Team Leadership Resources

Table of Contents


Leaders vs. Managers
Share Information
Encourage “Volunteerism” and Self-Control
Empower Others
Use Participative Management


Teamwork … Collaboration vs Competition
Teams and Organizational Culture
Characteristics of Effective Teams
Team-Player Styles
Signs of Trouble in Teams
The Abilene Paradox … Fear of Isolation –> Agreement


What Empowered Teams Are
•The Benefits of Empowered Teams
•Empowered Teams Require Training
•Stages of Empowered Team Evolution
•The Manager’s Role in a Empowered Team
•Keys to Success with Empowered Teams
•How to Get Started With Empowered Teams



•Empowered Team Books
•Teamwork Material: Practical Tips & Team-Building Exercises


The books, articles, etc are footnoted as shown in the following list. The books are listed alphabetically, by footnote abbreviation. For more formal information about the books, see the Bibliography at the end of this document which lists them alphabetically by author.

Footnotes Book and Author
(ET) EMPOWERED TEAMS (Wellins, Byham & Wilson)
(FLOW) FLOW (Csikszentmihalyi)
(LESS) THE LESSONS OF EXPERIENCE (McCall, Lombardo, Morrison)
(MB) MALCOLM BALDRIGE AWARD (1991 Application Guidelines)
(SA) SERVICE AMERICA (Albrecht & Zemke)
(SHIN) SHINANO! (Enright & Ryan)
(SDWT) SELF-DIRECTED WORK TEAMS (Orsburn, Moran, Musselwhite, and Zenger)
(ZAPP) ZAPP! (Byham & Cox)
(Other) Person or article indicated


Leaders vs. Managers

  • Akers: “Real leadership means ‘letting go’ and creating room for people to apply their energy, creativity, and intelligence” (IBM Management Report, 7/91)
  • Train alter egos – people who act in the absence of credible role models (ELPH)
  • A Leaders’s skill is best rated “not by how smoothly things run while you’re there, but how well they go after you have left” (FEM)
  • “The ant army is in charge” (SW)
  • Peter Drucker: “Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their jobs done” (SW)
  • GE’s Jack Welch: “Managers will be people who are comfortable facilitating, greasing, finding ways to make it all seamless, not controllers and directors … we’ve got to take out the boss element” (Fortune, 8/91)
  • Deming’s 7th Point (of his 14 Points): Institute leadership (Training, 3/91)
  • The critical roles of leaders: designer, teacher, and steward (Peter Senge, Sloan Management Review, Fall 1990)
  • “The new leader is a facilitator, not an order giver” (John Naisbitt)
  • “Managers should persuade, not order” (CHNG)
  • The “Carpenter’s Lament”: “‘Oh, darn. I cut it off again and it’s still too short!’ Executives too much committed to top-down control in a company are like the carpenter. If their company performs poorly, they tighten up. If things get worse, they tighten up more. They never seem to notice that the problem may be that they were too tight in the first place” (ROC)
  • “Leading by persuasion is critical” (LESS)
  • Cylinder 6: Coaching Skills (FOAC)
  • Deming’s 14th Point (of his 14 Points): Everybody in the company must work to accomplish the transformation. (Training, 3/91)
  • The leader as gardener, “watering the flowers, helping them flourish and grow” (FEM)
  • The Post-Heroic Manager: “asks how every problem can be solved in a way that develops other people’s capacity to handle it. It is not virtuous to do it this way, it is essential … the post-heroic leader lives vicariously, getting kicks out of other people’s successes – as old-fashioned teachers have always done” (AGE)
  • “Working with and through other people lies at the very heart of management” (LESS)
  • “Leadership has to be endemic in organizations, the fashion not the exception. Everyone with pretensions to be anyone must begin to think and act like a leader” (AGE)
  • One of the 10 Fatal Flaws of Managers: “Insensitivity to others; an abrasive, intimidating, bullying style” (LESS)

