer advice on the recruitment of the new team (we did) and then design something that would quickly forge the group into a high performing team.

The team would need to be able to help other departments within the Council become high performing too and enable departmental projects to be completed efficiently and beyond expectations.

The Programme



Sophia Severin

When we first met with The Royal Borough of Kingston it was abundantly clear that they needed something unique for their new team. Fantastic, this allowed me to utilise my ability to Strategise, Innovate and Execute!

As the Lead Change Maker I designed a comprehensive programme that delivered via micro-learning (via Smartphones), coaching, mentoring, training. We provided them with their Change Maker Profile so that they could understand and utilise their personal and collective impact.

There were a number of in-person modules too, where they learnt and practiced their skills.

The unexpected happened!

“Then COVID hit midway through the programme – but it was like we were ready for it before we knew it was coming! 

The team understood what was needed to support their own personal resilience, that this change was just part of the ‘new normal’ and how to integrate with other parts of the business despite only being weeks into their roles.

Everyone was deployed to completely different jobs – and they excelled and delivered at a challenging time, at pace, in a strange new environment. I definitely attribute a lot of this to the programme and approach from Jude”.

Sophia Severin

When I was first asked (2019) to propose a High Performing Teams Programme for the Royal Borough of Kingston, I knew that it would need to equip the Council’s Transformation Team to become change ready and change resilient.

I wanted them to not only accept change, but to be able to seek it, ensuring that they bypassed old ways of thinking and looked for solutions that would work and be sustainable. I even designed a module (pre Covid) called Change is the new normal! My colleague at The Change Maker Group, Vanda North, delivered a module on personal resilience.

Little did we know how needed these two modules were going to be!

The Royal Borough of Kingston decided to send their teams to work from home a full week before the rest of the country went into the first Covid Lockdown. So, I decided to design and deliver an additional module (at no additional cost) to the team. In this module, we discussed how they were going to work from home and deal with the fact that this newly formed team was going to be deployed into separate areas. How would they retain the feeling of being a team when they are working in different areas and projects?

How would they teach what they had learnt to their new teams so that they could help the Council become more resilient and cope with the major change they were now facing? We consolidated their learning so far and dealt with the personal uncertainties they were facing.

What was important was that they were ready for Covid even though they had not known it was coming!

Almost the new normal

“After there was some respite in COVID activity, Jude picked up the rest of the programme virtually and we as a team concluded through to the performing part of our journey.

It’s helped me immensely as a manager to support the development of the new team and give me insight on the strengths, opportunities and potential needs of the team and individuals. 

Jude has been a constant support; calm, patient, checking in and making sure momentum was maintained. The genuine enthusiasm and energy she has for the programme and seeing people succeed is evident and contagious. 

I loved her no nonsense approach and practical help – it was a good mix of theory and helping me to make changes in my approach to be a better manager.

Sophia Severin

The programme is almost complete. We are accrediting The Royal Borough of Kingston so that they can deliver Change Maker Profile reviews to others in the Council.

Enabling more individuals within the Council to know and understand their personal and collective impact.

The Royal Borough of Kingston understood that to recruit, nurture and grow a High Performing Team that could ‘roll with the punches’, they needed a unique programme designed just for them.

It was fun working with the team and seeing them grow and take the uncertainties of 2020 in their stride.

I’ll let Sophia Severin have the last world.

This article was first published on The Maverick Paradox Magazine.



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