The Wisdom of Teams

Note from the Leadership Hub Coach:

Our July theme is Leading Teams, and our book of choice on the subject is: ‘The Wisdom of Teams’.

Sample the best bits of the book below.

What are Teams, really?

“A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, set of performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”

If you’re signed up for our Weekly Hub Tips, this will seem familiar to you.

Here’s your checklist: Are you really using ‘Teams’?

How to Tell the Difference: A ‘Working Group’ and a ‘Team’

Working Group:

  • Individual leader. Individual work products. Individual accountability.
  • Purpose is not a specific problem, but rather the organization’s broad purpose.
  • Discusses, decides and delegates.


  • Shared leadership. Collective work products. Mutual accountability.
  • Specific team purpose that the team delivers.
  • Discusses, decides, and does real work together.

There are 4 key elements to making a successful team. 

1. Start with giving a Common Purpose

Their own purpose as a team.

This is what separates working groups, who all have their own individual aims, and teams, who have a shared vision as well as their individual wants.

The best teams spend time settling and finding this purpose.

2. Set Performance Goals

From that common purpose must come specific performance goals.

These goals will encourage free communication amongst the team, and maintains the focus on getting results. They also hold a team accountable.

3. Make a Team with Complementary Skills

 Each team must look to fill these three skill-sets:

 Technical or Functional Expertise

  • Problem-solving and Decision-making skills
  • Interpersonal skills

Look as much to skill potential as to skills already proven.

“…In all the successful teams we’ve encountered, not one had all the needed skills at the outset. … Teams are powerful vehicles for developing the skills needed to meet the team’s performance challenge.”

4. Mutual Accountability

Consider this a final test of your team’s effectiveness.

Forcing trust is impossible, but mutual accountability grows naturally if all the other steps were successful.

This look at the book was adapted and shortened from this Harvard article.

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