01 July 2021

Dysfunctional Teams Are Still Around

"Sometimes problems don't require a solution to solve them; instead they require maturity to outgrow them."

--Dr. Steve Maraboli

In 2006 at a conference in New York, hearing best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni reminded me of a professor filled with inexhaustible things to say but wisely limiting his thoughts to a far-reaching few. Those who follow Mr. Lencioni know that he teaches using--fables.  

Trained as a writer, the former Bain & Co. consultant discovered that telling a story effectively provides relational insights to clients. The central theme: "Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in any business," says Mr. Lencioni.     

New season-old habits 

Covid-19 may have pushed unhealthy behaviors aside, making way for survival. However, inconsistent and detrimental practices are never far away. 

Coming out of a global pandemic and a return to work transition may be an excellent time to revisit the main points in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," a book of fables that sold over three million copies.*

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Think about each dysfunction in the context of a year's long physical separation; working from home; millennials as the majority of the workforce; and a significantly changed office environment for those who return.

Here are the five dysfunctions: 

1. Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group.  

2. Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate.

3. Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization.

4. Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers and superiors on counterproductive behavior that sets low standards.

5. Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status, and ego before team success.

Consider the following

-What, if any, of these dysfunctions existed in your enterprise before the lockdown? How were they being addressed?  

-Is there any abnormal functioning within your leadership teams currently? What are they?

-How does interpersonal behavior affect the execution of corporate strategy?   

-As the economy resumes and safety improves, is face-to-face a better way to deal with these problems? 

Exhausting but necessary

Building cooperation throughout a company, especially at the top, is a never-ending task. An effort like this requires time and emotional energy. 

Holding any group mutually accountable (including leadership) is even more complex when self-importance supersedes organizational purpose. 

This difficult undertaking may explain, at least in part, why for nearly 20 years, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" remains a best-selling book.

* The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, 2002 (Jossey-Bass).


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