You are here

Sage online ordering services are currently unavailable due to network disruption. We are working to restore service as soon as possible. In the meantime, our books are still available widely via retailers and online. Currently we are only able to supply digital inspection copies. These can be requested via this site, or direct from Vitalsource and Kortext. If you need a print copy, please contact your local Academic Sales Consultant, who will be able to arrange to send this once our systems are back online.

If you need further assistance please visit our Contact us page for further information. Thank you for your patience and we apologise for the inconvenience.

When Teams Work Best

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

October 2001 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
`[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 Ulrich, University of Michigan

`This book makes collaboration a vivid and workable concept' - Allan R Cohen, Professor of Global Leadership, Babson College

When Teams Work Best helps us understand what makes teams succeed, why teams fail, and what can be done to improve the ability of a team to work together productively.

Sometimes teams work effectively, but often they don't. No one knows this better than team members themselves. This book is based on twenty years of research in which the authors asked more than 6,000 team members across a variety of businesses and industries, in both public and private sectors, to assess their teams, their team leaders, and each other. In the safety of confidentiality, team members identified what encourages teams to succeed and what discourages teams into failure. Building on this analysis and the authors own extensive observations of hundreds of teams in scores of organizations the authors offer specific advice for improving team leadership, becoming a more effective team member, developing positive team relationships, creating a more supportive organizational environment, and enhancing team problem solving abilities.

The emphasis throughout the book is on practical, portable insight. At the start of each chapter, is a one-page "Snapshot" that provides a concise overview of the chapter contents. Then, each chapter's discussion opens with a real-life scenario that introduces the issues discussed in that chapter in concrete, familiar terms. Throughout the book you hear the voices of actual team members in the form of a number of quotations that speak candidly and in down-to-earth ways about the difficulties and triumphs they experience in working in teams. Finally, to help you put the chapter's lessons into practice, each chapter concludes with a "Putting It to Work" section that includes specific suggestions and helpful instruments that you can use directly or adapt to suit your circumstances.

You'll find that you come away from this book with much more than a theoretical idea of what should make teams work best. You'll come away with the collective insights of thousands of team members and leaders on what really does work to bring out the best in teams. And you'll have in hand the tools that can help you put these insights to work.

Who Needs This Book?

· 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.

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

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9780761923664