FAQs on Teams and Leadership – Part 1

I have been researching and applying responsible leadership, teamwork, and change for 26 years all over the world, and I often get asked the same questions.

This is the first post of a 5-part series in which I will address the most basic, and the more involved, questions that I am frequently asked about teams, teamwork, and leadership.

Here are my answers to the following questions:

  1. What is a team?
  2. What are the basic principles of teamwork?
  3. Are there different types of teams?
  4. How is a team different than a group?

1. What is a team?

A team is a group of people whose personal outcomes are obviously and emotionally linked to a collective outcome — such as a successful project — and who work together to maximize collective and individual outcomes. “Team” also refers to the quality of group relationships that allows ordinary individuals to achieve extraordinary results together — such as a project that surpasses its goals. Just because a department or function is called a team doesn’t make it a team by this practical definition.

2. What are the basic principles of teamwork?

Shared outcome: sometimes called the lifeboat principle, i.e., when people are in the same boat together, individual differences and outcomes matter less than the collective outcome.

Shared commitment: people who don’t care as much as others about a shared outcome become dead weight, i.e., free loaders.

Equal voice: flat social structure. Rank does not imply correct judgment. People commit to what they have a say in designing.

3. Are there different types of teams?

Lots of people say that there are different types of teams. For our money, though, a team is either a team or it’s something else. Despite surface variations in size, purpose, duration, formality and co-location, what make a team a team never changes — i.e., an emotionally felt investment in a shared outcome.

4. How is a team different than a group?

A group is any assemblage of people regardless of whether outcomes are shared. All teams are groups, but not all groups are teams. All departments are groups, but not all departments are teams.

Check back (or subscribe) for additional blog posts that answer these questions:

  1. Who can be on a team?
  2. How does a team form?
  3. Why is trust important to teams?
  4. Can one person make a difference on a team?
  1. What is leadership?
  2. Who can exhibit leadership?
  3. Should teams have an assigned leader?
  4. Shouldn’t the technical expert be designated as the team leader?
  1. What is the difference between “leadership” and “leader?”
  2. How is a leader different than a manager?
  3. How do I start a team correctly?
  4. How do I get someone to do what he or she agreed to?
  1. How do I get someone to trust me?
  2. How do I get meetings to start on time?
  3. How do I work with someone who doesn’t believe in teams?
  4. How do I motivate someone who doesn’t report to me?

Christopher Avery, PhD, is a recognized authority on how individual and shared responsibility works in the mind and an advisor to leaders worldwide. For more on topics discussed in this post, consider his executive report Responsible Change, and download the Responsibility Process™ poster PDF in a more than a dozen languages. CEO’s desiring a culture of ownership may want to investigate the proven Managed Leadership Gift Adoption program.

Posted in Ask Christopher Avery, Leadership, Responsibility on 06/15/2012 01:22 am
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