A curated reading list for innovators, organizations, and entrepreneurs

In a world that thrives on teamwork, collaboration has emerged as a cornerstone of success. Whether you’re a business professional navigating a complex project, an artist merging creative visions, or a student engaging in group projects, the art of collaboration can significantly enhance outcomes and drive innovation. These literary gems offer insights, strategies, and real-world examples that illuminate the path towards productive teamwork. In this blog post, we will embark on a journey through some of the best books on collaboration and teamwork, exploring their wisdom and practical advice that can empower individuals and groups to collaborate more effectively than ever before.

1. The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues

by Patrick M. Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni delves into the qualities that define exceptional team players – humility, hunger, and people smarts. He presents a compelling framework for identifying and nurturing these virtues, offering practical advice for building well-rounded teams that thrive on collaboration and mutual support.

Amazon Description:

In his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking approach for tackling the perilous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. Here he turns his focus to the individual, revealing the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player.

In The Ideal Team Player, Lencioni tells the story of Jeff Shanley, a leader desperate to save his uncle’s company by restoring its cultural commitment to teamwork. Jeff must crack the code on the virtues that real team players possess, and then build a culture of hiring and development around those virtues.

Beyond the fable, Lencioni presents a practical framework and actionable tools for identifying, hiring, and developing ideal team players. Whether you’re a leader trying to create a culture around teamwork, a staffing professional looking to hire real team players, or a team player wanting to improve yourself, this book will prove to be as useful as it is compelling.

2. Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell

Drawing on their experience in the military, the authors propose a radical shift in organizational structure, advocating for decentralized decision-making and cross-functional collaboration. The book explores how adapting to fluid environments and fostering open communication can lead to remarkable success in a complex world.

Amazon Description:

When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2004, he quickly realized that conventional military tactics were failing. Al Qaeda in Iraq was a decentralized network that could move quickly, strike ruthlessly, then seemingly vanish into the local population. The allied forces had a huge advantage in numbers, equipment, and training—but none of that seemed to matter. To defeat Al Qaeda, they would have to combine the power of the world’s mightiest military with the agility of the world’s most fearsome terrorist network. They would have to become a “team of teams”—faster, flatter, and more flexible than ever.

In Team of Teams, McChrystal and his colleagues show how the challenges they faced in Iraq can be rel­evant to countless businesses, nonprofits, and or­ganizations today. In periods of unprecedented crisis, leaders need practical management practices that can scale to thousands of people—and fast. By giving small groups the freedom to experiment and share what they learn across the entire organiza­tion, teams can respond more quickly, communicate more freely, and make better and faster decisions.

3. 4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work–Anywhere!

by Bento C. Leal III

Bento Leal guides readers through the art of effective communication, emphasizing four key principles: empathy, appreciation, clarity, and time. The book provides insights and practical techniques to enhance communication skills across all aspects of life.

Amazon Description:

4 Essential Keys to Effective Communication in Love, Life, Work–Anywhere! is an excellent ‘How-To Guide’ teaching some of the key skills that will help you identify and overcome communication barriers and achieve relationship success with the important people in your life–your spouse or partner, child or children, parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, customers–everyone! Plus, there are Self-Review Questions and Action Items at the end of several of the chapters.

4. The Power of a Positive Team: Proven Principles and Practices that Make Great Teams Great

by Jon Gordon

Jon Gordon delves into the dynamics that transform ordinary teams into extraordinary ones. Through inspirational stories and actionable strategies, he illustrates the significance of positive leadership, shared purpose, and fostering a culture of collaboration.

Amazon Description:

Jon Gordon doesn’t just research the keys to great teams, he has personally worked with some of the most successful teams on the planet and has a keen understanding of how and why they became great. In The Power of a Positive Team, Jon draws upon his unique team building experience as well as conversations with some of the greatest teams in history in order to provide an essential framework, filled with proven practices, to empower teams to work together more effectively and achieve superior results.

