Monthly Archives: January 2011

5 Dysfunctions of a Team

5 Dysfunctions of a Team summary

Best-selling Author, Patrick Lencioni


The true measure of a team is that it accomplishes the results that it sets out to achieve. To do that on a consistent, ongoing basis, a team must overcome the five dysfunctions listed here by embodying the behaviors described for each one. 

Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust: Members of great teams trust one another on a fundamental, emotional level and they are comfortable being vulnerable with each other about their weaknesses, mistakes, fears and behaviors. They get to a point where they can be completely open with one another, without filters. This is essential because….

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict: …teams that trust one another are not afraid to engage in passionate dialogue around issues and decisions that are key the organization’s success. They do not hesitate to disagree with, challenge, and question one another, all in the spirit of finding the best answers, discovering the truth, and making great decisions. This is important because…

Dysfunctions #3: Lack of Commitment…teams that engage in unfiltered conflict are able to achieve genuine buy in around important decisions, even when various members of the team initially disagree. That’s because they ensure that all opinions and ideas are put on the table and considered, giving confidence to team members that no stone has been left unturned. This is critical because…

 Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability:…teams that commit to decisions and standards of performance do not hesitate to hold one another accountable for adhering to those decisions and standards. What is more, they don’t rely on the team leader as the primary source of accountability; they go directly to their peers. This matters because…

 Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results: … teams that trust one another, engage in conflict, commit to decisions, and hold one another accountable are very likely to set aside their individual needs and agendas and focus almost exclusively on what is best for the team. They do not give in to the temptation to place their departments, career aspirations, or ego-driven status ahead of the collective results that define team success.


CEO’s (in the book) method after off-site team re-building:

1. Annual planning meeting and leadership development retreats (three days, off-site)

-topics might include budget discussions, major strategic planning overview, leadership training, succession planning and cascading messaging


2. Quarterly staff meetings (two days, off-site)

-topics might include major goal reviews, financial review, strategic discussions, employee performance discussions, key issue resolutions, team development, and cascading messages.


3. Weekly Staff Meetings (two hours, on-site)

-topics might include key activity review, goal progress review, sales reviews, customer review, tactical issue resolution, cascading messages


4. Ad hoc meetings (two hours, on site)

-topics might include strategic issues that cannot be adequately discussed during weekly staff meetings.





5 Temptations of a CEO or Person in Authority in any arena!!

Here again is a summary of an AMAZING read by Patrick Lencioni. This is vital information for any person who leads any number of people in any area of life. Ministry, corporate America, schools, small businesses, anything! Boy am I guilty of these 5 and 2 of them I am GUILTY as charged: I want peace, harmony and love every moment of every day…..not possible and a big “no no” in leading people, Temptation #4. I also like to be liked….Temptation #2. I am glad that through lots of pain and counseling and time I have begun to conquer #1 and #5. Enjoy and take the test!!


The Five Temptations of a CEO – summarized

By Best Selling Author, Patrick Lencioni 

Temptation 1:

Choosing status over results

·      Do you personally consider it a professional failure when your organization fails to meet its objectives?

·      Do you often wonder, what’s next? What will I do to top this in my career?

·      Would it bother you greatly if your company exceeded its objectives but you remained somewhat anonymous relative to your peers in the industry?


On a professional level, organizational success and personal–professional success are one and the same. Although it is healthy for any human being to separate his or her sense of self-esteem from success on the job, in the context of the professional success these should not be divided. Too often CEOs justify their own performance even when the organizations they lead are failing around them.

CEOs must ultimately judge their personal-professional success by the results on the bottom line. This is not to suggest that other “human” factors are not important, or even most important on a spiritual and emotional level. However, only the CEO is ultimately responsible for the results of the company, and this must be his or her final measure.

The most successful CEOs focus almost exclusively on their current jobs. A pronounced concern for the “next step “ in a person’s career is a good sign of susceptibility to Temptation #1.  Worrying about public recognition is a sign of susceptibility to this temptation also. Great CEOs will eventually get recognized but take larger personal satisfaction from achieving results.

Temptation 2:

Choosing popularity over accountability

·      Do you consider yourself to be a close friend of your direct reports?

·      Does it bother you to the point of distraction if they are unhappy with you?

·      Do you often find yourself reluctant to give negative feedback to your direct reports? Do you water down negative feedback to make it more palatable?

·      Do you often vent to them about issues in the organization? For example, do you refer to your staff as “we” and other employees as “they”?


It is wonderful for CEOs to care about direct reports as people, so long as they can separate the success of those relationships from their sense of self-esteem and personal happiness. This is difficult because most of us try to avoid major disagreements with close friends, and it is impossible not to be concerned about a deep rift with one of them.  If those close friends are your direct reports the accountability within the organization can be threatened. The slightest reluctance to hold someone accountable for their behaviors and results can cause an avalanche of negative reaction from others who perceive even the slightest hint of unfairness or favoritism.  Those CEO’s who are able to make close friendships with direct reports and still avoid a sense of favoritism often find it easy to use those reports as their personal “venting boards’.  All executives need people they can vent to about challenges they face in the organization (for example, people they are frustrated with), but CEOs must resist the desire to use direct reports for this service. It can lead to politics among the executive team, and more importantly it can undermine the team’s objective understanding of their own actions by creating an atmosphere of self-victimizing grouping. Often this manifest itself during executive staff meetings in comments such as “when will these people stop questioning us and start understanding what we are trying to do?”


