Dysfunctional Team, or Functional Team



At one of our leadership meetings, Mr. Hinton talked about Patrick Lencioni’s book The 5 Dysfunctions of at Team. I think there are really good insights for us as you all begin to build your teams this season. Lencioni presents these in a pyramid format with each level progressing toward further dysfunction, and in the end, a dysfunctional outcome. I want to present to you his thoughts on dysfunction from a sport’s team perspective, and then as if a team did the opposite, built a functional team with a different outcome. See if any of this looks familiar…

A Dysfunctional Team

The first step toward dysfunction is a lack of relational trust between team members. This is a situation in which a player is unwilling to be vulnerable in expressing to a teammate what they feel they personally can contribute toward the team’s success as well as where they need help. They are protective of themselves and unwilling to express their needs for the other players so that the team can become whole moving toward a common goal. This creates only transactional experiences (see last week) between team members not transformative ones.

The second step that naturally occurs is avoidance of conflict. Each player protects their own turf. When there are failures in play, the team members are not open to finding a solution. They avoid discussing the issues as a team to find a solution and instead, either publicly, or more often privately, criticize others as the problem (which never solves the team problem).

This creates the third step, which is a lack of commitment. Players all will now have different levels of commitment to the team and its goals. Each person is trying to solve the challenges the team faces without really knowing the full story. This is because there is a lack of communication, so now everyone involved is frustrated.

Now we have a fourth level, the lack of accountability. Everyone is searching for answers, and there are all types of private solutions going on. Now there is no way for the players to hold each other to common expectations, quite simply because there is very little working toward anything common.

Last we have an inattention to the team’s final results. Each player’s focus is on themselves and their outcome, not the teams. A truly bad experience for everyone and the final party looks like an “each person for themselves” as opposed to a celebration of a team outcome.

A Functional Team

Let’s contrast now with five steps to a good to great outcome, a transformational team experience.

  1. Each player is willing to express what they feel their role and strengths are and also where they feel they are deficient in helping the team. (Gaps are exposed.)
  2. Now as games are lost, the team is willing to discuss, as a team, where the problems are and talk about possible solutions, as a team, so that everyone gets better. (Gaps are addressed.)
  3. This creates a bond of commitment from all players willing to join in as they feel that they are working toward team goals together. (Gaps become works in progress.)
  4. With commitment comes accountability. But now this comes without a heavy price because each person knows that expressing a failure will be not criticized but rather covered by their teammates. (Gaps get covered.)
  5. This team now is committed toward team results because they know that they win and lose together. This will create the great outcome, because even if they did not win the championship they know that they did it together. Years later, what they will remember is not the trophy won or lost but the relationships and the hard work of doing it together. (Gaps have disappeared, replaced by bridges.)

I appreciate all of you and your love for our school, students, and the mission we strive toward together!


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