There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance


Foreword by Richard Hytner, Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide

We’ve all worked with one—a smart and immensely talented individual who brings enormous value to the organization. The problem? He’s an awful teammate.

So as a leader, do you consider this key player toxic or irreplaceable?

There Is an I in Team explores the relationship between individual and team—asking the question, How can we ...

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There Is an I in Team: What Elite Athletes and Coaches Really Know About High Performance

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Foreword by Richard Hytner, Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide

We’ve all worked with one—a smart and immensely talented individual who brings enormous value to the organization. The problem? He’s an awful teammate.

So as a leader, do you consider this key player toxic or irreplaceable?

There Is an I in Team explores the relationship between individual and team—asking the question, How can we harness the talent of individual performers into a cohesive, productive team that creates overall value? And why are so many of our assumptions about teams wrong?

Business challenges like this one mimic many of the issues facing sports teams, though admittedly the sports metaphors most commonly used in business are trite and superficial comparisons. What’s needed are real and substantial lessons that managers actually can take from the world of high-performance sports and use in an everyday work environment. This book meets that need.

University of Cambridge professor Mark de Rond has combined cutting-edge social and psychological research with rich stories from world-class sports teams, coaches, athletes, and even business executives. The result challenges our most popular notions about teams. Equally critical, it teaches an innovative way to transform team potential into measurable business advantage.

You’ll learn:
• Why there is an I in team—and why that matters
• Why an ideal team is rarely comprised of the best individual performers
• Why conflict happens even when intentions are perfectly aligned
• Why likability can trump competence even in technically sophisticated environments
• Why a focus on interpersonal harmony can actually hurt team performance
• Why data and sophisticated statistical tools are unlikely to eliminate the role of intuition

At once readable and teachable, There Is an I in Team will strengthen your understanding of the issues that permeate teams of high-performers, and it will help you apply these new insights to your own work—giving you and your team an edge over the competition.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“De Rond’s book provides a good starting place for any school leader looking to further study team dynamics. His ideas are easy to follow, and De Rond provides excellent real-life examples to support the research.” — School Administrator magazine (AASA)

“The Abilene Paradox is just one of many fascinating revelations in this important book. Teams from the worlds of sports to business to nonprofits to family groups can benefit from de Rond’s revealing insights.” — Financial Executive International

“intriguing new book” — Financial Times

“Successful sports coaches have always understood that a lack of conflict in teams is not always a good thing and a belief in luck can be an important power-enhancing tool. Now, argues de Rond, it is high time business managers realised the same thing.” — I: Global Intelligence for the CIO

“de Rond combines the latest social and psychological research with stories from world-class sports teams and high-performance athletes, testing many popular notions about teams and teaching a new way to view team potential as a path to business advantage.” — Business Executive

“Mark de Rond highlights similarities between key business dilemmas and issues faced on sports teams, discussing the lessons that managers can learn from the world of high performance athletes.” — HR Grapevine

“de Rond explains why so many of the most talented, gifted individuals have trouble working in teams and presents ways for team leaders to overcome this obstacle to high team performance.” — Business Digest

“de Rond looks at what top performance athletes and coaches know about high performance …to challenge common assumptions about teams.” — The Irish Times

“A very well researched and stimulating book.” — HR Zone

ADVANCE PRAISE for There Is an I in Team:

Steve Hollis, Senior Partner, KPMG—
“Very few business books make me stop and think. De Rond’s latest work very skillfully translates the drivers of team sport excellence and positions them in the more complex business arena. A must-read for anyone striving for competitive advantage.”

Edwin Moses, Chairman and CEO, Ablynx nv—
“Now I understand why there is an ‘I in team’ and also why there is a ‘star in Mark de Rond.’ Thought-provoking and applicable to an extraordinarily wide range of team situations. You will think and act differently after reading this.”

Amy C. Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School; author, Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy
There Is an I in Team debunks a host of commonly held beliefs about what makes teams work. An appreciation of the role of great individual performers—stars—in creating great teams is long overdue.”

Tom James, MBE, Olympic Gold Medalist, Rowing—
“This is an incredibly good book that challenges the current, and almost universal, definition of what a team is. De Rond’s examination and reflections on human behavior within sport provides a highly intuitive insight into what really makes a team successful. A very enjoyable read.”

Glenn Earle, Former Chief Operating Officer, Goldman Sachs International—
“Intriguing and accessible. De Rond uses research, anecdotes and analysis from the world of sport to identify the combination of art and science necessary to develop and sustain a winning team. He shows how the greatest leaders motivate the individuals that make up their teams to work together, inspire each other, perform at the highest level, and win.”

Lord Bilimoria, CBE, DL, Chairman and Founder, Cobra Beer—
There Is an I in Team challenges so many of the clichés about teamwork that we all take for granted. This is a book that is impossible to put down, yet it makes you stop, think, reflect, and question at every corner.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781422171301
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press
  • Publication date: 7/3/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 722,983
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark de Rond is an associate professor of Strategy and Organization at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. His previous book, The Last Amateurs, was selected by the Financial Times as one of the Best Business Books of 2008 and by BBC Sport as one of the ten Best Sporting Reads of the year.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Richard Hytner xi

Preface xv

1 Why There Is an I in Team 1

2 Why Inequality Is a Good Thing 25

3 Why Harmony Can Hurt Performance 47

4 Why Perception Matters More Than Reality 71

5 Why Productivity Tumbles with Size 91

6 Why Superstition Can Be Good for Performance 111

7 Why So Much Depends on So Little That Is Quantifiable 129

Conclusion 147

Notes 151

Index 173

About the Author 183

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