The Fab Five of Healthy High-Performance Teams: #5 - Impact



1. Impact is about making a difference and delivering an outcome that matters. 

2. Healthy high-performance teams understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals.

3. As you work to power up your teams, be sure everyone involved understands their impact, their place in the system, and their power to make a difference bigger than themselves.


We’ve arrived at the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to healthy high-performance teams. That piece is impact, which is all about the results of your work. Impact is about making a difference, offering an outcome that matters.

Teams need to understand how their work contributes to larger organizational goals. It’s incredibly inspiring to be able to see in advance where the part (project) fits into the whole (mission of the organization). And it’s personally motivating to have an impact on a cause larger than the self. It’s similar to aligning your daily habits and choices with your dreams. That’s living with impact.

At the end of the day, we all have the incredible opportunity to make people's lives better, to give people the opportunity to reach their dreams.

When I think of impact, I think of Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip, a kind of national poet of the last 30 years.

He was an intensely personal man, never did anything public. He never put his children in public. He kept everything close to the vest. Then, after he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he did something uncharacteristic: he shared the news with the world. Then, he and the Hip released one more album and went on tour one last time together.

I had the incredible opportunity of seeing the Toronto show. I've been to well over 100 concerts in my life and it was pretty incredible, especially when Gord stood on stage between one of the encores all by himself and took a five-minute standing ovation. He looked at every single segment of the audience and connected with all of us. It was one of the most amazing things I have seen at a major public event, and I have seen plenty. 

A few days later, in its hometown of Kingston, the band gave its final concert, which was broadcast all across the country and around the world with millions of Canadians watching.

During the concert, Gord completely unleashed his love, energy, creativity and passion. You could see he was struggling. He had to read lyrics from a teleprompter. But he was raw and open and there for the audience and the art all the way through. 

As the concert wound down, he did the most incredible thing, an action that I believe lay at the heart of why he wanted to do the concert. 

Knowing he had the attention of the entire country, he came out during one of the encores and spoke at length about Truth and Reconciliation, the history of First Nation’s Peoples in Canada, and the residential school system that was characterized by assimilation and attempted genocide. And as he talked, he spoke directly to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and challenged our national leader to lead the way and make it right. 

I believe that the potential impact of those comments, that moment, was one of the main reasons Gord made a commitment to the tour. When he came off stage, you could see on his face how much it mattered to him to finish his life as a musician in this particular way. He was dying but he had purpose, meaning and impact.

After that concert was over, he released his book about Chanie Wenjack, a young boy who was taken from his family, put in a residential school and died when he escaped and tried to walk the 600 kilometers home along train tracks. His impact carried on through sales of the book and a tangible, personal connection for everyone who watched that night. 

Understanding the direct impact you are going to have is a powerful motivator for teams. As you work to power up every team you’re on, be sure to help everyone involved understand their impact, their place in the system, their power to make a difference.

Here, again, are the fab five elements of a healthy high-performance team: clarity, psychological safety, dependability, meaning, and impact.

Remember the finding of Google’s Project Aristotle: it’s not who you have on a team, it’s how the team functions. It’s the team’s “communal health,” not its talent, credentials, or experience. It’s how they view their task and one another. Those five elements can be alive and well on any team. If they are, great things are possible.

Finally, keep in mind that the five elements build mental health. If they drive us at work and in our personal lives, we’ll have more joy and greater psychological and emotional wellbeing. Our teams win, and so do we.

It has been a pleasure spending this time with you. I’ve enjoyed your questions and comments and stories about your journey. I’ve heard a lot about your dreams and your challenges, and I’m lucky to have learned so much from you. Thank you for participating and striving and sharing.

I wish you the very best on your journey!

Dr. Greg Wells


Today's 1% Gain: Identify your Potential Impact

This final piece of the puzzle of how to create healthy high-performance teams is being aware of the impact that success will have. This impact can be on you, your family, your teammates, your clients, your students, the country, or even the world.

I have discovered that my professional mission is to help 1 billion people be healthier and reach their potential. In my family life, my sole focus is on empowering my children as they grow into their lives.

Being clear about the potential impact of your team and your own work is a huge motivator. More importantly, it can make people content despite the challenges that often accompany trying to make a difference in the world. Knowing you will have an impact will also keep you going when obstacles and setbacks abound.

What is the impact you seek to have in the world? Get this written down and share it at every opportunity.


Bonus material: A conversation with John Foley

Thanks for your participation in this course!

As a thank you, I've attached an interview I did with John Foley for my podcast. 

Foley is a former lead solo pilot for the US Navy’s Blue Angels. During our conversation, Foley shares insights into going after your dream, and how having a high performance team can help you reach it. 

You can listen to the podcast interview here.

Andi Coombs