Healthy High Performance Teams vs. Silos

By Paul David Walker, author of Invent Your Future: Starting With Your Calling

One of my clients shared her experience in her spinning classes. She said,

“The authentic commitment and energy of the leader starts up the class. As the energy builds each members commitment and energy syncs with the others. The class feeds off each other and reaches a level they could not have achieved individually.”Spinning class

She was glowing as she told me this story. The classes have transformed her energy and improved her health dramatically. Imagine a business team that feeds off each other’s energy. We are working together to build each of her facilities into healthy high performance teams. Her story and experience will be key to this work.

Ask yourself, do the teams you are leading look like her experience in the spinning classes? Most do not, and many feel it is impossible to achieve this kind of synergy for a business team. Of course, with this attitude, it would be impossible. I have experienced many leadership teams who started out feeling stuck with the level of teamwork they had, and like my client in her spinning classes, achieved what I call a Healthy High Performance Team.

Authentic Inspiration

The first step is knowing and experiencing the possibility, like my client who experienced it in her spinning class. Once you know something is possible, your words become alive with authentic inspiration and commitment, which provides an experience for those who follow you.

Casey Sheahan, Former President and CEO of Patagonia, said this to me during his interview for my book, Invent Your Future-Starting With Your Calling:

“Inspiration has to start with you. If you don’t believe that you can affect positive change, then it won’t happen. But if you can inspire people, as opposed to motivating them with fear, then you know there is a better outcome possible … I think you can really light people up. You can light your customers up, and you can light your manufacturers up too. When people are inspired, you get a better result, working conditions, and high-quality products. It is a priority for us.”

When you know the possibility from your experience, people can feel it and become inspired, and motivated by your presence. Your presence is 93% of any communication. It has been proven that the content is only 7% of communication. Your tone, body language, and the energy that comes out of you tells the story. If it is inconsistent with the content of your message people know, and will question what you say. If it is consistent, people are inspired because they are caught up in your experience.

It Starts With You

If the leader of a spinning class was out of shape, and had to take breaks while the class was peddling their hearts out, soon there would be no class. The same is true with leaders of teams in business or public service. It is often said, “Who you are speaks louder than what you say.” The most successful leaders are living examples of their vision. This is something you cannot fake, and takes courage.

We cannot create something we cannot conceive. So how do you get those following you to conceive a possibility they have not experienced? It starts with the stories you tell about times when you experienced a high performance team. Along with a compelling picture of the future state, the stories you tell about your experience become a living example. Told effectively they are an experience for a team or individual to feel.

Silos and Workarounds

The opposite of a high performance team is silos within organizations. Groups of people who are doing workarounds to avoid accountability, or at best be part of a small team that they can control. When you try to inspire teams to exceed their own expectation most people say, “Easier said than done, or you don’t understand what we are dealing with.” This complicates getting things done and creates suspicion, backbiting and a slowing of the growth of the organization. Multiple silos lead to a bureaucratic effect.

synapsesExperience and Habit

Many say life’s greatest teacher is experience, but if this is the case why do many who are experienced people repeat the same mistakes. From research on brain chemistry it is clear that bad or traumatic experiences form neuropathways that harden and create fears that seem real. People will go into a form of “fight or flight” that once protected them when similar situations present themselves. Silos are a form of protection, and if they have created safety for people in the past, they will default to them. Only more compelling experiences will mitigate these defense systems. People will still have the fear that is presented, but after a number of positive team experiences they will default to teamwork.

Teams Committed to Each Other

If people feel part of a team that is committed to each other’s success and the success of the business or organization they will feel safe participating in new behaviors. They will still experience fear, but with leadership that reinforces team commitment and illustrates the dangers of the opposite with authentic stories that create an experience, they will change. The team becomes a sanctuary of safety and inspiration. As the success of the team and the business grows, they will become more committed.

Success Stories

Prior to success it is important to find experiences in each individual’s life when they were part of a good team, or have seen one, while watching sports. An experienced leader finds ways for them to recall times when they experienced high levels of teamwork so they are inspired to let go of old safe habits that form silos. Breaking this natural human tendency requires that they can see, feel and hear a better way.

Creating off-sites for a team that creates an experience of a healthy high performance team is effective. You can do white water rafting or other similar outdoor experiences, but it is critical each experience is related to the organizational or business challenges. What is even more effective is dealing with difficult business or organizational challenges while creating the experience of teamwork directly relevant to work. Well- facilitated, these off-sites create a living example of the possibility for the team, and create success stories.

