From the Bookshelf: Teams at the Top

Posted by Kristin Arnold on September 29, 2020

Companies all across the economic spectrum are making use of teams. They go by a variety of names and can be found at all levels. In fact, you are likely to find the group at the very top of an organization professing to be a team. Yet even in the best of companies, a so-called top team seldom functions as a real team. Jon Katzenbach, author of the best-seller Wisdom of Teams, also authored the book Teams at the Top: Unleashing the Potential of Both Teams and Individual Leaders. He states that a team effort at the top can be essential to capturing the highest performance results possible — when the conditions are right.

Good leadership requires differentiating between team and nonteam opportunities, and then acting accordingly. Three litmus tests must be passed for a team at the top to be effective.

First, the team must shape collective work products — these are tangible performance results that the group can achieve working together that surpass what the team members could have achieved working on their own.

Second, the leadership role must shift, depending on the task at hand.

And third, the team’s members must be mutually accountable for the group’s results.

When these criteria can be met, senior executives should come together to achieve real team performance. When the criteria cannot be met, they should rely on the individual leadership skills they have honed over the years.


For information about how to lead your team in the virtual environment, use these resources.

KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF | Master, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator.  She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years.  She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.

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