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The Art of Project Management by Scott Berkun

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11.6. Roles and clear authority

There are two lessons I learned from playing competitive sports. First, real trust is earned only when challenges surface and are overcome. It's only when there is a dispute or argument, where someone is upset or afraid and the truth comes out, that relationships have the opportunity to grow. Second, good teams function effectively because each individual understands his own role as well as the role of every other person on the team. Things go well when each individual can depend on the contributions of others to the point that he can comfortably focus on his own tasks. A lead guitarist in a rock band can't do a great solo if the bassist and drummer aren't providing a reliable rhythm structure for him to work in. It is the same with forwards and point guards in basketball, or quarterbacks and offensive linemen in American football. And, of course, it's definitely true for programmers, testers, and others on technical teams.

The ability to depend on each other in team activity becomes more important as stress and pressure rise. Things are likely to break down, and people have the first opportunity to fail, feel afraid, or blame others when things go wrong. Complex work is often highly interdependent, meaning that Fred knows he will fail at completing his test pass if Sara doesn't get her code working on time. He has good reason to worry: he hasn't worked with her enough to build real trust in her ability to deliver in tough situations.

So, when the ...

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