Temptations 3:

Choosing certainty over clarity

·      Do you pride yourself on being intellectually precise?

·      Do you prefer to wait for more information rather than make a decision without all the facts?

·      Do you enjoy debating details with your direct reports during meetings?


Certainly intellectual precision alone is not a sign of Temptation #3. However, when it manifests itself during staff meetings in terms of unnecessary debates over minutia, it is a sign of real trouble.


It is no surprise that many CEOs take a great deal of pride in their analytical and intellectual acumen. Unable to realize that their success as an executive usually has less to do with intellectual skills than it does with personal and behavioral disciplines, they spend too much time debating the finer points of decision-making. Those debates are problematic for two reasons. First, they eat up valuable time that can be spent discussing larger issues, which often requires just a few minutes at the end of the staff meeting agenda. Second, and more important, they create a climate of excessive analysis and over intellectualization of tactical issues. If there is one person in an organization who cannot afford to be overly precise, it is the CEO.


Temptation 4:

Choosing harmony over productive conflict

·      Do you prefer your meetings to be pleasant and enjoyable?

·      Are your meetings often boring?

·      Do you get uncomfortable at meetings if your direct reports argue?

·      Do you often make peace or try to reconcile direct reports who are at odds with one another?


Executives often bemoan the number of meetings they attend and they include staff meetings with their peers at the top of that list. They often complain about meetings taking up time that is needed for “real work”. This is a good sign that those meetings are not as difficult (that is are not as productive) as they should be.

Productive executive staff meetings should be exhausting inasmuch as they are passionate, critical discussions. Pleasant meetings-or even worse, boring ones-are indications that there is not a proper level of overt, constructive, ideological conflict taking place. But don’t be deceived. Every meeting has conflict. Some executives just sweep that conflict under the table and let employees deeper in the organization sort it out. This doesn’t happen by accident.

When executives do get into an issue, CEOs often squelch any potential for passion by making peace. This sends a message that pleasant, agreeable meetings are preferred by the CEO. After a few pleasant meetings, boredom sets in and executives start lamenting the real work that they could be doing.


Temptation 5:

Choosing invulnerability over trust

·      Do you have a hard time admitting when you’re wrong?

·      Do you fear that your direct reports want your job?

·      Do you try to keep your greatest weaknesses secret from your direct reports?


No one loves to admit being wrong, but some people hate it. Great CEOs don’t lose face in the slightest when they are wrong, because they know who they are, they know they are the CEO, and they realize that the organization’s results, not the appearance of being smart, are their ultimate measure of success. They know that the best way to get results is to put their weaknesses on the table and invite people to help them minimize those weaknesses. CEOs who understand this concept intellectually but cannot behaviorize it sometimes make the mistake of finding symbolic moments to admit mistakes and weaknesses. This only serves to reinforce the notion that the CEO is unwilling to put real weaknesses on the table. Overcoming this temptation requires a degree of fear and pain that many CEOS are unwilling to tolerate.



3 Signs of a Miserable Job

I read a book this past weekend by Patrick Lencioni called The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. Lencioni has sold a series of New York Times Best Selling books, all 7 are written as fables. He has quickly become one of my favorite writers and I wanted to share the summary of one of his great books on our responsibilities in management. I so agree with all 3 foundational elements he talks about. So simple, yet so profound and neccessary when managing people. I eat this stuff up and am on book 5 of 7 now. I will summarize and blog on each.


3 Signs of a Miserable Job

by: Business Consultant and Best selling Author, Patrick Lencioni



The person who can have the greatest influence by taking a personal interest in anyone on the job is the manager. Yes, even more than a CEO or an executive three levels higher in the food chain, a direct supervisor needs to take a genuine personal interest in an employee in order to increase that employee’s satisfaction and fulfillment.

What exactly does it mean to take a personal interest in someone? I’ve heard management training people advise supervisors to listen to the music that their employees listen to and watch the television shows that they watch. Though I suppose that could be helpful in some situations, it doesn’t seem to be a terribly useful first step.

First, it could come across as disingenuous and silly when a fifty-year-old plant manager starts talking about listening to hip hop and watching MTV cribs. Employees can smell a fake attempt at “employee bonding” from a mile away. The other problem with cultural mirroring (if there is such a thing) is that it is general and stereotypical in nature and often reinforces to employees that they are seen as somewhat generic.

