Leadership Summit-Greatest Moments #3

Pat Lencioni has to be one of the funniest speakers that I've ever heard. He's engaging, witty and intelligent. His talks are deep and meaningful. This talk (2003) on The Five Dysfunctions of A Team certainly guided me through those dark days of leadership. In particular his first point about TRUST is so true. An organization is only as deep as it's leader is authentic and genuine with their soul.

His follow up talk in 2006 on Polictics and Silos was also one of my favorites.

First Dysfunction - Absence of the trust. Mr. Lencioni hits a home run with me on this point. He was not talking about "predictive trust" where you have known someone long enough that you can predict what they are going to say, how they will react to a certain situation, what buttons you can press to get a reaction. ( Sounds like an old married couple). No, he was referring to vulnerability trust or the ability to show a weakness without losing something -- esteem, pride, or strength. This includes the leader. Can the team leader demonstrate a vulnerability without the rest of the team serving him or her up for lunch? Simply put, how comfortable are you in saying to your team, "I don't know"?

Second Dysfunction - Fear of Conflict. He believes that productive, ideologic conflict is good. Dialogue in which no one is holding back for fear of reprisal, criticism, or dismissal is healthy for any team. Unaired conflicts have a nasty habit of reappearing again and again -- usually in another form like personal attacks which are just deadly. A "non-confrontational" person is a bomb waiting to go off. The worst situation you can have is a yes man team. The leader of a team must demand debate, welcome it, support it, but also know when to put it to bed. That brings us to the next dysfunction.

Third Dysfunction - Lack of Commitment. He strongly believes that there can be no commitment without debate. How can you actively buy into something when you were not allowed to state your opinions and discuss your thoughts about it? Mr. Lencioni was adamant that there is no such thing as complete consensus... Really a change from the 90's view of garnering 100% consensus before something is accepted. He states that by allowing everyone to voice their opinions, discussing those differing ideas, and finally forcing clarity, you as a leader will get closure on the topic and full commitment. Everyone needs to get to the point where they can say, "I may not agree with your ideas but I understand them and can support them."

Fourth Dysfunction - Avoidance of Accountability. This continues the house that Jack built -- if you don't have debate, you won't get commitment. If you don't have commitment, you won't get people's buy-in and therefore, no accountability from the team members. Commitment leads to the sense of comradery needed in a team effort -- the thought of letting your colleague down is abhorrent to you. The leader must confront the difficult issues that lead to ultimate commitment from everyone and thus accountability.

Fifth Dysfunction - Inattention to Results. If team members are not accountable, then they will take care of only themselves rather than pull for the greater good of the team. The team goals get subverted to the individual's goals. Mr Lencioni ended his talk by asking the audience an interesting question which I will iterate here: What is Team Number 1 in your mind - the team you are on or the team you lead? Which one is most important to you?

HT: Claudia Imhoff