“X-Teams: How to Build Teams…” by Ancona & Bresman

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 3
Words: 919
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Master

Major Management Concepts Discussed

The major management / leadership concepts discussed in the book X-teams, how to build teams that lead, innovate, and succeed by Ancona & Bresman, as defined by the Leadership Effective Inventory (LEI) competencies, include:

  • External Awareness – Understands local, national, and international market situations, issues, trends, and policies that may affect the team and keeps up-to-date on them; in turn, is additionally aware of the team’s effect on the external environment.
  • Creativity and Innovation – Encourages members’ new ideas and initiatives, questions conventional approaches in order to develop new insights, designs new processes for its subsequent implementation.
  • Flexibility – Rapidly adapts to changing conditions and unexpected challenges and perceives new information.
  • Team Building – Inspires and motivates team members; fosters their commitment to work, spirit, and pride to accomplish common goals.
  • Accountability – Determines first-priority objectives and sets goals for the future; controls the achievement of time-sensitive and cost-effective results; Is responsible for mistakes and complies with established rules and systems.

In the book, these competencies may be related to leaders, team members, and teams in general as distributed leadership described in the work presupposes interdependent interactions and the contribution of all participants.

Book Summary

Investigating why even good teams frequently fail, Abcora and Bresman (2007) conclude that traditional approaches to team management are no longer sufficient. On the basis of years of research, they describe new ways in which teams may become high-performance, innovative, and productive. In general, the authors states that modern teams should emphasize external outreach, expandable tiers, distributed membership, and flexible membership. In fact, they distinguish three main principles of X-teams – external activity, extreme execution, and flexible phases (Ancona & Bresman, 2007). These teams understand an external environment where they work, operate across their boundaries, searching for information that allows them to perform more efficiently, praise competent specialists, manage power struggles and politics, and support members’ ideas and initiatives. No matter in what activity teams are involved, their members should change focus over time depending on the current external environment, global trends, and innovations. In the book, the authors provide the following major characteristics of high-performance teams:

  • It is external management that currently leads teams to development, innovation, and success

Teams frequently fail when their members start to follow conventional theories and models that emphasize the team’s focus on the internal structure, processes, problems, and people involved. However, this approach cannot be regarded as highly efficient anymore as the world is rapidly changing. In other words, although proper internal team functioning is significant, it is not enough for stable development (Ancona & Bresman, 2007). Thus, teams should know how to adapt to the environment, attract committed specialists, and monitor innovations, world problems, and the current situation in the sphere of business to grow and shape the future.

  • The external environment determines changes in teams’ structures and operations

Teams may focus on internal management and ignore the external environment, however, this model is not sufficient anymore. Only those organizations that are able to adapt to a modern innovation-based competitive environment will lead and succeed. Through inevitable changes in structures for operation, applied knowledge, and performed tasks, teams should learn how to exert organizational leadership and combine the maintenance of internal control and attention to external forces.

  • X-teams are associated with strong execution culture

The successful operation of X-teams, or high-performing teams, may be explained by their ability to combine external activity with extreme internal execution. In general, the safe culture of execution includes bold leadership and team members’ high-integrity commitment, collaboration, empowerment, and recognition. Extreme execution allows teams to perform efficient external intelligence coordinating work within. The establishment of a healthy atmosphere, leaders’ interpersonal skills, team reflection, and psychological safety is essential for execution.

  • X-teams require distributed leadership

High-performance teams require distributed leadership model as executive leadership alone is not sufficient anymore and does not guarantee success in a modern innovation-driven business environment. Distributed leadership is associated with interdependent practice and interaction instead of independent and individual actions (Ancona & Bresman, 2007). However, it should exist at the team’s all levels, and leaders in this model are people who know that they can take responsibility and make contributions to the organization’s development. This approach allows teams to tap people’s interpersonal, intellectual, intuitive, rational, creative, and conceptual capacities.

Discussion of the Significance of the Book’s Concepts to My Work Experiences and Learnings

From a personal perspective, the significance of this book is determined by the fact that its authors explained what strategies of team management are not efficient anymore and what approaches should be considered for success. In addition, it is stated that described principles are applicable to any team regardless of the sphere of its activity. As a result, I may consider them being in any team either studying or working in the future. For instance, being a leader, I will know what other people will expect from me and what I should do for the team’s development.

Recommendation for Including This Book on Next Year’s Management Reading List

This book should be definitely included in the management reading list as it provided not only theoretical but practical information that will be useful for students in their future work no matter what role they will take in a team. This work explains why a considerable number of organizations currently fail and how to avoid their mistakes. In the modern competitive environment, it is highly essential to be knowledgeable and stay aware of the latest information for success.


Ancona, D., & Bresman, H. (2007). X-teams, how to build teams that lead, innovate, and succeed. Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation