Sunday, December 12, 2010

Leading Teams. Setting the Stage for Great Performance. By J. Richard Hackman

What is it about?

Hackman used experimental data and field analysis to find out what are the main conditions that make a team effective.

He defines an effective team as one that:
  1. Serves its clients well
  2. Gets better and better
  3. Helps each member achieve personal fulfillment
Hackman thinks that a team's performances are much too often attributed to its leader's coaching style. He finds other conditions much more relevant: it should be a real team, with a compelling direction and an enabling structure (defined in terms of design of the work, norms of conduct, composition). A supportive context (reward, information and educational systems) and expert coaching also help a lot.

The book has much scientific rigor but it is also fun to read: written with clarity an humour, full of interesting examples.

How is it useful to an HR practitioner?

We HR people tend to see a strong relationship between performance and people: we think that people's styles, traits and states of mind determine how well they perform.

This book can help us think differently about teams. Among many other things, it provides an insightful criticism about leadership programmes that seek to teach managers how to behave with their teams.

If there are any underperforming teams in your organization, reading this book will undoubtedly help you understand better what's wrong with them, and what you could do about it.

Who recommended this book to me?

Steward Friedman, author of "Total Leadership" simply told me: "I like Richard Hackman's book, Leading Teams, and I recommend it to you".


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