Like it or not, all teams are potentially dysfunctional. This is inevitable because they are made up of fallible, imperfect human beings. From the basketball court to the executive suite, politics and confusion are more the rule than the exception. However, facing dysfunction and focusing on teamwork is particularly critical at the top of an organization because the executive team sets the tone for how all employees work with one another.
A former client, the founder of a billion dollar company, best expressed the power of teamwork when he once told me, “If you could get all the people in the organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time.”
Whenever I repeat this adage to a group of leaders, they immediately nod their heads, but in a desperate sort of way. They seem to grasp the truth of it while simultaneously surrendering to the impossibility of actually making it happen.
Fortunately, there is hope. Counter to conventional wisdom, the causes of dysfunction are both identifiable and curable. However, they don’t die easily. Making a team functional and cohesive requires levels of courage and discipline that many groups cannot seem to muster. (more…)