Weekend Leadership Reading: 3/1/19

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Weekends are time when things slow down a little. Your weekend shouldn’t be two more regular work days. That’s a sure road to burnout. Take time to refresh yourself. Take time for something different. Take time for some of that reading you can’t find time for during the week.

Here are choice articles on hot leadership topics culled from the business schools, the business press and major consulting firms. This week there are articles about teams.

Diane Coutu interviews J. Richard Hackman: Why Teams Don’t Work

“Over the past couple of decades, a cult has grown up around teams. Even in a society as fiercely independent as America, teams are considered almost sacrosanct. The belief that working in teams makes us more creative and productive is so widespread that when faced with a challenging new task, leaders are quick to assume that teams are the best way to get the job done.

Not so fast, says J. Richard Hackman, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Social and Organizational Psychology at Harvard University and a leading expert on teams. Hackman has spent a career exploring—and questioning—the wisdom of teams. To learn from his insights, HBR senior editor Diane Coutu interviewed Hackman in his Harvard office. In the course of their discussion, he revealed just how bad people often are at teamwork. Most of the time, his research shows, team members don’t even agree on what the team is supposed to be doing. Getting agreement is the leader’s job, and she must be willing to take great personal and professional risks to set the team’s direction. And if the leader isn’t disciplined about managing who is on the team and how it is set up, the odds are slim that a team will do a good job”

From Jason Wong: Building a First Team Mindset

“Imagine a world where you bring together the top leaders in your organization to solve the company’s most pressing challenges, and, instead of coming together as a core group to solve that problem, they approach the exercise as a collection of factions that are more concerned about their and their team’s self interest than solving the company’s needs. It sounds tragic, but also probably like another day at work for a lot of folks, and it’s why I spend a lot of time building a First Team mindset amongst the leaders in my organization.”

Thanks to Smartbrief on Leadership for pointing me to this story

From Adam Pah, Brian Uzzi, and Rebecca Hinds: A Study of Thousands of Dropbox Projects Reveals How Successful Teams Collaborate

“To address this question, we studied the virtual interactions of research teams at universities around the word on Dropbox, analyzed how the collaborative dynamics related to performance and developed a list of best practices that organizations can use on any file-sharing platform to improve team performance.”

From Dylan Walsh: Three Ways to Lead More Effective Teams

“Team leaders often focus on product details. Founders obsess over fonts. Sales managers fixate on tough-to-wrangle customers and shop owners on the minutia of shelf displays. Yet, all too often, virtually no attention is given to the fundamental driver of business success: team dynamics.”

From Kellogg Insight: Want to Revolutionize Your Field? You May Need to Rethink the Size of Your Research Team.

“Large and small teams produce different types of breakthroughs, according to an analysis of 50 million patents, software products, and academic papers.”

Book Suggestions

Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances by J. Richard Hackman

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins , et al.

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy by Amy C. Edmondson

Every week I share some recommendations of business books that I think are worth a look. Follow this link to the most recent list.

Every Monday, I do a blog post about business reading and business books. Follow this link to my review of Digital Minimalism.

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