The book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni is about a CEO named Kathryn who is brought in to a struggling technology company called DecsionTech. The company, which was once pegged as a promising startup, has floundered and currently ranks behind its competitors. Through her dealings with the members of the executive board of the company, Kathryn comes to reveal the 5 dysfunctions that struggling teams will often embody.
In successful teams, the above pyramid is reversed. Teams with members that trust each other are able to admit mistakes and ask for help without fear. With this trust, teams can then engage in healthy debate without it getting taken as a personal attack. This healthy conflict leads to decisions that come from hearing everyone’s opinions. With a commitment to a decision comes a clear expectation of what is required from each team member, which is where accountability comes in to play. Effective teams can use the same standard to measure performance for all the team members. With everyone working toward one clearly defined objective and a clear set of expectations, the focus of team members will be on the goal of the community, and not the individual.
Probably the thing that struck me the most from reading the book and researching it was this article I found from the USA Today about NFL coaches who have adopted Lencioni’s book as a tool. For a book that was written in the style that would appeal to business executives, a surprising number of NFL head coaches and players have taken lessons from the book about leadership and teamwork:
“Inside the NFL, the Chargers may have embraced Five Dysfunctions more than any other team. Schottenheimer declined to be interviewed, but friend Benirschke says Schottenheimer has undergone a “transformation.” Schottenheimer used to have a slacker rule that forbid any player from competing on Sunday if he had not practiced by Friday. But the veteran coach has established trust in an executive committee of players, who are free to approach him to air player concerns. That committee convinced Schottenheimer that it is sometimes in the interest of the team to give a player the full week off to recover from an injury if it gets him healthy to play on Sunday, Benirschke says” – Del Jones (USA TODAY)
Knowing that prominent team leaders and figure-heads buy in to what Lencioni believes is powerful. We all will find ourselves in situations where we have to work with other people, and knowing how to best manage personalities and promote trust is an important step in creating an environment in which the team will thrive.