Share Information

  • Employees are winning access to knowledge once monopolized by management. As knowledge is redistributed, so, too, is the power based on it. Power is shifting not because of fuzzy-minded do-goodism, but because it is essential for survival. Employees aren’t made to FEEL important, they ARE important (POW)
  • “Access to pertinent information is essential to getting the job done. The right to know is basic. Moreover, it is better to err on the side of sharing too much information than risk leaving someone in the dark. Information is power, but it is pointless power if hoarded” (ART)
  • “An individual without information cannot take responsibility; an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility” (MOT)
  • Jack Welch: “Everyone in the same room, everyone with the same information, everyone buying into the targets; the problem is we don’t get the same information; complications arise when people are cut off from the information they need” (HBR, 10/89)
  • “Successful managers shared information across units and functions, even information that their subordinates seemingly didn’t need to know to do their jobs” (LESS)
  • The Myths that “People Should Not Be Given Too Much Information”: (DSWT)
    • It’ll upset people and make them worry.
    • People need to concentrate on their jobs and not about what is going on around them
    • If I level with people they might start levelling with me.
    • If anyone really wanted to know something, it’s their job to find out
  • In the super-symbolic economy, it is knowledge ABOUT knowledge that counts most (POW)
  • “The fundamental ‘information problem’ faced by managers is not too little information but too much information. What we most need are ways to know what is important and what is not important” (5D)

Encourage “Volunteerism” and Self-Control

  • Encourage, nurture and reward “volunteerism” (FOAC)
  • “The best people working for organizations are like volunteers … volunteers don’t need contracts, they need covenants” (ART)
  • 3rd Ring (Enhanced) Service can only be delivered voluntarily by committed front-line employees (FOAC)
  • “The best way to tear something down and build it back up was to get others committed to the changes” (LESS)
  • “When everybody has a chance to learn, grow, and achieve, when mistakes become okay, when a lot of people get in on the action, there is a great deal of control in the system – self-control. It’s the strongest kind, but it can’t be bought, legislated, or behavior-scienced in” (PW)
  • “The best control is self-control … the most effective control systems were self-induced and knowledge-based. They were found where you’d least expect them – inside all people caught up in their own work and committed to a common task” (PW)
  • “People have to decide to be superior – they cannot be controlled or coerced into being superior” (DSWT)
  • “Most people indicate that they could give 15-20% more or less effort in their jobs and nobody would know the difference – especially their supervisors” (DSWT)
  • Trist: “External control may correct errors, but only internal supervision can prevent their occurrence” (PW)
  • Trist: “Work groups with the power to manage themselves and to make decisions are more productive and are better able to cope with change in the work place.” (PRIM)

