How to Make Sense of Your Team Performance

Identify Where Underperformance Strikes to Blow by the Competition

Measuring Your Team Performance

If someone dropped you in the middle of nowhere Alaska with just a map and an X on it… would you know how to get there?

Of course not. (And if you attempted, would be lucky to avoid frostbite.)

Because, as any adventurer knows, before you can move towards a goal, you need to know where you are on the map. You would need to identify some landmarks to gauge where you are and some checkpoints to measure your progress toward the goal.

Evaluating the right route for your team—even if you know where to go—requires the same assessment. Any leader needs to know the landmarks or checkpoints that lie between the organization and optimal performance.

When assessing where you are as a team, there are two general categories of landmarks or Key Performance Indicators (KPI) you can use: tangible and intangible.

Tangible KPIs

As a general leadership rule, you should stay out of the operational weeds. It’s your job to plan and sustain the big-picture and train up the right delegates for detail work.

However, assessing your team well does require a season in the weeds to really understand who is doing what.

Only then can you assess the skills of each team member and position him or her for maximum value and production. Only then can you identify strengths and weaknesses and position each of them in the best possible position to contribute to the team performance.

You’ll want to take a look at things like:

  • Output
  • KPIs
  • Conflicts
  • Collaboration
  • Turnover
  • Wants and needs
  • Beliefs and behaviors
  • Capacity
  • Capabilities
  • Empowerment levels

Intangible KPIs

Other performance indicators are more easily missed because they don’t show up as numbers or percentages. But oh, do they matter! They are intangible so far as they are the performance indicators of healthy culture, problem-solving, and the relationship between team members. The four intangible KPIs I like to look at first are:

Trust. Trust is the currency of leadership. It starts when your team can trust you and you can trust your team. On the other hand, mistrust creates isolation. Isolation in a team environment always leads to disaster.

So, ask yourself:

  • Does my team trust me? Do I trust my team?
  • Do external customers trust us?
  • Do other departments within the organization trust us?
  • Do I know what my team can and can’t do—and how to grow where we are lacking?

Competence. Trust can only take you so far when you’ve got a competence problem. As an InSPIRED leader, you have a responsibility to create and guide a competent team. That means you’ve got to understand your team’s core competencies:

  • What is it that your department does?
  • What are the critical deliverables?
  • What are the critical roles?
  • Within the critical roles, what does competency look like?

Communication. All communication is not created equal. Many conversations among/to team members technically use all the right information—but they’re still not communicating. They’re just transmitting. Communication means not only that transmission has occurred, but also that recipients have received the information—and they know what to do with it.

Commitment. We all start with some level of competence, but knowledge in any industry has to be learned. Give me a person who has some level of competence, but is trustworthy with a heart full of commitment—and I can turn that person into a vital and integrated member of the team. You will gain competence every day if your heart is committed.

Becoming a Master Navigator

Together these KPIs make up your team compass. Most leaders focus on the tangibles, but the secret to finding true north is understanding both the measurable performance indicators and the abstract characteristics that set the context and culture for everything you output.
Keep them in your pocket at all times, and it won’t matter where you get dropped—if you can evaluate where your team is now, you can strategize how to get them anywhere.

The Secret to Enjoying a Missional Team Mindset

Unlocking Your Why to Engage with Passion

Here’s a vital question for organizational leaders to ask: Are you still on track together, or at some point did everyone get distracted from the core mission, vision, values, and purpose?

Family businesses can be beautiful instances of hard work creating something out of nothing.

They also can be prime examples of what happens when your why gets lost over time.

Grandparents carve a business out of the dirt with blood, sweat, and tears. At some point, the business gets handed off to the kids. When the second generation takes over the business, they know the passion Mom and Dad put into it, so they pour themselves into it.

But, more often than not, the grandkids will put that business in the ditch. Why? Because they didn’t share the purpose and passion or see the price paid by that first generation. They don’t share the passion, but they enjoy the privilege that has been their birthright.

Unfortunately, birthright doesn’t give passion and purpose. That’s why so many organizations, not just family businesses, flounder and lose their way over time. They lose their why.

Find the Why to Find Your Purpose

If you’re a leader of an organization that has lost its way, you must discover where you got off track and how to get back to that place of purpose. Purpose and passion produce the energy required to build an InSPIRED culture.

That’s why TOMS Shoes has been so successful. Yes, they’re selling shoes, but, more importantly, they have a social impact that drives them.

Purpose and passion are also why Michael Dell raised the money to buy his own company back. He was passionate about what he had created but knew he couldn’t make the moves he needed to protect that purpose and passion if the company was publicly traded. So, he raised the money to buy back Dell stock and make it private again. That’s what passion does.

