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How a Team Works, or Doesn’t – an Interview with Pat Lencioni

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Even the best teams sometimes experience conflict and failure. I recently interviewed author and speaker Pat Lencioni about the five dysfunctions that can hinder a team. Here are some of the top takeaways:   

Absence of trust

A fear of appearing vulnerable can stop team members from building trust with one another. Instead of seeking help or admitting to a weakness, people conceal mistakes and avoid asking for advice. The truth is, a successful team recognizes each other’s strengths and weaknesses and helps each other out. When you have a diversity of skill sets and gifts on a team, and you truly appreciate those, it changes everything.

Fear of conflict

If trust is missing, there’s also going to be an absence of good conflict. When people hesitate to offer their opinions or express their concerns in order to preserve a false sense of harmony, problems aren’t resolved and creativity is stifled. To encourage healthy conflict, first focus on building trust and then help your team understand that conflict is not only acceptable, it’s required! When there’s trust, conflict is nothing but the pursuit of truth and the best answer.

Lack of commitment

If team members don’t understand why a certain decision is being taken, or they haven’t voiced their opinions about a course of action, they won’t be committed to the goal. Commitment requires conflict: People don’t buy in if they didn’t weigh in. When clarity is lacking, a team won’t assume responsibility for – or stick to – a decision.  

Avoidance of accountability

Team members can be reluctant to hold each other accountable for their behavior or performance, preferring instead to assume personal responsibility for their own actions. This approach is counterproductive for collective success, because performance standards slip when there’s little accountability. When team members are comfortable with good conflict, accountability becomes an act of love and the team wins.

Inattention to results

You can’t stay focused on the collective results of the team if you’re not holding each other accountable. When a team lacks clear objectives, team members can start to focus on themselves and pursue individual goals and personal status at the expense of collective results.

In trying to grow and work together, teams can face many pitfalls that lead to conflict and failure. The great news is it’s possible to overcome these challenges to build an effective and cohesive unit. To learn more, listen to the latest episode of “It’s a Good Life”.

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