Cohesive Teams are the Ultimate Competitive Advantage
Teamwork is the ultimate sustainable competitive advantage because it is so powerful and so rare. Cohesive teams drive organizational health. They collaborate. They innovate. They perform. They deliver. They wow customers. They defeat competitors, all while being more fun to be on!
Building a Cohesive Team
Building a team climate that facilitates productive emotional experiences allows a team to achieve greater collaboration and performance. High-performance teams depend on a shared mission, vision and values to harness their collective expertise and focus their individual efforts. They establish clear roles, responsibilities and expected behaviors — plus a framework for making decisions and resolving conflicts. Most importantly, they commit to an environment of trust.
The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team
Patrick Lencioni, pioneer of the organizational health movement, developed a model of the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team (TM) based on his New York Times best-selling book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. His widely-used model includes these behaviors: Building Trust, Mastering Conflict, Achieving Commitment, Embracing Accountability and Focusing on Results.
How to Gain the Ultimate Competitive Advantage of Teamwork
- Building Trust
The foundation of a cohesive team is trust. Without an authentic and vulnerable trust, a truly cohesive team cannot exist. Team members must feel safe to be genuinely transparent with one another. They must be unafraid to honestly say things like “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” “I need help,” “I’m not sure,” “You’re better than I am at that,” and “I’m sorry.” Unless they can bring themselves to readily speak these words when the situation calls for it, they will waste time and energy thinking about what they should say and wondering about the true intentions of their peers. “The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage.” - Patrick Lencioni
- Mastering Conflict
When there is trust, team members are able to engage in healthy conflict with each other. Only team members who trust one another are going to feel comfortable engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate around issues and decisions of importance to the team. Teams who have mastered conflict are able to tap into the skills of all team members, get all ideas on the table and consider the perspectives and opinions of all in their decision making. “Our ability to engage in passionate, unfiltered debate about what we need to do to succeed will determine our future as much as any products we develop or partnerships we sign.” - Patrick Lencioni
- Achieving Commitment
When team members are able to offer opinions and debate ideas, they will be more likely to buy-in with honest support and achieve real commitment rather than just nodding agreement and moving on. When people know that their colleagues have no reservations about disagreeing with one another and that every available opinion and perspective has been aired, they will have the confidence to embrace a decision. “Most people don’t really need to ‘get their way’ in order to buy in to a decision. They just want to have their ideas heard, understood, considered, and explained within the context of the ultimate decision.” - Patrick Lencioni
- Embracing Accountability
Members of effective teams hold one another accountable. They step into the discomfort of telling someone what he or she needs to hear. They go directly to one another and give frank, honest feedback. They remind one another when they are not living up to agreed-on performance standards. They trust and respect each other which enables them to rise above the most important challenge of building a team on which people hold one another accountable - overcoming the understandable reluctance of individuals to give one another critical feedback. “More than any policy or system, there is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates that motivates people to improve their performance.” - Patrick Lencioni
- Focusing on Results
The only way a team can be certain it will remain focused on collective results is to ensure that team members are holding one another accountable for what they need to do. Truly cohesive teams focus obsessively on the collective results of the entire organization. They are intolerant of actions and behaviors that serve the interests of individuals but that don’t promote the common good. As a result, team members are willing to make sacrifices in order to drive the collective results of their teams. “The ultimate goal of building greater trust, conflict, commitment, and accountability is one thing: the achievement of results.” - Patrick Lencioni
Bringing together everyone’s personalities and preferences to form a cohesive, productive team takes work, but the payoff can be huge—for individuals, for the team, and for the organization.
Lencioni’s related assessments and customizable workshops have one mission: to help people build truly cohesive and effective teams that deliver results. They focus on existing teams putting the model into practice. Participants gain not just a knowledge of the model and of how the team is currently performing (based on the assessment), but also concrete ideas of where the team needs to focus its energy moving forward.
Harris Whitesell Consulting is your local Authorized Partner for The Five Behaviors (TM) of a Cohesive Team. We can help you transform your team’s culture and rise together.
Lynn Whitesell provides advanced expertise in leadership solutions, organization and culture transformation and executive coaching. She co-founded Harris Whitesell Consulting, LLC to partner with leaders and organizations to help them achieve measurable improvement and reach their full potential. For more information visit harriswhitesellconsulting.com.