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  • Glenn Price

Is Dysfunction The New Norm?

Over the past six months we have noticed a distinct trend in leadership and team development. It’s a phenomenon that some of us have probably experienced directly, and others will have certainly seen from afar. It is the phenomenon of having a bunch of people on a team who are individually all very smart and competent, but somehow that team just doesn’t quite come together. We could all name a number of different sports teams we follow that exhibit this trait. A team of all stars, but they still don’t win any games. At LeaderShape Consulting we asked the question what happens when the collective genius of all these people fails to come together in a way that is greater than the sum of its parts?


The first thing we notice is that the team doesn’t get the kind of results that it requires. It doesn’t get high quality decisions. It gets decisions that aren’t innovative. It gets decisions that take a long time to implement, and that also costs more. All of these things add an extreme amount of pressure often on the relationship side of things. If the team doesn’t have the kind of trust they need to push through this phase or they don’t have the type of commitment they require the team, and the organisation, gets stuck.


We were asked by a senior executive recently how this happens. It clearly is no-one’s intent.

At LeaderShape Consulting we have got a one-word explanation and that’s mindset. In short, team members’ mindsets their behaviour & actions which in turn drives their results. We are not talking about motivation per se but rather the concept that how you think is how you lead – and the team will be a direct reflection. How the team thinks is how it leads. Teams operate from different mindsets, and some are much more effective than others in relation to team effectiveness and results.


Based on our 20+ years of experience working extensively in the field of mindset, leadership training and cultural change with blue chip organisations, government departments and professional athletes we have analysed the most common traits of dysfunctional teams, and leverage Patrick Lencioni’s work to fix them.


The 5 Dysfunctions of A Team Model

#1 – Lack of Trust

The fear of being vulnerable with team members prevents the building of trust within the team.


#2 – Fear of Conflict

The desire to preserve artificial harmony stifles the occurrence of productive ideological conflict.


#3 – Inability to Commit

The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from holding one another accountable.


#4 – Avoidance of Accountability

The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.


#5 – Inattention to Results

The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.


Getting Back On Track

To assess just how much dysfunction you’re dealing with, Lencioni suggests asking the following questions. If the answer to many of the questions below is “no” then your team needs some help.


  • Do team members openly and readily disclose their opinions?

  • Are team meetings compelling? Productive?

  • Does the team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting tied down by consensus?

  • Do members confront each other about their shortcomings?

  • Do members sacrifice their own interest for the good of the team?


Taking The First Step

The first step towards overcoming dysfunction and achieving teamwork is for managers to take the lead in helping the team address the five dysfunctions head on. Through open communication, individual and team exercises, the team can move towards cohesiveness and improved performance. High performance teamwork ultimately comes down to practicing a small set of principles (not a sophisticated theory) over a long period of time with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence. Without commitment you will never start and without consistency you will never finish.


LeaderShape Consulting can help you identify specific dysfunctions, target performance behaviours and accelerate team performance. For more information contact us on 1300 451 140.


Our strengths-based leadership development programs are built on research gathered by Zenger Folkman from more than 850,000 individual 360-degree assessments. LeaderSHAPE Consulting leadership training programs are packed with action-oriented information grounded in hard science and proven to increase leadership effectiveness.

Call Us On:

1300 45 11 40

PO Box 335

Balgowlah Heights NSW 2093

© 2019 LeaderSHAPE Consulting Pty Ltd