As a big fan of Patrick Lencioni, recommending his book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, to the CareerXroads community was a no-brainer on multiple levels. First, it’s not a long book that’s going to consume a lot of your free time (is there such a thing as free time anymore???). Second, Lencioni is fond of using fictional business scenarios to get his points across, and I’ve found his books to be a pleasant departure from the standard ‘theory-application-reflection’ approach utilized in many business books and articles. Finally – and perhaps most importantly – I’ve had a chance to apply the principles of his book to my own team, and have noted some pretty impressive changes as a result.
As the title suggests, Lencioni posits that there are a common set of dysfunctions that get in the way of many teams’ efforts to be truly high performing (SPOILER ALERT: there are 5 of them). They are, in order of appearance from the outset of a team’s formation:
- Absence of trust
- Fear of healthy conflict
- Lack of commitment
- Avoidance of accountability
- Inattention to results
Seem obvious? On the surface, I would agree … but the power of the book is its ability to help you recognize common pitfalls in each category that aren’t always easy to identify. During my own team’s journey, for example, the fear of healthy conflict manifested itself as “artificial harmony”: a tendency to automatically agree with and support each other’s points of view. While support is certainly not a bad thing when it comes to team members, it can impede progress when it stifles healthy mining for alternative strategies or unintended consequences.
After going through multiple sessions facilitated by an internal talent consultant, my leadership team was able to agree on several changes to our operating model based on the dysfunctions we observed. We now have a “conflict miner” on each status call, and have established additional thematic goals that we’re holding each other accountable for. I’m sure you’d agree that putting a good theory to practical use is time well spent indeed.
SIDE NOTE: If you’re also looking for some pure fiction to take your mind off of work, might I recommend a classic: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I re-read this classic recently and in addition to enjoying the story, I found the parallels to current day trends in technology to be fascinating as well.