I was doing a workshop with an executive team recently and I introduced them to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team model from Patrick Lencioni. It’s a great model for building engagement and performance in a team.
The model starts at the bottom. The absence of trust is the foundational principle that impacts all the other areas of performance. If we don’t have foundational trust in a team, then you’re not going to get maximum results and you’re not going to see the kind of robust conversations that really drive outcomes.
When I refer to trust, I don’t mean the trust that allows you to predict what someone’s going to do or how they’ll respond in a given situation.
I’m talking about the kind of trust that encourages safety so that people are willing to be vulnerable, to take off the mask and actually be real within the team and say ?this is where I’m struggling and this is where I need help?. That’s the kind of trust that really unlocks the capability of a team.
As I was working with this team, one of the participants spoke up and said, “Well, I trust people on this team and I’ve got some great relationships here.”
I absolutely acknowledged that this was true. He did have some strong relationships on the team, but he also had other relationships that were not so robust. There were also other people on the team who had quite tenuous relationships and didn’t feel like the team was a safe place to be. These people were newer to the team and weren’t yet willing to really be themselves and have those difficult conversations.
Consider this analogy – if I have a diamond pendant, I’m not going to put it on a necklace or a chain that has a weak link because if that chain breaks, my diamond pendant is going to be lost. The same principle applies with a team.
If there are one or two weak links, then that team is only going to be as strong and high performing as its weakest link. This is why it’s so important to ensure – in any executive team, functional team or project team – that all team members are supported and encouraged to engage fully and share any issues or concerns so they can be addressed.
It’s only when there’s trust between the team members and when you can have conversations where people feel comfortable to say, “I’m struggling here and I don’t know what to do here or I need help or I’m out of my depth, I’m at a loss.”
People won’t have those conversations unless they trust the other team members to not judge them, but to support them and encourage them and actually provide the insights and assistance that’s going to allow them to move forward.
Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a fabulous model for driving team engagement and team performance and is worth diving deeper into.
I’d love to hear your comments. Have you used this model? Are you familiar with it or what else are you using to drive engagement and performance in your teams?
If you’d like to learn more about the models I teach my clients to maximise team performance, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can jump on a call to talk about your particular situation.