As individual and team success occurs, it is important to tell success stories as part of the organizational day-to-day process. These stories reward people and carry the wisdom forward, creating an organizational mythology. Each story should embody the feeling of success and the strategy that created that success.

Like the spinning class, there is no denying the value of a high performance team experience and the feeling of power and pride it embodies. The more you and your team can Invent Your Future by PD Walkerexperience the power of a team, the sooner it will become an organizational reality. It will not happen overnight, but as it is achieved, the performance and wellbeing of the organization will grow rapidly. Once healthy high-performance teams are woven into the fabric of your business or organization, it will retain and attract the best talent, produce performance beyond your expectations and provide a powerful barrier of entry against completion. It is not easy to create, but what of real value is easy.

“Here you will find a treasure trove of distinctions, tools, and models that will allow you to engage people in a way that naturally harmonizes and enhances working with others—and that in turn advances the mission and purpose of the organization. More than that, you will be introduced to the thinking that guides and directs our most advanced leaders. There are years of learning available in Invent Your Future. Do not be surprised when, in the days and months to come, you find yourself referencing this book. It’s that good.”
-John King, Bestselling Author of Tribal Leadership

Permission is needed from Paul David Walker to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2020

Paul David Walker, CEO and Founder of Genius Stone Partners, is one of the early innovators of leadership consulting and coaching at the executive level. For more than thirty years, he has successfully guided the CEOs and senior executive teams of such Fortune 500 and mid-sized companies as New York Life, Mutual of Omaha, Chase GIS, Finance One, VONS Grocery, Pacific Mutual, Rockwell International, Conexant Systems, Harrods, Anne Klein, Union Pacific, StarKist, The City of Long Beach, Long Beach Fire Department, Culver Studios, Shout Factory, Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar, NTS, Archstone Foundation, The Queen Mary and many other thriving organizations. He is author of Invent Your Future-Starting With Your Calling and Unleashing Genius: Leading Yourself, Teams, and Corporations. He specializes in building teams of leaders committed to each other’s success and the success of the business. Feel free to contact Paul by email or his cell 562-233-7861.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, Santa Monica, CA, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code, Cracking the Business Code and Cracking the High-Performance Team Code, please go to

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information, visit

Preparing Your Thought For The Day

By Paul David Walker – Excerpt from: Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling

We recently did our monthly Open Line web conference on the topic of Preparing Your Thought For The Day. We had so much interest, not only domestically but also globally, that we thought that we would include the audio for this Open Line with an excerpt from the new book, Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling by Paul David Walker. If you’d like to get a copy, please look to the end of the article for the link to Amazon.

Open Line webinar audio, Preparing Your Thought For The Day

Know the Difference

The truth is that anything can cause your conscious mind to let go of comparative thought and find Integrative Presence. It would be impossible to catalog all the experiences people have had. What is important is to know the difference between the two states of mind. Meditation is a practice that will help you find your personal roadmap into this powerful 2049233526_358678b16e_zstate.

When I have asked people to describe how they feel when they experience Integrative Presence, they say words such as confident, at peace, exhilarated, powerful, graceful, focused, and present. Some report a slow-motion effect.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told how the five seconds he had to win the NBA championship with one shot seemed like five minutes. He felt relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, yet he appeared to move like lightning to the rest of the world—the very definition of Integrative Presence. His creativity, within these few precious seconds, was pure genius. He was integrating the skills he had learned over the years, his desire to make the shot, and the flow of the moment, without interruption from his thoughts.

Most people have experienced this state of mind. The question is what percentage of our life is spent in this state? The art of getting into this state of mind is letting go of thoughts and connecting with the flow of events in the moment. Meditation is practice for your mind and body. An athlete must practice his or her sport; a leader must practice disciplining his or her mind.

Practices & Actions

As in sports, there is no substitute for practice. Knowing how to move from “normal thinking” into Integrative Presence comes from practice.

Take time to connect with your peak experiences and observe how you transitioned yourself. Find ways to still your mental chatter and connect with the present, and you will become a much more effective and happier person.

The following is a simple meditation technique that can help you clear your mind. It will help you establish an inner roadmap to stillness, which enables you to flow with present reality.

