5 Key Stages to a High Performing Team

Conflict or communication – which works best for you?

Three types of Team Conflict:

When the stakes are high, which one of these scenarios have you seen play out?

(A)   The conflict is swept under the carpet.

Denial that conflict existed, or had any impact on the team or performance

(B)   When aggression threatens to take over…

Sometimes assertiveness is the only way to get things done


(C)   Intermittent disagreement which wears the team down.

Chinese whispers which threaten the integrity of the team

Conflict is healthy

functioning team. Without it, and the communication skills that surround it your team is destined to be dysfunctional.

Learning how to handle the conflict that arises in your team and learning how to channel it effectively is key. Converting conflict into effective communication so that things can move forward and change is the name of the game. However, this is easier said than done.


The Tuckman model of team development can really help you with a new way of looking at the steps in the process.

To recap, the five steps of team development are:

  • Forming
  • Storming
  • Norming
  • Performing
  • Adjourning

The step most team leaders usually fear is the storming stage. This is when the arguments and disagreements happen about how things should be done and who should be doing them. As the team leader, you worry about everything falling out of control.

If you think about watching “The Apprentice” on TV, it’s the bit when the two teams are past the smiles (forming) and trying to work out how to work together.

What can you as the team leader do with the fear? As often is the case, communication is the answer. Here are three things you can do:

(A)   Take a deep breath and hold the space for the storming conversations to be held

It is tough, allowing a difficult conversation with diverse agendas and viewpoints to be heard in full. However, if you can keep your nerve, this is usually just before the conversation and team turns the corner.

(B)   Get better with your own capacity to hold demanding conversations

It’s a myth to think that some people are natural or just plain better at doing these things. We can all learn how to do new things with our communication. Keep experimenting with small differences with what you say and do.



(C)   Keep remembering, this is the team formation process, it’s not personal and it is possible!

A model such as Tuckman can quickly help you make sense of what is going on. With this model in your mind, you can ensure the stages happen overtly and cleanly. Knowledge is power!

5 steps towards healthy performance


It is hard to find a team leader or manager who looks forward to the storming stage of team development. However, Tuckman’s model and good communication skills can help you work with your team to both develop the team and keep performance high. Both of these are valuable to the long term future of your organisation.

For more ideas, a recent article in Forbes on how to resolve workplace conflicts might help.



3 tips for success in your new leadership role

You’ve been promoted – congratulations! It’s your first leadership role, and it is something you have wanted for some time.

Nearly half of all leadership transitions fail

You are beginning to realise that there are things to plan for as well as celebrate. There is a shocking statistic that nearly half of all leadership transitions fail.

Take a look here at what McKinsey Consulting found out in their research last year:

We can see that leadership transitions can be both high risk and potentially very costly for both organisations and employees. It’s worth looking at what ‘good practice’ should include to ensure that your own transition – from that of a manager to a leader – is a success.

Now you have gained that promotion, you may find you have mixed feelings too. You may be remembering that you really enjoyed being an expert, and now you are really not so sure about what is involved with this leadership stuff, or how you will personally benefit from the change.

Leadership skills
New Leadership tips

At STL, we believe that becoming a leader is not about what you know (your expertise), but how you see things (your perception), followed by how you relate (emotional intelligence).

We believe that the first step in becoming a leader is the change in your perspective and perception.

With many different possibilities on how you see your new role, you may have many questions:
• What is different for me and what stays the same?
• What does my manager expect?*
• How do I make the change and get support?
*You may want to look at our top tips for managing upwards.

Leadership Vs Management

Leadership feels different from management. Here are our tips for what you need to do:

1. Focus on direction.
Your success is no longer about your own task or activity. It is not about operational targets or performance as a solo. Now you need to prioritise and communicate purpose, direction and achievement of the team goal.
2. Work with emotion.
Leaders make it OK for team members to talk about what they think and feel. Developing and fine tuning your Emotional Intelligence now is key. You new requirement is to build and deliver results through relationships.
3. Motivate the team.
Without learning to excite, enthuse and motivate your team, delegation is a chore. Synergy and exceeding customer expectation is something you can best achieve with and through your team.

There are many differences about being a leader and differences in the approach and work involved.

You may like to take a look at this short HBR video clip, with an INSEAD professor describing some of her frustrations in her own transition. What resonated with you?

Transitioning to become a leader may not be easy but with support, it is possible.

Remember our top three tips

Remember our top three tips of focusing on direction, working with emotion and motivating the team. This will be a good foundation for your success.

PS. If you want more to read, here are some more tips for leading well