Identifying the Dysfunctions in Your Leadership Team

July 16, 2015

In June we discussed the topic, “Identifying the Dysfunctions in Your Leadership Team” at our area Round Table meetings. Conversations area always best in person, but in case you missed out or would like a recap, below are the notes from our various meeting groups.

Kalamazoo – Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Five Dysfunctions of a Teamfive_dysfunctions_of_team_2

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results


#1 Absences of Trust

  • A conflict is an opportunity to learn something.  It is in how you approach it.
  • Building trust starts with caring.
  • Sometimes it is perception.  Clarify.
  • Be consistent as people can rely on consistency.
  • Build trust by building relationships, rubbing shoulders, being real, being interested in them and being engaged.  Care about them and what they do.
  • Trust can take time.
  • Trust is an outcome you can measure.  Be aware and let them trust you first –  be “the rock”.
  • Have a safe place where everyone can come to you with ideas and mistakes. No double standards, like; I can make a mistake, but you can’t.
  • Be honest.  Admit what you can do and what you cannot do.
  • As a leader, do what you say.
  • “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
  • ― Theodore Roosevelt
  • When a relationship is made the output comes back at a different level.
  • Reach out – establish relationships.  Take care of your employees.  “We have a benevolent fund for charities.  We will use it is a true need comes up with our employees.”
  • Lead by example.  Getting all of the leadership teams to know the vision.  Caring needs to resonate through the whole team.
  • Ask: Why didn’t it work?  Is it a lack of accountability?
  • When you balance the Business side and the People/Relationship side, it is a merged company and you will have a 3 dimensional, vital organism.
  • Book:  “Conscious Capitalism”
  • Take care of your core and your core will take care of you.
  • Get a commitment from employees.  “We ask our team to get 25 hours per year of Saw Sharpening skills – like CBRT Round Tables, Events, and Education etc.  When they do, we give them a gift card.
  • Personal connection leads to results in business.

#2 Fear of Conflict

  • Artificial Harmony.
  • People are afraid to speak out.  Encourage them to do so with a safe place.
  • Go after it.  Ask questions and be vulnerable yourself. What do you think?  How do you see this working better?
  • Give permission to disagree or think a different way without personal attacks.
  • We have meetings with small groups.  Maybe 8 to 10 people.  It seems they are more forthcoming and have meaningful dialogues.
  • Matthew  18 – healthy confrontation
  • When you are on a healthy team, a team members may avoid conflict because they don’t want to jeopardize the harmony.
  • As a leader you can’t relax.  You have to always be watching.
  • Bring Leadership Energy Daily.
  • Things get old and the energy goes away.  No one is good at everything.  Fix the breakdowns.

#3 Lack of Commitment

  • Leaders discern at the interview if they just want to get a paycheck or if they have a passion for what you are doing.
  • When someone doesn’t feel that their suggestions never work the flame goes out.
  • Everyone has days they are less committed. Leaders need to encourage.
  • Remember the “Why” questions.  Why is their job important?  Remind them.

#4 Avoidance of Accountability

  • Lay out what part is their responsibility prior and even during a conflict.
  • Servant leadership.  Make sure your people have everything they need.  Even asking them if they need anything.  Then have accountability.
  • Don’t assume they know the what and why we do what we do.  Provide clarity.
  • Walk through difficulties with them.

#5 Inattention to Results

  • Talk about results not just goals.  Ask:  Are you getting the results you need?
  • Take Away:
  • Building Trust.  Don’t avoid conflict.  Reinforce commitment and accountability.
  • Mine for conflict.  What and why – the reason of the conflict.
  • Dig for conflict.  Be proactive.
  • Bring Leadership Energy everyday.
  • “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”
  • ― Theodore Roosevelt
  • Purposefully getting to know your people.
  • 25 -50 hours of Saw Sharpening.
  • Encourage and give a bonus for Saw Sharpening.
  • “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”
  • -Abraham Lincoln
  • Balance between business and getting to know everyone personally.

