Background Note | HBS Case Collection | February 2003

Leading Teams

by Jeffrey T. Polzer

Abstract

This note which describes the architecture and processes that characterize effective teams, begins by detailing the steps involved in designing a team, from diagnosing the complexity, interdependence, and objectives of the task to harnessing the key resources teams need from their environment. It describes the qualities to search for when selecting team members, including finding the right number of people, individual skills along both technical and interpersonal dimensions, and a mix of skills appropriate for the task. Once the team is designed, team leaders and members need to shape and monitor team processes, starting with the team launch. Describes how to diagnose emergent team processes such as information exchange, collaboration, decision making, impression formation, and underlying identity dynamics. Includes steps managers can take to improve dysfunctional team processes such as restructuring and shaping the social forces within the team. Ends with a discussion of bridging differences in teams across both geographic and cultural divides.

Keywords: Communication; Decision Making; Leadership; Managerial Roles; Performance Effectiveness; Groups and Teams;

Citation:

Polzer, Jeffrey T. "Leading Teams." Harvard Business School Background Note 403-094, February 2003.