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Part 2: The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team

Last week we examined five common problems that plague teams and their ability to collaborate effectively.  If you haven’t seen one or two (or all five) of these dysfunctions in action, please send the address and photos of the lonely tropical island where you’ve been living/working!

This week we present Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team from Patrick Lencioni’s book of the same name.  These behaviors combat common dysfunctions and foster connected, successful, high performing teams.  It is important to note that each behavior builds on the previous one, and they should not be addressed in isolation of one another.

  1. Trust One Another – Teams often interact only in their professional roles, siloed into the tasks and functions of their day-to-day roles. Members don’t know each other as human beings, with likes, dislikes, experiences, strengths, and – yes – faults.  Little trust exists, and members waste countless hours engaging in defensive behaviors that mask their vulnerabilities.  Only by connecting as people and professionals can members safely ask for assistance and give it, recognizing the skills and capabilities in others that leverage and complement their own.

  2. Engage in Conflict Around Ideas – Our perspectives are shaped by our experiences. Differences of opinion are inevitable and ultimately healthy.  The best teams build a culture of productive conflict – welcoming all perspectives and ideas to the table, encouraging active listening by all participants, and making space for critical thought and respectful debate and decision-making.  These conversations can be difficult, but – if teams take the time to build trust – their ability to give and receive honest feedback gets easier over time and with practice.

  3. Commit to Decisions – If the plan of action is the result of productive conflict, team members have had the opportunity to hear their colleagues and to be heard by them. Decision-making is transparent, and team members know why the final solution/path has been chosen.  Members can buy-in to the work ahead, knowing what the team is doing and why and how it’s doing it.

  4. Hold One Another Accountable – When the what, why and how are clear, members also understand their contribution to successful implementation. The collective achievement is built upon each member making progress and meeting goals along the way – “my success is our success.”  Members gladly hold their colleagues accountable and accept it when they are held accountable.

  5. Focus on Achieving Collective Results – Define success up front, report on progress (positive and not-so-positive) along the way, and reward behaviors that contribute to the team’s results. A team that celebrates wins along the way can’t wait to cross the finish line together!

For team leaders, it is crucial that you set the tone for the team.  Lead by example, and do what you say you’re going to do.  Be the first one to be vulnerable.  Set the stage for productive debate and conflict.  Provide clarity in defining responsibilities, deadlines, and desired results.  These behaviors are part of the values you establish for the team and the foundation for the company culture that you build and nurture.  Communicate your values constantly – as part of your recruiting and hiring process, in daily interactions with team members, in your print and online resources, and in employee performance reviews.

CSR is a Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ Authorized Partner, helping individuals understand themselves and others better and create better, stronger teams.  If we can help your team build its capabilities in/commitment to Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results, please contact Betsy Wallace


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