Kalamazoo – Thursday, June 11, 2015

You have to recognize and acknowledge the dysfunctions, take hold of then and work on it.

Absence of Trust

  • Modeling Trust
  • When dealing with new companies and new employees it is a learned trust.
  • Putting the employee’s career path first is what we do to build trust.
  • Can they deliver the goods?  Can I believe them?
  • Once trust is lost, it takes 1 to 2 plus years to change the culture.

Fear of Conflict

  • Artificially preserving harmony to avoid conflict.
  • Don’t put off the inevitable.  Being unwilling to change the situation.  Harmony came the next day when we hit the conflict head on.
  • Some personalities won’t deal with conflict.

Lack of Commitment

  • When employees are disengaged it creates a lack of commitment.
  • Wanting to be loved and look good may cause them to loose respect.
  • We have to push commitment.
  • We want focused commitment, so we need to provide clarity.
  • People get burned out.  We need to see if it is a time management problem or help them if they are working too many hours.

Avoidance of Accountability

  • Total ownership – who owns it?
  • You can’t change the stripes of a zebra.  People are not able to perform in areas they are not wired for.
  • Setting expectations is a security for employees. How do I measure it?
  • Responsibility doesn’t get it done.  You need accountability.

Inattention to Results

  • It never goes away.  Always a constant.
  • Always look in the mirror.
  • What did I create?
  • It seems 80% of employees are on que while 20% have problems.
  •  Six Signs Your Company Stinks
  • You’ve got gossips in your rank.
  • Your leadership has bad habits.
  • Your manager’s hands are too clean.
  • Your employees are competing.
  • You don’t play together.
  • You lack school spirit.

Kalamazoo – Friday, June 12, 2015

What are dysfunctions of a team?

  • Lack of leadership – acting/knowing
  • Lack of communication
  • Lack of inspiration
  • Lack of mentoring/building bench growth
  • Not having everyone aligned with the goals and vision
  • Lack of purpose
  • Lack of futuristic vision on where we’re going and how they the team can affect that
  • Leaders doing things their “own” way
  • Balancing the whole person’s leadership (potential)
  • Identify the areas that each person is dysfunctional and develop a plan to fill in the gaps to fill each other’s blind spots
  • BOOK – Bill Walsh – 49ers Coach
  • Set the bar high
  • Created an expectation of excellence
  • Not the same in the corporate world
  • Ex. Chicago Bulls
  • Scotty Pippin was hired to be Michael’s right hand
  • All single players try to be super-stars
  • Until you get the right people around you, there wont be a good/strong system
  • Clear accountability/direction/instructions
  • Your team needs a leader, not a friend
  • We all have our deficiencies – doesn’t mean we’re not called to lead
  • Maybe God doesn’t want us to be perfect and wants us to develop others
  • More important to develop people than to just get the job done
  • The leader needs to realize the dysfunctions first and change themselves
  • OWN the dysfunction
  • Scott Baker – National Nail Case Study
  • He was a part of the dysfunction long enough
  • How can we identify one of these 5 dysfunctions on the pyramid and encourage our leadership team to be honest & open
  • Never feel & act like you are the smartest person in the room
  • Humility and trust are the things we look at in leaders
  • Ask for arguments/conflict to get to a resolution
  • Invite people to bring conflict & address it head on
  • Conflict is not a negative term – depends on how it’s handled
  • We want everyone to be a creative thinker
  • Need ground rules as to how conflict will be addressed
  • Mine for conflict & dig for it
  • Go to the quiet/great leaders and turn it into an opportunity to increase and grow
  •  Some CEO’s/leaders don’t know what their staff is doing
  • No follow-up / follow-through
  • Seek out conflict & resolve it
  • The leader will make it right
  • There’s no way we can get everything done on our plate & we hear all the reasons & excuses as to why people can’t get something done
  • Emphasize with them but show/explain exactly what you’re asked to do in this organization.
  • Puts back accountability & empowerment
  • What do you see as a solution for that?
  • Open door policy – how wide do you have the door open?
  • Group norms in meetings to get us back on target in meetings
  • What’s an appropriate way to bring things up?
  • Train people how to bring things up in a healthy way
  • Approach leaders & ask how things are going to create an opportunity for a natural discussion