Empower Others

  • “The degree to which the opportunity to use power effectively is granted to or withheld from individuals is one operative difference between those companies which stagnate and those which innovate” (CHNG)
  • Empowering Conditions: “mutual respect, cooperation, open communication, and crosscutting ties” (CHNG)
  • “To be empowered means to believe that you have responsibility, authority and power … empower yourself!” (PROF)
  • Myth #1: Authority = Responsibility … “the reality is that most managers are charged with responsibility while lacking the authority needed to carry it out” (Business Horizons, 3/91)
  • Myth #2: The Absoluteness of Responsibility … “more often than not, managers refuse to take responsibility for actions of subordinates if such action is severely detrimental to the image of the organization or the career of the manager” (Business Horizons, 3/91)
  • “Task specificity by the leader should be contingent on the followers’ task-relevant maturity, defined as their willingness to do and knowledge about the task.” (Business Horizons, 3/91)
  • The Empowerment Spectrum: (PROF)
    1. “Victim”: things happen to them by ‘those people out there’; low motivation; low self-esteem; go with the flow; “why bother, it’s hopeless”
    2. Passive Empowerment: feel their power will come from their next promotion; motivated by the promise of being given more power in next job; “if only …”; “my day will come”
    3. Active Empowerment: “I can make a positive difference”; working on how to take the initiative and influence others
    4. High Active Empowerment: Committed to influencing organizations, people, and events and ACTS on this commitment; take balanced risks; use their position descriptions as guides, not constraints;”What can I do to make my company and me more successful?”
  • Power is an “expandable pie” (TLC)
  • Empowerment … inverted pyramid … unshackle people (TCS)
  • Empowerment … to do the right things (CTSC: rEach)
  • “I protected my backside and went by the book. The result was I lost an incredible opportunity to sink a Japanese carrier” (SHIN)
  • “You must give people authority far out on the line where the action is (MOT)
  • “There was a constant awareness that they were ‘the man on the spot, strengthened with information personally observed and in a far better position to take appropriate action than a desk-bound officer hundreds of miles away’. The authority for the final decision was in their hands, and they would exercise it to the fullest … I came to realize that I was expected to think for myself … I would make mistakes … ‘the book’ can only guide you … Admiral Lockwood would have backed me 100% if he believed that I acted on the best information available” (SHIN)
  • “When it is the interests of the people involved, and they are given genuine opportunity and power, they can be committed to find the time to contribute to solving organizational problems” (CHNG)
  • “No major organizational improvement effort – be it quality improvement, just-in-time inventory, or enhanced productivity – will ever be successful unless everyone in the organization is empowered to contribute their very best” (SDWT)
  • “You can’t imagine how hard managers will work when they know they are responsible for their own destiny” (JAP)
  • If you don’t plan to empower your employees to use your vision, give it up now! (ELPH)
  • The art of leadership is liberating people to do what is required of them (ART)
  • “The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers” … are they reaching their potential? learning? serving? changing with grace? managing conflict? (ART)
  • “I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers” (Ralph Nader)
  • “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity” (George Patton)
  • “Executives had to learn to be comfortable with events running without them … from doing things well to seeing that they were done well” (LESS)
  • Jack Welch, GE CEO: “We have found what we believe to be the distilled essence of competitiveness. It is the reservoir of talent and creativity and energy that can be found in each of our people. That essence is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it” (ELPH)
  • What good managers do instinctively: “involve people in setting important goals, structure the chance to learn, offer feedback and support, provide tools and ideas, and stay out of the way” (PW)
  • “The one key to managing knowledge workers is to let them alone to use their knowledge” (CHNG)
  • “Giving someone the freedom to take responsibility releases resources that would otherwise remain concealed” (MOT)
  • Dick Leider: “The major problem facing the American worker today is not ‘burn-out’ but ‘rust-out’. This is the result of gross underutilization of an individual’s potential. (EAGL)
  • Leaders primary task is no longer to control or ‘make things happen’, but to facilitate; no longer to motivate, but to empower (STRN)
  • “To empower people in an unaligned organization can be counterproductive” (5D)
  • “The emotional hold of being in control will relax only if localness is what (senior management) truly want” (5D)
  • Employee Involvement (40 pts): how all employees can contribute effectively, plus trends in involvement (MB 4.2)


  • “Once a chieftain has delegated responsibilities, he should never interfere, lest his subordinates come to believe that the duties are not theirs. Such superficial delegation yields fury in the hearts of subordinates” (HUN)
  • “Abdication is not delegation. Abdication is a sign of weakness. Delegation is sign of strength” (HUN)
  • Offer help without taking responsibility (ZAPP)
  • 5 clarifications needed for stewardship delegation: (7H)
    1. Desired results … what, not how
    2. Guidelines … parameters, experience
    3. Resources available
    4. Accountability … standards and times
    5. Consequences … good and bad
  • 4 Levels of delegation: (ZAPP)
    1. Refer the task to the proper person
    2. Delegate authority to carry out the task and make decisions
    3. Delegate the task without giving decision-making authority
    4. Keep the task
  • 8 Levels of Employee Involvement: (SDWT)
    1. Information Sharing: Managers decide, then inform employees; leads to employee Conformance
    2. Dialogue: Managers get employee input, then decide; leads to employee Acceptance
    3. Special Problem Solving: Managers assign a one-time problem to selected employees; leads to employee Contribution
    4. Intra-Group Problem Solving: Intact group meets weekly to solve local problems; leads to employee Commitment
    5. Inter-Group Problem Solving: Cross-functional group meets to solve mutual problems; leads to Cooperation
    6. Focused Problem Solving: Intact group deepens daily involvement in a specific issue; leads to employee Concentration
    7. Limited Self-Direction: Teams at selected sites function full time with minimal supervision; leads to employee Accountability
    8. Total Self-Direction: Executives facilitate self-management in an all-team company; leads to employee Ownership
  • “People only respond negatively to controls when they are inappropriate for the situation” (ZAPP)

