There seems to be a trend in business and leadership development books to provide information through fables and stories. I get that research supports the advantages, in terms of engagement and understanding, of storytelling. But I tend to prefer a more straight forward approach. If I want a great stories, I’ve got Dickens, Austen, Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.
This week, I want to provide pertinent information from Patrick Lencioni’s (2002) seminal work, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. At first I wondered why he was taking a negative approach. Why not focus on five positive aspects of teams? But the reality is that dysfunctions are far more common and easily discernable. Most leaders can identify (but perhaps not articulate) problem areas. At least most of my clients come to me with frustrations and at times exasperation with team issues. Some seek my services out of inspiration; most out of desperation. What follows is a bit of a summary of pages 195 -204.
But before we go there, one more mention of trust (as if I haven’t already blogged about trust enough!). People say that when you want to buy a Subaru (or any other car brand) all you see are Subarus. Well, given my affinity for Brenè Brown’s work and her specific focus on vulnerability, it seems that all I see in my leadership studies, is some mention of vulnerability. Here’s how Lencioni defines trust in the workplace: the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another. So let’s put a positive spin on the five dysfunctions. Today I will cover the first two dysfunctions and we’ll continue next week.
Dysfunction I: Absence of Trust
Members of trusting teams:
- Admit weaknesses and mistakes
- Ask for help
- Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
- Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
- Take risks in offering feedback and assistance
- Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experience
- Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
- Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
- Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group
Dysfunction II: Fear of Conflict
Teams that engage in conflict:
- Have lively interesting meetings
- Extract and exploit the ideas of all team members
- Solve real problems quickly
- Minimize politics
- Put critical topics on the table for discussion
Weekly Challenge: Assess your team (and yourself) regarding Dysfunctions I and II.
Supporting Your Success!