People lose their shared sense of passion when they’ve lost their purpose. How then does an organization find or rediscover its purpose? How does it get intentional about ensuring everyone shares that purpose and passion?

  • Everyone in the organization needs to know why the organization was created.
  • What was the founding story?
  • What needs is the company serving now?
  • Could you name the why behind the how and the what?
  • Can you name the team’s core values?

Passion tears down silos and positions organizational culture to be fully integrated. When an organization isn’t driven by passion that comes from a clear and honorable purpose, it’s easy to get into a mess.

So the question is this: is your organization mission-minded or messy-minded? Do you have a mission-critical mindset in your organization or a silo-centric mindset?

3 Signatures of a Mission-Minded Team

Teams working with a mission in mind can’t help but stand out from the rest. How many of these do you see every day with your organization?

  1. With a mission-critical mindset, people will elevate mission, purpose, and passion above the need for egocentric wins. When you’re driven by a good purpose and sense of mission, you don’t have time to get involved in all the messiness—petty arguments, power trips, turf wars, and silo building. It’s not about who gets the credit; it’s about getting things done to advance the mission. They don’t look to place blame; they try to affect change. It’s amazing how much can get done when no one cares who gets the credit.
  2. When you have a strong sense of mission and focus on other people, you position yourself and your organization to function in a highly integrated fashion—fingers interwoven, arms interlocked, tearing down silos and moving forward together in pursuit of your shared mission. The question is simple: what is your purpose?
  3. Slay the dragon or rescue the princess: I believe the best teams need a dragon to slay or a princess to rescue. They can be galvanized against a common enemy (the dragon) or united toward a common goal (the princess to rescue). The former is more of a negative purpose in response to a threat, while the latter is a positive purpose in pursuit of an aspirational aim. Both can be effective in giving clear purpose and keeping teams out of the distracting messiness—but a word of warning about the dragon:

A team functioning in constant threat mode, motivated by fear of the next fire-breathing monster, can be damaged over the long-term.

Occasionally, organizations do face a real crisis that demands the slaying of a dragon. However, for long-term success, it’s far better for an organization to cast a compelling purpose—freeing the princess—and then pursue it with a shared sense of passion.

You must be realistic, of course, but always tie motivation to a positive purpose whenever possible in your leadership to bring out the most inspired performance.

Embrace the Adventure

Life is an adventure to be lived, not a crisis to be survived. Running toward something is always more empowering than just running away from something else. And that’s the beautiful thing about mission-minded leading.

When you know your mission and realize at a core level how important it is, you don’t get caught up in all the distractions, you can’t afford to take your marbles and go home when things don’t go your way, but most importantly you have in view something bigger than short-term obstacles.

Messy-minded leadership might work in a pinch—at the cost of team trust and long-term stability.

Mission-minded leadership, fueled by purpose and passion, will take you all the way.

Why 86% of Your Customers Will Stop Doing Business with You

How to Improve Service by Leveraging EQ  

Over 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they are being treated.

That’s right. Seven out of ten Americans say they are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent service and with whom they feel connected.

One study reported that 86% of consumers in the US said they stopped doing business with a company because of a bad client experience. Of this percentage, 55% cited a company’s failure to resolve their problems in a timely manner.

There’s no getting around it. Service—either good or bad—is an emotional experience.

Your customer contracts with you in the hope that you can fulfill your promise, but hope deferred is problematic.

Anytime you sell something, you create an expectation in somebody’s mind. For that reason, you have to be intentional about the emotional experience that follows. And this emotional management piece is where most people and organizations fall short.

They hook the customer with the intention of meeting customer needs but give little thought to the comprehensive customer experience. Yet if 70% of a customer’s decision to purchase (or purchase again) is based on how the customer feels, you’d better have a plan in place to manage their emotional experience.

Which Comes First—Thinking or Feeling?

If you’re wired to be more rational and find yourself resisting all this talk of emotion, I get it.

But consider this: emotion fires before reason in the human brain, even for logical thinkers.

When you deliver good or bad service, an emotion fires in the customer’s brain before a thought. Often that emotion will trump whatever thoughts may follow. If seven out of ten customers are willing to spend more money with companies and organizations they feel connected to, then InSPIRED leaders must capitalize on that reality.

By the way, this emotional awareness doesn’t only apply to external customers, but to internal customers, as well. Yes, your peers, coworkers, direct reports, and colleagues have the choice to either buy what you’re saying or not.

