“Without harmony in the state, no military expedition can be undertaken; without harmony in the army, no battle array can be formed. ” We can always gain from the previous statement. Agreement among individuals in a team is necessary for the organization’s advancement in its goals and objectives. Patrick Lencioni’s book on “Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” outlines more precise and useful tips for overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of teams in organizations. For these individuals to function together, they must recognize their weaknesses as individuals and as a team.
It is therefore important to know these five dysfunctions of a team: Absence of Trust, Fear of Conflict, Lack of Commitment, Avoidance of Accountability, and Inattention to Collective Results. The first dysfunction is the absence of trust among team members, in which the type of trust indicated in the book is the ability of team members to show their weaknesses. Trust cannot be spawned when members are not prepared to be vulnerable. Lack of trust within the group is a waste of time and energy as members spend their time in defensive behaviors and hesitate to ask for help and to assist others.
Team members must share experiences, must have follow-throughs and must have integrity to overcome lack of trust. In the second dysfunction, teams become dysfunctional when they cannot productively deal with conflict. Meaningful business relationships require productive conflict for them to grow. Healthy conflict happens when team members talk about the current issues, avoiding personal attacks, and looking for the best solutions for the team’s problems. Efficient and productive teams know that conflict is a normal part of being in a team.
Team leaders must help his or her members to learn and develop positive conflict resolution skills. The leader must “lead by example,” displaying the right behaviors, instead of trying to smooth over the conflict. Lack of Commitment, which is the third dysfunction, usually emerges from not hearing all the team’s concerns before making a decision. Commitment cannot happen without constructive arguments. People may not commit when their opinions and thoughts on the matter were not included and discussed.
The author said in the book, “When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board. ” Leaders can help promote commitment by noting key decisions made at the end of team meetings and making responsibility and deadlines clear. In the fourth dysfunction, Avoidance of Accountability, the author said, “People aren’t going to hold each other accountable if they haven’t clearly bought in to the same plan. ” Every team member must be held accountable to the team. The team leader is responsible for a subordinate’s work and vice versa.
A team member never fails his or her group when it comes to commitments. A team member must hold one another accountable and accept it when others hold them accountable. Uncertainty does clash with accountability often. The fifth and last dysfunction is Inattention to Results. The lack of accountability often leads team members to attend to their own interests instead of the team’s interests. However, when all team members prioritize the team’s results, the team becomes results-oriented. Leaders must magnify the team’s results, rewarding actions and behaviors that contribute to the team’s success.
Thus, the team leader must keep his or her group focused on the end-goal. Managing a team effectively is crucial to the success of a company, as are meeting team members occasionally to discuss the progress of a project. There are many ways that team members may be handled. In the past, I happened to be a part of two different teams. Each team functioned differently, like polar opposites. In the first experience with a team, we never officially appointed a team leader, but the oldest team member “assumed” the leadership post and we never resented her for taking the lead.
Two of the members used to have past personal issues against one another. The members of the team went along well for the first few weeks of the project. However, a disagreement on a minor issue got out of hand. The two “warring” team members I mentioned earlier had an argument. The rest of the team chose sides and for a time, work among members was divided. What was supposed to be a unified effort affected the team’s output. We continued in this state for a few more weeks. The team reunited as the project deadline drew near.
There was no admission of liability for the argument, only an unspoken truce ensued. We continued our project in a unified and systematic manner to reach our deadline, being responsible for one another’s work and bracing ourselves to accept the success or failure of the project. When I went over to the second team, I had become more passive. The members of the team kept quiet during the meetings because our team leader was quite autocratic and would not exactly welcome ideas from the team. Working in such an environment was not a problem, we did our work well.
Yet in my opinion (and I am sure that other team members feel the same as I do), we only did our work just to comply with requirements. We had little respect for our team leader as she refused to accept that we might have other ideas that may be superior to her own. Our team leader’s immediate superior would only communicate with her, which fueled our growing resentment toward her. It was like she was the team and we were not part of the team. Praises were slow in coming and we have lost motivation in doing our work.
The author kept the chapters short to make things interesting even though the book is a business book and not a thrilling spy novel. The examples given are entertaining, though, and we find that some of the stories mirror ours in real life. Is this book telling it as it is? I believe that many of us can benefit from what Patrick Lencioni has to say. At some point in our lives, we have belonged and will belong to teams both as leaders and as members. We will most certainly encounter characters who are composites of people who are both difficult and easy to get along with.
The situations enumerated in the book do apply to the real world. Most readers are riveted since they want to know the solutions to a team’s problems. This book may be applicable to both small and large organizations. The book’s advice is more applicable to an organizational “tune up. ” Managers will certainly find this book worthwhile, and other individuals in the organization who belong to the ranks can also learn from the ideas put forth by the author. Applying such solutions to the real world can be complicated.
Thus, a consultant is needed to help iron out situations. While it is a very enjoyable literary experience, Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is more of a step-by-step guide to accomplishing a goal. In this book, it is pointed out that meetings should be interactive, not passive, with the leader drawing out conflict. Meetings should be structured so that issues of immediate importance are discussed in “weekly tactical” meetings. Issues of strategic importance should be addressed in a different venue like in a “monthly strategic” meeting.
While it has its flaws, the book still delivers its primary objective: to be able to draw out a team’s flaws and work on a solution to correct such situations. Now that I have read Patrick Lencioni’s “Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” it is now time to put what I have read into the real world. I will try to apply what I have learned in the academic setting and familial setting. I am not a team leader in the real world. However, Lencioni’s advice could help me learn to effectively become one. The book also advises us to be effective team members.
As I am a member of the team, I can relay to my teammates what I have read. With this knowledge, we can understand our team leader better and take baby steps in letting her know that we are important. Without group members, a team cannot function at all. The results that we desire may take time to manifest itself. It is important though in time that members of the team can learn to trust one another, engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas, commit to decisions and plans of action, hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans, and focus on the achievement of collective results.
The functions of an academic organization are quite similar to a family. Parents are our team leaders and children are the members of the team. It is important that parents also listen to what their children have to say, for the children to hold more respect and love for their parents. As a team, a family must stand together and be accountable for decisions made together. In a way, Lencioni’s book is also a guide for life, as what we have learned can also be applied to the general public. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Clavell, James ed. The Art of War. New York: Delacorte Press, 1983. Hindle, Tim. Managing Meetings. London: DK Books, 1998. Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2002 Lencioni, Patrick. Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005. Lorenzo, David V. Career Intensity: Business Strategy for Workplace Warriors and Entrepreneurs, Ogman Press, 2006.