Review: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (Part 2)

Business team working together effectively

Working together and overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team


In part 1 of the Millennial Leadership Review of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, we discussed Team Number 1, as well as the first two dysfunctions: Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict. Today, we’ll review the remaining dysfunctions: Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability and Inattention to Results.

Dysfunction 3 – Lack of Commitment

Only after having engaged in Constructive Conflict are you capable of commitment to the final plan. The plan doesn’t need to be yours, and you don’t even need to agree with it (so long as it doesn’t violate a moral or ethical standard) in order to commit to its execution. You need only two things for commitment: clarity and buy-in. A clear understanding of the situation, problem, and proposed solution is a must. Then the team members must have (and utilize) the opportunity to be heard. It is this clarity and buy-in that allows team members to fully commit.

PRO TIP: Being heard and having a group commit is NOT a call for consensus. Lencioni believes consensus is a dangerous concept:

When it comes about naturally that’s wonderful, but generally, consensus is a way of ensuring mediocrity. You need conflict, an airing of opinions so that the leader of the organization can make a decision having factored in all of the various ideas and opinions of all the constituencies. But the leader should not try to make a decision that pleases everyone. Consensus is trying to develop a decision that’s equally palatable to everyone or, often, equally unpalatable. Consensus fails to meet anyone’s desires, but it does so equally, and so it’s accepted. And that’s how we get mediocrity.

How to gain commitment: Engage in constructive conflict, create clarity around all issues at hand, ensure everyone is heard and can voice opinions and concerns, do not strive for consensus

The Leader’s role: Create clarity, create clarity, create clarity. Review decisions, deadlines, next steps, roles and responsibilities. Ensure everyone shares their opinions.

Dysfunction 4 – Avoidance of Accountability

In order to be successful, everyone on the team must clearly know what is expected of them. Team members must be able to hold themselves, as well as their peers, accountable. Holding others accountable can feel daunting at first. However, because of the clarity and buy-in leading to the group’s commitment to a solution, each team member is empowered to hold the entire team accountable without fear of having it feel like a personal attack or judgement. Without commitment, team members don’t have an incentive to hold anyone accountable, including themselves.

How to embrace accountability: Ensure clarity and commitment, be trustworthy, voice your opinions, engage in creative conflict, hold yourself accountable, speak directly to teammates if you need to have an accountability conversation with them

The Leader’s role: Continually foster trust among team members, hold yourself accountable to creating clarity and to the decisions you make, as well as to the team’s performance markers, be willing to have difficult conversations and find the correct venue in which to have them

Dysfunction 5 – Inattention to Results

Results are how teams measure success. Defining success and metrics is fundamental to any effort. Without consistently focusing on results, the focus and energy of a team will become diffuse, which permits the development of silos, politics and turf wars (another great Lencioni book). This diffuseness can also reduce inter- and intra-personal accountability, leading to decreased commitment, increased negative conflict and an evaporation of trust. When focus is placed on achieving results, the team becomes results oriented as opposed to process oriented or, worse, complacent.

How to focus on results: Make sure you know what the desired result is and what metrics will be used to define success, trust that your team members are results oriented, hold yourself and your team members accountable to the results

The Leader’s role: Shine a spotlight on results, appropriately reward those who perform well and whose behaviors work to overcome the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, ensure the team is focusing on results, model results-oriented behaviors

Outcomes of Overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

By following the model laid out in this review of The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, you’ll be able to create an environment where a cohesive team can grow and thrive. A cohesive team:

  • Trusts one another, leading to
  • Constructive Conflict, where the unfiltered discussion of ideas leads to
  • Commitment to decisions, which in turn enables
  • Team members to hold themselves and one another accountable to
  • Achieving results as a team
Review: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (Part 2)
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Review: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (Part 2)
Part 2 of the Millennial Leadership Review of The 5 Dysfunctions of a team by Patrick Lencioni.

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