5 Dysfunctions of a Team – they are all around us

January 22, 2009 | by Kari

When I arrived at 2Paths last summer, Gary told me that the team used the Birkman profiling tool. I have tried out most of the popular psychometric tools like Myers Briggs, DISC, Insights and others but never Birkman. So, when John Goodwin, our Birkman expert and trusted mentor showed up to take us through our Support Crew team profile this fall, he kicked off the session with a short video of Patrick Lencioni discussing the concepts from his book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. For some reason, I’ve never heard of Patrick Lencioni before or his book (not sure which rock I’ve been hiding under) but I was very intrigued by his rather simple concept of what causes teams (work or otherwise) to either gel or not.

Later I discovered that we had a copy of the book in our 2Paths library so I grabbed it for my regular train commute home.  Once into the first chapter or so, my first thought about this book was “I have so been part of workplaces like this” and my second thought was “ I can’t put this book down until I’m done.  Basically the book is told in story fashion with a very dysfunctional fictional team in a fictional company that is turned around by a new leader who shares the five dysfunctions with them and works with them to build a healthy team. The cool thing is that I could  almost picture the characters or put faces on them from people I’ve known or have worked with.  Not at 2Paths of course but elsewhere in my past!

The five dysfunctions  teams fall prey to include (in order of importance):
-absence of trust, fear of conflict,  lack of commitment,  avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.   Doesn’t this sound just like the makings of a bad relationship you might have had at some time, personal or otherwise?

In Lencioni’s second book “Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, I was really struck by a comment on the third page of the book. Lencioni states “In the course of my career as a  consultant to executives and their teams, I can confidently say that teamwork is almost always lacking within organizations that fail, and often present within those that succeed. ….. So why do so many leaders foucs most of their time on other topics like finance, strategy, technology and marketing? “  My opinion is that it’s not only hard to measure as Lencioni points out but it’s also hard because it involves real human interaction, emotions and showing vulnerability, the latter which we have learned not to show at work.

The other main takeaway and learning I got from Patrick’s second book is this. I was always under the impression that achieving consensus was the end goal to getting commitment from others. Lencioni disagrees.  He says “commitment requires clarity and buy-in.   Buy-in does not require consensus. Members of great teams learn to disagree with one another and still commit to a decision.” So in a nutshell, you can still disagree but be able to commit to something as a team. That is very cool and I have changed my approach to trying to get commitment to things from our team at 2Paths.  You don’t have to love an idea, you just have to agree to commit to something in order to move forward.  Go Patrick go! Can’t wait to read more of his books.

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