Skip to content

    When is Teamwork Really Necessary?

    When leaders take new roles, they typically inherit someone else's team and need to assess, reshape, align, and accelerate it. Michael Watkins outlines the steps newly appointed leaders need to take to align effectively with their teams and to get them to deliver results on their watch in his Harvard Business Review article "Leading the Team You Inherit," which is also the subject of this excellent Whiteboard Session by the same title. 


    In "When is Teamwork Really Necessary" (Harvard Business Review, August 2018) Watkins makes the point that, "Most leaders assume that they need to foster teamwork among the people whom directly and indirectly report to them." However, it is often the case that those reports do not constitute a team. Watkins suggests that "Before embarking on any team-building activities or even setting up team meetings," leaders should first determine whether they are managing a high-performing group of individuals or a high-performing team.


    Once you have determined whether your reports are a team, "the next step is to identify what focus of that teamwork should be and how the work will be accomplished," says Watkins. He goes on to define eight roles that reports can play as part of a team:

    1. Agenda Setters: define and communicate strategic direction and priorities
    2. Integrators: ensure integration and make tradeoffs across units
    3. Execution Drivers: drive planning, execution, and accountability
    4. Talent Developers: attract, assess, develop, and retain talent
    5. Diplomats: build alliances internally and shape the external environment
    6. Role Models: shape the values, behavior, and culture of the organization
    7. Architects: design and transform the organization
    8. Trailblazers: foster organizational learning, innovation, and adaptation

    Use the table below, excerpted from the article, to determine the composition of your team:


    8 Roles that Team Members Play Table


    Genesis hosted a Power Onboarding Webinar on the subject of teams entitled, "Leading the Team You Inherit: When Does Your New Team Really Need to be a Team?" To watch the webinar on demand follow this link