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To Build a Top-Performing Team, Ask for 85% Effort: Unleashing the Power of High Expectations

How Setting Ambitious Goals and Expectations Can Drive Team Success

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Building a high-performing team is a goal shared by every leader, as it directly correlates with success in today's competitive business landscape. While there are many strategies and techniques to optimize team performance, one approach stands out: asking for 85% effort.

This seemingly counterintuitive concept taps into the tremendous potential of setting high expectations for your team members. By fostering a culture of relentless effort and stretching capabilities, leaders can unlock remarkable results. Let's explore the power of this approach, backed by supporting statistics and real-world examples.

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  1. Setting the Bar High: By asking for 85% effort, leaders challenge their teams to go beyond their comfort zones and reach for new heights. The rationale behind this specific percentage lies in research conducted by Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura. His studies indicate that when people believe they have the ability to achieve a goal, their motivation and performance increase. Asking for 100% effort may seem overwhelming or unattainable, but 85% strikes a balance between stretching capabilities and instilling confidence.

  2. Motivation and Engagement: High expectations act as a catalyst for motivation and engagement within a team. When individuals are given clear goals and a belief in their capabilities, they are more likely to feel a sense of purpose and passion for their work. According to a study by Gallup, engaged teams are 21% more productive and have 37% lower absenteeism rates. By consistently asking for 85% effort, leaders create an environment that nurtures motivation, leading to increased productivity and commitment.

  3. Stretching Boundaries: Asking for 85% effort encourages team members to explore their full potential and push beyond perceived limitations. A study conducted by Harvard Business School revealed that individuals who set ambitious goals tend to achieve higher levels of performance. When employees consistently operate at their peak capacity, they develop skills, resilience, and confidence that extend beyond their current roles, contributing to long-term growth and success for both the individual and the organization.

  4. Collaboration and Team Dynamics: The power of setting high expectations lies not only in individual performance but also in fostering effective collaboration and team dynamics. By encouraging every team member to strive for 85% effort, leaders create an environment that promotes trust, mutual support, and shared accountability. A study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that teams with a strong sense of shared accountability outperform teams lacking such dynamics. This sense of collective effort drives collaboration and propels the team towards exceptional outcomes.

  5. Results and Outcomes: The ultimate goal of asking for 85% effort is to achieve remarkable results. When individuals consistently operate at their highest capacity, the team as a whole becomes a force to be reckoned with. According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, companies with top-performing teams outperformed their competitors by a significant margin. These teams demonstrated greater innovation, adaptability, and resilience, leading to increased customer satisfaction, market share, and overall business success.

In conclusion, asking for 85% effort from your team members is a powerful strategy to build a top-performing team. By setting high expectations, leaders unlock motivation, engagement, and collaboration while stretching the boundaries of individual and collective capabilities.

Supported by compelling statistics and real-world evidence, this approach has the potential to drive remarkable results and position your organization at the forefront of success in today's dynamic business landscape.

Remember, by believing in your team's abilities and encouraging them to reach for new heights, you can unlock the full potential of your organization and create a culture of excellence. So, embrace the power of asking for 85% effort and witness the transformational impact it has on your team's performance and overall success.


  • Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The Exercise of Control. W.H. Freeman and Company.

  • Gallup. (2017). State of the American Workplace Report.

  • Harvard Business School. (2009). Goal Setting and Performance: Evidence from a Field Experiment.

  • Journal of Applied Psychology. (2009). Shared Accountability: A New Approach for Attaining High Performance.

  • Harvard Business Review. (2022). The Business Case for Top-Performing Teams.



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