Use Participative Management

  • The most effective contemporary management process is participative management (ART)
  • “Treating participation as a luxury is insulting to employees” (CHNG)
  • “Participation is something the top orders the middle to do for the bottom” (CHNG)
  • To get commitment, put the problem of service quality squarely in the hands of those performing the service (SA)
  • “Ownership is developed through participation” (STRN)
  • “The quickest way to increase dignity, meaning, and community in a workplace is to involve people in redesigning their own work. This is also the shortest route – in the long run – to lower costs, higher quality, and more satisfied customers” (PW)
  • “The ‘right answer’ is best worked out by local teams from all levels, functions, degrees of expertise. This is called learning. Although a lot of folks tried and a lot of folks died, nobody has found economic or technical substitutes for people learning together what to do and how to do it.” (PW)
  • “Masters of change are also masters of use of participation” (CHNG)
  • Marshall Shaskin: “Participative management is an ethical imperative” (PW)
  • “The action needed to create (the change) is so simple that people often cannot, will not, believe it works. It requires that those with the biggest stake in the change sit down together and figure out, from all angles, the right thing to do. Their emotional stake in the outcome is not the reason for avoiding the issue. It is exactly the reason they should be included” (PW)
  • “Given some minimal guidance, most work groups produce designs 85-90% congruent with what the best outside pros can do – with vastly more commitment to implement” (PW)
  • Woody Allen: “90% of living is just showing up” … getting the right people together is probably 90% of third-wave managing (PW)


Teamwork … Collaboration vs Competition

  • Synergy is the highest activity of life; it creates new untapped alternatives; it values and exploits the mental, emotional, and psychological differences between people (7H)
  • Reich, in HBR, 1987: “To the extent that we continue to celebrate the traditional myth of the entrepreneurial hero, we slow the progress of change and adaptation that is essential to our economic success. If we are to compete effectively in today’s work, we must begin to celebrate collective entrepreneurship, endeavours in which the whole of the effort is greater than the sum of the individual contributions. We need to honor our teams more, our aggressive leaders and maverick geniuses less” (DSWT)
  • “In superior teams, the synergistic effect is apparent. One plus one equals a lot more than three.” (DSWT)
  • “Teamwork has been shown to be the single consistent strategy for continuous improvement in quality and for increased competitiveness” (DSWT)
  • Foster collaboration; Strengthen others (TLC)
  • “In team-oriented cooperative environments, innovation flourishes” (CHNG)
  • The key participation question: “Would you rather work as part of an outstanding group, or be a part of a group of outstanding individuals?” (ART)
  • “Integrating both a move from competition and individualism toward cooperation and wholeness is what I mean by transforming teamwork. There is no more important task for third-wave managers.” (PW)
  • “The key elements in the art of working together are how to deal with change, how to deal with conflict, and how to reach our potential … the needs of the team are best met when we meet the needs of individual persons” (ART)
  • Cylinder 7: Team Skills (FOAC)
  • “Girls’ games teach them the importance of preserving and enhancing relationships – long-term focus – while boys’ games teach them to preserve and enhance their own feelings of self-worth at the expense of the relationships – a competitive focus that is of necessity short-term” (FEM)
  • “‘Closed Loop Cells’ are self-contained, multifunctional, self-scheduling sub-organizations empowered to perform the key activities required to meet explicit objectives” (CAT)
  • Cylinder 10: Team Tactics … even having customers on the teams (FOAC)
  • Feelings of intragroup amity simply do not require intergroup enmity (BRI)
  • Cooperative learning has been shown in literally hundreds of studies to enhance achievement regardless of subject matter or age level (BRI)
  • Marrow: “We all need continuous help from each other. Interdependence is the greatest challenge” (PW)
  • “When human beings work together, they can produce a piece of work that is superior to the work of individuals toiling alone (ABIL)
  • Optimal productivity not only does not require competition, it appears to require its absence. The ideal amount of competition in your company is none at all. Competition makes no sense from the perspective of the bottom line. It holds people back from doing their best. It closes off the possibility of sharing ideas and resources with others in the company. (Kohn, INC, 11/87)
  • “Excellence in our society is less a product of conflict and hostility than of collaboration” (TIGR)
  • “The competitive energies of wolves are mostly directed toward outsiders. This makes wolves more effective team members than many other animals, where there is frequently as much competition within teams as between them” (TIGR)
  • Law of Leadership: A successful team with 100 members has 100 leaders (TIGR)
  • “The ratio of We’s to I’s is the best indicator of the development of a team” (Lewis Elgen, Exec VP, University Research Corp)
  • “Great people don’t equal great teams’ (Tom Peters)
  • “Rewards should go to teams as a whole” (Tom Peters)
  • “Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit … they become the microcosm for learning throughout the organization” (5D)
  • “The fundamental characteristic of the relatively unaligned team is wasted energy” (5D)

