20 Best Team Building Books for Teamwork and Collaboration

Team Building Books you should be reading on 2017

“He once told me, Instead of scoring thirty goals a season, why don’t you score twenty-five and help someone else to score fifteen? That way the team’s ten goals better off.”― David Peace

The power of teamwork can simply not be ignored because teamwork makes the dream work. Whether you are starting your entrepreneurial venture or you’re working on a project, teamwork is vital to get you to your desired destination.

Also Read: 150 quotes on teamwork to inspire team building process.

Building a team is not always easy, there are many barriers that derail your team cohesion. Mostly it is the ego of team members, different approach to problems and lack of motivation. Amidst these drags, finding the right balance between the team is a daunting task and there are many questions for you to answer.

Like, How do I get these people to work together?

How do I motivate my team?

How do I get everybody to respect each other’s contribution?

That’s where the knowledge of team building comes in handy. If you have a solid knowledge about team psychology and behaviors, you can solve challenging problems that are interfering with teamwork.

We have made an attempt to list 20 Best Books which help to provide you ample knowledge about teamwork and team building to inspire and motivate your team.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a team A start up company with big ambitions has recruited a new CEO, an older woman loads of experience in brick-and-mortar companies but she must find a way to bring her dysfunctional team together but some of her workers are really venomous for the team.

Written by American Business consultant and speaker Patrick Lencioni, Five Dysfunctions of a team explores the root causes of Organizational politics (using an informal network to gain power and accomplish tasks to meet a person’s wants or needs) and team failure.

Written like a business fable, this book describes the hitches that comes in the way of team as they seek to “row together” towards a common goal.


The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team

The 17 Indisputable laws of teamwork The writer of this book, John C Maxwell is an American author, speaker, and pastor. His book: The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork: Embrace Them and Empower Your Team tries to explain how an individual can be a better team member, leader and a role model.

Most of the arguments he present in his book are basic common sense but when we get really involved with something, we do need someone jolting our snoozing common sense from time to time. This book is a practical guide on being in and building a successful team. Maxwell has explained his ideas with simple language and common examples. He urges the readers to work harder and ‘see the bigger picture’.

The Big Book of Team Building Games: Trust-Building Activities, Team Spirit Exercises, and Other Fun Things to Do

The big book of team building games.Written by Organizational Behavior analysts John Newstrom and Edward Scannell, this jumbo sized book attempts to assemble together team activities that help to effectively build team spirit, bolster team communication and increase trust among people who work together day in and day out.

This book details about more than 70 activities you can practice to boost morale in any scenarios. This big book is also tailor-made for managers looking to lift morale of their team. Newstrom and Scannell provide plenty of ideas to liven up boring staff meetings and enable team members to collaborate with each other in harmony.

X-teams: How to Build Teams That Lead, Innovate and Succeed

X-Teams how to build teams that lead, innovate and succeed. Written by Deborah Ancona and Henrik Bresman, this book explains that teams often fails because they are looking inwards instead of looking outwards. The title of this book refers to teams that lead, innovate, and succeed in a rapidly changing environment.

The X-Teams are different from traditional teams in three ways. “First, to create effective goals, plans, and designs, members must go outside the team; they must have high levels of external activity.

Second, X-teams combine all of that productive activity with extreme execution inside the team. X-teams develop internal processes that enable members to coordinate their work and execute effectively while simultaneously carrying out activity.

Third, X-teams incorporate flexible phases, shifting their activities over the team’s lifetime.”

Not all organizations need an X-team. However, decision-makers in all organizations (regardless of size or nature) need to understand the X-team mindset which recognizes and appreciates the importance of “reaching out to far-flung islands of expertise” and of creating new synergies between and among all areas of operation by connecting and aligning “multiple people inside and outside the organization.”


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

This is forth book by award winning business thinker and former National Geographic host Daniel H. Pink. In this book Pink suggests that there is a gap between “what science knows” and “what business does”.

