[caption id="attachment_1555" align="aligncenter" width="700" caption="Schemata Bowling Team - in a league of our own"][/caption] Last fall, a friend lent me a leadership / management book to me called the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team (written by Patrick Lencioni of the Table Group). I gladly accepted it and upon return to office, it was promptly buried on my desk. 4 months later, as I was preparing for our annual staff retreat, I pulled it out and read it. It was a quick read – accomplished on the flights to/from San Fran.
It wasn’t your typical dry management book, but more of a concept described in roughly 20 pages at the back of the book, with a “leadership fable” preceding which illustrated the concepts. The fable was high drama and included dialogue – so it was quite easy to immerse myself in the story and imagine the scenarios playing out in my own work team (except that we weren’t a silicon valley technology start-up, gunning for an IPO).
The premise of Lencioni’s concept is that a truly effective team has to be built upon a foundation of trust. Not the touchy feely trust about falling back into each others arms…but of really knowing your teammates well – how they might react in a specific circumstance and being supported by them in a variety of situations.
Once you have foundation of trust, then you can comfortably and confidently engage in passionate debate that allows all viewpoints to be heard. This level of unfiltered and productive conflict (not conflict for conflict sake - aka "drama") results in genuine buy-in from all members of the team. Teams that can commit to a decision are not hesitant to hold one another accountable for adhering to decisions and performance standards. And ultimately, this all helps us keep our “eyes on the prize” and act on what is best fo the team, not letting ego or personal aspirations get in the way. Lencioni's diagram of the model looks like this:
In our annual retreat, we discussed this model in detail. And did some exercises and brainstorming about the year to come. And then we did something we unexpected by all – we went bowling and drank beer. After a day spent strategizing and conversing, this was by far the funnest part of the day…and yet the most important. As I learned from a studio head during my days at SOM in Chicago – it’s important to work hard and play hard…together.