With the holidays coming, and perhaps some time to read, this week I’m sharing several great team resources that will help you thoughtfully lead and participate with your team, divided into 3 categories.
Just the facts, ma’am (you want to cut the fluff and learn quickly what great teams do):
- TeamWork: What must go right/what can go wrong by Carl Larson and Frank LaFasto (1989). Lays out 8 characteristics of effective teams based on their extensive research on teams across many industries. A short read that stands the test of time.
- When teams work best by Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson (2001). Offers extended analysis of what team members, leaders, and organizational leaders do to help teams succeed. An extremely practical book full of wisdom.
Build my brain (you want to think more deeply about these ideas of teamwork and collaboration, with some practical stuff thrown in, too):
- No more teams!: Mastering the dynamics of creative collaboration by Michael Schrage (1995). Read this if you want to be challenged to do teamwork differently. Schrage argues typical team practices, such as dividing and conquering the work among team members, we must actually collaborate to create better solutions to our most pressing problems.
- The wisdom of teams: Creating the high-performance organization by Jon Katzenbach and Doug Smith (1999). Defines what makes a team, illustrates excellent team performance – a must read.
Give me a model (you’re ready to take action, but don’t know what steps to take):
- Creating effective teams: A guide for members and leaders (3rd ed.) by Susan Wheelan (2010). Provides a step-by-step guide to lead a group through the stages of group development and become a true, high-performance team. If you want to cut through the fluff, and learn how to build a great team, this is the book for you.
- Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge by Etienne Wenger and colleagues (2002). Like the idea of teamwork but have some organizational values that emphasize hierarchy and division of labor? Check out this book – you’ll learn how you can build collectives to manage knowledge, exchange best practices, and coordinate action. Fantastic conceptualization of how to bring the promise of teamwork to an organization even when all the conditions necessary for true teamwork are not present.
- Senior leadership teams: What it takes to make them great by Ruth Wageman, Debra Nunes, James Burress and Richard Hackman (2008). A nice book on designing the team at the top of an organization. They discuss 3 essential and 3 enabling conditions for leadership team effectiveness. If you are part of or lead a top leadership team, this would be a great read for you.
You might notice I haven’t included any resources with titles such as 100 Teambuilding Activities to Energize Your Team. Here’s why: those activities don’t work. Teams aren’t built through gimmicks like trust falls and urban scavenger hunts, weekend getaways, or days full of fun team-building activities (I’m thinking of that classic episode of The Office). They are built by thoughtful, sustained, and disciplined efforts by team members. That’s it!
Action Step: I encourage you to build up your knowledge of how teams work so to build some good thoughts to base your team efforts upon as you enter the new year.
If you’ve already read one or more of these books and would commend them to your fellow readers, please leave a comment.
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’ll eat lots, enjoy being with family and friends, and freely express your gratitude to the special people in your life.