Putting the Function in Dysfunctional Teams

Putting the Function in Dysfunctional Teams

The common denominator shared among winning organizations is a strong team dynamic. Teamwork is the heart of achievement. Teams can do more than an individual, help people maximize strengths and manage weaknesses, provide more energy, ideas and resources, etc. Organizations filled with bureaucracy, ego, politics and selfishness lose far more often than they win. Organizational leaders then must consistently work to eliminate bad attitudes and behavior and create a culture where the whole is greater than its parts.

In his book, The Five Dysfunctions of A Team, Patrick Lencioni provides a fictional account of a common management challenge. That is, a well-funded start-up company that is staffed with top-level executive talent is lagging behind the competition. To address the issue, the company’s board hires a new CEO, who after careful assessment, concludes the company’s executives are not operating as a team. The new CEO then begins team building to get the company back on track. As the executives identify their shortcomings, the five dysfunctions of a team emerge. They include:

1 – Absence of Trust – An unwillingness to be vulnerable within a team environment. If members of a team do not trust each other, they cannot be totally honest and rely on each other.

2 – Avoidance of Accountability – Failing to take responsibility for calling people out on counterproductive attitudes and behavior sets low standards. Accountability is the commitment to action.

3 – Fear of Conflict – Seeking artificial harmony over constructive, passionate debate.  A spirited debate produces effective results when people trust each other and have a common goal that they are trying to obtain.

4 – Inattention to Results – Focusing on personal ego, status and success before team success. Teams should focus on what matters; i.e., executing five priorities or less to avoid getting diluted.

5 – Lack of Commitment – Pretending to buy-in to team decisions creates ambiguity and a lack of follow through. Once a decision is made, all team members must commit to its successful execution.

High performance teams are created when a culture of accountability, commitment, debate, results and trust exists between people and within the organization. True teams consistently win against the competition because they have the best players (members) and a coach (leader) who knows how to consistently make the whole greater than its parts. It is as simple and complicate as that. Simple because it is hardly a controversial notion that the best players with a great coach equals top performance. Complicated because it is so hard to do.

All contents copyright © 2013, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.


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