Seven out of ten of your peers, coworkers, direct reports, and colleagues are willing to buy what you are selling, if—and this is a big if—they feel emotionally connected with you. That means you must give them respect and serve them well, too.

3 Questions to Check Your Service Experience

You can start evaluating your customer service experience with the three questions that follow:

  1. How healthy is service inside your organization right now?

If you find morale is low, it could be that your level of service is the reason. Rather than reflexively blame your team members, consider these tips to serve them well:

  • Don’t saturate them with change.
  • Use effective change management.
  • Provide effective project management.
  • Plan and communicate those plans.
  • Be consistent in attitude and action.
  • Listen to your direct reports who are probably closer to the customer needs.
  • Care for your team rather than insist they sprint endlessly.

2) How healthy is your team service to those outside your organization?

Of course, your customers will let you know if you aren’t serving them well. But you may need to be intentional about asking them before it’s too late.

Remember, there is a significant gap between the level of service most companies think they deliver and what customers think they receive.

Pay attention to what your customers tell you and use their feedback to architect a better, more intentional experience on an ongoing basis.

3) As an individual leader, where is your level of service to others right now?

It’s one thing to serve well organizationally, but every organization is made up of individuals, and you are one of those individuals.

This means you need to constantly check your own service level and commit to making continual improvements. How your external customers experience you and how your internal customers react to you will tell the story of your service and define your personal leadership brand.

Take Back Your Influence

Perhaps instead of “The customer is always right” we should say “The customer is always feeling.” Service truly is an emotional experience. And once the emotions have been affected, it’s difficult to change them through reason or explanation.

Perhaps instead of “The customer is always right” we should say “The customer is always feeling.” Service truly is an emotional experience. And once the emotions have been affected, it’s difficult to change them through reason or explanation.

This key is easy to miss, but so powerfully impacts every part of your leadership relations, including—but not limited to—other members of your team, employees and business partners.

You are always making an emotional impression with your service. And while you can’t control everyone’s feelings, you are responsible for the service that influences them.
Will it be positive or negative? You decide!





Excellence Doesn’t Happen by Accident—Do THIS Instead

The Magical Mindset that Produces Results Every Time

Have you ever been driving to a place you’ve never been before and become disoriented?

Maybe you turned left when you should have gone right, or you zoomed past your exit because you were talking.

How likely is it that you’ll end up at your destination without at least pausing to take stock of where you are and making a new plan to get where you need to go? Not very.

The same principle holds true in leadership. When you find yourself off course, you must make course corrections.

Accidental successes are neither repeatable nor sustainable. That’s why you must lead on purpose—be intentional.

Perfect Requires Practice

Think about the ballerina who stands for hours en pointe, wooden blocks digging bloody gashes into her toes, so she can hop to her toes effortlessly and glide across the stage when the curtain goes up.

Those graceful movements don’t happen by accident. She practices for decades to perform with excellence in that moment.

If you prefer an example with more speed, think about the painstaking years that go into engineering a Formula One race car. An entire team of experts meticulously designs every aspect of the vehicle for maximum speed and aerodynamics to achieve a single purpose—to win the checkered flag.

Likewise, no mountaineer ever reached the summit accidentally. Careful planning, intentional preparation, and a firm understanding of your destination position you to reach whatever your own summits may be.

Do You Have a Destiny Mindset?

All of it makes up what I call the Destiny Mindset. As you may notice, the words destiny and destination share the same root—destinare, which is Latin for “make firm, establish.”

While the word destiny carries the idea of being “predetermined and sure to come true,” your destination is something you “determine, appoint, choose, make firm or fast.”

Unless you predetermine your destiny, you’ll never reach your destination, let alone make the moves required to get there.

Without intentionality, you’ll be the disoriented driver cruising down the road, always in motion, but clueless about which way to turn.

Sure, you’ll get somewhere, but will it be the destiny you long to fulfill?

I challenge you to refuse to operate in this haphazard way in your leadership.


Don’t mistake movement for momentum or action for results.  

The Right Destination Requires Intentional Planning

It all begins with realizing that excellence is never an accident. It’s always the result of being intentional. You have to have a plan. If you don’t know where you’re headed, you won’t know how to prepare for the journey.

When you’re not savvy about the trail, you get caught up in the action of the day-to-day and forget to watch for checkpoints. When you’re stuck in fire-ready-aim mode, you can easily drift off course.

