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Heart is the Glue of High-Performance Team DNA

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

Note: This is part two of a 4 part series on the building blocks of high-performance team DNA: work-ethic, heart, optimism, and maturity

A recent Gallup study suggests that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. Managers everywhere can help solve this problem -- and reap the benefits of higher employee engagement.

In part one of this series on sourcing for high-performance team DNA, we discussed the importance of work-ethic as the foundational attribute of high performance teams and the challenges of sourcing this attribute via the traditional resume based interview screening. A team of people who work hard together, however, is only as good as the mission they are trying to achieve. And this is where heart comes into play. The mission is as or more important than the work that needs to be done.

Individuals who bring passion to work are inspiring to work with. They tend to possess contagious energy and enthusiasm which transforms the environments in which they work. They know what's important to them and have high integrity. They look forward to the future while celebrating the successes of each day.

Now imagine yourself as the leader of a team of energetic, enthusiastic, high integrity people. Once you get everyone on the same page in terms of aiming the group's shared passion at a given objective, what degree of success could you anticipate in terms of this group making progress towards achievement? But if you found work-ethic a bit intangible, identifying someone's degree of passion may seem nearly impossible.

The good news is that could not be further from the truth!

Heart is the nothing more than the combination of someone's values, motivators, outside interests, career goals, energizers, generosity, and courage. People who possess these attributes walk the talk and are natural leaders who bring that intangible quality of love to the workplace because they are actively energized by the journey toward achieving the mission. Teams high in this aspect enjoy not only the process but each other and are more likely to appreciate the differences of each individual on the team and work to harness those differences into powerful partnerships. When you have a team of people who possess high heart your job transforms into supporting each individuals manifestation of their passion instead of merely managing them.

What should you be listening for as a candidate details their unique motivators, values, and goals? In my opinion, heart is a combination of an internal compass (why someone prefers certain environments and what they aim to accomplish), curiosity (someone's constant willingness to learn and explore the world around them), and grit (why someone persists to achievement despite the obstacles in their way). So therefore I have designed a questionnaire that specifically allows me to investigate these attributes. I ask each candidate four specific questions related to work-ethic and score each answer from 1-5. I'm looking for a total score of 15 or above in this category as an indicator of above-average work-ethic.

Here are some of my favorite heart questions (for the rest you can download the template in my new book Leader Board: The DNA of High Performance Teams):

  • What are your reasons for doing your best every day?

  • What's one thing you're really proud of and why?

  • How have you helped others outside of work?

  • What's the most fun you've ever had at work?

Enfusing your team with passionate people will significantly enhance team engagement toward the mission at hand. When times get tough as they inevitably will, high heart teams are enoculated against the deadly disease of give-up-itis! How would you rate the importance of sourcing for heart attributes in your new hires? Let us know in the comments below. If you enjoyed this article please like and share with your networks.

Stay tuned for part III of this series: Optimism is the Engine of High-Performance Team DNA.

Omar L. Harris is Associate Vice-President and Country Manager for Allergan PLC in Brazil. He is the author of Leader Board: The DNA of High-Performance Teams available for purchase in ebook or print on Please follow him on instagramtwitter, and/or LinkedIn for more information and engagement.

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