21 Experts Share How to Develop the Right Mindset in Being a Top Team Performer
Every successful team comprises of high performing members. These individuals are not rare to find, as each among us has what it takes to be a high-performer. It’s just a matter of developing the right mindset to jump-start on those responsibilities and make the best out of them.
Now, how do you develop the right mindset in successfully achieving your goals? Why is the right mindset impactful on attaining a high-yielding output on a team? And what does it really imply to have the relevant attitude and mentality in performing well in a team? Well, a lot of things come to mind when faced with these inquiries—that’s why we reached out to 21 experts from various industries for their insights about how proper mindset contributes to being a high-performer in a team.
Read on and get to know what these team leaders have to say about having the right mindset based on their firsthand experiences.
The right mindset to excel on any team requires a combination of hard work (and dedication to doing hard work), a positive attitude, and grit. Grit is the key to success. It allows you to see the glass half-full and understand that there are opportunities all around you. Work the hardest you can and give it your all every single day.
Traditional intelligence, such as a high IQ, has been proven to no longer be the sole key to success. Other core values are found in emotional intelligence or EQ. Emotional intelligence is the belief that core skills such as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management better equip individuals to succeed and thrive in the workplace. Signs of high EQ are found in individuals that are willing to work and collaborate as a team together, maintain a can-do attitude, and understand that even seemingly impossible goals can be reached if everyone works together.
“Traditional intelligence, such as a high IQ, has been proven to no longer be the sole key to success. Other core values are found in emotional intelligence or EQ.”
Start by defining what the mindset is, then you can work toward developing it. High performance is typically highly correlated with a willingness to learn and grow. It is also important to understand the values of the team, embrace those, and operate in a way that honors those. For example, if a team values open communication and collaboration, you won’t perform well on the team by trying to be a solo star.
Excelling starts with having a learning and growth mindset, and then continues with being able to convert that mindset into actions and outcomes. High performers are most often those who love to learn, and then put what they learn into action. They stay engaged by seeing the results they get.
You have to (have) the functional skills, and you have to deliver what the team needs. All the intention and mindset to be a high performer won’t matter if you don’t actually perform. Incorporating core values like delivering on commitments, building trust, understanding the why behind the work, openly communicating, and holding yourself accountable turn a fast learner into a high performing doer.
“High performers are most often those who love to learn, and then put what they learn into action.”
I work with a large number of employees, both remote and in the office. There is a clear difference between high performing employees and the average employee. The mindset to be a high performing employee is the motivation to be better and think bigger. A high performing employee does not always equate to the employee who has the largest number of skill sets or degrees. A high performing employee wants to go above and beyond for the company. They are always extruding positivity and are willing to volunteer to step in to help others.
I think being in the right mindset helps contribute to high performance. Often times, employees may have their guard up when they start a new position. I think there is a clear difference between having the mindset to succeed vs. having a defensive one. You can tell when an employee is in the mindset to grow and perform well within a company and when they are not. Their attitude, communication, and work all align.
- Accept Feedback
- Learn from others
- Help others whenever possible
- Produce quality work and meet deadlines
- Respect and Integrity
“A high performing employee wants to go above and beyond for the company. They are always extruding positivity and are willing to volunteer to step in to help others.”
One thing that all top performers have in common is that they’re painfully self-critical. They’re constantly trying to identify their own weaknesses. Why? So that they can improve on them! If you’re not performing at your highest potential, you have to figure out a way to get there. If you look at the top performers on any team, they’re not necessarily the most naturally talented people, but they’re always reading, taking classes, and asking for advice on how to improve.
Mindset is a big part of it (excelling). When you have a goal-oriented mindset, it bleeds over into every part of your life. You find yourself waking up earlier and working harder without getting distracted. But you also need skills. In other words, you need to know how to use the tools—whatever those might be—to get your job done. If you have a positive mindset, you’ll be more driven to learn how to do your job well, but you’ll never succeed if you don’t master your craft.
