The 5 elements of an effective team

I recently went on a leadership course and one of the key focuses of the course was creating effective teams. The facilitator recommended a book called “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.

Lencioni's central theory is that there are 5 key elements to a cohesive team. In order of importance they are:

  1. Trust - they trust one another
  2. Healthy conflict - they engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  3. Commitment - they commit to decisions and plans of action.
  4. Accountability - they hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans
  5. Results focus - they focus on the achievement of collective results

Trust is the foundation element because it is only with trust that team conflict can be possible. Teams become dysfunctional when they are unable to productively deal with conflict and all meaningful relationships require productive conflict for them to grow.

When teams engage in productive conflict they can confidently commit to decisions. This is where real commitment to team goals happens.

Without team commitment you cannot have accountability. If the team is to be accountable, everyone must have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.

When teams are not held accountable they tend to look out for their own interests, rather than the interests of the team. A healthy team places team results as the most important goal of all. When all team members place the team’s results first the team becomes results orientated.

I quite like this model as it is really simple and from my experiences with investing, work and life is a pretty accurate summary of what needs to be present in any team dynamic to ensure effective team work and ultimate success.

A really good high level summary of the book can be found here

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