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Other Talks in the Series: Team Effectiveness
What makes for a great team?
- Prof. J. Richard Hackman
- Department of Psychology, Harvard University, USA
Expertise and collective intelligence: when teams are (and are not) more than the sum of their parts
- Dr. Anita Williams Woolley
- Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Hello and welcome, everybody. This is Ruth Wageman, and I'm speaking to you from the campus of Harvard University in beautiful Cambridge, Massachusetts. What I want to talk with you about today is to introduce you to the challenges and the opportunities of leadership teams.
The most familiar kind of leadership teams for you is most likely to be the top team of an organization. So the team that is composed typically of a chief executive, or chief operating officer, or chief financial officer, and the senior leaders, who together work together to run the whole organization. But there are other kinds of leadership teams too. For example, if you do volunteer work or if you are part of a community council, you might work with some peers who are collectively working with you to exercise leadership over some important problem that you want to solve in your community and may be transforming the health of your community, it might be working on the educational system, you may be doing some work around the environment, but each of you individually is a peer exercising leadership collaboratively. And what I am portraying here in this lovely photograph in front of you, this image of a healthy coral reef, is the idea of a collective, that's actually greater than the sum of its parts, right? So a coral reef is an array of very diverse creatures that together creates a strong healthy ecosystem. The individuals are strong, as a consequence, the collective is strong and it creates a healthy context.
But this is my humorous way of characterizing what I think the reality is with most leadership teams and what they actually look like in practice. As we'll see, teams that are composed of leaders, rarely actually operate as an aligned group of peers that are providing all of the collective leadership that are needed by some complex enterprise. In fact more often, you see them being dominated by one individual or they are scattered and fragmented, and they're ineffective in their focus.