In Blog Articles, Monday Memo



In last week’s blog we dealt with the first of Patrick Lencioni’s team dysfunctions, namely absence of trust which if present in a team, should be dealt with and resolved before all else. Today we deal with the next important dysfunction that appears in many teams, either collectively or via some of the individuals, fear of conflict.

Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.

Teams that engage in productive conflict know that its only purpose is to produce the best possible solution in the shortest period of time. They discuss and resolve issues more quickly and completely than other teams do, and they emerge from heated debates with no residual feelings or collateral damage, but with an eagerness and readiness to take on the next important issue.

So, where is your team on this continuum? Perhaps Lencioni’s summary will be helpful to identify the ‘spot’:

Fear of Conflict
Teams that fear conflict… Teams that engage in conflict…
·       Have boring meetings ·       Have lively, interesting meetings
·       Create environments where back-channel politics and personal attacks thrive ·       Minimize politics
·       Ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success ·       Solve real problems quickly

·       Put critical topics on the table for discussion

·       Fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members ·       Extract and exploit the ideas of all team members
·       Waste time and energy with posturing and interpersonal risk management  

So, where do you see you and your team members sitting? To help you, this week I am again 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.

Over the next three weeks, we will be dealing with each of the remaining 3 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.

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 particular blog, I have lent heavily on the work of Patrick Lencioni in his book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.)

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