The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Overview

The first and most critical step a healthy organization is creating a cohesive leadership team. Without an aligned team at the top of an organization, it will never come near to reaching its full potential.

The first step a team must make is to make sure the right people are sitting on the executive team and the number of members is not too cumbersome (between 3-12). The team must also commit to themselves and each other to do the ongoing work required to develop and maintain a high-performing team. Once that commitment is established, team members must master five behaviors (originally outlined in the business fable The Five Dysfunctions of a Team). For the model, click here »

To understand if Discipline 1 needs to be addressed in your organization, review the following checklist:

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

  • The leadership team is small enough (three to ten people) to be effective.
  • Members of the team trust one another and can be genuinely vulnerable with each other.
  • Team members regularly engage in productive, unfiltered conflict around important issues.
  • The team leaves meetings with clear-cut, active, and specific agreements around decisions.
  • Team members hold one another accountable to commitments and behaviors.
  • Members of the leadership team are focused on team number one. They put the collective priorities and needs of the larger organization ahead of their own departments.

If two or more of these statements are not true in your organization, address your team dynamics. Click here for the complete organizational health check list »

The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Teamwork Model

The first and most critical step in creating a healthy organization is for the leadership team to become cohesive. Without an aligned team at the top of an organization, it will never come close to reaching its full potential.

The first step a team must take is to make sure the right people are sitting on the executive team and the number of members is not too large (between 3-12). The team must also commit to themselves and each other to do the ongoing work required to develop and maintain a high-performing team. Once that commitment is established, team members must master five behaviors (originally outlined in the business fable The Five Dysfunctions of a Team). They include:

Dysfunctions Model

  1. Building Trust: Team members who trust one another are comfortable being open, even exposed, to one another about their failures, weaknesses and fears.
  2. Mastering Conflict: When trust is present, teams are able to engage in unfiltered ideological debate around ideas, issues and decisions that must be made.
  3. Achieving Commitment: The ability to engage in conflict and provide input enables team members to buy-in or commit to decisions.
  4. Embracing Accountability: After commitment is established, team members must be willing to hold one another accountable and remind each other when actions are counterproductive to the team.
  5. Focusing on Results: Collective team results must supersede any departmental or personal objectives or pursuits.

The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Personal Histories Exercise

This exercise is typically the first small step teams take to start developing trust.

Purpose: To improve trust by giving team members an opportunity to demonstrate vulnerability in a low-risk way and to help team members understand one another at a fundamental level so that they can avoid making false attributions about behaviors and intentions.

Time Required: 15 — 25 Minutes

Instructions: Go around the table and have everyone answer three questions about themselves.

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. How many siblings do you have and where do you fall in that order?
  3. Please describe a unique or interesting challenge or experience from your childhood.

Debrief: Ask team members to share what they learned about one another that they didn't already know. This reinforces the purpose of the exercise and allows for a natural ending to the conversation.

Next Steps: As described in The Advantage, this is the first of many exercises that can be used to start the trust building process. More often than not, leaders will reveal interesting personal information that was otherwise not known. The leadership team must continue to work on building trust by using a behavior profiling tool (we like the Myers-Briggs). More specific instructions on building trust can be found in The Advantage, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team , Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Facilitators Guide.

The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Teamwork Products and Solutions

Kit For those of you who are interested in getting started right away and working on your own with your team, we have developed a suite of products based on The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to help leaders address the behavioral obstacles to teamwork. These products include an Online Team Assessment, Facilitator's Guide, Participant Workbook, Field Guide, and Video Presentation. Click here to access our store »

The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Book: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Pat first addressed the topic of teamwork in his national best-seller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Pat's groundbreaking theory on teams focuses on collective team behaviors that lead to success and provides readers with a realistic fictional account of applying the model.

Learn More »

The Advantage

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

Team Effectiveness Exercise

Purpose of exercise: To give team members a forum for providing one another with focused, direct and actionable feedback about how their individual behavior can improve the performance of the team.

Time Required: One or two hours, depending on the size of the team and the skill of the facilitator.

Instructions:

  1. Have all team members answer the following questions about each member of the team other than themselves.
    • What is that person's single most important behavioral quality that contributes to the strength of the team? (That is, their strength.)
    • What is that person's single most important behavioral quality that detracts from the strength of the team? (That is, their weakness or problematic behavior.)
  2. (Note: Team members should write down their answers so that they can commit to and remember their responses, and are not tempted to change them based on what others have said.)

  3. Beginning with comments about the leader of the team, have all team members read their positive responses, one by one, until everyone has finished.
  4. Ask the leader to respond to what people have said. (For example, "Any surprises? Any questions for clarification?")
  5. Continuing to focus on the leader, have all team members read their negative responses, one by one, until everyone has finished.
  6. Continue with this sequence for every member of the team.
  7. When all team members have received input from their peers, have them each summarize aloud for the team the one or two key take-aways that they will work on individually. Have them e-mail those take-aways to the leader.

Next Steps: At the next team off-site, have the members each report on the progress they've made in regard to each of their areas for improvement. Solicit input from team members about their observations.

The Advantage

Store

Kit For those interested in creating a healthy organization using The Advantage, Discipline 1 (Build a Cohesive Leadership Team) is the recommended starting point. We have developed a suite of products based on The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to help leaders address the behavioral obstacles to teamwork in order to become cohesive. These products include an Online Team Assessment, Facilitator's Guide, Participant Workbook, Field Guide, and Video Presentation. Click here to access our store »

The Advantage

Consulting Services

We believe that healthy organizations enjoy minimal politics and confusion, high levels of morale and productivity, low turnover rates and recruiting costs. Our consultants help leaders and their organizations harness their potential and outperform their competition in a number of ways:

  1. Senior leadership team off-sites
  2. Ongoing leadership team consulting
  3. Organizational wide program development

Visit the Consulting section of our website for more on our services. Click here »

The Advantage

Speaking Services

Pat Lencioni brings his models on organizational health, teamwork, leadership and employee engagement to tens of thousands of leaders each year. Consistently the top rated keynote speaker at major conferences, Pat shares his models and inspires his audiences through his accessibility, humor and story-telling. His clients include Fortune 500 companies, national trade associations, professional organizations, non-profits and educational institutions. Many of these clients have invited Pat back because of the outstanding quality of his performances and the high take-away value.

Whether you're rolling out a new culture initiative, developing your leaders, or seeking a thought-provoking, engaging and relevant keynote speaker for your group, we can help.

To learn more about Pat's speaking services, click here. To inquire about Pat's availability, please contact The Table Group at 925.299.9700 or email speaking@tablegroup.com.