“If you look at the top performers on any team, they’re not necessarily the most naturally talented people, but they’re always reading, taking classes, and asking for advice on how to improve.”
A great way to develop the mindset of a high performer on a team is to promote problem-solving through failure. Analyze your failures and understand that taking reasonable risks and experiencing a few failures along the way is an essential part of the process that leads to increased creativity and innovation.
Along with this mindset, you must have core values such as team building and empathy because when you are working in a team, you must have a solid and deep trust in each other and in the team’s purpose. There’s no point in being a high performer if the entire team is failing.
Bottom line: Promote problem-solving through failure.
“Analyze your failures and understand that taking reasonable risks and experiencing a few failures along the way is an essential part of the process that leads to increased creativity and innovation.”
As a small remote team, choosing high performers to work for our business is essential to make sure that we continue to grow, innovate and delight our customers.
To me, a high performer is always learning. Whether that be learning new skills in their industry, looking at what top-tier competitors are doing or even just spending an hour or two a day reading about the things going on in your business as a whole.
While it’s one thing to always want to learn and do better, it’s also important to actually act upon and implement these teachings. When you learn a new technique or method of doing something, you should begin thinking “Okay, how can I make this happen in my workplace? What do I need to do? How can I get people on board?”
Materializing these ideas and actually making them happen requires bigger picture thinking alongside the drive and passion to lead change. Without this, the things you learn will simply become a pipe dream!
“Materializing these ideas and actually making them happen requires bigger picture thinking alongside the drive and passion to lead change.”
Phil La Duke
Mindset isn’t the sole determinant to becoming a high performer on a team but it is the far most important element. So how do you do it?
- Be optimistic. Optimism is a choice, and while it leaves you vulnerable to disappointment it generally makes you a happier and more productive employee.
- Set high performance for yourself. I have always considered myself Phil La Duke Inc. My most important customer is my employer, but that doesn’t mean that my employer owns me. I set my goal as complete customer satisfaction, but I also remember that I am ultimately responsible for my success.
- Stay above the grind. It’s easy to get sucked into the miasma of petty politics endemic to so many offices. Stay out of the rumor mill; it adds no value and saps your energy.
- Think of your teammates as your support staff. If you want your teammates to support you, you have to support them. Pump them up and celebrate their successes; they aren’t competing against you so help them to be a success.
- Be generous. Too many people throw fits because someone stole their ideas. Nobody thinks that someone suddenly got smarter because he or she works with you. Be generous, but also recognize that sometimes people can change an idea very subtly and make it something completely their own.
The right mindset isn’t the only element to being a high performer, for example, you need to be competent in the tasks required to do the job. You also need to avoid becoming a workhorse (someone who does all the work, but the team gets all the credit.)
The core values you need to be a high performer are:
- A thirst for knowledge
- Remain fully present
- Expect goodness in the attention of others
- Communicate open and honestly
“I have always considered myself Phil La Duke Inc. My most important customer is my employer, but that doesn't mean that my employer owns me. I set my goal as complete customer satisfaction, but I also remember that I am ultimately responsible for my success.”
Ram Krishnna Rao
What I’ve learned as a serial entrepreneur is that attitude trumps skills and talents.
Talents can only take you so far and skills can be learned.
What matters is having an attitude that is conducive to success. This includes persistence, determination and doing your best regardless of external circumstances.
I believe the right mindset is essential to high performance and is what makes the difference between startups taking off and the ones giving up. Having a mindset of learning and being open is vital for creating a high performing team and business.
With technology evolving quickly and companies integrating them faster than ever, you need to be curious and eager to learn and improve your skills every single day to make sure you’re always ahead of the curve and stays highly performant.
“Attitude trumps skills and talents. Talents can only take you so far and skills can be learned.”
There are many techniques for building the right mindset, one of the simplest is to reframe your thinking. Ask yourself if you knew you could achieve X what would you do differently. Also, you need to be really aware of both your strengths and your development areas and proactively work with the people on your team where they are skilled in areas you aren’t and vice versa. The high-performing teams understand that the sum of the parts is greater than the individuals.