Utilizing examples from the writing team who created the hit show Billions, the National Champion Clemson Football team, the World Series contending Los Angeles Dodgers, The Miami Heat and the greatest beach volleyball team of all time to Navy SEAL’s, Marching bands, Southwest Airlines, USC and UVA Tennis, Twitter, Apple and Ford, Jon shares innovative strategies to transform a group of individuals into a united, positive and powerful team.

Jon not only infuses this book with the latest research, compelling stories, and strategies to maintain optimism through adversity… he also shares his best practices to transform negativity, build trust (through his favorite team building exercises) and practical ways to have difficult conversations―all designed to make a team more positive, cohesive, stronger and better.

The Power of a Positive Team also provides a blueprint for addressing common pitfalls that cause teams to fail―including complaining, selfishness, inconsistency, complacency, unaccountability―while offering solutions to enhance a team’s creativity, grit, innovation and growth.

This book is meant for teams to read together. It’s written in such a way that if you and your team read it together, you will understand the obstacles you will face and what you must do to become a great team. If you read it together, stay positive together, and take action together you will accomplish amazing things TOGETHER.

5. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries

by Safi Bahcall

I love this book because it shows the story of collaboration behind many prominent innovations. That’s why this innovation book is on our list of top books on collaboration and teamwork. Safi Bahcall explores the concept of “loonshots” – ambitious, unconventional ideas that can lead to breakthroughs. He examines how to manage and support these innovative concepts within organizations, fostering an environment where collaboration and risk-taking thrive.

Amazon Description:

Loonshots reveals a surprising new way of thinking about the mysteries of group behavior that challenges everything we thought we knew about nurturing radical breakthroughs.

Bahcall, a physicist and entrepreneur, shows why teams, companies, or any group with a mission will suddenly change from embracing new ideas to rejecting them, just as flowing water will suddenly change into brittle ice. Mountains of print have been written about culture. Loonshots identifies the small shifts in structure that control this transition, the same way that temperature controls the change from water to ice.

Using examples that range from the spread of fires in forests to the hunt for terrorists online, and stories of thieves and geniuses and kings, Bahcall shows how a new kind of science can help us become the initiators, rather than the victims, of innovative surprise.

6. Bringing Out the Best in People: How to Enjoy Helping Others Excel

by Alan Loy McGinnis

Alan Loy McGinnis delves into the art of bringing out the best in others, emphasizing principles such as encouragement, listening, and understanding. The book offers practical advice on nurturing collaborative relationships and facilitating personal growth.

Amazon Description:

Alan Loy McGinnis, author of the award-winning, international bestseller The Friendship Factor, studied great leaders throughout history, the most effective organizations of modern times, and prominent psychologists to culminate a wealth of motivational tips and ideas. In this book are 12 practical principles to help anyone — parent, manager, teacher, friend — motivate, inspire, influence, and build enthusiasm.

Mastering the art of motivation and improving relational habits isn’t easy but McGinnis includes encouragement alongside real-life examples to relay life application for any scenario. Every chapter is a must-read with deeper revelations on specific topics and powerful ways to focus one’s energy toward change and improvement.

People management, team-building, individual assessment, goal setting, accountability, and dealing with trouble-makers are just a few of the topics covered in the highly accessible chapters. McGinnis’ positive and strengths-based approach inspires momentous change, allowing individuality and input along the way. Bringing out the best starts with you, and then you can bring out the best in others.

7. Unstoppable Teams: The Four Essential Actions of High-Performance Leadership

by Alden Mills

Alden Mills shares his experiences as a Navy SEAL and entrepreneur to reveal the four key actions that drive high-performance teams: build trust, create a sense of belonging, embrace a winning mindset, and magnify results. The book offers actionable insights for leaders aiming to cultivate collaborative excellence.

Amazon Description:

SEALs and civilians operate in extremely different environments, but what makes both kinds of teams excel comes down to the same thing: service to others, trust, empathy, and a caring environment. Alden Mills has experience working in both the military and the private sector, as a SEAL platoon commander and as a startup founder of Perfect Fitness. He’s seen firsthand what it takes to lead an unstoppable team of individuals.

Teams are nothing more than a series of interconnected relationships with a collective, single-minded focus. Success almost never depends on individual talent and valor; instead, Alden Mills shows, it depends, first, on creating a strong foundation for yourself and, second, using that foundation to help others go beyond their individual pursuits and talents to create something bigger and better—an unstoppable team.

Unstoppable Teams show managers at every level, at both large and small organizations, including private, public, and nonprofit, how to inspire, motivate, and lead the people around them. Mills draws on stories from his own experiences to impart surprising team-building lessons.

8. Revolutionize Teamwork: How to Create and Lead Accountable Teams

by Eric Coryell

Eric Coryell focuses on accountability and collaboration, offering a blueprint for transforming teams through open communication, clear roles, and shared responsibility. The book provides tools and strategies to foster a culture of ownership and collaboration.

Amazon Description:

Taking a page from Facebook’s own management practices, Eric Coryell has developed a teamwork model for productive group work that creates trust, success, and true accountability. How? By redefining your team’s focus to be customer-facing as opposed to internally facing!

Revolutionize Teamwork is a quick one-hour read packed with valuable information that shows you how to create and lead effective teams built on shared trust.

9. Collaboration: How Leaders Avoid the Traps, Build Common Ground, and Reap Big Results

by Morten Hansen

Morten Hansen examines the practices that lead to successful collaboration, emphasizing disciplined collaboration and avoiding common pitfalls. The book offers case studies and actionable advice for leaders seeking to harness the power of teamwork.

Amazon Description:

In Collaboration, author Morten Hansen takes aim at what many leaders inherently know: in today’s competitive environment, companywide collaboration is an imperative for successful strategy execution, yet the sought-after synergies are rarely, if ever, realized. In fact, most cross-unit collaborative efforts end up wasting time, money, and resources. How can managers avoid the costly traps of collaboration and instead start getting the results they need?

In this book, Hansen shows managers how to get collaboration right through “disciplined collaboration”– a practical framework and set of tools managers can use.

10. 10 Laws of Trust, Expanded Edition: Building the Bonds that Make a Business Great

by Joel Peterson

Joel Peterson outlines ten foundational laws of trust, exploring how trust is essential for effective collaboration and successful leadership. The book provides a comprehensive guide to building and maintaining trust within teams and organizations.

Amazon Description:

Trust is the glue that holds an organization together. It turns deflection into transparency, suspicion into empowerment, and conflict into creativity. With it, a tiny company like John Deere grew into a worldwide leader. Without it, a giant corporation like Enron toppled.

In The 10 Laws of Trust Expanded Edition, JetBlue chairman Joel Peterson explores how a culture of trust gives companies an edge.

How does it feel to work for a firm where leaders and colleagues trust one another? Freed from micromanagement and rivalry, every employee contributes his or her best. Risk-taking and innovation become the norm. And, as Peterson notes, “When a company has a reputation for fair dealing, its costs drop: Trust cuts the time spent second-guessing and lawyering.”

With compelling examples, Peterson details how to establish and maintain a culture of trust, including: Start with integrity * Invest in respect * Empower everyone * Require accountability * Create a winning vision * Keep everyone informed * Budget in line with expectations * Embrace conflict * Forget “you” to become an effective leader * And more.

With this book in hand, you’ll be able to plant the seeds of trust—and reap the rewards of reputation, profits, and success.

This fully expanded edition includes a powerful self-assessment tool for organizations to evaluate their culture of trust and discover areas for improvement. Peterson has also added rich new case studies and chapters on the theme of betrayal, including how to manage and guard against it.

Best Books on Collaboration and Teamwork – Conclusion

As we conclude our exploration of the best books on collaboration and teamwork, it’s evident that the lessons they impart are actionable insights that can transform the way we work, create, and interact. So, whether you’re aiming to foster stronger bonds within your team, ignite innovation in your projects, or simply understand effective collaboration, may you find inspiration, guidance, and a renewed passion for harnessing the power of collaboration to shape a brighter future.