Teams and Organizational Culture

  • “Sometimes being a team-player goes counter to the corporate culture. If the organizational norm is ‘do your own thing’, then working together may not be valued and certainly not recognized and rewarded” (TPT)
  • “Superior work teams recognize that consistently high performance can be built not on rules but only on values” (DSWT)
  • Current Methods of Developing a Team-Player Culture: (TPT)
    • Public statements by Top Management
    • Important assignments
    • Training and Development
    • Promotion
  • Recommended Methods of Developing a Team-Player Culture: (TPT)
    • Promotion … let everyone know that it was because the person was a team player
    • Upper Management as Team Player models
    • Performance Appraisal … ‘team player’ is in performance plan in more specific terms
  • “Rating and ranking systems that pit employees against each other in the annual performance review process tend to work against the development of teamwork. A ranking system that includes a requirement for a bell-shaped-curve distribution further emphasizes competition over cooperation.” (TPT)
  • “In some competitive environments, team players withhold technical information from their colleagues because they fear loss of an ‘edge’ in annual performance appraisals” (TPT)

Characteristics of Effective Teams

    • “A group of people is not a team. A team is group of people with a high degree of interdependence geared toward the achievement of a goal or completion of a task … it is not just a group for administrative convenience” (TPT)
    • “Every work group can become a work team and every work team can become a superior work team. That individuals perform separate and uncoordinated tasks does not prohibit them from working together to accomplish a whole host of integrated functions that are characteristic of team behavior. They can … (DSWT)
      • share their ideas, to improve all the jobs and all the work processes in the group – whether the job or process is theirs or not
      • develop coordinated responses to organizational changes that affect the whole group
      • build respect in their mutual relationships
      • participate in setting common improvement goals
      • initiate common actions to show appreciation to colleagues for their superior performance
    • 3 kinds of teams: Rigid, Limp, Flexible (STRN)
    • Key Elements of High Performing Teams: (20Q)
      • Goals are understood and committed to
      • A climate of trust
      • Open and honest communication among members
      • A sense of belonging and pride in accomplishments
      • Diversity of opinions and ideas is encouraged
      • Creativity and risk-taking is encouraged
      • Team is constantly learning and improving itself
      • Procdures are developed to diagnose, analyse, and solve problems
      • Participative leadership is practiced
      • Decisions are supported and made together
    • 4 elements of effective teams (STRN)
      • Productive participation (4 levels: Making the decision; Sharing the decision-making and reaching consensus; Contributing data; Making an imposed decision work)
      • Openness (critiquing, trusting)
      • Cohesiveness (committed to an understood mandate; team identity)
      • Change compatibility (flexible, assimilate change)
    • “Loyalty becomes visible in at least two sets of behaviors. First, members go out of their way to ensure the success of their peers. Second, members give their colleagues the benefit of the doubt when they have apparently failed to meet an obligation or fulfill a commitment.” (DSWT)
    • 12 Characteristics of an Effective Team: (TPT)
      • “Clear Purpose: The vision, mission, goal, or task of the team has been defined and accepted by everyone. There is an action plan.
      • Informality: A comfortable, relaxed atmosphere; little tension or boredom
      • Participation: Lots of discussion and participation in it
      • Listening: Members use effective listening techniques, such as questioning, paraphrasing and summarizing
      • Civilized Disagreement: No signs of avoiding, smoothing over, or suppressing conflict
      • Consensus Decisions: For important decisions, the goal is substantial but not necessarily unanimous agreement through open discussion of everyone’s ideas, avoidance of formal voting, or easy compromises
      • Open Communications: Team members feel free to express their feelings on the tasks as well as on the group’s operation. There are few hidden agendas. Communication takes place outside of meetings.
      • Clear Roles and Work Assignments: There are clear expectations about the roles played by each team member; work is fairly distributed.
      • Shared Leadership: While the team has a formal leader, leadership functions shift from time to time depending upon the circumstances, the needs of the group, and the skills of the members. The formal leader models the appropriate behaviour.
      • External Relations: The team build credibility with other parts of the organization
      • Style Diversity: The team has a broad spectrum of team-player types including members who emphasize attention to task (“Contributor”), goal setting (“Collaborator”), focus on process (“Communicator”), and questions about how the team is functioning (“Challenger”).
      • Self-Assessment: Periodically, the team stops to examine how well it is functioning and what may be interfering with its effectiveness.”
    • “Humour seems to be an integral part of successful teams” (TPT)
    • “Consensus means support derived when each person feels heard and understood. All should be satisfied that hey had a chance to influence the decision and declare their willingness to support it” (PW)
    • Productive meetings need a purpose, facilitation skills, preparation, meeting management (STRN)
    • “Team meetings are integral to the development of work units into superior work teams” (DWST)
    • The Rational Problem-Solving Sequence: (DSWT)
      • Define the problem
      • Develop a strategy for analysing the problem
      • Collect and analyse information
      • Generate alternative solutions
      • Evaluate and select a solution
      • Plan action steps and accountability and measurement systems
    • “Process issues will always block progress on tasks” (PW)
    • “So that a team does not have to constantly repeat itself, revise early decisions, or find its work suddenly changed, continuity of people is clearly required” (CHNG)

