In Blog Articles, Monday Memo


In concluding last week’s blog, I mentioned that Lencioni’s 5 dysfunctions are sequential and so need to be dealt with in sequence: absence of trust before fear of conflict before lack of commitment before avoidance of accountability before inattention to results. Most teams will not suffer from all these dysfunctions and so those they do have surfacing must be dealt with in the correct sequence. (If you are interested in whether your team suffers from any of the dysfunctions, please look at the free offer made below).

So, today we start with the first dysfunction, the Big Daddy of them all, absence of trust. Trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team. Without it, teamwork is all but impossible.

The kind of trust that is characteristic of a great team requires team members to make themselves vulnerable to one another and be confident that their respective vulnerabilities will not be used against them. These vulnerabilities include weaknesses, skill deficiencies, inter- personal shortcomings, mistakes and requests for help.

Perhaps Lencioni’s summary is most helpful to us here:


Absence of Trust
Members of teams with an absence of trust… Members of trusting teams…
·       Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes ·       Admit their weaknesses and mistakes
·       Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback ·       Ask for help

·       Take risks in offering feedback and assistance

·       Hesitate to offer help outside of their own areas of responsibility ·       Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
·       Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them ·       Give one another the benefit of the doubt before arriving at a negative conclusion
·       Fail to recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences ·       Appreciate and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
·       Waste time and energy managing their behaviours for effect ·       Focus time and energy on important issues, not politics
·       Hold grudges ·       Offer and accept apologies without hesitation
·       Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together ·       Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group


So, where do you see your team members sitting? How might you use this to give positive feedback where it is due? And how might you raise the team’s awareness if it finds itself in the left column more than you would like (without pointing fingers!)? How can you do this in a way that raises the trust levels rather than reduces them? If you are not sure, perhaps it would be prudent to get help!

Over the next four weeks, we will be dealing with each of the remaining 5 dysfunctions in a way that will help us to understand just how dysfunctional teams operate in the dysfunction and how healthy teams deal with it.

In addition, this week I am offering the first two team leaders who respond on behalf of their teams and who qualify, another free 5 dysfunctions assessment for them and their teams, as well as a one-hour report back session with the team leader afterwards. To respond and see if you qualify, please send me a short email on in which you should tell me your team’s purpose, how many direct reports there are, and which dysfunction you think may be showing up. I undertake to revert to you within a couple of days

I hope that the series creates not only greater understanding for my readers, but that it perhaps creates more questions than answers. If I am successful in achieving this for you, please feel free to raise your views or questions with me at

(I am indebted to the work of Peter Hawkins, of Renewal Associates, especially his book, Leadership Team Coaching, as well as the methodology of Integral Coaching Canada, which I have integrated for purposes of this series and in developing my Systemic Leadership Team Coaching process. In this

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