The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is a book written by Patrick Lencioni. It is written as a fable about a CEO that joins a company tasked to rebuild a team of executives in a company that is struggling in a competitive market place. It describes, as a leader, how the CEO goes about building a highly functional team by using the 5 dysfunctions of a team model.
Although the leader in the fable is a CEO, you can use this model in any leadership situation and it is not necessarily limited to business.
If you are an entrepreneur, a leader or a business person, I highly recommend that you consider this model for building your own highly functional teams.
As humans, we are all imperfect and we are all different. Therefore the natural disposition of a team is to be dysfunctional. It takes work to make a team highly function and it starts by fixing dysfunction one.
Dysfunction One: Absence of Trust
The first dysfunction of a team is the Absence of Trust.
Without trust in a team, the team members will not freely speak their minds. They won't tell you how they genuinely feel.
To build trust, we need to remove our sense of invulnerability which is present in teams as we often walk on eggshells around difficult team members or difficult issues. We need to trust our team colleagues enough to be able to talk about our weakness in public. Do you feel you could discuss your weaknesses with your team members?
We should be receptive of critical feedback. Most people in life shy away from others telling them what they think about them. In a high trust environment though feedback is crucial. If you want to build a high degree of trust in your team then don't be scared to wash your laundry in public. Tell your team what you think of them too. It isn't a one-way street - feedback has to be reciprocated.
Building Trust in your Team
To build trust in this way, you will need to take yourself out of your comfort zone. If we always remain within our comfort zone then we will not find growth. Growth comes by tackling our demons and slaying the tasks that make us feel uncomfortable. You can tackle the sense of invulnerability that people create for themselves in a safe environment by making yourself vulnerable to your team members.
There are different ways that you can do this but one way is to take is straight on. Go around your team and ask the following questions for each person in the team so that everyone in the team speaks their mind about each of their colleagues.
- What do you feel my biggest strength is? (Ok, even when tackling the demons it might make sense to start with a positive note)
- What do you feel my biggest weakness is?
- What thing do you think I do that annoys you most and you wish I stop doing?
Talking about each other's weaknesses is not easy but will help to break down the culture of invulnerability that many teams have.
In the next post, I will continue this journey on how to build a functional team by removing the dysfunctions. They are all built on the foundation of establishing trust.