Pink uses interesting analogy to compare motivation with different generations of computer software. The basic operation system Motivation 1.0 was all about basic needs like food and shelter, the O.S Motivation 2.0 was all about reward and punishment or more bluntly carrot and stick.

He argues that Carrot and Stick motivation does not work anymore and it’s high time we moved to Motivation 3.0. He then goes on to introduce the I Type and X Type behavior – named for intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Type I behavior concerns itself less with external rewards and more with doing things for the joy of doing them.This book is thought provoking and challenges us to find motivation measures beyond just stick and carrot.


Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results

Written by Geoffrey M. Bellman and Kathleen D. Ryan, this book presents a new approach to help teams nurture extraordinary experiences and excel. Occasionally we participate in a group that inspires us to describe the experience as “powerful” or simply “wow.” Why are some teams described in such exceptional terms, while most are not? Bellman and Ryan argue that an extraordinary group emerges when a group experience satisfies two or more core needs that members intuitively bring to any group they join.

Based on extensive research, the book presents the Group Needs Model to help anyone nurture extraordinary experiences in their groups and achieve outstanding results.

Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance

Written by Howard M. Guttman, an American management consultant and founder of Guttman Development Strategies, a consulting firm, Great Business Teams explain the special traits that makes great business teams stand apart.

Guttman explains that great business teams perform well in high-pressure situations and utilize pre-established business practices and protocols to address challenges. He notes that these teams are led by high-performance leaders who build authentic relationships, act in ways that demonstrates their personal accountability to the team, and put the team first and the function second. These leaders continually raise the bar by challenging the status quo and using a performance management system that reinforces team goals.

Great Business Teams provides a pathway for managers to transform their teams into high-performing teams, which he explains are strategically-focused, horizontally structured, and distributive decision-making.

The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization

Written by well renowned consultant duo Jon Katzenbach and Douglas K Smith, this bestselling book explores the remarkable benefits of teams at all levels of the organization. The wisdom of teams provides a look at the 30 virtues of good business that have inspired success in thousands of leaders.

Jon and Douglas have provided the readers with a highly detailed framework for team development. While acknowledging that teams may not be the best solution for every organization’s problems, the authors unashamedly insist that businesses do themselves a disservice by not considering the team-based approach. This comes in highly recommended for people looking to set up a business or want to learn a thing or two about team development.


Debugging Teams: Better Productivity through Collaboration

This book chronicles around the experiences of two authors during their career as software developer and in later stages as team leaders and managers. Brian Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman go in great details in cataloging the behavioral unpredictability of humans and offering tips to manage through/around/with them.

The authors argue that, even among people who have spent decades learning the technical side of their jobs, many tend to overlook the human aspects. Learning to collaborate as a team is equally important to success. If you invest your time and energy learning these “soft skills”, you can have a much greater impact for similar levels of input.

Teamwork and Teamplay

Compiled by James Cain and Barry Jolliff in 2010, This book acts as a bible for Team Adventures and activities. The writers have done an wonderful job combining many new activities with some popular classics. They have created an amazing resource of team activities that are free and do not require any sort of fancy equipment.

The authors have summarized hundreds of adventure challenges, tips to plan events, icebreakers etc. in great detail with possible debrief questions and learning objectives. This book can act as a cynosure for all people who are searching for team building activities to bond with their team.

Teamwork 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know

This is second book on the list written by the legendary John C Maxwell. Maxwell understands the nuances of leadership and acknowledges the fact that it takes a great teamwork to make a leader successful.

In this book he mentions the qualities which every leader needs to have to produce a winning team. This book has loads of useful information written in typical Maxwell style: concise and practical. This book will help the readers to build a team that lasts, create positive energy on the team, harness a team’s creativity, identify weak players who negatively impact a team, and judge if the team can accomplish the dream.

Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy

This book was written by Amy C. Edmondson, a Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School. In this book, she acknowledges the difference in each individual and encourages collaboration despite the differences. She offers innovative ideas and logic to execute such collaboration.

Her ideas are not intuitive, but something that can be learnt and adapted with. Her book does not offer direct steps or an “in-the-box” plan to follow but instead series of concepts and methodologies for inciting team spirit.

