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The Top 5 Emotional Intelligence Traits of High Performing Teams

Defining a high performing team can be difficult, as it typically means different things to different people. If you asked a bank teller for a definition, they might say, “A team that meets its goals and is enjoyable to work with.” Whereas if you asked a bank manager, their answer might be, “A high performing team has a turnover rate of less than 5% and exceeds sales goals year after year.”

There are several very broad and often subjective ways to define a high performing team, such as the example above. But emotional intelligence offers an objective way to define a high performing team. Emotional intelligence Quotient (EQ) traits are the patterns and clarity of thinking that leads to outcomes and decisions, as well as managing or influencing emotions.

The Five EQ Traits of High Performing Teams

  1. Trust: You must be able to work together to get results. Lack of trust negatively impacts morale and communication and can lead to unfair judgment by team members. Think about the people you trust the most. What does that relationship look like? Why do you trust those people? What actions/behaviors do they consistently exhibit to make you trust them?

  2. Conflict: Although a lot of people shy away from conflict, healthy conflict can produce great results. For example, coaching or counseling can help employees to mitigate unwanted behavior. In a team setting, a brainstorming session can lead to robust discussion, which results in a groundbreaking idea that otherwise would never have been approached. In order to have healthy conflict, your team must learn how to compromise and appreciate the opinions of others. Disagreement is not personal. If all team members understand constructive disagreement, you’re well on your way to becoming a high performing team.

  3. Engagement: To further elaborate on compromise, everyone on the team must row in the same direction, even if they don’t all agree. This is a key sign of engaged employees. They respect the opinions of others in the group and the decisions made by leadership. They will continue moving forward even if their idea is not the one that was chosen. Those on the team who choose not to move forward will slow things down. This draws energy away from the team, causing other employees to become disengaged and unable to push ahead.

  4. Accountability: Everyone must be responsible for their actions. You can’t be a high performing team with members of the team playing the victim. Instead, each individual must be accountable for their actions, responsibilities, and commitments. It’s not up to management, executives, or HR to build a high performing team environment. Everyone has their role and contributions to make. Your team is only as strong as its weakest link.

  5. Outcomes: Every job title and every team has a metric associated with success. When a team member isn’t achieving results, there is a good chance they are draining energy from the rest of the group, negatively impacting trust and morale. If that team member isn’t held accountable, trust and morale will slip away, leading to reduced engagement and creating a breeding ground for unhealthy conflict.

Now that you understand the top 5 emotional intelligence traits of a high performing team, the next step is to study the EQ traits of your team that are strong and those areas that need improvement. Once you understand this, you can put a development plan together to help your team grow into a high performing team.

To enact a development plan that will help your team succeed, take our half-day workshop, The Emotional Intelligence of High Performing Teams. This workshop is designed for a team or department within your organization and will give your team the foundation to build on these concepts. Each participant will be provided with their personal customized emotional intelligence summary report, a summary of core motivations for themselves, their peers, and the team as a whole, an overview of the best practices of high performing teams, a personalized high performing team success/goals document, and tips on effective communication and building trust. The team leader will also be provided with an emotional intelligence report on each of their direct reports motivators and how they relate to the leader, plus a 1-hour coaching session. Contact us today to learn more.


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