5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Hello current and future Leaders,

In a previous nugget about TRUST I mentioned the book “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni. I often introduce the concept of the 5 Dysfunctions in my Team Development Workshops for several reasons: The concept is easy to convey and understand, it makes a lot of sense and drives home what can really get in the way of good teamwork.

Let’s start with TRUST which you can see from the graphic is at bottom of the pyramid. The ABSENCE OF TRUST is a “killer”, and all the other dysfunctions develop when there is no trust between team members or no trust with their leader. Absence of trust occurs when team members have a fear of being vulnerable with their colleagues. How do you remedy this as the leader of a team? You go first – you explore within yourself 1) if you trust your team and 2) why people should trust you? Are you open, honest and not afraid to be vulnerable?

The second dysfunction is a logical conclusion: ARTIFICIAL HARMONY! Think back how often you have heard from colleagues that “everything is fine”, “we work well together” only to find out that there are stifled conflicts which occasionally surface. Conflict does not necessarily have to be negative – there can be productive, creative conflict. As a leader you need to be aware of glowing embers beneath the surface and support your team to engage in productive conflict. I am not suggesting that harmony in a team is not a good thing – it just has to be real.

LACK OF COMMITMENT can be the result of issues remaining unaddressed due to artificial harmony. Clear decisions and direction maybe missing and will result in lack of buy-in. This prevents other team members from making decisions they will stick to. It goes without saying that you as the leader need to bring that clarity to the table and unite the team in consensus.

Because of this lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an AVOIDANCE OF ACCOUNTABILITY, the fourth dysfunction. If I strive to maintain a superficially peaceful environment, I will not hold them accountable and nor will I hold myself accountable. Holding one another accountable for their behaviour and performance is crucial to achieve high performance. As a leader you do not want your team producing mediocre results and having low standards. So there is a real need for you to confront difficult issues.

The fifth dysfunction INATTENTION TO RESULTS occurs when team members put their individual needs or the needs of their department above the collective goals of the team. You often see this in companies when departments operate as silos and collective success is not seen as important.

What was your AHA-moment reading the above? Engaging in discussions with your colleagues around this model can be a first step to remedy potential dysfunction in your team.

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