Team leaders and supervisors may be asked to lead a complex team or, as a result of their role, they may be asked to join such a team or project. The purpose of this chapter is to consider some of the challenges involved in managing and leading different types of complex teams. This includes partnership teams which may be multi-professional, i.e. made up of representatives from different professional groups, or teams involving members from different organizations (who may be from the same or different professional backgrounds); diverse teams where members may come from a wide range of national and cultural backgrounds; and also virtual teams. This chapter will help you to lead or to be an active and effective team member in a complex team.
Working in collaborative and multi-professional teams
Partnership is one of the most complex and difficult ways in which to work. When it works even reasonably well, however, it can bring some of the best results for the end-user.
Information and library workers have always had a tradition of networking and collaborative working both within the profession and also with other professional groups. In the last decade, governments, agencies and organizations have raised the profile of partnership working as they see this as one way of meeting the needs to modernize and develop new approaches to working and delivering services in a complex and rapidly changing environment. A scan of the current ILS literature reveals that many information workers are now involved in developing and delivering a wide range of services through partnerships. Pilling and Kenna (2002) provide an overview of many collaborative projects and partnerships in the information and library world.
Sullivan and Skelcher (2002) highlight the rise in collaborative working between public, private and the voluntary and community sectors and they map out how collaboration is central to the way in which public policy is made, managed and delivered in the UK. Partnership working is currently popular with the UK government where it is seen as an important strategy for tackling complex and interlinked issues such as crime, education, health and housing in our inner cities.