You need to believe in the goal and in your ability to support the team in achieving it. To see the positives and understand that it isn’t mistakes that define us, it’s the way we respond to them.
The right mindset is critical for long term sustainable success. We know life can throw us challenges and the right mindset ensures we weather these storms positively.
Honesty, Integrity and a strong commitment to the team, that understanding that the collective goal is more important than personal agenda (are the other core values to incorporate with the mindset to be a high performer on a team).
“To see the positives and understand that it isn’t mistakes that define us, it’s the way we respond to them.”
When it comes to developing a mindset to perform well at any level you have to start with believing in your ability to figure out how things work. When you understand this you can lay the structure. This will allow you to get up and get to work. If you don’t believe you can figure it out, you will not have that urge to start. Thus, you won’t begin it at all and even if (you) start with external pressure you will soon quit. When you don’t believe in your own potential, no one else will and you will never try to do that task.
What are these mindsets needed to excel? Growth Mindset.
Just developing a mindset won’t help unless you start taking action. You have to leave your comfort zone and hustle in order to perform. You need to learn to:
- Go the extra mile
- Be a team member
- A problem solver
Achievement is for those who go the extra mile. This means that whatever you are doing now you will get the results as earlier. You need to push your limits and go the extra mile to get different and encouraging results. Be a team member. Don’t run alone. Don’t be afraid of asking for help. This will help you learn more and move ahead.
Helping others gives you the opportunity to know more client issues. Thus, this process also helps you know and understand the work well and provide the best to your clients.
“You need to push your limits and go the extra mile to get different and encouraging results.”
In order to be a high performer on a team, you must surround yourself with those who push you and challenge you. In order to excel, here are several attitudes you will need to adopt:
- Develop a growth mindset.
- Know how to manage your energy.
- Stay focused on the tasks at hand.
- Value others’ opinions, ideas, and suggestions.
While having the right mindset is necessary to be a high performer, there are many other factors that come into play when you are a team player. Integrity, curiosity, empathy, and respect are all integral to high performance in a team. Connections and collaboration with others propel high performers so while productivity is extremely important, it is not enough to be an elite team player. You must cultivate healthy and strong relationships so that others see you as trustworthy and aligned with the team’s vision.
“You must cultivate healthy and strong relationships so that others see you as trustworthy and aligned with the team’s vision.”
Being a high performer is not only attaining high levels of success by continuously setting and achieving personal, professional, and organizational goals. If you want to develop a high-performance mindset, first of all, you need to learn to identify and display the key behaviors that are essential for determining what is required to achieve any of these goals.
High performers share some common characteristics. They are focused on learning new things and on being the best they can be, they are competitive, and they have high expectations for themselves. But the main thing that people with a high-performance mindset understand is that to be the best, they must work hard and do what others aren’t prepared to do. So, define what you want to achieve professionally and focus all your energies, courage, discipline, and perseverance to get there.
High performance at work is impossible without passion. When team members are passionate about what they do, they consistently look for better ways to improve themselves, their role, and the business in general. They are committed to achieving higher levels of performance, which gives them a sense of accomplishment.
“The main thing that people with a high-performance mindset understand is that to be the best, they must work hard and do what others aren’t prepared to do.”
In order to be a team high-performer, just remember the PERFORMANCE mindset.
- Problem-solving – Confidence to use knowledge, facts, and data to see gaps and solve problems. Ability to share ideas and concepts with team and management. Opendoor to brainstorm, seek opportunities, and think outside the challenge.
- Engagement – Positivity and relatability to form a deeper and fuller engagement with team, peers, and management. Bond of empathy by being genuine and demonstrating acceptance of alternate perspectives.
- Resilience – Strength to bounce back from setbacks, obstacles, difficulties, and failures. Confidence in the ability to prevail and handle stress positively.
- Flexibility – Capability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. This is a must with the fast pace of new and emerging changes in job requirements, organizational pivots, industry trends, and technology.
- Originality – Courage to ask “why”, imagine new possibilities, and develop new opportunities and solutions.
