How Do You Best Foster Teamwork?

by Harold Kerzner, Ph.D.

How Do You Best Foster Teamwork?

How Do You Best Foster Teamwork?

  1. You are managing a strategic project for a very important external client. Because of the importance of the project, you have been assigned some of the best workers in the company. They each are experts in their field and sort of prima donnas that prefer to work individually rather than in groups. The results thus far are as expected, but you believe that getting them to work together could create a synergistic effect with results that are far better than expected. You should:
    1. Realize there are situations where it is best not to get involved. If work is progressing, just stay away. They will eventually see the light and begin cooperating with one another.
    2. Provide each team member with individual encouragement on the excellent job that they are doing.
    3. Provide encouragement to the team as a whole rather than on an individual basis.
    4. When dealing with prima donnas, ask senior management to step in and provide the encouragement.

Do You Possess the Skills of a Grateful Leader?


  1. Answer A encourages them to continue with the status quo and work by themselves. (no points) Answer B may look good, but this might also encourage them to work alone, and even to compete with the other team members. (2 points) Answer C is best for the best interest of the company as well as each team member. (4 points) Answer D may look good, but encouragement by senior management may not be received as well as that of the PM that is working with the people on a daily basis. (2 points)

Epilogue: The project manager opted to do nothing because he/she believed that prima donnas are self-motivated and no further grateful leadership activities were necessary. The team members continued on as before, not trusting any of the other team members and revalidating everyone else’s work as a precaution. This was a classical failure of not understanding the importance of grateful leadership.

[Reference: Judith W. Umlas, Grateful Leadership, McGraw Hill and IIL Co-publishers, 2013]

Stay tuned for more of these great questions in the Grateful Leadership IQ series – one every two weeks! And you can even send your situations or questions to us for Dr. Kerzner to answer: [email protected].

This bi-monthly series presents short case studies/real life stories and questions for members to ponder and to test their competency in Grateful Leadership. Dr. Kerzner graces us all with his vast knowledge of teams and what it takes to motivate and engage team members..

Harold Kerzner, Ph.D. is IIL’s Senior Executive Director for Project Management. He is a globally recognized expert on project management and strategic planning, and the author of many best-selling textbooks, most recently “Project Management 2.0”.