Creating a thriving and performing team: getting the order right

“It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” – these words rang true for me the other day when discussing with leaders in a technical environment how to create high-performing teams.

 Often, I find that leaders are eager to learn about tools, about how to create strategy, about how to solve their everyday challenges. And I get it! There’s so much going on in today’s work volatile work environment – it’s hard to keep on top of it all.Our leadership journeys however start with looking at self. Reflecting on who we are, where we’ve come from, and why we show up the way we do. Because unless I understand my own strengths, growth points, triggers, I cannot manage myself in a way that is providing a healthy base for a team to perform.

 We work with the THRIVE triangle in some of our workshops, to get this message across. It speaks about three elements that are crucial in leadership – the “I”, the “we” and the “it”. AND it particularly speaks about the order of this, and what comes first.

 The “I” is the individual focus.

This piece is about knowing myself, reflecting, and developing myself ongoingly. When I am rested, feeling positive, optimistic and clear, I am able to show up for my team in a way that is helpful. I take responsibility, am confident, generous and empowering to my team. On days that I am doubting myself, feeling unwell, exhausted or unfocused, I show up with all my shadow: judgement, being short, ungenerous and impatient. So unless I focus on myself, on being in my power, I am a very mediocre leader!

 The “We” is the team focus.

This element of leadership is about collaboration and relationship building. This is about me as a leader shifting focus from myself to my team, creating trust, being inclusive, encouraging and an environment of trust. It is about creating ways of collaboration in the team that allow everyone to contribute their best self and work and enjoying working together with their team. It is about encouraging diverse perspectives and looking to optimise how the team works.

 The “It” is the goal and outcome focus.

Now we come to the physical work, the most tangible of it. The ‘It’ refers to the vision and purpose, as well clear goals for the team. It is the work content, rather than the mindset, collaboration and ways of being around the work. It is about execution, performance, impact, about creating tangible results. It is about continuous improvement towards goals; getting the work done! This is the part that most people naturally get drawn to – and justifiably so, as this is why we’re all at work, right?


Back to the leaders who are keen to learn tangible tools to resolve their leadership challenges. Any tool, any model on strategy and even team effectiveness is not worth anything if the leader themselves is not ok, not in a good space, and does not lead with a mindset that is open, inclusive, and positive. So often tools might be used, but they might not work! Why? Because the leader has not focused enough on the “I”. As leaders, we need to balance personal growth with team dynamics and goal achievement for overall success.

We are so quick to focus on the “It” when things get hard. To look at the actual work, the problem we are facing. But the order of thriving is: first “I”. Make sure you are ok and well-balanced. Then ‘We”: get the team to work well together and enjoy each other. And THEN you have the basis for “It”, the actual work, and for performing what needs to be performed.

So when you hit a leadership challenge – start by wondering, could “It’s me, hi, I’m the problem, it’s me” remind you of looking at yourself first, at your (well-)being? To create a base for tackling whatever leadership challenge you might be facing today?

 Let’s get the order right. Leadership starts with the most challenging task of all: looking after ourselves so we can be the best for our people.


Author: Judith Haupt | MD