- Resourceful – Embrace technology to keep pace with emerging fast-paced changes and the future of work.
- Magnate– Demonstrate empowered leadership and motivation to explore potential areas of growth and interest.
- Agility – Capacity to pivot and change direction according to the needs of the team, department, organization, market, or industry.
- Negotiation – Capability to find common ground with team, internal customers, external partners, and management to reach mutually beneficial goals.
- Collaboration – Ability to work effectively with team and managers to drive outcomes. Do this by sharing knowledge, contributing ideas, proactively considering alternate perspectives, flexibility to work with diverse styles, and building mutually beneficial relationships with the team, peers, and management.
- Exchange information – Clear, concise, and positive communication is a cornerstone of organizational success. Requiring confidence to present and share concepts succinctly while radiating interest in other viewpoints.
The benefits of being a team-high performer include improvement in productivity, effectiveness, and recognition.
An effective high performer lives and breathes the principles of integrity, honesty, and respect. They embrace positivity and demonstrate their values. By encouraging engagement within their team, peers, and influencers, they create an atmosphere of camaraderie, synergy, and mutual support. This culture enables the team to thrive and do their best work. Compelling high team performers are able to step out of their comfort zone, actively seek alternate viewpoints and perspectives.
“An effective high performer lives and breathes the principles of integrity, honesty, and respect. They embrace positivity and demonstrate their values.”
On every team, there will always be natural check-in moments for brainstorming or collaborating. But employees who have the ability to make decisions independently inevitably become the highest performers.
Throughout my career as a CEO, one of the challenges I’ve faced is not having anyone directly above me to help guide my decisions. But it’s forced me to become a lot better at working my way through problems and finding value in the learning process. This is why I encourage all of my employees to view themselves as the CEOs of their own jobs. The highest performing team members are those who push the limits when trying to solve a problem or grow and who test out new ideas without having to be instructed to do so.
The right mindset contributes to high performance, but it’s not the sole contributor. High performers also embody values like professionalism, integrity and hard work. Another critical component of high performance is embodying company values. At Lendio, our company values are ‘humble and hungry.’ This means everyone, including executives, should be checking their egos at the door and coming to work ready to sprint each day. This drives everything we do.
“The highest performing team members are those who push the limits when trying to solve a problem or grow and who test out new ideas without having to be instructed to do so.”
A high performer has a growth mindset that supercharges their creativity, dealing with challenges, and seeing opportunities where others see dead ends. To develop this mindset, constructively focus on positives and negatives, because every circumstance, crises, and mistake brings forward something that wasn’t obvious before and opens up a new perspective or a new angle of looking at things and projects.
However, just breaking creative boundaries and limits around work is not the whole picture, to be a true high performer, a person needs to break those limits and boundaries around their team as well. Working as a high-performance teammate means looking at the grey area that surrounds your team, the small insignificant details that reveal the hidden genius of everyone’s habits, thought processes, and beliefs. Having a growth mindset around your work and your team will help you be a high performer that makes fast and calculated decisions, truly learn from failures and incorporate them into the steps of reaching future success and finding workarounds to the block that get in the way.
The right mindset is the bulk of the high performance, but it will be incomplete without the discipline to push yourself into the discomfort of thinking a new way of changing how you approach issues. High performance demands high motivation to get to the mindset that excels you beyond belief. When discipline and true motivation are coupled, people finally take consistent action, and the right execution of small goals/actions with absolute consistency over time is the reason that we attain anything in life. Anyone can figure out what kind of mindset they want, but only a small percentage attains it.
Breaking out of your comfort zone takes determination as well as discipline. A high-performance mindset needs to be action-driven rather than intention driven because, at the end of the day, an intention is just a though, whereas an action has moved the needle closer to where you want to go.
“When discipline and true motivation are coupled, people finally take consistent action, and the right execution of small goals/actions with absolute consistency over time is the reason that we attain anything in life.”
