Part 1: What Makes a Successful Team: Internal Focus


Are you feeling frustrated because your senior team is under performing…and you just don’t know how to fix it?

If this sounds familiar, keep reading.

Do you see your team making slow and poor decisions, missing opportunities, perspectives being ignored, cliques forming, important tasks going by the wayside, sloppy meetings, poor communication and a general lack of focus?

This could be a sign that your team lacks a strong internal focus - a vital ingredient to highly successful teams.

We’ve been working with senior leaders and teams for over 25 years and created our new diagnostic tool called Successful Teams Model to pin point the strengths and weakness within teams, and create a road map to sustainable elite performance.

Here’s a quick explanation on Internal Focus:

What is Internal Focus and why is it important?

Last week we introduced our Successful Teams Model, a 6-dimension diagnostic tool we’ve designed to help you grow a sustainably successful senior team and win more business. Internal Focus is the first dimension of our model and an important ingredient to elite team performance.

Successful senior teams with incredible internal focus experience the following:

• Know how to organise themselves to achieve results in the most efficient and effective way possible.

• Have clear goals, roles, responsibilities and communicate openly with each other.

• Make sound decisions in a timely fashion based on diverse perspectives and multiple data sources where possible.

• Excel at prioritising and focusing on the things that are really important.

Whereas senior teams with poor internal focus experience:

• Make slow and poor decisions, often in cliques and miss opportunities.

• Over communicate to try and reach consensus.

• Senior leader makes decisions on their own, without the full perspective of the whole team.

• Duplicate or omit important tasks.

• Run sloppy meetings and don’t keep a record of what is going on (or should be).

• Don’t hold each other accountable; focus on the things they like doing, rather than the most important things that will help them increase motivation, improve customer relations, and ultimately reach their business goals.

As you can see strong Internal Focus within your senior team is vital to consistent high performance and therefore achieving targets. Below we outline 3 elements to increasing your internal focus:

1. Well organised team that achieve results in the most efficient and effective way

First off, the way a team organises itself is crucial for success. Ensure that each member of the team is assigned a role that utilises their strengths and complements the other team members.

Each member must know what their role is, be clear on their goals and how to achieve them, how these align with the clear overall goals of the team and how these will be achieved, as well as how all of this ties in with the organisation’s ultimate goal and purpose.

Building further upon this, you must also ensure that your team members are clear on the roles of other members, and how these contribute to the team’s role within the organisation and how this aligns with the organisation’s mission.

2. Clear and open communication and decision making on an individual and team level

It sounds obvious, but the best way to increase your team’s performance is to ensure clear communication between members and the entire team.

It’s also important that your senior teams use the different perspectives within the members, to make better, more rounded decisions - without necessarily making decisions by consensus.

A great way to enhancing communication during meetings is to have the senior leader to speak last and encourage alternative perspectives around the table, before coming to a decision. When the senior leader speaks first, attendees nod their heads in agreement, scared to voice their concerns or ideas.

3. Excellent prioritisation and focus

Have you heard of the 80:20 rule? 20% of your actions achieve 80% of your results. It’s really important that your team hone in on that 20% - these must be actions that they can control, processes they can influence.

If the team and individuals are consistently focusing on the outcome, they’re focusing on the ‘wrong’ thing, as they are unable to control the result. However, if they hone in on the most important, influential actions and processes, and complete these consistently to a high standard, then you’ll see their performance, motivation and energy drastically increase. Thereby increasing your team’s chances for success.

How much time should you spend on enhancing your senior team’s Internal Focus?

The rather unsatisfactory answer is: it depends.

This is because Internal Focus may not be the main underlying cause to your senior team’s under performance and it might just need a nudge in the right direction. Our diagnostic tool would be able to pin point the main issues and help you create a strategy to increasing performance and subsequently profit.

If you’d like to find out more about our Successful Team’s Model send an email to with the subject line ‘Successful Team’s Model’ and Christina will send you more information and answer any questions.

You might also find this article interesting: 6 compelling reasons to work with Ascend on our Successful Teams Model.