Help the Helper: Building a Culture of Extreme Teamwork

Written by NBA Basketball cub manager Kevin Pritchard and John Elliot, Help the Helper provides many credible insights on team experience mostly from author’s own athletic experience.

This book elucidates the dangers of team imbalance where a team may have prima donna superstars. They discuss why organizations that value all of their employees have been successful. Additionally, they offer a new perspective on the traits that truly determine a person’s success in order to help you snare the right talent onto your team

Paradoxes of Group Life: Understanding Conflict, Paralysis, and Movement in Group Dynamics

This book is written by Kenwyn K. Smith (PhD – School of Social Policy & Practice) and David N. Berg (Organizational psychologist). Together they have made an attempt to study the group dynamics from a psycho social lens.

The authors explore the hidden dynamics that can prevent a group from functioning effectively and show us how an apparently paradoxical suggestion, for example, inviting a success oriented group to risk failure, or affirming the benefits of going nowhere to a group focused on moving ahead?can break action barriers, overcome conflicts, and improve group performance.

The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age

Written by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and entrepreneur duo Ben Crasnocha and Chris Yeh, The Alliance explores how manager/employee relation works, how it is stained and how the experience of co-working can be made joyful for both the parties.

The Alliance provides a framework, based on implemented experience, for developing relationships in a connected world and for entering into mutually shared objectives that diminish the employer-employee model and focus on what matters–outcomes.

Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances

This book was written by late J. Richard Hackman, a human dynamics expert and professor at Harvard University. He has tried to explain what makes team successful or to fade into oblivion of mediocrity.

Based on practical findings and a profound insight, Hackman explains how to effectively lead teams and improve team performance. He has explained himself with a trademark wit and sufficient humor to keep the readers engaged while providing useful team.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Written by American educator, author, businessman, and keynote speaker Stephen Covey, This book describes the seven habits of highly effective people and techniques for adopting the seven habits.

He makes it clear that an individual must make a paradigm shift before incorporating these habits into his/her own personal life. Covey emphasizes that if we want to make a change in our lives, we should probably first focus on our personal attitudes and behaviors.

Habits 1, 2, and 3 deal with self-mastery. They move an individual from dependency on others to independence. Habits 4, 5, and 6 deal with teamwork, cooperation, and communication. These habits deal with transforming a person from dependency to independence to interdependence. Habit 7 embodies all of the other habits to help an individual work toward continuous improvement.

A Team of Leaders: Empowering Every Member to Take Ownership, Demonstrate Initiative, and Deliver Results

Using stories from their decades of experience, Paul Gustavson and Stewart Liff share insights into how companies have adopted these principles on their way to greater success. A Team of Leaders is not only for the manager but every member of the team.

A Team of Leaders helps organizations identify ways to improve regardless of where they are on a scale of effectiveness. Low functioning ‘Level 1’ teams can become high functioning and engaged ‘Level 5’ teams following the simple principles outlined in the book.

Leading with Emotional Intelligence: Hands-On Strategies for Building Confident and Collaborative Star Performers

This book is written by Relly Nadler, a highly sought-after speaker and consultant on leadership, teambuilding, executive coaching, emotional intelligence and experiential learning. Nadler has explained the extent of effect the emotional intelligence has on a team.

Nadler provides a solid foundation for Emotional Intelligence and offers a framework for EI competency. In addition to this, his book also covers self confidence, teamwork and collaboration. His book contains several reflection exercises to encourage readers to asses themselves with the help of thought provoking questions.

Virtual Team Success: A Practical Guide for Working and Leading from a Distance

Written by renowned consultant duo Richard Lepsinger and Darleen DeRosa, This book is specifically helpful for those who are new to leadership; especially with virtual employees.

For global teams that want to be top-performing, Virtual Team Success should be their team handbook. It’s loaded with tools, checklists, models, and practical recommendations for co-working and leading from a distance.



Making a list of books is entirely subjective. But this is our best effort to compile the best books out there to a list. Do you think we missed any book? Please let us know in the comments below.