This month marks the launch of our NEXTLeader program and I must say we are really excited about the talented group of people we have participating this year. They are truly the next generation of trucking leaders. During our NEXTLeader Conference this month we’ll be spending an entire day talking with them about what it means to lead an effective, high-performing team.
We all strive to lead high-performing teams. If we are successful, we give ourselves a competitive advantage over other organizations. But the hurdles to building a cohesive team made up of fallible, imperfect human beings can seem insurmountable. Fortunately there are commonsense steps we can take as leaders to combine the unique, complimentary skills of our team members to accomplish the goals of our organizations.
One of these steps is outlined in a book I read recently by Patrick Lencioni titled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you haven’t read this best-selling book, I highly recommend it. In his book, Lencioni describes how leaders can begin to overcome team dysfunction by identifying and removing its root causes which he outlines as:
Dysfunction #1: Absence of Trust: This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses, or need for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible.
Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict: Teams lacking trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back-channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.
Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment: Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled.
Dysfunction #4: Avoidance of Accountability: When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.
Dysfunction #5: Inattention to Results: Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (e.g. ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren’t held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.
These root causes of dysfunction don’t die easily; no team is perfect and even the best team struggles with them. However, I encourage you to look closely at your own business and ask yourself which areas you might be able to improve on. Personally, I think the payoffs can be huge.
That is why we’ll be spending an entire day at our NEXTLeader Conference talking about these principles. As I look at the high-caliber people we have participating in our NEXTLeader program, it makes me excited about the future of our industry—it truly is bright.