Do you work on a team? Lead a team? Wish you could be part of a better team? So much of the work we do every day both in and out of the office is collaborative and involves “playing well with others.”

There are plenty of complexities and challenges when it comes to building effective teams. In a recent conference focused on developing leadership skills in higher education, one of the memorable remarks was something along the lines of: “People leave bosses, not jobs,” reinforcing the fact that effective supervisors can make all the difference in having a happy and productive team and overall work environment.

Several of the strategies highlighted for leaders looking to create supported and happy teams members include creating forums for dialogue, involving the team in decision-making, inviting discomfort, and making reflection a habit.

To build a highly effective team, the leader and team members must have clarity on:

Goals — mission, vision, operation

Roles — leadership, other roles, shared expectations

Resources — skills required and their complementarity

Values — operating norms

Decisions — how to decide as a group

Process — both rational and interpersonal

Building a team contract can be one step in creating a shared consensus and expectations, enabling a team to work smarter together. Once strategies are in place, adding a step to analyze and assess a team and its work will help to determine what changes may need to be made to address challenges or add additional support.

Academic Impressions facilitated the Advanced Leadership Development in Higher Education course and a wealth of information is available to participants. If you’d like resources or materials, contact Stephanie Wurtz, assistant vice president for communications,