Developing and enhancing your high-performance mindset doesn’t happen overnight. It takes self-discipline and you need to put in a lot of time and effort. The key to success is confidence combined with your willingness to learn.
Confident people are not afraid to try new challenging things and they don’t worry about what other people think about their successes and failures. Confidence makes you more resilient and motivated, and encourages you to use anxiety and stress to become more productive. Besides, confidence can give you a strong sense of self and helps you become aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This drives you to constantly learn and grow and become the best possible version of yourself.
Constant improvement is one of the core values of high performers so they are always seeking growth opportunities. But they recognize that growth doesn’t always mean moving up another step on the ladder. They believe that their abilities and competence continue to develop from experience and ongoing learning and that can position them very competitively.
“Confidence makes you more resilient and motivated, and encourages you to use anxiety and stress to become more productive.”
Employees should separate themselves from office politics. This will help employees alleviate any pressure to follow in the footsteps of someone more superior to them. More often than not, many employees will put the success of others before them and hold back their full potential. This could be simply out of respect for more senior people or having an unclear path of their promotional track.
To get in the right mindset, employees need to highlight their personal goals, determine their unique promotional track, and find a mentor to help coach them through the more challenging times.
Having the right mindset isn’t the only thing that directly influences an employee’s performance. Many other factors go hand in hand to operate at a higher performance. Additional core values can be collaborating on a huge project, networking, and advocating for yourself in ways that will promote you along your unique promotional track.
“More often than not, many employees will put the success of others before them and hold back their full potential. This could be simply out of respect for more senior people or having an unclear path of their promotional track.”
The classic salesperson is one who’s slick, who has a story to tell at every moment, who is someone that could talk for hours without a break. I’m happy to say that this classic salesperson archetype is antiquated and this old mindset simply doesn’t work anymore. To be a high performer, especially a high performer on a team, we ask our reps develop a certain mindset. I’ve put this into the following principles.
- Be Curious
- Take Initiative
- Be a Valued Consultant
- Be a Counselor
These principles are a huge boost in sales if they’re applied. We have a wide array of metrics at DYL to quantify conversions and I’m always happy to see rep progress as they learn to apply the principles in their sales cycle. However, without finding what methods work best for the rep and without the rep finding the steps that play to their natural strengths, they can still flounder. Having a process is always a nice tool in any industry. But without personal understanding and application, a process can be just meaningless words.
The best reps on our team convey our principles in their daily life. Many engage in volunteer work on weekends or play and coach community sports. Many have families and close friends to be a counselor to. Many are balanced individuals with hobbies ranging from playing music to baking. Any pursuits that connect an individual with others almost always signify a high achiever and a team player.
“Having a process is always a nice tool in any industry. But without personal understanding and application, a process can be just meaningless words.”
Here are my thoughts:
- Start small in developing habits. Use James Clear’s 4 components of habit-building: cue, craving, response, and reward.
- Identify your “Why”: To create sustainable high performance, it starts internally.
- Understand your strengths and weaknesses: Developing the mindset to be a high-performer requires extreme self-awareness.
- Track your progress: High performers know their activities.Review your calendar every week to see how you’re spending your time, and use habit trackers/activity scorecards to see if you’re truly performing. Data is objective after all.
- Duplicate what the best do: In a team setting, recognize that you slacking off can wildly affect the lives of your partners and co-workers, taking away time from other important things in their lives. That’s not fair to either of you.
Mindset is important, but it needs to be combined with execution. Here’s the way I see it: mindset is strategic, while daily habits are tactical. You need both to become a high-performer.
Core values are so critical, but they’re also personal and contextual. In other words, I think this is based on each individual, asking what core values are important to him/her, and most importantly, asking why. By understanding why, we can review the core values every day as guiding principles/beliefs on our decisions. But because our lives change, even these core values may change over time, and I think that’s often overlooked.
I believe being a high-performer should always come from an inside-out approach. Understanding yourself first and how you play a role in contributing to the lives of others creates meaning. And it’s that meaning that pushes high-performers to constantly move forward.