1. Find the Right Environment: Find a quiet place and arrange to have no distractions or interruptions, whether it’s a special place in your home or a place out in nature. It is especially important in the first stages of meditation to find the right location. It helps you move toward stillness naturally. Over time you will be able to meditate anywhere, at any time, even as you walk through hallways.

2. Sit Comfortably: You want your body to be at ease. Find a comfortable chair and be sure not to cross your arms or legs. Sit up straight so you will not have to move should one drop of water 578897_640of your limbs fall asleep.

3. Take Three Deep Breaths: When you take these deep breaths, hold the oxygen in as long as you can on each breath, and let the oxygen out suddenly once you can no longer hold the air.

4. Breathe Normally: Return to your normal breathing pattern. Close your eyes and put your attention on your breathing process. Follow your breath in and then out. Notice the rhythm and depth of each of your breaths. Spend two to three minutes just following your breath with your attention.

5. Imagine a Beautiful Place: Imagine yourself in a beautiful place in nature. Each time you begin meditating, come back to this place. It will serve as an anchor for peace and help you to relax each time. When you have felt the peace of this place, use it as a background and return your attention to your breathing.

6. Let Go of Your Thoughts: As thoughts arise in your mind, do not resist them. Practice observing without processing, and then letting go of them. You can imagine them floating up into the sky or being absorbed by nature. As you let go, return your attention to your breathing.

7. Deepen Your Breathing: After you find your natural rhythm, increase the depth of your breathing. Inhale 10 to 15 percent deeper and exhale 10 to 15 percent deeper. Play with this deeper rhythm until it becomes natural. Continue to let go of thoughts as they arise.

8. Notice Stillness: At the moment you fully inhale, just before you exhale, notice that a still point occurs. Likewise, after you have fully exhaled, the same still point happens. One, the inhale, is full and the second, the exhale, is empty. Notice the difference.

9. Fall into Stillness: At times when your total focus is on this deeper breathing process, you will notice the stillness inside you. Let your consciousness fall into this stillness. Let go and don’t be afraid; it is your destination. Stay there as long as your ego will allow. It might take a number of sessions before you achieve this stillness, but it is worth the practice and discipline.

10. Open Your Eyes: After about twenty to twenty-five minutes, gently open your eyes without moving and notice the world around you. Notice your state of mind and journal your experience.

11. Take This State of Mind with You: Practice staying with this state of mind as you get up from your chair and walk, focusing on your breathing as before. Find a rhythm between your steps and your breath. Count how many breaths per step until you find a comfortable pace that is a little deeper than normal. This will help you begin to integrate this state of mind into your daily life.

12. Do Short Meditations: Once you have mastered this practice you will be able to take a few minutes to clear your mind between meetings or even with short pauses during meetings. Meditation creates the same state of being that Florence Joyner and other athletes achieve when they are “in the zone.” Your consciousness will naturally expand and you stones-825374_640will be able to perform more effectively. Once again, there is no substitute for practice. As you continue to meditate, you will find the quality of your thought improving. You will have great ideas and find it easy to solve problems. Creating this space of stillness within you leads to Integrative Presence or being “in the zone.” Meditation is a powerful tool for those who are inventing their future. It helps with idea generation and stress reduction. If you are a leader, you need both to be successful.

With practice, every aspect of our lives will improve. Practice being the stillness in the storm, a person who listens, a person who puts aside personal views and is moving like a basketball player in the zone. Demonstrate real stillness when it comes to the performance part of leadership, in contrast to the bombastic person who is constantly throwing shallow or reactionary viewpoints.

Stillness, and the awareness that come with it, creates wonder and humility. The more we know, the more we see endless possibilities and these create a natural humility. As I have said to many of the CEOs with whom I work, it is hard to criticize humility.

Excerpt from: Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling, Copyright Paul David Walker. To get a copy, please click here.  Or copy and paste this link into your browser:

Additional Ideas to Consider

• Share this article/audio with team members, family and others.
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Book Suggestions

Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling – Paul David Walker
Unleashing Genius, Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations – Paul David Walker.
Play to Win – Larry Wilson
The Path to Awakening – Shamar Rinpoche
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

Permission is needed from Paul David Walker to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years as well as many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the bestselling book, Unleashing Genius, Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations. and his new book, Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling. You can reach Paul at

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit,