Katzenbach and Smith

Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith1 define a team as: How do you fit into a team? - join our research project here.

“a small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable”.

This simple definition brings together team role models such as Belbin and Margerison-McCann (complementary skills) with P3 management (common purpose and performance goals) and models of leadership such as Hersey and Blanchard and McGregor (mutually accountable).


Performance impact vs. team effectiveness


Among their many observations on teams they identified five levels of team work. This has definite parallels with Tuckman’s model but has the added idea of ‘performance impact’.

  • Working group
  • The team members come together to share information but as yet there is no common purpose or performance goals that require mutual accountability. Each team member is only accountable for the work that the group has delegated to them.

    Click here for articles about teamwork.

  • Pseudo team
  • This team is at the bottom of the performance curve. Members may believe they are part of a team but not yet acting like one. This may be because they don’t want to take the risk of committing to a common purpose and the mutual accountability that this entails.

  • Potential team
  • At this level the team members are moving towards a common goal and approach to achieving it. They are working towards a higher level of performance and must agree on mutual accountability.

  • Real team
  • In this type of team a small group of people share a common purpose and approach. They have complementary skills and share accountability for results.

  • High performing team

  • The difference between a real team and a high performing team is the relationships between the team members. High performance results from the members being committed to one another’s personal growth and development.


  1. Katzenbach, J. R. and Smith, D.K. (1993), The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-performance Organisation, Harvard Business School, Boston

11th August 2014Link to Italian translation added

Katzenbach and Smith

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