In Blog Articles, Monday Memo


In last week’s blog we dealt with the second of Patrick Lencioni’s team dysfunctions, namely fear of conflict. Today we deal with the next important dysfunction that might appear in a team, either collectively or via some of the individuals, lack of commitment.

A lack of healthy conflict (the 2nd dysfunction) is a problem also because it ensures the third dysfunction of a team: lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agree- ment during meetings.

In the context of a team, commitment is a function of two things: clarity and buy-in. Great teams make clear and timely decisions and move forward with complete buy-in from every member of the team, even those who voted against the decision. They leave meetings confident that no one on the team is quietly harboring doubts about whether to support the actions agreed on.

The two greatest causes of a lack of commitment are the desire for consensus and the need for certainty:

  • Consensus: Great teams understand the danger of seeking consensus, and find ways to achieve buy-in even when complete agreement is impossible. They understand that reasonable human beings do not need to get their way in order to support a decision, but only need to know that their opinions have been heard and considered.
  • Certainty: Great teams also pride themselves on being able to unite behind decisions and commit to clear courses of action even when there is little assurance about whether the decision is correct. They 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.

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


Lack of Commitment
A team that fails to commit… A team that commits…
·       Creates ambiguity among the team about direction and priorities ·       Creates clarity around direction and priorities

·       Aligns the entire team around common objectives

·       Watches windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay ·       Develops an ability to learn from mistakes



·       Breeds lack of confidence and fear of failure ·       Takes advantage of opportunities before competitors do
·       Revisits discussions and decisions again and again ·       Changes direction without hesitation or guilt
·       Encourages second-guessing among team members ·       Moves forward without hesitation

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 two weeks, we will be dealing with each of the remaining 2 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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