Revisiting “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team”

I recently re-read The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. I am through it for the 2nd time and find that I have gleaned so much more this time around.

The Role of a Leader: (A look back at 5 Team Dysfunctions)

  1. Absence of Trust – Avoid Invulnerability
  2. Fear of Conflict – Avoid Artificial Harmony
  3. Lack of Commitment – Force Clarity & Closure
  4. Avoidance of Accountability – Confront Low Standards
  5. Inattention to Results – Focus on Collective Outcomes

In my first foray into this book, I found many insights useful, but not particularly familiar. I read the book quite a few years ago and really didn’t have the 5 dysfunctions of a teambackground to understand the content that the book addressed. I just hadn’t faced those types of team building dilemmas (or maybe I just hadn’t thought about it that way). Even in an Agile coaching capacity, I find many small teams quickly gel and find a rhythm, building trust, managing conflict with help, and holding one another accountable. I think software teams are, in the end, really good at this given some subtle guidance.

Fast forward to 2010
I’m currently part of a management team that displays many of the detrimental failure modes that the book describes. Sadly, I’ve come to realize over the years that this is more the rule than the exception. The team members are all, individually, extremely talented. They are also great people. I mean that sincerely. This fact makes me both hopeful and fearful at the same time.

It’s great news because it’s obvious that my current challenge is unambiguous and squarely in front of me: work on building a dynamic and healthy TEAM. It’s also scary because I now know what I need to do: work on building a dynamic and healthy TEAM!

This supremely simple concept, the one that eludes 95% of leadership teams in all types of organizations, is one of the most difficult experiences teams can go through. Knowingly embarking on that journey is a sure-fire way to bring emotional exhaustion and short-term discomfort to your collective lives. But alas, like many things in life, I know it’s critical and completely necessary. There is no exception.

Mentally I know that this hard work and emotional discomfort will be the only way to long-term fulfillment and happiness in a collaborative endeavor like building great software for customers.

I’m growing more encouraged day by day.

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