Highly engaged teams

As a leader, your number one job is not just to create an engaged team but a highly engaged team. This is because highly engaged teams deliver 200% of the results of ordinary teams.

But how do we know what a highly engaged team looks like, what qualities do they exhibit? How do we go about creating them? From my experience of building teams that have delivered excellent results, these are the top 5 qualities they exhibit.  You should work to cultivate these qualities in your teams.


Trust is not just the cornerstone of leadership. It is also a fundamental building block in high-performance teams. When teams trust each other, it gives them more confidence in their abilities. They know they will get support when needed. Also, they will be willing to provide support to teams in need. This collaboration and cooperation help the sharing of best practices, which brings the level of the whole team, or teams higher.

Trust is one of those reflexive qualities; the more the leader shows trust, the more they will be trusted. The more we trust our teams, the more they will trust themselves and each other. Leaders need to be role models when it comes to this but also need to go that extra step to provide support and ask for it. Leaders who can show this vulnerability make it ok for their teams to ask for help when needed, as well as give it.


Teams that consistently deliver are teams that feel empowered, teams that understand what needs to be done and have the tools to achieve it. This empowerment boosts self-confidence and belief that the teams will reach their goals. Being engaged is great, but if you’re empowered, this can lead to frustration and disengagement.

It’s a leader’s job to set their teams up for success, to put them in a position where they have to know what needs to be done, know how to do it, and have the tools to succeed. In my experience, when a team is provided with opportunities like that, they grasp them with both hands.


Because everyone wants to be part of a winning team and feel that they have achieved what they set out to achieve.


Accountability is the #1 differentiator between success and failure. Teams that take ownership of the outcomes will look to find a way to succeed, and if things start to go awry, they will jump in to alter the course and the outcome.

To create a culture of accountability, there are two things a leader must do.

First, be accountable; if the leader doesn’t take ownership, then why should their teams?  People look to their leaders for example and model their behaviour, so if you are accountable, then that is the behaviour that they will model.

Second, don’t play the blame game because blaming is an accountability killer. It will create a toxic environment that not only kills accountability but kills engagement and hence performance.  As a leader, you need to create a safe environment where failures don’t feel fatal for your teams but are considered learning opportunities. This encourages people to take accountability and own their failures rather than adding toxicity to the environment.

That doesn’t mean that repeating the same failures is acceptable. It’s not, but as we strive for high performance, there will be setbacks when trying to achieve significant results, and you need your teams to have the confidence that mistakes can happen. Yet, still, they will be supported to overcome them and ultimately triumph.


Motivation is one of the most misunderstood leadership topics. When you ask what does it mean? Most will say it means reward. But reward is only one of six potential sources of motivation, with the others being opportunity, development, recognition, and sense of achievement. Highly motivated teams aim for big goals, as it’s this that will give them a sense of accomplishment; they know they will receive recognition for their efforts and small successes along the way.

As leaders, we need to help set big goals and provide recognition. We also need to ensure that there are growth and development opportunities, let people learn new skills, and stretch them a little to move them out of their comfort zone. We also need to let their success lead to promotions and other opportunities. Good leaders know that their role is to help their teams move to the next level, not to keep them where they are continually delivering.

Whilst running leadership development training for my direct reports, one of them asked me how I knew this training would be a success. I said when, in 2 years, I am training my new group of direct reports because you have all been promoted or poached by other companies.  That wasn’t the answer he expected. But it was the one that put a spring in his step for the rest of the course.


Highly engaged teams are successful. But they don’t just achieve results; they expect to succeed. They push the envelope themselves, always looking to be better, to achieve more, and to continue aiming higher.

In my last department, when we achieved 80% on-time delivery, I asked the team what should we set the goal for the next year, should it be 85%, they said no, let’s go for 90%. Now they were leading themselves; they had confidence in their capability and confidence they could reach that next level.

When you can build all five of these qualities in your teams, not only are they highly engaged, but they are now high-performing and capable of producing sustainable and repeatable success.

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Global Gurus Top 10 Leadership Expert and Speaker, author of 3 books on leadership ad regular contributor to Inc, Entrepreneur, Forbes and other publications, Gordon is a hands on leadership expert with 30 years exp of leading $100m programs, and teams of 1000 plus for Fortune 100 companies.

Gordon has devoted himself to humanizing leadership, simplifying the concepts and making them accessible to everyone to help them become a better leader, an inspiring leader that can engage, empower and excite people to take action as his greatest reward is seeing the people around him achieving their highest and best results.