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What Makes Peak-Performing Teams Tick?

How Leaders Can Win The Mental Game Of Coaching

Bill Cole, MS, MA

Not all teams are created equal. Some teams clearly ARE better than others. They get more done, and with less squabbling. Still, there are instances of teams performing heroically even though they may all dislike each other. Keeping in mind there are various definitions of teams and their purposes, we can paint a fairly clear picture of what we WANT in the ideal team.

Here are 17 things we know that peak-performing teams have in common.

1. All teams experience conflict. The successful ones manage it and succeed in spite of it.

2. All teams have weaknesses. The successful ones minimize these and play to their strengths to succeed.

3. All teams are conflicted over team versus individual loyalty and goals. The successful ones resolve this, keeping both intact, but championing team outcomes.

4. All teams have players with individual styles that clash with others. The successful teams manage to blend all styles and honor the differences so the team energies and capabilities are enhanced.

5. All teams have moments of truth. The successful ones step up and use them to grow and achieve.

6. All teams have clashes of individual values and philosophies. The successful ones either look past these or use them to their advantage.

7. All teams have people with egos who want to be in charge or be right. Successful ones channel these egos into productive output.

8. All teams first start out with varied goals, directions, energies and ambitions. The successful ones direct their energies into a common charter.

9. All teams involve initial power moves by various individuals. The successful ones resolve these imbalances or remove the parties causing the disruption.

10. All teams have personality clashes. The successful ones create acceptance of differences and resolve this energy into team traction.

11. All teams have differences of opinion and in ways of operating. The successful ones realize that in diversity lies strength of creativity and synergy. They embrace variety in membership.

12. All teams have challenges in managing deliverables. The successful ones create clear communication and systems that guarantee timeliness and accountability.

13. All teams have issues around roles and responsibilities. The successful ones sharpen blurred and confusing roles and increase personal and team accountability.

14. All teams have staffing challenges. The successful ones carefully match individual abilities with team needs.

15. All teams have people who dislike personal feedback and measurement. The successful ones create sensitive, intelligent feedback loops that allow for mid-course evaluation and correction, including praise for jobs well done.

16. All teams encounter problems. The successful ones create processes and open systems for solving them.

17. All teams have morale problems. The successful ones value everyone and their contributions and create ways to celebrate successes.

What kind of team do you want? A peak-performing one I imagine. What are you willing to do to create that peak-performing team? The successful leader envisions the ideal team, plans for it and then goes out and builds it. You can too.

To learn more about how team building can help your organization reach its potential, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at

Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA 2005, 2008 All rights reserved.

This article covers only one small part of the mental game. A complete mental training program includes motivation and goal-setting, pre-event mental preparation, post-event review and analysis, mental strengthening, self-regulation training, breath control training, motor skill training, mental rehearsal, concentration training, pressure-proofing, communication training, confidence-building, breaking through mental barriers, slump prevention, mental toughness training, flow training, relaxation training, momentum training, psych-out proofing and media training.

For a comprehensive overview of your mental abilities you need an assessment instrument that identifies your complete mental strengths and weaknesses. For a free, easy-to-take 65-item sport psychology assessment tool you can score right on the spot, visit This assessment gives you a quick snapshot of your strengths and weaknesses in your mental game. You can use this as a guide in creating your own mental training program, or as the basis for a program you undertake with Bill Cole, MS, MA to improve your mental game. This assessment would be an excellent first step to help you get the big picture about your mental game.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, Bill is also founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is a multiple Hall of Fame honoree, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at

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