The model: Absence of trust ◊ fear of conflict ◊ lack of commitment ◊ avoidance of accountability ◊ inattention to results.
Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust
This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.
Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.
Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled.
Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability
When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren’t held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.
The five roles of a leader: be vulnerable, demand debate, force clarity and closure, confront the difficult issues, focus on collective outcomes.
Vulnerability: can your people be smarter than you in an area that you admire and respect?
The fundamental attribution error: We attribute other people’s errors to their character, however we attribute our own errors to our environment.
If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.
Our strengths and weaknesses are usually rooted in the same thing. Therefore our greatest strength is often also our greatest weakness.
Office politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.
Most reasonable people don’t have to get their way in a discussion. They just need to be heard, and to know that their input was considered and responded to. People need to weigh in before they can buy in. Human beings have an innate need to have their opinions considered, not agreed upon, just considered.
The single most important arena for conflict is in meetings. In most meetings we kill all conflict, which is the exact opposite of what we should do.
Every good movie must have one key ingredient: conflict. Every good meeting must have one key ingredient: conflict.
If there is nothing worth debating then there is no since in having a meeting.
If everything is important then nothing is.
Trust: the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.
The most important action that a leader must take to encourage the building of trust on a team is to demonstrate vulnerability first. This requires that a leader risk losing face in front of the team.
All great relationships, the ones that last over time require productive conflict in order to grow.
Ideological conflict is limited to concepts and ideas and avoids personality-focused, mean spirited attacks.
When team members do not openly debate and disagree about important ideas, they often turn to back-channel personal attacks, which are far nastier and more harmful than any heated argument over issues.
It is also ironic that so many people avoid conflict in the name of efficiency, because healthy conflict is actually a time saver.
Two great causes of the lack of commitment are the desire for consensus and the need for certainty.
Great leaders understand the old military axiom that “a” decision is better than “no” decision.
At the end of every meeting, a team should explicitly review the key decisions made during the meeting and agree on what needs to be communicated to the employees and other constituencies about the decisions.
Accountability: The willingness of team members to call out their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team. The willingness to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort that accompanies calling a peer on his or her behavior and the more general tendency to avoid difficult conversations.
Accountability: Holding people accountable to their numbers is much easier than holding people accountable to their behaviors.
Accountability is different than conflict because it means drawing the line and holding others up to a standard that has been set. It means facing consequences.
When you fail to hold people accountable don’t ever think it is for their benefit—it is always for your benefit, it is always a selfish act.
The most effective and efficient means of maintaining high standards of performance on a team is peer pressure. Peer to peer is the best form of accountability.
The enemy of accountability is ambiguity. Clarify publicly exactly what the team needs to achieve.
Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence.
Ask yourself daily: Is this leadership thing about me or about the results?
Team members must focus on group results rather than individual recognition. They all pursue common goals with a common set of measurements and use these measurements to make collective decisions daily. Everyone is responsible for all corporate goals.
Open, constructive conflict doesn’t happen when people don’t trust each other. Instead, an artificial harmony – which breeds deeper conflict – is preserved.
When people are unwilling to be vulnerable, open with one another, they don’t trust one another. This sets the stage for guarded comments instead of passionate debate. Without having been truly heard, team members retain their skepticism and do not fully commit to decisions. Because they don’t own the goal, they avoid accountability. While individuals pursue their own needs and agendas, collective goals go without attention.
Commitment is a function of clarity and buy-in.
Conflict is important in getting everyone to buy into a plan or decision. “When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.” People don’t always have to get their way, but they need to know they were heard and have their input considered and responded to.