That’s why you must have an intentional plan to ensure you’re hitting the right target consistently. So what sort of things must you be intentional about? Here are a few to get started:

  • Mindset. Your mindset dictates everything else you do and everything you believe. If you aren’t intentionally monitoring your mindset, you’ll unintentionally believe things that will pull you off track.
  • Yourself. Being intentional about yourself means understanding who you are and who you are not. It’s about having a plan to lead when strong and team when weak. It’s being honest with yourself about who you are and who you hope to become.
  • Your summit. Not every summit is worth climbing, so be intentional about choosing yours. Once you know where you want and need to go, you can get intentional about making the climb.
  • Your team. Provide good leadership for them, because they are a critical component of the climb. Good leadership is an art, and, as Seneca put it, “That which occurs by chance is not an art.”
  • Your culture. Good culture empowers your team and kickstarts execution. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.
  • Operations. Be intentional about what you need to deliver. Then create a solid plan to get it done.
  • Your organizational structure and goals. Do you do business by design or by accident?
  • Your customers. At the end of the day, they will determine your success or failure.

Too many good people simply accept whatever happens to them as their lot in life.

However, when you adopt a Destiny Mindset, you plant your flag and proclaim to yourself and the world: I believe I have a higher purpose. That purpose is my chosen destination.

I believe each of us is destined for greatness.

Visualize the leadership destiny you want—it has to start there—then develop an intentional plan to reach that destination.


The Real Reason Why Your Team Is Falling Short

How Much Leadership Currency Do You Have?

Trust is the currency of leadership.

It starts when your team can trust you and you can trust your team. It expands when other departments in the organization trust you as a leader and trust your team to execute on its promises and responsibilities.

It expands even further when your external customers trust you as an organization to deliver a solution to their needs and to do so in a valuable and timely manner.


Integration without trust is like a boat without a keel.


The keel is the strong backbone of a ship, made out of wood, metal, or other sturdy material. It juts down into the water beneath the boat like an upside-down shark fin and can weigh tons.

In fact, a keel can make up almost half of the overall weight of a typical sailboat. It needs to be sufficiently heavy to stabilize, while being light enough for agility and adaptation at speed.

You might think that something so heavy would immediately sink the ship. Instead, the weight works as ballast, keeping everything balanced in rough waters.

Trust works in the same way. When you have a team you can trust, through good days and bad, that you may wobble, but you won’t keel over.

Do You Have the Trust You Need?

There are two types of trust—relational and transactional.

When most people think of trust, they think of relational trust, because trust begins and ends on the strength of relationships. Every team has some sort of relationship history and these interconnected relationships either build up or erode trust.

Trust isn’t created in a vacuum. It’s built over hundreds of little moments of interaction between real, complex people with emotions, feelings, and fears. Thus, a powerful component of relational trust is positive intent—choosing to believe the best of team members first, and then doing the necessary research into a problem.

When any team struggles to believe the best of one another, communication breaks down, and growth grinds to a halt. The absence of relational trust makes everything exponentially more difficult to do.

But there’s another sort of trust that is equally necessary.

Transactional trust means you believe that a person or team can execute on your expectations, follow through, and get things done. It differs from relational trust in that you may trust someone to be a good person with the best of intentions, but whether or not they can be trusted to get the job done is another matter entirely.

Do you trust each other to deliver results? If someone promises to get something done, can you believe them?

If you can’t trust people or teams to deliver the results they promise, you’ve both got a big problem.

You may have people on your team whose integrity and ethics are top-notch, but who, unfortunately, lack the skill and competence to complete the task. That’s a breakdown in transactional trust that must be remedied.

In a business, transactional trust makes up a large part of the ballast that keeps the ship upright. If you have a person on your team that isn’t getting it done transactionally, that’s a place where you aren’t integrated and something needs to change.

Do you Choose Excuses or Results?

I always say that your team can choose excuses or results. Of course, it’s tempting to keep giving the benefit of the doubt and avoid confrontation, but that doesn’t do anybody any good. To build trust, you’ve got to address the problem and provide the training or guidance necessary to improve the situation.

Mistrust creates isolation and isolation in a team environment always leads to disaster. So, ask yourself:

  • Does my team trust me?
  • Do I trust my team?
  • Do external customers trust us?
  • Do other departments within the organization trust us?
  • Do I know what my team can and can’t do—and how to grow where we are lacking?

The best teams have this awareness in common. They know they can rely on each other to do the job well—and if there are problems, team members will speak up.

So which one will you choose for your team? Excuses or results? Isolation or trustworthy community?

If you’re just starting this leadership journey today, have grace with yourself and your team. Trust is built over time with integrity and honesty. Start by being trustworthy yourself. Next, look for ways to give other people a chance to be trustworthy with you.

Where do you see the need for more trust—relational or transactional—in your team? What conversations/steps will you take this week to begin moving back towards effective, efficient, and trusting performance?