In this paper we discuss several pervasive myths and misperceptions about teams and teamwork. We also introduce an evidence-based framework for moving beyond these myths and misperceptions.

We shared several statements about teamwork to over 1,300 working adults. On average, across all the myths and respondents, 62% of respondents agreed with the myths we presented, 21% were uncertain, and only 17% disagree. This suggests that over 80% of respondents either endorsed, or expressed uncertainty about, myths relating to fundamental aspects of teamwork.

Given the pervasiveness and lack of clarity surrounding myths about teams, we provide a research-grounded framework to better support holistic team effectiveness while also illuminating nuances about common myths. Together, we leverage this framework and our review of the teams literature to offer four broader “truths” that leaders and organizations can keep in mind to support effective teamwork. These include:

  • Effective teams need intentional and systemic support. Teams need to be intentionally supported with ongoing development and an appreciation of their place in broader systems.
  • Teams simultaneously reflect “wholes” and “parts.” Although teams come together to achieve shared and collective goals, they are, fundamentally, a combination of distinct individuals.
  • Teams are dynamic. It is best to re-evaluate where a team is at any point in time rather than assume stability.
  • Beliefs about teams and teamwork need to be (re)surfaced. Given the pervasiveness of myths and misconceptions about teamwork, there is value in openly discussing, questioning, and challenging assumptions about how teams can be the most effective.

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