The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Part Three

This is the third post in my series on “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.  I am discussing the third dysfunction. Read about the first two dysfunctions:  Absence of Trust and Fear of Conflict.

As described in Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lack of Commitment is caused by the desire for consensus and the need for certainty. Consensus is normally viewed as a positive, but rarely can true consensus be achieved.

Consensus on a team often occurs when everyone has given up or “thrown in the towel ” just to come to a decision. The best decisions can be overlooked because everyone is focused on pleasing each other in order to achieve a consensus. When you fail to engage in conflict or debate, buy-in is not achieved. Healthy discussion on issues will lead to buy-in from each individual even if ultimately they don’t fully agree with a decision. It is important that every team member feels their opinions have been heard and considered.

Certainty can often be seen as delaying important decisions until there is enough data to support a decision. It is important to remember the old saying that a decision is better than no decision. I’m sure we can all recall a meeting that ended with someone being tasked to put a report together so the team can make a decision with certainty at the next meeting. As the decision was delayed confidence was lost among the team. It is key for teams to move forward without hesitation. Or as the book states, successful teams “realize that it is better to make a decision boldly and be wrong- and then change direction with equal boldness- than it is to waffle.”

Next time you find yourself leading a meeting or serving on a planning committee, remember that good decision making happens when everyone buys-in to a decision. It isn’t when consensus occurs or when everyone is absolutely certain with a decision. Engage in healthy debate so all opinions are heard and discussed. Ultimately you need a decision to be made, you want buy-in from all team members and you want them to know what is expected of them.

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