The worst kept secret to success is a high-performing team--one with members that have complementary talent and skills, challenge one another, and collaborate to achieve a common goal. But creating and sustaining a high-performing team isn't easy.

In my work with clients like LinkedIn and SAP, I've discovered the three components absolutely necessary for developing this essential unit--no matter where the organization is, its size or function.

If your team lacks these three things, you'll be hard-pressed to achieve the results you want.

Open communication.

Communication is key for any relationship and a cohesive team is, really, a network of close relationships. Research from MIT shows that 40 percent of creative teams' productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others.

So, regular open and honest communication at all levels is a must. Frequent and specific updates should be given to all members so no one is left out of the loop.

Team members must be educated on what other parts of the unit are doing and responsible for to ensure their work is supporting other functions. Everyone must feel included and the floor should be open for anyone to contribute to discussions at any point. Boundaries and territories don't exist in successful teams.

Also, conflict must be addressed immediately. An exercise one of my clients uses with her partners includes a "conflict circle" held at the beginning of every team meeting so issues can be discussed before they bubble up into crises.

Shared goals.

All high-performing teams know what they're working for. Goals are outlined and clearly defined ahead of time. Questions high-performance teams answer before pursuing a project include--what are the objectives? How do they align with the organization's mission or strategy? And, what is the team's vision?

One study by Accenture found that high performing teams that are aligned with business strategy will achieve superior results in key business performance drivers.

Defined roles.

One of the reasons why there is such low engagement in the workforce (just 32 percent in American according to Gallup) is because people don't feel like their jobs or roles have a purpose. Defining how one's part is integral to achieving the shared goals negates this.

So, along with defining the goals, everyone's function must also be defined. People feel pride and ownership when they have real responsibility.

When outlining professional roles, it's also important to understand personality types. By this, I mean, everyone brings a different perspective to the table. It's important to honor and respect these different viewpoints and to use them to the team's benefit.

Does someone always see the silver lining? Is someone always a worst case scenario person? Does someone like to talk through solutions while another needs quiet time to digest and problem-solve?

Understand these personality traits and be sure to allow these team members to share their perspectives in their preferred way so you can get a clear picture of what may be happening on the project--and within the team.

Leading a team can have its challenges, but, if you have these three things, you'll be able to head off issues quickly and continue on your path to success--and real results.

Published on: May 11, 2017
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