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IEEE-USA Offers New E-Book for Members on Leading Exceptional Teams

By Paul Lief Rosengren

Leading Exceptional Teams

Leading Exceptional Teams

FREE to IEEE Members
Non-Members: $2.99

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In his new IEEE-USA e-book, Leading Exceptional Teams, Dr. Dev Palmer points out we are in teams throughout our lives — both at work and at play. His book is full of practical advice drawn on his thirty years of experience leading technical teams in government and the private sector; and his effort to drive innovation in electronic devices and applications.

Palmer’s earliest lessons on teamwork came from performing with a number of musical groups (His bio mentions an LP of one of the groups might still be available “at select garage sales”). He learned from his musical experiences  “a band of virtuosos does not often make the best music. The bands that make the best music have musicians that can play well, but more importantly can play together, and work toward a common goal.” It is a lesson he believes applies just as well to business teams.

The author believes that building effective teams starts with leaders modeling good behavior. He suggests readers actively work to establish their professional brand. “You will have many mentors (and tormentors) throughout your career, and none of them make you succeed or fail without your help,” he wrote.

Palmer discuses actions leaders should model, including:

  • Committing to continuous improvement; and the need to pursue the certifications and licensing that will keep your career moving forward
  • Understanding exactly how you add value to your organization
  • Participating in activities outside of your company, including volunteering or publishing. (He notes that IEEE-USA and the IEEE have many opportunities in both of these areas, with IEEE generating more than 30 percent of the world’s engineering literature every year.)
  • Maintaining a prioritized to-do list
  • Positioning disagreements to move toward a win-win resolution
  • Streamlining or automating processes
  • Developing communication skills. He notes, “Communication is the world’s window to your professionalism” and “sloppy communication is the fastest way to get people to stop taking you seriously.”
  • Focusing not just on the data, but on the stories that come from the data

In the book’s introduction, Palmer asserts, “Leading exceptional teams generally relies on three fundamental actions: building effective relationships, energizing your team, and delivering results.”

Building effective relationships starts with understanding your team members as individuals; and knowing their strengths, weaknesses, goals, personal interests, and what motivates them (compensation, recognition, purpose, social interaction, career enhancement, or wanting to have an impact). Such understanding allows you to earn their trust. He then urges leaders to demonstrate their trust in their teams, by empowering them with responsibility and authority.

To make sure that your team is all moving in the same direction, Palmer recommends a strong, clearly defined mission statement. He cites IEEE, Bell Laboratories and the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as examples of organizations with strong mission statements. Equally important is making sure your team understands the strategy on how the mission will be accomplished. He emphasizes having a tight, “well-developed strategy, and a willingness to listen to and act on other people’s inputs.” This strategy includes making space for telling the truth — even if unpopular.

Of course, the true test of leadership is whether the team delivers results. Palmer writes for a leader to drive results, they must clearly define every team member’s role and responsibility — and remember to always take stakeholder perspectives into account.

Dr. Dev Palmer is an engineering professional and IEEE Life Fellow. He has published more than 150 articles; co-authored or edited two books and two book chapters; and has four U.S. patents. His ability to focus and guide teams has led to recognition from the government and the research community, including the 2013 IEEE Region 3 Outstanding Service Award “for sustained contributions to member advancement and recognition, technical activities, and business practice improvement”; and the 2017 DARPA Results Matter Award. The technology developed by one of his research program teams holds a Guinness World Record.

Leading Exceptional Teams, by Dr. Dev Palmer, is now available for free for IEEE members at the IEEE-USA Shop. Non-members pay $2.99.


Paul Lief Rosengren

Paul Lief Rosengren is a frequent contributor to IEEE-USA InSight and author of the Famous Women Engineers in History series. He also co-authored In the Time of COVID: One Hospital’s Struggles and Triumphs about the first year of COVID at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ. Rosengren previously worked in internal and external communications for the State of New Jersey, NBC, PSEG, and BD. While at PSEG, he was a founding member of the PSEG Diversity Council, initiated and facilitated the PSEG D&I Book Club and received the PR News Diversity Award.

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