“Core values are so critical, but they're also personal and contextual. In other words, I think this is based on each individual, asking what core values are important to him/her, and most importantly, asking why.”
I think the first step in developing the mindset to be a high performer and first identifying where you’re looking to grow in the company. It’s more likely you’ll want to be a higher-performing employee if you have goals you’re trying to achieve. Once you’ve laid out and identified these goals you’ll want to figure out the right steps to get there. I’ve found that once I have achievable and actionable goals and steps, it helps me become more motivated and therefore helps my mindset to achieve. You always want to think about putting yourself in a place of growth and all the feedback you encounter and mistakes you make on the way will further help with your development to get you to where you want to be. If you don’t have growth in mind, then chances are you’ll lack motivation and will just stay stagnant.
Another thing to keep in mind is not to be competitive. It’s healthy to feel a little competition but having that mindset instead of a growth mindset can be exhausting and take a toll on your mental health. You’re on a team for a reason and it’s important to encourage others and learn together.
I do believe having the right mindset contributes to high performance. Being a high performer takes motivation, enthusiasm, concentration, and will power. It won’t happen overnight and you need to be mentally equipped to handle all the bumps along the road. You’re going to get feedback along the way or make some mistakes but make sure that doesn’t hold you back. You always want to approach bumps as experiences that will help shape your performance in the long run. Always come at it from the perspective of “what did I learn from this and how will I apply that in the future, so it doesn’t happen again?” I almost think we learn more from our mistakes than our successes because it becomes so deeply ingrained in us to not want to feel that feeling of “failure” again.
“You're going to get feedback along the way or make some mistakes but make sure that doesn't hold you back. You always want to approach bumps as experiences that will help shape your performance in the long run.”
The most important mindset every top performer must have is one of constant learning and development. This means first accepting that you always have something new to learn, and second, seeking out learning opportunities. This also means embracing every opportunity for feedback, a trait that is highly appreciated in any organization.
Having this mindset keeps you open to opportunities and allows you to look at both yourself and the outside world with a critical eye. This, in turn, keeps you innovative and helps you avoid mistakes.
Having the right mindset is necessary, but not sufficient on its own to become a high performer. The right mindset will put you on the right trajectory, but you also need to be skilled in the work you are doing in order to truly be a high performer. Other values that can help you are humility, respect, and an entrepreneurial spirit. These values will help keep you grounded and ready to take on new responsibilities.
“The right mindset will put you on the right trajectory, but you also need to be skilled in the work you are doing in order to truly be a high performer."
To wrap it up:
In general, most of our expert team leads have agreed to the importance of setting the right mindset on achieving high performance on a team. There were a lot of common points for each advice they gave us, but the majority said that it is the growth mindset that sets apart a high performer from an average-performing worker.
Growth mindset is the attitude of constantly seeking for learning and growth opportunities whenever you can. The willingness to expand one’s knowledge drives you one step ahead of your average self who would just settle on doing a so-so job.
When you are aware of your goals, you will push yourself extra hard to reach them and open yourself to broaden your set of expertise. Growth mindset + goal-oriented mindset make the perfect combination in attaining excellence in your work.
Although the mindset takes up a huge chunk of gearing you up to be a top performer, they also believe that all these go to waste if you do not put them into action. A high-performing team member is not just full of idealisms and motivation, this person knows how to execute and strategize how he’s going to achieve results.
Together with execution, mindset goes hand in hand with other core values that make up an exceptional team member. These include the following values:
- Overall positive outlook at work
- Respect to everyone at the work environment
- Integrity on everything that comes your way
- Perseverance in achieving the best
- Analytical skills in problem solving
- Assurance of increasing productivity
- Initiative of going that extra mile to perform duties and help others
- Belief in the collective work efforts of a group by being a good team member
And these are the key takeaways on developing the right mindset for excellence in your work. There are a lot of points to be remembered, to be honest, and it’s all up to you as to how you are going to embody these mindsets and core values to achieve your goal. As long as you kick off any responsibility with the right attitude, you will be on the right track.