The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Part I

Part 1 of 6

This short series provides a summary understanding of Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  The intent here is to provide an overview of what is a key guide to successful team building and leading.

Patrick Lencioni of the Table Group has uncanny insight into the leadership world and his insights are backed up by solid research and demonstrated methods.  His books provide a clear and simplified view of what brings out the best of team performance.  But his voice is not unique in the world of leadership; many researchers are finding the elements of the best performing teams comprise a familiar and repetitive story.  Though its simplicity may betray its effectiveness, do not underestimate the value of what we are learning about human behaviour, satisfaction, and top-tier performance.

A Movie We’ve Seen Before

Some of the most basic truths are sometimes the hardest for leaders to accept as valid and effective.  Recently, in a conversation with the CEO of an industry-leading organization, I learned that they have implemented an organization-wide team-building program.  He told me they focused on building the types of team players and employee satisfaction that was best for the company.  While they watched their bottom-line, it was not their singular focus.  Yet, their care for employees, and rising satisfaction resulted in what most of us want; a rise to industry leader status, accompanied by an envy inducing bottom line. 

It’s an anecdotal example of what the research has been telling us for years; satisfied employees, and well-built teams improve any organization.  This can be difficult to accept because on its face, it’s just too easy a solution to the organizational performance question.

Back to Basics

So, fundamentally, how do we build teams that perform?  Nope, it’s not through trust falls, meditation, or some ambiguous magic guru trick.  It’s just some clear, profoundly simply principles.

Let’s not miss out on what Lencioni offers through his book:  Relying on data, marketing, technology, skills, financials, and strategy are all important elements of organizational success.  But what we would consider the softer side of the organizational success is organizational health.

We would never expect top performance from a team member that is suffering from the ‘flu, or pneumonia, or something more serious like cancer.  If we value the presence and input of that team member, we are going to encourage steps to health.

We should be applying the same principle of care to our teams.  We all know when we have to treat team members with kid gloves, tolerate selfish and untrustworthy behaviours, or live with political backstabbing.  But we don’t always take action because of the discomfort we experience in the confrontation.

If we had even an inkling of how detrimental these issues are to our organizations, we would be taking action in unprecedented ways.  The following articles only summarize Lencioni’s work but imagine the success if you would implement this well.