5 Teams Setting the Standard for High Performance

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How can I transform my people into a high performing team? 

This is a question we have answered a lot lately, and in many ways. For starters, we went BIG and launched the brand new High Performing Teams Programme, which will perform that exact transformation for you. 

Alongside this though, you may have seen videos, blogs and even a quiz all designed to identify exactly what your team needs to unlock new levels of incredible performance. 

Today, we are shifting our focus away from the usual processes and delving into the realm of teams that epitomize high performance. These exceptional teams go above and beyond the norm, setting new standards of success. 

As someone that is fanatical about most sports, I have consciously avoided filling this list solely with sports teams, despite the clear success indicators in competitive sports. 

So, get ready for a captivating journey through space, superheroes, and maybe a small dosage of sports. It was unavoidable. 

We hope that these examples spark inspiration in you and your team to embark on or continue the journey of crafting an extraordinary legacy in your industry.


Emergency Response Teams  

Responding to an emergency is an enormous venture into the unknown. Your job is to immerse yourself into situations with varying magnitudes of chaos, disarray and distress, working towards providing the help and support needed to resolve or de-escalate whatever has occurred. 

To be able to do this incredibly difficult role effectively, emergency response teams need to perform at a high level. A knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team is paramount so that time isn’t wasted, and everyone has a clear understanding of how they contribute and collaborate within a crisis situation. 

There also needs to be effective communication which allows the team to give critical information and actions that will help them to provide the necessary support. This also allows individuals within the team to be decisive in making key decisions, as they will have the necessary information to assess the situation and be able to make a more informed decision in a stressful environment. 

Key to the continuous success of these teams is a focus on continual improvement and innovation to achieve better outcomes based on findings or debriefs. For example, this could include training to help the team be increasingly adaptable to changing circumstances, to understand more about how to support individuals in distress or to become more efficient in response time. 


The 2004 Greek National Football Team 

I am about to get incredibly nerdy here, as this particular topic is one that gets the limbic system in my brain firing, and the dopamine flowing. The following has been debated as being one of the finest tactical achievements in football history and a remarkable example of brilliant leadership, near-perfect tactical preparation, and unwavering commitment to a common cause. 

When Greece arrived in Portugal for the European Championships in 2004, many onlookers had already penned their path into the tournament. They would show up, play their 3 group games, underwhelm and then head back home. Before qualifying for this tournament, they had only qualified for 2 other tournaments and failed to win a single match in either. 

Therefore, there were shockwaves so enormous that they spread beyond the football world when they made it out of a difficult group, navigated their way through the knockouts, including a victory against defending champions France, and defeated the host nation Portugal in the final in front of a shellshocked Estadio Da Luz in Lisbon. 

The moment that is the clear catalyst for the change in fortunes for the Greek team was the appointment of Otto Rehhagel as head coach. He transformed them into a high performing team by uniting players under a common goal that helped increase team spirit, effort and standards. This became the foundation he used to then instruct his players to understand and execute specific tactical plans that nullified the teams they faced, and maximised the strengths, commitment and determination of every member of his team, enabling them to overcome seemingly superior opponents. 

I could go on and on about this example. The film ‘King Otto’ is a must if you’re keen to learn more. 


Apollo 11 Mission 

When thinking about examples that define a high performing team, this was one of the first that came to my mind. The reason that this is such a clear example of remarkable team performance is because of the scale of the achievement. They achieved something that no team had previously accomplished. 

There was a clear mission. However, what I find incredibly impressive is the ability to align an entire team behind such a unique purpose. Their goal, as a member of the Apollo 11 team, was to achieve what no one else had achieved and create a landmark moment for humankind. Clarity in the steps to reach this ambitious target would have been crucial. 

When we think about this moment in history, we may recall the same names. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. However, the team that can assign themselves with this incredible feat is so much vaster than those who stepped foot on the moon. 

Technicians, scientists, engineers and various other disciplines had to come together to collaborate, to tackle complex problems and innovate to achieve the desired outcome. 

Every department of the mission also had to show incredible amounts of precision and resilience, with one key example being the need to manually pilot the lunar module on descent due to the rocky terrain of the landing area. Whilst it is impossible to prepare for the unknown, it is crucial to prepare the individuals and the team with what is required to find clarity in high stress scenarios, and to work together to resolve whatever presents itself. 


The Avengers 

Disclaimer before I attempt to analyse The Avengers as a high performing team. I am aware that they are fictional. Although wouldn’t it be incredible if I genuinely had no idea that they were at my age. I am just a 27-year-old man hoping that one day I can run into Captain America whilst he has a day off from his tough schedule of superhero-ing. 

The red line on my computer under ‘superhero-ing’ indicates that it is not a verb, but we are sticking with it. 

Anyway, for those who are familiar with The Avengers, you will know that they are a team of superheroes that possess a variety of different powers. In some teams, having people that excel in so many different ways could create issues with team dynamics and in the clarity of how each strength can be utilised within a team. However, The Avengers proves that diversity is an incredible strength, as possessing a wide range of abilities then means they can overcome the many shapes and sizes of evil. 

This also requires trust and respect to maximise, as well as effective communication and leadership. This enables strategic choices to be made to determine the most effective way to overcome a certain circumstance or adversary. There isn’t always harmony within the team, which is common when such strong personalities are present, however it is the clear mission and purpose that brings them together, creating a commonality that influences conflict resolution. 


1992 US Men’s Olympic Basketball Team 

This is another example of how a team could easily fall victim to its own individual brilliance. That is because when a group consists of incredible talent, it can quickly become a competitive environment that consists of people trying to shine above others and forget about collective success. 

The classic phrase ‘There is no I in team’ comes to mind. 

At the Barcelona Olympic games in 1992, the United States brought a team to compete that is regarded by many to be one of the greatest sporting teams in history. If you are not a basketball fan, this will just read like a list of random names, however the roster consisted of remarkable talent such as the iconic Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Scottie Pippen. 

It is a list of players who are in the Hall of Fame. 

This team is therefore an example of uniting remarkable ability to form an unstoppable force. The goal was a simple one to quantify. A gold medal. The path though would be one of many different challenges from different opponents, and immense pressure to live up to the expectations that comes with having tremendous ability. 

This team though did not just live up to expectation, they exceeded it by a distance, as they won gold and defeated each opponent by an average of 44 points on the way to the Olympic title. 

Effectively leading these big personalities and talents, whilst building a team spirit that made it possible to have everyone commit to a plan that complemented and amplified each ability the team possessed has built this team a remarkable legacy. 

A legacy that has made them the benchmark for excellence in their field. 


In conclusion, high-performing teams, whether in times of crisis, sports, space exploration, or even fiction, exhibit common characteristics that underpin their remarkable achievements. Effective communication, a shared sense of purpose, embracing diversity, and strong leadership are fundamental components. Clear communication ensures clarity in roles, a common goal unites the team, diversity sparks innovation, and adept leadership harnesses individual talents towards collective triumph. These valuable insights serve as a guiding light for those seeking to elevate their teams to unprecedented levels of success across various industries.

Many thanks,


Alex & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your other learning & development challenges, book in your discovery call.


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