That question prompted a fascinating exploration: when does a group become a team? What are the distinguishing characteristics of a team that are different from a group? The behaviors of a real team are decidedly different from a group.
We believe the best definition of a team is from the book Wisdom of Teams. "A team is a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a common goal and approach for which they hold each other accountable." Let's pick this definition apart. The best size for teams is 7-12 individuals. Larger teams require more structure and support; smaller teams often have difficulty meeting when members are absent. Members have skills and abilities that complement the team's purpose. Not all members have the same skills, but together they are greater than the sum of their parts. On teams, members share roles and responsibilities and are constantly developing new skills to improve the team's performance. Teams identify and reach consensus on their common goal and approach, rather than looking to a leader to define the goal and approach. Most importantly, teams hold their members accountable. What does this mean in practical terms? When they experience conflict with a member, they speak to that member directly rather than to a supervisor. When a member isn't performing to the level required, the team addresses the performance problem.
Now let's look at how a group functions. A group can be defined as a small group of people with complementary skills and abilities who are committed to a leader's goal and approach and are willing to be held accountable by the leader . A group supports the leader's goals and the leader-dominated approach to goal attainment. A group drives individual accountability rather than shared accountability. Leadership is predominantly held by one person rather than the shared, fluid leadership on a team. In a group, the dominant viewpoint is represented; in a team, multiple, diverse...
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