Patrick Lencioni


American Business Consultant, Author, Founder and President of The Table Group

Author Quotes

Irrelevance is the feeling that an employee gets when they don?t see how their job really makes a difference in someone else?s life in some large or small way.

One of the greatest inhibitors of teamwork among executive teams is the fear of conflict, which stems from two separate concerns. On one hand, many executives go to great lengths to avoid conflict among their teams because they worry that they will lose control of the group and that someone will have their pride damaged in the process. Others do so because they see conflict as a waste of time.They prefer to cut meetings and discussions short by jumping to the decision that they believe will ultimately be adopted anyway, leaving more time for implementation and what they think of as "real work."

The desire to put something in place to know you?re doing a good job.

The truth is, being the leader of a healthy organization is just plain hard. But in the end, it is undeniably worth it.

When an organization is healthy (when the leader at the top is doing his or her most important job), people find a way to get things done.

It?s as simple as this. When people don?t unload their opinions and feel like they?ve been listened to they won?t really get on board.

One of the primary causes of misery in a job, and that?s not to say having a bad job, because one person?s bad job might be another person?s dream job in terms of what the job is in itself, but misery is universal. And one of the most common causes of job misery is that feeling that employees have at all levels that they are not known by the person they work for. And that that person they work for isn?t interested in who they are as a person, professionally, personally, and has no interest in what?s going on in their life.

The fact is, building a leadership team is hard. It demands substantial behavioral changes from people who are strong-willed and often set in their ways, having already accomplished great things in their careers. What follows is a realistic description of what a group of executives must be ready to do if they undertake the nontrivial task of becoming a team, something that is not necessarily right for every group of leaders.

The ultimate goal of the team, and the only real scorecard for measuring its success, is the achievement of tangible collective outcomes. And while most executive teams are certainly populated with leaders who are driven to succeed, all too often the results they focus on are individual or departmental. Once the inevitable moment of truth comes, when executives must choose between the success of the entire team and their own, many are unable to resist the instinct to look out for themselves. This is understandable, but it is deadly to a team.

When it comes to managing priorities and projects within their organizations, many executive teams use the most complicated and detailed systems, and yet they often remain confused about what is going on around them. I?m always amazed how receptive CEOs and their teams are when we introduce them to our simple one-sheet scorecard, the one that uses the green, yellow and red approach to assessing progress. There is nothing sophisticated or complex about it, and I suppose that?s the point and the reason why it is so welcome.

It?s not about getting a good job or bad job. It?s about getting a fulfilling job or being miserable.

Organizational health is the single greatest competitive advantage in any business.

The first and most important step in building a cohesive and functional team is the establishment of trust. But not just any kind of trust. Teamwork must be built upon a solid foundation of vulnerability-based trust. This means that members of a cohesive, functional team must learn to comfortably and quickly acknowledge, without provocation, their mistakes, weaknesses, failures, and needs for help. They must also readily recognize the strengths of others, even when those strengths exceed their own.

The ultimate test of a great team is results. And considering that tens of thousands of people escaped from the World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., there can be no doubt that the teams who risked, and lost, their lives to save them were extraordinary.

When someone?s job is to help us, we have to celebrate that when it happens.

Leaders committed to building a team must have zero tolerance for individually focused behavior.

Organizational health must be smart. Strategy Marketing, Finance, Technology.

The first sign of a miserable job is anonymity. They didn?t know us or care about getting to know us.

Think about it this way. When someone acquires a great deal of knowledge through education, either formally at a university or by reading voraciously about a given subject, it is natural that they?ll want to employ that knowledge. In fact, they?ll probably want to use it even if it?s not required, or for that matter, helpful. Otherwise, they?ll have to admit that all the time, effort and money they put into learning may have been something of a waste.

When we don?t stop to take the time to get to know people, we?re taking money out of our pocket and throwing it into the fire.

Leaders have to play the tireless role of ensuring that (everyone) throughout the organization are continually and repeatedly reminded about what is important.

Overcome the five dysfunctions: (1) Absence of trust. This isn?t about predictive trust, which is what happens when you get to know people and will know how they will react in a given situation. This is about vulnerability-based trust: the ability to say things like ?I don?t know,? ?I screwed up,? ?I need help,? or ?you?re good at this, please teach me.? If just one person on the team can?t be vulnerable, the absence of trust will spread like a disease and the team will not be successful. (2) Fear of conflict. Conflict is good for teams. Not mean, personal conflict but honest, issue-based conflict. You need to know that people on your team aren?t holding back their opinions. Our job on teams isn?t to be nice (to avoid disagreement) but to be kind and honest in how we disagree. (3) Lack of commitment. Conflict leads to commitment. To be more specific, when we cut off conflict, we cut off the ability for the team to truly commit. If people don?t weigh in on a decision (i.e., create conflict) then they won?t buy into the decision. When a difficult decision needs to be made, the leader?s job is to ensure that every person on the team ?stands on the chair? and gives his opinion. Then, the leader can explain why a decision was made and how all of the opinions factored into the decision. When everyone feels they have been heard, they are likely to support the decision even if they don?t agree with it. (4) Avoidance of accountability. Without true commitment, you can?t have accountability. Peer pressure is your best friend when it comes to accountability on a team. But leaders must be willing to hold people accountable or it simply won?t happen ? and they must hold people accountable for behaviors as well as for performance. (5) Inattention to results. Great teams have a pattern of winning and, to do that, they focus on the collective outcomes.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are a pyramidal structure, beginning with the first dysfunction and building from there. They are, from bottom to top: (1) Absence of trust among team members. This dysfunction is most evident in team members' inability to be vulnerable with one another, admitting faults, asking for help, etc. (2) Fear of conflict. The outward expression of this dysfunction is a false display of harmony within the team and the lack of healthy, constructive disagreement. (3) Lack of commitment. This can be seen when team members do not get buy-in from the rest of the team, nor do they commit to decisions made. (4) Avoidance of accountability. With this dysfunction, the team is hurt by the team's lack of calling each other out for irresponsibility or unhealthy behaviors/attitudes. (5) Inattention to results. This occurs when team members put their personal success or ego ahead of the team's goals and objectives. [paraphrased]

This wasn?t just any company. It was, and still is, one of the healthiest organizations I have ever known and one of the most successful American enterprises of the past fifty years. In an industry plagued with financial woes, customer fury, and labor strife, this amazing company has a long history of growth and economic success, not to mention fanatical customer loyalty. Moreover, its employees love their jobs, their customers, and their leaders? As I sat there at the conference listening to one presentation after another highlighting the remarkable and unorthodox activities that have made this organization so healthy, I leaned over and quietly asked the CEO a semi rhetorical question: ?Why in the world don?t your competitors do any of this?? After a few seconds, he whispered, almost sadly, ?You know, I honestly believe they think it?s beneath them.? And there it was.

When we give someone the ability to measure their own performance we lose our power.

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American Business Consultant, Author, Founder and President of The Table Group