Lack of Commitment:

  • Foundational in setting expectations
  • You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution
  • Know the expectations from day 1
  • Ie. Story of the janitor & the Kennedy – he’s just a janitor but his mission is to take a man to the moon!
  • Discuss roles & who’s in charge for what – give direction & let them grow & run with it
  • Let people filter themselves out of the organization
  • Cast the vision

Clear communication

  • Provide clear roles
  • How do we address someone who doesn’t meet their goals & expectations?
  • Need a Performance Management system

Goals & objectives

  • Corrective action systems
  • Confront those who aren’t pulling their weight
  • Every member is just as valuable as the other on the team – just play different roles
  • Look for fruit on the tree
  • Be wide open with expectations and intentions
  • If they couldn’t function under that they let themselves go – if unable to get results at that level


  • We’re all a little dysfunctional
  • If we address these 5 dysfunctions with our team & ourselves it will become more peripheral
  • Mine for conflict – have more courage and see it as a positive
  • Be more creative at looking at deficiencies for helping others rather than their
  • We learn by experience and making mistakes in each of these
  • Leaders are developed by going through these
  • Read and learn each of these areas
  • Personal & leadership development is on-going
  • Need to do this in personal life as well as professional life
  • Evaluate each person & find their gap in skills (ie. A sales team)
  • Continue to focus on casting the vision
  • Ask good questions
  • Speak the truth sensitively
  • Mine for conflict

Grand Rapids – , Tuesday June 9, 2015


  • Various / broad set of skill sets
  • Injecting your own personal bias
  • Several different personalities
  • Emotional bias
  • Lack of understanding the real intent
  • Lack of shared vision / execution
  • Poor communication systems / process
  • Lack of open door policy
  • Poor balance of priorities
  • Lots of organizational layers
  • Too much or too little speed
  • Solely management by numbers
  • Finding and dedicating time to address the issues
  • Rapid technology changes


  • Use process called Strength Finders to build on individual’s strengths vs. weaknesses
  • Leadership 2.0 another resource
  • Improve communication system / structure
  • Embrace differences
  • Take the time (purposeful)
  • Communicate Vision
  • Have a quality of humility
  • Monday morning breakfast with leaders


  • Trust and communication
  • Shared vision
  • Love the quiz tool
  • Embrace the differences
  • Improve the absence of trust
  • Improve effectiveness of meetings
  • Have true good intent
  • Identify Headwinds, Tailwinds and Key Asks from your leadership team

Grand Rapids – Thursday, June 11, 2015


  • The leadership team stewards the spirit of the organization
  • should be comprised of key leaders from different functional areas within the organization
  • aligned to a common purpose and core set of values
  • is responsible for coaching and mentoring the next generation of leadership
  • serve as advocates of the team members


  • Without trust, you cannot depend on one another
  • without trust, teams shy away from risks
  • without trust, it is impossible to execute on anything meaningful as a team
  • trust makes it possible for team to risk “going to bat” and potentially hitting a home run, but making it safe to have a strikeout as well.
  • Trust among the leadership team trickles down to the entire organization. If the leaders don’t trust one another, it is likely the team will not trust either.
  • Trust is established in “layers”: including the community, organization, department, and individual teams.
  • Trust takes decades to build, but can be lost in an instant.


  • establish a common core set of values among the leadership team to be embraced
  • respect the individual contribution on the team
  • influence transcends title, understand that there are key influencers throughout the organization
  • be sure the right people or on the leadership team, ensuring the right fit.
  • Be clear on your own personal set of values first, to know if you are a good fit for the leadership team.
  • As the leader, you are responsible for establishing an environment of trust within the leadership team. What you allow and what you do not allow reinforce this message.


