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Monday, April 06, 2009

Teamwork and Bosswork Both Work But...

I agree with Patrick Lencioni's thesis that Teamwork is characterized by trust, conflict management, commitment, accountability and focus on results. Trust is manifested through open communication. Open communication is manifested through healthy discussion and resolution of issues or problems which pave the way for achieving clarity on what needs to be done that helps in getting buy-in and commitment to goals and team norms. Commitment on the other hand is manifested by team members' willingness to make each other accountable for their performance or behavior by challenging each others' ideas and calling team members attention on behaviors that do not support team work. This accountability paves the way for focusing on results that allow teams to achieve their objectives.

to think however that teamwork is the only way to go is naive. Considering the lack of teamwork going on in organizations today, we can say that there is a more dominant way of getting things done and that is through "bosswork".(an obvious play of word to describe the opposite of teamwork).

Yes, there is a much easier way to getting things done. In bosswork, trust, conflict management, commitment, accountability and focus on results are not necessary. The boss can get things done through others through two things; rewards and punishments. A good boss (skilled in bossing people around) knows his tools. He makes good contracts that detail the requirements of the job and the implications of failure. He knows how to get the respect (read fear) of his subordinates and use it to get them to do what needs to be done.

Let's look at advantages and disadvantages and leadership requirements of these two approaches:

Advantages of teamwork: It encourages team members to generate and contribute ideas, Q.A. each other's ideas, buy in to strategies and give their best whether the leader is there to see what they are doing or not. Because relationship is better, team members are happier and are more likely to stay and work hard for the team.

Disadvantage: Teamwork takes more effort to build. Building trust, establishing rules of engagement, and getting the team to work together takes more work than invoking the leader's formal authority to sack an employee if she fails to make the number.

Leadership Requirement: Teamwork requires a mature leader. By this I mean a leader who is confident enough of her own capabilities to not feel intimidated or insecure by smarter team members. A Leader is interested in building relationship without compromising the need to deliver results. She studies human behavior and is interested in learning how to adjust her style in dealing with different behaviors. She also has the humility to say sorry or permit her team members to challenge her ideas or call her attention on behaviors that do not support teamwork.

Advantages of Bosswork: tasks get done. Saves you some teambuilding money. Some of the most successful people possess strong bossly qualities which means it is possible to succeed using this style. The exercise of authority and power can get you an enormous amount of ego boost.

Disadvantage: I believe that the bossly approach to getting things done is getting really old. The advancing technologies and increasing knowledge of the workforce and the preference of the young professionals for empowerment will make bosses fail to benefit from the growing capabilities of people in their organizations. They will spend more money on recruitment for replacing people who don't like to work for the type of environment they create.

Requirements of the Job: In order to fit the bill of a boss, the person should have an inherent distrust in people so they can micromanage everyone. They must know how to hire people for their arms and their legs because they don't have much use for their brains. There should be a test that they can use to determine the submissiveness of a potential employee and avoid hiring those who have minds of their own.


In case you are asking what my preference is, I prefer teamwork anytime. It may take more effort to build but a good team environment is not only good for the business its good for everyone in the team. The only way for teamwork to happen is for leaders to allow it by shifting mindset from BOSS to LEADER. If you need help making the shift, send me an email.

1 comment:

  1. Bosswork is becoming a thing of the past. We have plenty of younger generation employees who are most likely to respond to teamwork than to someone bossy.

    ReplyDelete

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