The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
by Patrick Lencioni
It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.
If you could get everyone in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.
Teams, because they are made up of imperfect human beings, are inherently dysfunctional.
Building a strong team is both possible and remarkable simple. But it is painfully difficult.
Teamwork comes down to mastering behaviors that are theoretically uncomplicated but extremely difficult to practice day to day.
Consider the implications of calling your co-workers “staff” versus “team.”
Better to be productive in a meeting than efficient.
A fractured team is just like a broken arm or led; fixing it is always painful, and sometimes you need to rebreak it to make it heal correctly. And the rebreak hurts a lot more than the initial break, because you have to do it on purpose.
5 Reasons Why Teams are Dysfunctional
1. Absence of trust (invulnerability)
2. Fear of conflict (artificial harmony)
3. Lack of commitment (ambiguity)
4. Avoidance of accountability (low standards)
5. Inattention to results (status and ego)
Trust is the foundation of teamwork.
Understanding and opening up to one another is the most critical in team-building.
Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.
Lack of debate in team meetings and other interactions can point to a trust problem.
2 Rules for Meetings
1. Be present
Focusing on collective results as a team kills personal egos and makes the whole team better.
Focusing on collective results means that all members of a team should adopt a set of common goals and measurements and then actually using them to make collective decisions on a daily basis.
A team that doesn’t work collectively isn’t a team – it is a collection of individuals.
Everyone is responsible for all metrics.
Politics result from being too ambiguous about what you’re working on which makes it easy to focus on individual success.
Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.
Harmony itself is good if it comes as a result of working through issues constantly and cycling through conflict. But if it comes only as a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, then it’s a bad thing.
When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.
Consensus is horrible. It becomes an attempt to please everyone, which usually turns into displeasing everyone equally.
People need to weigh in before before they can really buy in.
If we cannot learn to engage in productive, ideological conflict during meetings, we are through. Our ability to engage in passionate, unfiltered debate about what we need to do to succeed will determine our future as much as anything else.
Meetings and movies have a lot in common. They have similar runtime, but meetings are interactive and should be better than movies. But they usually aren’t because of a lack of conflict. Every great movie has conflict. Few meetings have conflict. If there is nothing worth debating, we shouldn’t have a meeting.
It is important to have one overarching goal. If everything is important, then nothing is. What is the ultimate measure of our success?
Building a team is hard.
Trust is know that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about you.
5 Attributes of a Cohesive Team
1. They trust one another
2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas
3. They commit to decisions and place of action
4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans
5. They focus on the achievement of collective results
A strong team spends considerable time together. Doing so, they save time by eliminating confusion and minimizing redundant effort and communication.
The ultimate test of a great team is results.