Have you ever been in a place or situation that it’s so tense and the air is so thick that you could cut it with a knife? I’ve been there and living it. I think many people don’t think before they speak, or maybe we just don’t see it coming, but as for me, I have to say that I am thinking more than I speak this day.
This made me think of a book that I read in December of last year, it’s called the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It’s over 200 pages, and I read it in one sitting because it’s that good. The book is about a lady by the name of Kathryn Peterson who took a job as Decision Tech’s CEO, she faces the ultimate leadership crisis and has to unite a team that is in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. This book defines the dysfunctions of a team, but I think it can also be applied to any relationship, not just work related.
The first dysfunction is absence of trust. Trust is the foundation of real teamwork, and so the first dysfunction is a failure on the part of team members to understand and open up to one another, great teams do not hold back with one another, they are not afraid to air their dirty laundry, they admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal, and the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.
The second dysfunction is fear of conflict, if we don’t trust one another then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive, ideological conflict, and we’ll just continue to preserve a sense of artificial harmony. The conflict here is not the same as passive, sarcastic comments, and false harmony is a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, and I agreed with the book that I’d trade that false kind of harmony any day for a team’s willingness to argue effectively about an issue and then walk away with no collateral damage.
The third dysfunction is the lack of commitment and the failure to buy into decisions. When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, then they won’t really get on board. On a personal level, I think it’s very discouraging to be a part of a team that the lead person makes all the decision because s/he can, it’s not important of what you think because your opinions don’t count. I hate to be a part of that type of team and dealing with that type of people, and I’ve to say that I’ve met many in my lifetime.
The fourth dysfunction is avoidance of accountability, people just don’t want to take responsibility of their actions and it’s easier to blame on other people, also making endless excuses for themselves, and as a result setting a very low standard for the team, then it’s a downward spiral of progress from there on.
The fifth and last dysfunction is inattention to results, status and ego. Trust is the foundation and is at the bottom, but the ultimate dysfunction is where a tendency of team members to seek out individual recognition and attention at the expense of results. We see this all the time, it’s all about that person and s/he would do anything at what ever cost to reach that goal, to feed his/her ego. When I see or meet people like that, it’s such a turn off to me, and I’ve met one too many.
I recommended and lent this book to people that I know and knew that it would help them in what they’re doing, but only to get it back unread and a reply of ‘I’m afraid to read it because I’m living it.” After reading this book, I see things a lot clearer, especially in my personal relationship with people, I learned to recognize the dysfunctional signs, and weed out the ones that only think of themselves. As bad as the economy is this day, it’s still a long road to recovery.