Part 2: Overcome the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

Crisp Apples
Apr 9, 2017 · 6 min read

1. Absence of vulnerability-based trust

Building vulnerability-based trust cannot be achieved over night, it requires:

  • multiple instances of following through and credibility
  • an in-depth understanding of the unique attributes of the team members

2. Fear of conflict

The only purpose of productive conflict is to produce the best solution in the shortest period of time. The great teams discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than others, and they emerge from heated debates with no residual feelings or collateral damage, but with an eagerness and readiness to take on the next important issue.

  1. It’s also ironic that so many people avoid conflict in the name of efficiency, because healthy conflict is actually a time saver. Teams that avoid conflict actually doom themselves to revisiting issues again and again without resolution, they often ask team members to take their issues “off-line” but only to have it raised again at the next meeting.

3. Lack of commitment

Commitment is a function of 2 things: clarity and buy-in. Great teams move forward with complete buy-in including members who voted against the decision, and they leave meetings confident that no one is quietly harboring doubts whether to support the actions agreed on.

  1. A decision is better than no decision. Great teams unite behind decisions even when there is little assurance about whether the decision is correct. Often the teams have all the information they need to make a decision, but it needs to be extracted out of people’s hearts and minds through unfiltered debate.

4. Avoidance of accountability

Accountability refers specifically to the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team.

5. Inattention to results

This dysfunction is when a team, in stead of focusing on achieving goals and results of the team, focus on other things — most commonly team status or individual status.

A note about Kathryn’s style

Kathryn is the new CEO in Lencioni’s book who turned a dysfunctional executive team into a cohesive one. A few things worth noting for her style besides the methods she demonstrated in the story:

  • She was careful to hold back her opinions in order to develop the skills of her team.
  • When it became clear that the team had fully digested the magnitude of the situation and had nothing more to add, she went ahead and broke the silence.
  • She understood that a strong team spends considerable time together, and that by doing so, they actually save time by eliminating confusion and minimizing redundant effort and communication. Most management teams balk at spending this much time together, preferring to do “real work” instead.
  • She decided it was time to trim down the number of her direct reports, when her staff had grown to barely manageable eight.

Teams succeed by acknowledging the imperfections of their humanity and overcoming their natural tendencies that make genuine teamwork elusive.

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Crisp Apples

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The Mission

A network of business & tech podcasts designed to accelerate learning. Selected as “Best of 2018” by Apple. Mission.org