Truly Functional Teams Get More Done

Patrick Lencioni in his book “Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” makes the following point. “When people come together and set aside their individual needs for the good of the whole they can accomplish what might have looked impossible on paper.” While doing research for this posting I wanted to find an example of either a great team or by contrast a truly dysfunctional team. Fortunately, we are in the heat of the political season and have an example of dysfunction before us daily. Without risking making a partisan comment I consider the “Team” in this case to be the President and the House and Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle. Therefore they are by definition a small enough group to be considered a team and they are clearly being paid to lead. Let’s examine why they accomplish little compared to a truly functional team that can accomplish the seemingly impossible.

According to Lencioni building and maintaining a truly functional team is hard work and requires a continuous process. Paying attention to these five critical components will allow you to be part of a great team; trusting each other; being engaged in passionate dialogue; support for critical decisions; holding each other accountable; collective not individual results. For this case study I likely could stop here but allow me to examine each component.

1: Trusting each other: A functional team would have to be capable of being open and honest without fear of internal politics. I don’t think our example can meet this test under any circumstances these days. Take a good look at your team are they able?

2: Being engaged in passionate dialogue: Ok, I will give them this at least on the surface. This one component does beg a little more in-depth thought. What is really meant by dialogue ? From my experience first and foremost this requires the willingness to listen to others and have an open mind to differing opinions. It is much more than a willingness to argue or debate. Let’s move on.

3: Support for critical decisions: With the rare exception of a national crisis, my example team does not fare well here. Often times even members of the same party must hold their nose and vote in support for their leaders initiatives. Does your team essentially hold their nose when they fail to show support for a decision? Much like the halls of Congress does the real dialogue occur after a team meeting in the hallways where team members fail to support a team decision?

4: Holding each other accountable: I may have to give my example team an A+ on this one, sorry. But let’s look a little closer. My personal definition of accountability is holding themselves and each other accountable to do what they commit to. Make that a C-.

5: Lastly, collective not individual results: I define this as making their personal needs and ambitions secondary to what is best for the team and organization and setting aside their own ego. In this example case “organization” is you, me and the rest of the country. I guess we can all vote on this one on election days. I encourage you to do so.

To wrap this up, my example team is clearly not “Truly Functional”. Is yours? Teamwork is difficult to achieve but it does not need to be complicated. When your team comes together and commits to what is best for the entire organization they can accomplish amazing results. If you have a truly functional team it is also much easier to get your entire company behind you and achieve organizational alignment.

What do you think about your team? Do they possess the five components of a functional team?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>