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When Teams Work Best

When Teams Work Best
6,000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What it Takes to Succeed

August 2001 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Leadership Solutions

"Highly readable. . .convincing. . .a must for academic collections and required reading for professionals seeking to maximize human performance and team productivity."

--Choice Magazine, Feb. 2002

What makes some teams achieve extraordinary outcomes, while other fall disappointingly short of the mark?

Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson have systematically explored that question for more than 20 years. In 1989, they published the best-selling book TeamWork; What Must Go Right/What Can Go Wrong, which reported the results of an in-depth study of some of the most successful teams in recent history and identified the eight characteristics of high performance teams.

When Teams Work Best advances this groundbreaking research by probing more deeply inside the workings of hundred of teams—some effective and some faltering. For over a decade, the authors collected and analyzed responses from more than 6,000 team members and leaders across a variety of industries, in both public and private sectors, to find out exactly what conditions help or hinder teams in achieving their goals. The voices of these team members—often eloquent, always enlightening—are heard through the quotations that appear throughout the book.

With extensive experience coaching and consulting with teams, LaFasto and Larson bring a valuable real-life perspective to their examination of the rich and often intriguing complexity behind effective teamwork. This book goes far beyond the theoretical to offer proven, practical advice that team members and leaders can easily apply to bring out the very best in their own teams.

When teams work best, the work is rewarding, outcomes inspiring and accomplishments abounds. Order your copy today!

A Brief Perspective on Teamwork and Collaboration

What Makes a Good Team Member?
The Abilities and Behaviors That Matter

Team Relationships
Simple and Easy versus Complicated and Hard

Team Problem-Solving
Raising and Resolving the Real Issues

The Team Leader
What Works/What Gets in the Way

The Organization Environment
Promoting Clarity, Confidence, and Commitment

A Final Word
Reliability of the Collaborative Team Leader Instrument


"Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson have done it again! After building a useful framework for team performance in TeamWork they have gone on to collect and analyze exhaustive data that enriches and extends their original work. When Teams Work Best is a gem of a book…. you can’t help but find it useful in today’s organizational world."


Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer, The Limited, Inc.

"LaFasto and Larson offer a tour de force on what makes teams successful. Building on sound theory and relying on extensive research, they offer specific, practical tools that will deliver team value. Team members, business leaders, and organization consultants should not only read, but use this work." 

Professor, School of Business, University of Michigan

"When Teams Work Best provides solid practical advice and tools for improving the effectiveness of all teams…. CEO’s take note, this one’s blunt, useful, and refreshing."


Quality Director, Patagonia, Inc.

"This book makes collaboration a vivid and workable concept."


Edward. A. Madden Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership, Babson College

"Too often, books on teamwork emphasize either applications over theory or theory over application; LaFasto and Larson have effectively combined a fine balance of the two that effectively details both the ‘why’ and the ‘how to’…. An excellent resource for graduate and advanced undergraduate coursework in team development." 

University of Delaware

"Duke Hospital has benefited from the ideas LaFasto and Larson present in this book and is a better organization because of it." 

Chief Executive Officer, Duke University Hospital

"highly readable. . .convincing. . .a must for academic collections and required reading for professionals seeking to maximize human performance and team productivity." 

J.B. Kashner
formerly of College of the Southwest

When Teams Work Best: 6000 Team Members and Leaders Tell What it Takes to Succeed by Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson is a practical, ‘user friendly’ guide to the harnessing power of cooperation and teamwork for increased productivity and effectiveness. Individual chapters address what makes a good team member, what makes a good leader, problem solving methodologies, and how to best promote confidence and trust. When Teams Work Best is very highly recommended for anyone charged with the corporate responsibility for cultivating business group work skills! 

Midwest Book Review

The authors have produced an eminently practical guide to success in collaborative teamwork. 

Academic Library Review

Great empirical overview of teams and the critical functions within a team.

Dr John Baker
Interdisciplinary Studies Dept, Western Kentucky University
July 23, 2012
Key features
  • Executives and managers who are responsible for the overall functioning of teams can use this book to ensure that teams throughout the organization understand what it takes to make collaboration work. They can learn what to look for in exemplary and less-than-exemplary teams, from the qualities of team members, to the processes that successful teams use, to the attributes of effective team leaders (Chapters 1-4). Senior managers may also want to pay particular attention to Chapter 5, which discusses organizational factors that foster or impede the work of collaborative teams.
  • Team leaders will find specific practical guidance in every chapter that can improve their leadership of teams. The book can be an excellent training vehicle for team leaders, whether they are seasoned veterans or new to the job. In addition to learning valuable strategies and techniques for themselves, they can use much of the material in the book in managing team members to collaborate more effectively. Finally, team leaders can use the ideas in Chapter 5 on the organizational culture to assess organizational obstacles to their work and advocate constructive change.
  • Team members can use this book to improve their own participation in teams, help their team function more effectively, and prepare to become leaders themselves.


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ISBN: 9781452259147

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