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Working with individuals is powerful and liberating for the individual but within any organisation relationships are key, so working with teams can be far reaching and far more impactful.

I have read several of Patrick Lencioni’s books and particularly like ‘5 Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable’.

In the book, Lencioni takes the reader through a series of challenges that CEO Kathryn Peterson confronts while attempting to manage her new executive team. What the book helps us to realise is that most teams are in dysfunctional in some way. The story highlights that recognising those dysfunctions allows you to work with them, if not overcome them, so the team can work effectively together.

The key to effective teamworking is getting the team to identify and own the challenges and opportunities. Early on in a team development session I share the Team Performance Curve and ask team members where they are. Are they a working group – a collection of individuals that are essentially working for themselves?  Or are they a potential team that has the ability to deliver performance impact through team effectiveness?

The responses vary but this one slide always stimulates a rich and revealing discussion.

The issue of trust often surfaces. “I don’t trust them to do the right thing” is a refrain I hear a lot. Lencioni identified trust as one of the five key dysfunctions of a team:

So how do we build trust?

It requires leadership on the part of the leader – a willingness to lead by example.

At the same time, everyone must lead and be empowered to lead.

The team must discuss the issues and confront them as a team. The absence of conflict (although perhaps – the ‘absence of challenge’ is a better phrase) is due to the fear of and to challenge. People are afraid that a challenge will be taken personally and the response might be personal. Teams must rise above this. Once they see that team effectiveness depends on everyone pulling together, and that challenge can be non-personal, a much more open debate will follow.

The ability to challenge is strongly linked to mutual support – ‘we are all in this together’. When a team member fails to deliver for whatever reason, it is important to have the humanity to recognise that they may be under-performing because of their own personal challenges or just having a bad day. The key point is not to judge.

With trust comes respect and once we have respect for each other we become more mutually dependent.

Leadership Coaching and Development | Game-changing Behaviours and Impact | Adaptability | Resilience | Non-Executive Director | Chair |

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