by Michael Holland

During a recent visit to Lake Placid, NY, I was able to see the USA Hockey Team’s Miracle on Ice exhibit. What an exhilarating time, seeing the pictures and watching a replay of that magical game!  Without much knowledge, we’d think this team just happened to come together and play their hearts out at a critical moment to win the greatest game on ice for the USA.  But like all great teams, there was intense pain and agony in the building of the “team.”  This building takes investment, struggle, curiosity, intrigue, and in the end, some blood, sweat and tears.

Patrick Lencioni provides a great model to help us see the ingredients required to build a cohesive team.  In his famous book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, and his most recent book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, Lencioni clearly articulates that the single most untapped competitive advantage is teamwork.

To gain this advantage, teams must. . .

Trust One Another

When team members are genuinely transparent and honest with one another, they are able to build vulnerability-based trust.

Engage in Conflict Around Ideas

When there is trust, team members are able to engage in unfiltered, constructive debate of ideas.

Commit to Decisions

When team members are able to offer opinions and debate ideas, they will be more likely to commit to decisions.

Hold One Another Accountable

When everyone is committed to a clear plan of action, they will be more willing to hold one another accountable.

Focus on Achieving Collective Results

The ultimate goal of building greater trust, conflict,  commitment, and accountability is one thing: the achievement of results.

Studies show that cohesive teams can be extremely effective and actually fun to be on.  Leaders who lead well have invested the time and energy to learn the tools and techniques required to build/re-build teams to be cohesive.  They often start with a team assessment and then work their teams through a process to create the cohesiveness.  The key: those leaders take steps forward.

Your team can do better.  Will you help them?

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Buy 2 copies of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable; you read one copy and give the other to a peer leader to read.  Then discuss the book.
  • Have your team take the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team assessment and use the results to see where your time can best be spent in building/re-building your team.
  • Invest 136 minutes and $1.99 to rent the Miracle on Ice movie.  Watch for the tipping points when the team moves through the building blocks outlined above.  And watch the very last minutes of the film as the team captain, standing alone on the gold medal winner’s podium, can’t stay alone because he knows that Team is #1.