Performance-Based Culture: Teams, Part 1

April 20, 2021

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

-- Vince Lombardi

I could not agree more with Lombardi. It is always easy to identify a performance-based culture. The culture relies heavily on teams with sound metrics, rewards, and a foundation of collaboration. In a performance-based culture, organizations realize two things which ensure the success of the organization:

  1. Management doesn’t drive performance, peers drive performance
  2. Mediocre and poor performers need not apply

To #2, mediocre performers are either pushed out or they self-select out. Either way, the organization and its members benefit.

There are many types of teams that function within organizations. Teams can be set up at a variety of levels and using a variety of people within an organization. I have found that teams and how they operate are often the difference between a culture that lacks performance and a performance-based culture.

A team is a unit of two or more people who work together and are committed to achieve a set of common performance goals or a common purpose for which they are accountable to each other. This definition is based on three key components:

  1. Teams are made up of two or more people but tend to have fewer than 15
  2. People on teams work together towards a common goal
  3. People on teams are accountable to each other

All teams are groups but not all groups are teams. A manager can put a group of people together and never successfully build a team. Increasingly, successful leadership is measured by the ability to develop and nurture teams to accomplish large tasks.

Differences between Teams and Groups


  1. Shared mission; collective responsibility
  2. Common goals or tasks and cause
  3. Shared leadership roles
  4. Individual AND team accountability
  5. Equality, no stars, and egos checked at door


  1. Work more independently
  2. More focus on individual goals
  3. Strong individual leader
  4. Individual accountability
  5. Individual performance highlighted

Functional Teams: A Functional Team is made up of a manager and his subordinates or supervisees. It is most commonly seen in organizations which function with a traditional hierarchy and functional teams typically make up a department. There is no standard for specific leadership styles within a functional team, however, the size, goals, and membership of the team should be considered when determining a leadership style. While functional teams have been popular historically, they have been less popular recently as companies seek to improve customer service, speed, flexibility, and quality.

Cross-functional Teams: A Cross-functional Team is made up of members from different departments within the same organization. However, team members may also include members from other organizations such as consultants, clients, etc. This type of team when brought together is given broad responsibilities for planning and conducting projects that require coordination, cooperation, and input from all parties involved. Leadership of the Cross-functional Team is typically selected by higher management. These teams are typically formed when an organization is looking to give their employees an opportunity for greater participation and empowerment.

Self-managed Teams (SMT): A Self-managed Team (SMT) is made up of members from different departments within the organization who are given authority and responsibility for managerial decisions in achieving the teams’ goals. Top management usually determines the mission, scope of operations, and budgetary restrictions. However, operating decisions, performance goals, work assignments, schedules, evaluating team performance, and conflict management are the responsibility of the team. The amount of authority and responsibility give to SMTs varies from one organization to another. Because leadership responsibilities are shared by the team, the members of the team each co-lead the team to its common goal.

Your Teams and Groups

Do you have a culture that supports teams or groups? If your culture supports teams, what types of teams are supported? Do you think you have a performance-based culture?

Also, I will write again next week with Part 2 of this series.

More articles

Be the first to know about new articles, courses, and keynotes