The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

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Teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage; make it your top priority.

why do even the most talented teams tend to perform poorly in the absence of teamwork? They waste time and energy on politics, trying to outmaneuver each other. This results in low morale, less focus on performance and the loss of valuable players who have had enough.

11 April, 2016 18:42 Share

In teams of ambitious and successful people, individual egos can hinder good teamwork as people compete against their peers.

11 April, 2016 18:44 Share

All teamwork is based on trust, and trust is built when team members are open about their weaknesses and mistakes.

For a team to perform well, members must trust one another. When this is the case, they will communicate in a healthy, open way even when discussing tough or touchy topics. This allows them to find the best solutions quickly. Without trust, important issues may be avoided and left undebated, which results in poor decisions.

11 April, 2016 18:46 Share

Put simply, team members need to willingly make themselves vulnerable to one another. This is not easy to do, as in today’s cut-throat world people learn to be competitive and protective of their own interests.

11 April, 2016 18:48 Share

But for trust to be built, everyone must see that there is no reason to be protective or careful in the team. This means team members must make a deliberate effort to quash their basic caution, and instead share their vulnerabilities and mistakes openly. This way everyone will quickly be able to see that their peers’ intentions toward them are good, and trust will develop.

11 April, 2016 18:49 Share

If people trust each other, they engage in constructive conflicts and make better decisions.

If a team lacks trust, this often means that they will want to avoid any and all conflict, so they shy away from discussing controversial topics. They hold back their opinions and honest concerns, preferring not to challenge one another, because they are trying to uphold some kind of pseudo-harmony within the team.

11 April, 2016 18:52 Share

Building trust enables conflict, because team members who trust each other will be comfortable even when engaging in a passionate and emotional debate over a tricky issue, because they know that nothing they say will be interpreted as destructive.

11 April, 2016 18:53 Share

Great teams have peer-to-peer accountability, meaning everyone’s performance is transparent.

Unfortunately, if team members do not call each other out in such cases, it will make everyone feel less accountable, which in turn results in missed deadlines, mediocre results and poor team performance. The team leader is then burdened with being the sole source of discipline in the team, as there is no peer-to-peer accountability.

11 April, 2016 18:56 Share

In some teams, when members have developed good rapport, they are then reluctant to hold one another accountable, because they fear their valuable personal relationships will be jeopardized. Ironically, this reluctance can and will damage those personal relationships, because the team members will begin to resent each other for not living up to expectations and for slipping from the team’s performance standards.

11 April, 2016 18:57 Share

Effective teams focus on collective results rather than individual goals.

If the intended results are clear and leave no room for interpretation, then it’s not possible for any individual to weasel away from the team goal to work on their own goals instead.

11 April, 2016 18:58 Share

Every team has goals that they strive for, results they wish to achieve – whether it is to design a new product line or win a game of basketball. This is true for most individuals as well, but in great teams, team members understand that shared goals must take precedence over individual ones.

11 April, 2016 18:58 Share

When common goals are embraced, individual team members are willing to support and help each other even across lines of responsibilities.

11 April, 2016 18:58 Share

Great teams spend a lot of time together, which results in them saving a lot of time.

regular meetings and touch points help great teams be coordinated and efficient, and this saves a lot of time, even if much time needs to be invested at first.

11 April, 2016 19:00 Share

Final summary

Whenever you find yourself in a team, whether leading it or just participating, insist on setting public goals and quality standards. Also, demand they be followed with simple and regular progress reviews. This will help keep everyone focused on team goals, and also encourage accountability. And don’t forget: shared goals demand shared rewards, like a team event.

11 April, 2016 19:00 Share

About the book:

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team presents the notion that teams are inherently dysfunctional, so deliberate steps must be taken to facilitate great teamwork. A knowledgeable team leader can do a great deal to make his or her team effective, and the book outlines practical tools for achieving this.

About the author:

Patrick Lencioni is president of The Table Group, a management consultancy. His previous bestselling books include Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting and Silos, Politics and Turf Wars. In 2008, CNN Money listed him as one of "ten new gurus you should know."

Patrick M. Lencioni: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team copyright 2002, John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used by permission of John Wiley & Sons Inc. and shall not be made available to any unauthorized third parties.

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