Team-Player Styles

      • 4 Team-player Styles: (TPT)
        1. “Contributor: The Contributor is task-oriented team member who enjoys providing the team with good technical information and data, does his homework, and pushes the team to set high performance standards and to use their resources wisely. Most people see him as dependable, although he sometimes becomes too bogged down in the details, misses the big picture, or does not see the need for a positive team climate. He is responsible, authoritative, reliable, proficient, and organized.
        2. Collaborator: The Collaborator is a goal-directed member who see the vision, mission of goal of the team as paramount but is flexible and open to new ideas, willing to pitch in and work outside his or her defined role, and to share the limelight with other team members. Most people see him as a big picture person, but he sometimes fails periodically to revisit the mission, to give enough attention to the basic team tasks, or to consider the individual needs of the other team members. He is forward-looking, goal-directed, accommodating, flexible, and imaginative.
        3. Communicator: The communicator is a process-oriented member who is an effective listener and facilitator of involvement, conflict resolution, consensus building, feedback, and the building of an informal relaxed climate. Most people see him as a positive “people person”, but sometimes he may see a process as an end in itself, may not confront other team members, or may not give enough emphasis to completing task assignments and making progress toward team goals. He is supportive, considerate, relaxed, enthusiastic, and tactful.
        4. Challenger: The Challenger is a member who questions the goals, methods, and even the ethics of the team, is willing to disagree with the leader or higher authority, and encourages the team to take well-conceived risks. Most people appreciate the value of his candor and openness, but sometimes he may not know when to back off on an issue or he becomes self-righteous and tries to push the team too far. He is honest, outspoken, principled, ethical, and adventurous.”

Signs of Trouble in Teams

      • Signs of Trouble: (TPT)
        • Members cannot easily describe the team’s mission
        • The meetings are formal, stuffy, or tense
        • There is great deal of participation but little accomplishment
        • There is talk but not much communication
        • Disagreements are aired in private conversations after the meeting
        • Decisions tend to be made by the formal leader with little meaningful involvement of other team members
        • Members are not open with each other because trust is low
        • There is confusion or disagreement about roles or work assignments
        • People in other parts of the organization who are critical to the success of the team are not cooperating
        • The team is overloaded with people who have the same team-player style
        • The team has been in existence for at least 3 months and has never assessed its functioning