If this sounds hokey, consider whether you have appreciated when your manager took an interest, a real positive one, in you and your life. And if you are rolling your eyes at this point, wondering what any of this has to do with factory line assembly or accounting or retail, put up with me as I remind you that one doesn’t get out of bed to run a register or program software or sweep a floor. They get out of bed to live their lives, and their work tasks are only a part of their lives. People want to be managed as people, not as mere workers.

If you’re still not convinced that this makes sense or that it applies to you, this would be a good time to consider resigning your position as a manager and finding a role as an individual contributor. But if you are on board, there are two more fundamental dragons that need to be slain.


People wonder why so many athletes, rock stars, and actors live such erratic, unsatisfied lives. It’s easy to point to drugs and alcohol and materialism as the culprit, but I think those are mere symptoms of the root cause: a subtle fear of irrelevance. I mention this because it’s hard to fathom how someone who earns more money than most people can count by doing something they love, and who get constant attention and adulation from admiring fans can be unhappy.¬† And a nurse or church secretary can be happy and fulfilled making a fraction of what a rock store or athlete makes. I think the answer has everything to do with being needed and having an impact on the lives of others.


Human beings need to be needed and they need to be reminded of this pretty much every day. They need to know that they are helping others, not merely serving themselves. When people lose sight of their impact on others lives, or worse yet, when they come to the realization that they have no impact at all, they begin to die emotionally. The fact is, God didn’t create people the serve themselves. Everyone ultimately wants and needs to help others, and when they cannot, misery ensues.


Some will say that rock stars and athletes and actors do indeed have an impact on other people’s lives, and I would agree that they certainly can. However, they often lose sight of that impact or fail to take advantage of their opportunity to do so. They see their jobs as a series of self-involved activities with no clear connection to the daily live as others. All employees, whether they are rock stars, or teachers must answer two questions in order to establish relevance in their jobs. And it is the manager’s responsibility to help them do this.

Who? The first question people have to answer is, Who am I helping? The most obvious place to start looking is among customers. Seemingly contrary to everything we’ve learned having to do with servant leadership, sometimes managers must help their employees understand that their work has a meaningful impact on them. This is a hard concept to swallow because it conjures up images of self-serving supervisors sending their employees on personal errands keeping them at their beck and call. And so managers often downplay the very real impact that the work their employees do has on their own satisfaction and career development. And this is its own tragedy because, unless they already believe that their manager is a cretin, employees get a great deal of satisfaction and energy when their supervisor thanks them for what they’ve done and explains to them what difference they’ve made from them personally.

Think about this one again. It is our fear of coming across as self-serving that prevents us from giving our employees the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve helped us. Ironically, the result is that they feel that we are taking them from granted.

Managers would be much better off being frank with the employees. “the report you put together for my presentation to the executive team was terrific. They were all impressed, and wanted me to tell you that you did a nice job. And I want to tell you that you be made me and the entire department stand out in the eyes of the CEO. Thanks”. That’s a far crazy from “you made me look like a champ today and I won’t forget the little people like you when I become rich and famous”, and it’s certainly better than the generic, “good job” or “thanks”.

When managers pretend they don’t appreciate the impact of their people’s work on their own career and job satisfaction-even when they do it out of humility, they deprive people of the feeling that they’ve made a difference.


First, let me say that immeasurement isn’t a word you’ll find in the dictionary. I’ve used it to describe this, the third, because there was no real synonym for it. Immeasurement essentially is an employee’s lack of a clear means of assessing his or her progress or success on the job. This creates ambiguity and a feeling of dependence on a manger to subjectively judge the employee’s daily or weekly or monthly achievement.

The problem is, great employees don’t want their success to depend on the subjective views or opinions of another human being. That’s because this often forces them to engage in politics and posturing, which is the loss of control over one’s destiny. Employees who can measure their own progress or contribution are going to develop a greater sense of personal responsibility and satisfaction than those who cannot. The key to establishing effective measure for a job lies in identifying those areas that an employee can directly influence, and then ensuring that the specific measurement are connected to the person or people they are meant to serve. This point is worth repeating. Failing to link measurements are connected the person or people they are meant to serve. This point is worth repeating. Failing to link measurement to relevance is illogical and creates confusion among employees, who are left wondering why they aren’t measuring up to the most important parts of their jobs.

Too often, an executive will try to rally employees by giving them come macro objective (for example, hitting a corporate revenue number, cutting company expenses, or driving up overall sales). The problem here is that most employees have no direct impact on these things, certainly not on a daily basis. When they realize that there is no clear, observable link between their daily job responsibilities and the metric they are going to be measured against, they lose interest and feel unable to control their destiny. And while many managers will then be tempted to accuse them of being lazy or ignoring the well-being of the company, those managers are failing to understand that what their employees are looking for is a measure that is more closely tied to their actual jobs.

That’s why so many salespeople enjoy their jobs. They don’t depend on others to tell them whether they’ve succeeded or failed. At the end of the day-or better yet, the quarter-a salesperson knows the score and feels responsible for it.

Tips are a good measuring device. Customers comments are a great measuring device. Tasks being completed within a shift are a great measuring device. The manager must give credit where credit is due in these measurements.