Teams in high-trust environments have 50% better productivity, 106% more energy and 40% less burnout.

How do you build trust and rapport with your team?

Today, we’ll explore one word we’ve learned from the expert, Daniel Goleman. Goleman is known for his work on Emotional Intelligence. But then he wrote a book on that one word.


For us at The OKR Group, focus is probably the most important of our ten principles of strategy execution.

Focus is the ability to control the flow of your attention.

Without it, we can’t prioritise.

Without it, we can’t make decisions.

Without it, we get overwhelmed by a wealth of information and distractors, causing a full-blown attack on our attention and a resultant downward spiral.

Let’s just clarify this link between focus and trust. Goleman’s research shows that we build trust and rapport with our teams by giving them our attention.

If you can’t control your attention, you can’t build trust.

Focus is not just the ability to prioritise. It’s the key to building high-performance teams. Focus leads to trust, which leads to high performance.

In the model below, the x-axis shows the level of brain activity, stress or cortisol. The y-axis is the level of performance.

Disengaged teams: Teams sitting at the bottom left are disengaged. There’s minimal cortisol release, no pressure to perform and no focus. Their minds are constantly wandering.

Frazzled teams: Teams sitting at the bottom right are frazzled and overloaded. They can’t discern what to focus on and are overly concerned with the problems or struggles. Eventually, this will lead to burnout (i.e. adrenal fatigue or cortisol burnout).

“Flow” teams: The top of this graph is what researchers call “flow”. It’s where attention is utterly absorbed, and your skills are called upon and required. You are entirely consumed by the task at hand, and time seems to disappear into irrelevance. That’s where the magic happens!

Unlocking high performance:

Here are three things to focus on (pun intended!) to unlock high performance in your team:

1. Give attention

We called it out as a requirement to build trust. Goleman calls it “other-focused” and he talks about empathy as the centrepiece in this equation. He mentions three types of empathy.

Firstly is cognitive empathy – simply appreciating how others see things.

Secondly is emotional empathy – this is having a felt sense of what others are experiencing.

The third is empathic concern – it’s the compulsion to help others when they are in need.

When you give attention to your team, all three are necessary.

2.Practice focus

Attention is a rare commodity; it’s selective, and we’re constantly distracted by the tools and information that are supposed to help us. However, focus is a muscle, and it needs to be exercised. This is true for us as individuals as well as for our organisations.

When your mind wanders, bring it back.

When attention wanders in your organisation away from the top 3-5 most important strategic initiatives that you’ve agreed on, bring it back.

The more you do it, the stronger the muscle will get.

3. Find flow

This “flow state” we talk about is something to be found; it doesn’t just exist. That state will differ from one individual to the next and from one team to the next.

Find the right amount of stress or pressure to put on a team to absorb their attention and call on their skills without overloading them.

It takes wisdom; but once you get it, there’s no feeling quite like it…

Lastly, remember that emotions are contagious. The level of focus and attention of the company will follow the level of focus and attention of the leader.

Today, send some ripples of good feelings.

If you have questions, we’re always keen for coffee.

Get in touch so that we can brainstorm a few solutions together!

Want to do less and achieve more?

Sign up and get practical advice and insights straight to your inbox every month.

Do less and achieve more.

We send out a monthly note to share some of our wisdom.

This is what some readers have told us:


Super practical.

Always of value.

This is the best mass mailer that lands in my inbox.

These principles extend to beyond work.

Hands down the best newsletter I’ve read.

send me inspiration and advice