I picked up Patrick Lencioni’s Book “The Five Dysfunctions of a team” for a few reasons.
- He wrote “Death By Meeting.” The name alone of that book earns his books a glance. And the content of that book should make you at least take a look at his other works.
- Teamwork is vital to success in any organization. You can’t do it all and you need help. If this book helps me achieve teamwork quicker than it is worth my $15.
- Ok, it was a gift. I got it for $0. Also it is a short book clocking in at 229 pages.
The book starts out with a fable. A business that should be trouncing the competition due to their advantages in cash reserves, experience, and size is facing a dilemma. They are losing ground to smaller and less will funded companies. In the midst of this crisis the CEO and cofounder takes a demotion and a new executive takes the helm. Her first actions (after interviews and observations) is to lead the team in weekend retreats and teach them about teamwork.
The main points of the book are illustrated in a pyramid diagram.
The foundation of this dysfunctional pyramid is “Absence of Trust.” The lack of trust injects a disease up the pyramid and crippling the potential strength from a well-functioning team. Without trust, genuine discussion and productive conflict are absent. A fog of harmony exists that conceals the trouble brewing just out of sight, but everyone feels the tension. Since no one actually discusses areas of conflict decisions are made without full commitment. There is little buy in despite agreement in meetings. Without a clear plan of action people will fail to confront their peers on behavior that is counterproductive to the mission. Finally, the only thing that matters is your own ego and results. The mission of the company does not matter. When everyone is looking out for their own interests, the interests of the customers and company diminish.
So how am I different after reading this book? First, trust cannot be overlooked as a foundation for effective teams. All relationships are based on some sort of trust, or lack of it. Without trust every other effort rests on jello. So get trust right first.
Another idea this book added to me is the idea that productive conflict generates commitment. A manager or leader should not fear or avoid conflict. In conflict the fog of false harmony breaks and true feelings spill out. Done correctly, with respect and dignity, conflict will lead to a plan or a course of action which everyone can give their strength and commitment to.
What I will change since in my behavior is looking for ways to build trust in my relationships. If you don’t have that you don’t have anything. And while I will not look for unnecessary conflict, I will not avoid all conflict. I will look for ways to use conflict to productively come to a plan of action.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (link to Amazon)