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Dust Off the Classics: Lencioni's Timeless Teamwork Truths


 A man in a business suit crouches with outstretched hands, ready to catch a woman in a dark dress who is falling backward with her arms extended, trusting him to catch her. They are both in a light, neutral-colored space. This image is often used to symbolize trust and teamwork exercises in a corporate setting.

So, I've been dusting off some of the classics on my bookshelf and 'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team' by Patrick Lencioni is screaming for a revisit. This gem has been schooling leaders for two decades on teamwork – and spoiler alert – it's still spot on.


Let's break down the key takeaways:


  • Trust or Bust: If your team's not speaking up, it's time to ask why. A silent room could mean trust is on vacation. No trust? Good luck getting real talk and real work done.

The most important action that a leader must take to encourage the building of trust on a team is to demonstrate vulnerability first. - Patrick Lencioni

  • Conflict Phobia: If your team treats conflict like a hot potato, you've got problems. Debate is the secret sauce to killer ideas; without it, you're just nodding heads eating bland potato salad.

All great relationships, the ones that last over time, require productive conflict in order to grow. This is true in marriage, parenthood, friendship, and certainly business. - Patrick Lencioni

  • Commitment Issues: Ever seen a team where everyone’s just “meh” about decisions? That's what happens when trust hasn’t RSVP'd. Commitment is the missing guest at this party.

In the context of a team, commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in. Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harboring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed on. - Patrick Lencioni

  • Accountability MIA: This one’s about owning your stuff, folks. If your team's playing the blame game, guess what? They probably don't trust enough to be accountable.

The essence of this dysfunction is the unwillingness of team members to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort that accompanies calling a peer on his or her behavior and the more general tendency to avoid difficult conversations. Members of great teams overcome these natural inclinations, opting instead to "enter the danger" with one another. - Patrick Lencioni

  • Result Amnesia: When personal agendas take the wheel, team goals get kicked to the curb. It's the grand finale of dysfunctions if the other four have set up camp.

If team members sense that the leader values anything other than results, they will take that as permission to do the same for themselves. Team leaders must be selfless and objective, and reserve rewards and recognition for those who make real contributions to the achievement of group goals. - Patrick Lencioni

Recap: Think of Lencioni's lessons on teamwork like a five-course meal for thought – skip one, and the whole experience just isn’t complete. In the end, without trust, commitment, and accountability, you’re not getting dessert – which, in teamwork terms, means long-term success.


Who's ready to do a trust fall with their team?


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