Developing as a team

March 15, 2012 • Issue 02 - March 2012, Strive to Thrive

In February’s Strive to Thrive meetings, Redmond reviewed Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Lencioni discovered that most teams struggle because they “fall prey to five natural, but dangerous pitfalls” he calls the five dysfunctions of a team. Like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates even if a single dysfunction is allowed to flourish.

Absence of Trust

The fear of being vulnerable creates a lack of trust among members of the team. Teams that succeed are made of members who admit their weaknesses, ask each other for help, accept input, offer feedback and assistance, and appreciate one another’s skills and experiences.

Fear of Conflict

When a team develops trust among its members, they become more willing to argue with each other. Society teaches us that conflict is impolite, but mature teams understand that if harmony comes as a result of people holding back their concerns or feelings, it becomes unproductive. When teams view conflict as an opportunity instead of a problem, they engage in healthy debate, create interesting solutions, and minimize politics.

Lack of Commitment

A team that hasn’t accepted conflict as a key to its success will likely struggle with lack of commitment. “Great teams ensure that everyone’s ideas are genuinely considered,” said Lencioni, allowing people to create clear priorities and move forward without hesitation, expecting to learn from mistakes.

Avoidance of Accountability

“Once we achieve clarity and buy-in,” said Lencioni, “we have to hold each other accountable for what we sign up to do.” A team that holds one another accountable understands the importance of improvement. There is mutual trust and respect among team members when they are all held to the same high standards.

Inattention to Results

Everyone wants to be successful, but people sometimes focus more on personal goals than on a team’s success. Teams who hold each other accountable see their work as an important part of a larger project and focus on results that help the group reach its goals instead of looking out for themselves.

No two teams are alike, but members of a mature team trust one another, speak up appropriately, commit to decisions and hold each other accountable for results.

At the back of Lencioni’s book, there is a team assessment–a diagnostic tool that can be used to evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses in each of the five areas. Lencioni suggested that each team member complete the assessment and discuss the results within the team–a productive first step to vulnerability!


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