  • In the absence of conflict, teams tend to keep conversations at a superficial level. Conflict allows for deeper discussion to take place.
  • Conflict creates growth, and tests the mettle of a team.
  • Without conflict, leadership teams are relegated to a sea of “yes people.”
  • In West Michigan, there is in epidemic among leadership teams to be “West Michigan nice.” This label implies artificial harmony at the expense of authentic conflict resolution.
  • No conflict indicates no trust among the team.


  • intentionally live out conflicting or contrarian opinions, in order to push a teams thinking to a different dimension
  • understand that developing trust takes a long time, and ultimately this trust creates a platform for healthy conflict
  • confidentiality among the leadership team is essential for healthy conflict resolution. Leadership team may battle behind closed doors, but must remain aligned in the public eye
  • hire people that are smarter than you, with greater expertise in certain areas
  • do not allow conflict to get personal, by saying “you did this.” Rather, use language like “this is how that made me feel…”


  • Without commitment, mixed signals are sent throughout the organization and trustee roads.
  • Must have commitment among the leadership team to present a unified front. It is okay to have differing views behind closed doors, but in the public eye a leadership team must remain unified
  • teams must be engaged in a way that every team member feels heard in valued
  • Commitment implies the empowerment of information to the next layer of leaders within an organization


  • Invite team input to the leadership team agenda by 3:00 PM on Friday, and hold regular Monday morning leadership team meetings.
  • Carry the mentality with you that every level you are working in requires some thought to succession planning
  • clarity and communication, consistently over time helps the leadership team breed commitment
  • be sure to communicate the WHY behind the HOW of key decisions, so the leadership team can get on board.
  • Discerned seasons where team members no longer fit with the direction of the leadership team, which may include you! Is there a necessary ending to conduct here?


  • conflict helps conversations dive deeper than they would in artificial harmony
  • it is okay to feel human-we are not alone. Everyone has problems with her leadership team, but it is how we navigate them that counts.
  • We need to reflect on what we are doing right
  • conflict does not have to be bad, it can be a good force to help breed clarity and communication within the ranks.
  • The concept of “West Michigan nice” is challenging. I should avoid artificial harmony within my leadership team
  • conflict is an important part of a healthy organization and leadership team.
  • We are all part of a team, in various spheres of our life, that requires our attention to trust, healthy conflict, and commitment.

Detroit – Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • It’s about leadership, key leadership skills to understand the people in his/her team.
  • Analogy with sport coaches.
  • Based on leadership.
  • Get the team to buy in.
  • Identify what a functional team member is.
  • It’s not about team but about the self leadership.
  • A leader helps his/her teammate become self aware.
  • Recommended book: Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowrey.
  • When you identify team members personality types, put them in roles where they can be successful, or where they’re aligned.
  • You identify dysfunction by looking at the results of other indicators.
  • You identify dysfunction by looking at who is not following your processes.
  • You identify dysfunction by looking at your turnover rate.


  • Focus more on your own leadership.
  • Focus on the team.
  • Define what is fractional in order to determine what is dysfunctional.
  • Ask owners what is working and what is not working ask your customers what it’s like to work with your customers.

Holland – Thursday, June 11, 2015


  • Hide the dysfunctions
  • The “West Michigan” way – West Michigan “nice”
  • Lack of transparency
  • Not addressing it – “Good to Great”
  • Control issues
  • Lack of self awareness
  • Seniority
  • Transition from the best production worker to a true leader
  • Clear / concise vision
  • Growth – too much / too little


  • Play to strengths
  • Be strategic
  • Small effective steps
  • Independent board / advisory board
  • Personal coach
  • Grace to fail
  • Opportunity for people to solve – “a hill to take”
  • Right people in right position


  • Hire a strategic coach
  • Be true / transparent