Jeff Gibson of the Table Group gave the morning keynote based on some of the concepts in his colleague’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable.
He started with the idea that there are two requirements for a company’s success: it has to be smart (strategy, marketing, finance, technology) and it has to be healthy (minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, low turnover). Although a lot of management courses are focused on the smart side, the healthy side is a multiplier of the smart side, boosting the success far beyond what you can do by being smart alone.
He then moved on to the five dysfunctions of a team:
- Absence of trust, specifically personal trust and exposing vulnerability to other team members. The role of the leader is to go first in order to show that it’s okay to make mistakes.
- Fear of conflict, which can lead to misunderstandings because people don’t speak their mind. The role of the leader is to search out conflict amongst team members, draw out the issues and wrestle with them.
- Lack of commitment, particularly to tough decisions. The role of the leader is to force clarity and closure on those decisions to ensure that everyone is committed to upholding them.
- Avoidance of accountability. The role of the leader is to confront difficult issues, such as problematic team behaviors.
- Inattention to results. The role of the leader is to focus on collective outcomes, not allowing a “superstar” on the team to make themselves look good to the detriment of the team result.
Usually I find these external keynotes that are unrelated to the conference subject to be so-so, but I really enjoyed this one, and could have used this advice when I was heading up a 40-person company. I’ll be checking out the book.