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How to Win

The First Dysfunction

A coach with whom I’ve been working says that there is something wrong with her team, and she’s not sure what it is.
This happens a lot. Coaches get a vague feeling that things are slipping, and they don’t know what to do about it.
We talked about herteam, and we agreed that the flaw might be one that can be explained through the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni.
According to Lencioni, the first dysfunction is a failure to trust. It involves an unwillingness to confront each other.
“Great teams do not hold back with one another,” says the book’s lead character, a fictional head of a make-believe company.
When team members do not trust each other, there is a lack of debate. People hesitate to challenge each other. That leaves things unsaid, and the unspoken sentiments simmer under the surface. At the least, it’s a distraction. At the worst, it’s a volcano that can erupt at any time.
In the case of the coach mentioned above, I suggested that the team spend time alone, without the coaches. No amount of physical practice can help if there are things that must be discussed.
Of course, you can debate whether the players can manage the situation in a players-only meeting. In some cases, the coach must be there.
There are no perfect answers. But if you coach, you will find “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” a useful read and a practical guide through those days when something seems to be wrong.


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