The Abilene Paradox … Fear of Isolation –> Agreement

      • “The inability to cope with (manage) agreement, rather than the inability to cope with (manage) conflict, is the single most pressing issue of modern organizations; the fear of taking risks that may result in our separation from others is at the core of the paradox” (ABIL)
      • “Pluralistic Ignorance: every one knows individually, but assumes no one else does … the members who feel out of the group cannot bring up their concerns because of the myth that everyone is in” (CHNG)
      • “Group tyranny seldom occurs … it is a culturally sanctioned negative fantasy that provides us with an excuse for blaming someone else when we lose our sense of integrity and act irresponsibly in group situations; it temporarily frees us from experiencing the terrifying existential risk of separation” (ABIL)
      • “We reject exclusivity. We covet inclusiveness … being needed, being involved, being cared about” (ART)
      • “Of the things that frighten us, the fear of being left out of the flow of human interaction is certainly one of the worst … the ultimate test for the ability to control the quality of experience is what a person does in solitude” (FLOW)


What Empowered Teams Are

Other Team Terminology: “High Performance Teams”, “Superior Work Teams”, Self-Directed Teams”, “Self-Managed Teams”, “Self-Managing Teams”, “Self-Led Teams”, and “Clusters” are other labels used for the same basic stucture and organizational concept.

      • Definition of Team: “A group of individuals working together to achieve a common business objective through collaborative decision making” (IBM paper “Teams: 1992 Framework”)
      • Definition of a Self-Directed Work Team: “A group of employees (anywhere from 5-15 on the average) who are responsible for a whole product or process. The team plans the work and performs it, managing many of the things supervision or management used to do.” (20Q)
      • Definition of Self-Directed Work Team: “A highly trained group of employees, from 6 to 18, on average, fully responsible for turning out a well-defined segment of finished work” … Work teams plan, set priorities, organize, coordinate with others, measure and take corrective action, solve problems, schedule and assign work, and in many cases handle personnel issues” (SDWT)
      • Definition of Self-Directed Work Team: “A functional group of employees (usually between 8-15 members) who share the responsibility for a particular unit of production. The work team consists of trained individuals who possess the technical skills and ability necessary to complete all assigned tasks. Management has delegated to the team the authority to plan, implement, control, and improve all work processes” (PRIM)
      • Definition of Self-Directed Work Teams: “Small groups of people empowered to manage themselves and the work they do on a day-to-day basis … an intact group of employees who are responsible for a ‘whole’ work process or segment that delivers a product or service to an internal or external customer.” (ET)
      • Definition of a Cluster: “A group of people drawn from different disciplines who work together on a semipermanent basis … 30-50 members, with smaller work teams of 5-7 members within the cluster … a cluster organization is made up of many such clusters and a small residual hierarchy, which administers the business as a whole.” (ROC)
      • Definition of Work Teams: “Members of work teams not only cooperate in all aspects of their task performance, they share in what are traditionally thought of as management functions and responsibilities, such as joint planning, organizing the team, setting performance goals, assessing the team’s performance, developing their own strategies to manage change, and securing their own resources.” (DSWT)
      • The Model for Superior Work Teams: (DSWT)
        • Results
          1. Maximum use of team’s human resources
          2. Superior outputs against all odds
          3. Continuous improvement
        • Leadership
          1. Focused on team and teamwork
          2. Focused on both development and performance
          3. Initiator: makes teamwork the norm for all actions
          4. Model: model teamwork in the way they conduct their own business and the way they interact with their colleagues
          5. Coach: counseling, mentoring, tutoring, improving performance
        • Informal processes
          1. Communicating and contacting: respect and mutuality
          2. Responding and adapting: overcoming old bad habits and coping with change
          3. Imfluencing and improving
          4. Appreciating and celebrating
        • Feelings
          1. Inclusion
          2. Commitment
          3. Loyalty
          4. Pride
          5. Trust
        • Key Strategies & Methodologies: at the center of the above 4, and drive all of them
        • “In a cluster, every person accepts individual accountability for the team output”

(c) Copyright IBM Corp. 1993. All rights reserved.
In Canada, (c) IBM Canada Ltd. 1993.
Permission to copy for non-commercial use.

1992 Annual Leadership Development Handout
Compiled by Bob Willard
IBM Canada Leadership Development

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