So, I’ve been reading The Five Dysfunctions of the Team, by Patrick Lencioni at work this week, per a donation of the book by our new bosses from far-away land. As I posted about the book earlier, it is a small thing and an easy read. It is written in a fable format for the majority of the book, but towards the end it provides real life examples of how dysfunction enters into team dynamics and what good leaders (or good leaders in training), can do to help their “reports” find solutions and let go of failed behaviors and attitudes that are keeping them from being productive.
I will be writing more about this little volume in the days to come, but today I was struck by a paragraph on page 208 and wanted to talk about it with you.
First, some remarks about me and my Mr. I am a critical analyst, who tends to “play it safe” in life. When I take on a project or job I want to fully understand the parameters of my work, create a system for staying organized in my work space, and be able to produce at a moment’s notice whatever it is others are seeking, whenever that whatever is in my wheelhouse. I pride myself on knowing my stuff and keeping it where I can easily and quickly retrieve it. I do not like risky maneuvers or questionable outcomes. I want to know that I know that I know what I am doing is right and proper. I like rules.
Mister, is a horse of a different color. He is a risk taker. He has no sense of aesthetics or order. He is also a pack rat. He easily laughs and loves to joke with anyone who will go along with his shenanigans. He flirts, a lot. He does not overthink his decisions. In fact, he takes short cuts all the time in life, and sometimes pays for it, and not in a good way. He has a knack for reading people, but he loves easily. He is not impressed by money, status, or intellect. He is an emotional thinker and hyper social. He is black to my white, so when as a young married couple we had the opportunity to buy a house for $18,000, he was immediately ready to jump. It was a great idea in his mind! A no-brainer.
In my mind——whoa! Put on the brakes, mister. Let’s think about this a minute. Can we afford this? Will we lose our shirts if we do this? I’m not sure. Better not take the chance. Something else will come along. I don’t feel “comfortable” doing this now. I was paralyzed with fear that we would not be able to keep the house once we purchased it.
As it turns out, I would not feel comfortable doing anything like this for decades!
Here is what The Five Dysfunction of the Team has to say about those who hedge their bets and want with all their hearts to be CERTAIN of something before buying into it.
Writing about the need for certainty, Lencioni says of great teams that they, “…realize that it is better to make a decision boldly and be wrong—and then change direction with equal boldness—than it is to waffle.
Contrast this with the behavior of dysfunctional teams that try to hedge their bets and delay important decisions until they have enough data to feel certain that they are making the right decision. As prudent as this might seem, it is dangerous because of the paralysis and lack of confidence it breeds within a team.” Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Whoa baby, can I relate! Talk about repeated behaviors and thinking breeding a lack of confidence in oneself. I could have been the poster child for this type of malady!
A predictable consequence of my lack of confidence meant decades went by while my little family lived in apartments, then second hand trailers, then new mobile homes on rented spaces, all the while needing a real stick and mortar house that was attached to a real piece of real estate that we could really call our own. This didn’t happen because we didn’t have good jobs, or because we didn’t have money in savings. Those are two things I forgot to mention about the mister—he is a hard worker and a saver extraordinaire! Regardless, our less than stellar home status went on and on, and on, because I was afraid to take a chance. I wanted to be certain, and when I could not be, I froze.
I also regrettably taught my sons how to be uncertain too! Ugh, I hate that and regret it all the time!!
Today, we live in a nice house on a piece of land we own atop a beautiful hillside in Northeastern Pennsylvania. How we got there—how I got unstuck–is a story for a different day, but what I wanted to say today is that I’m giving The Five Dysfunctions of a Team a thumbs up for readability and content. When people get stuck, especially when working as part of a team, they need to get unstuck fast. This book gives some relevant examples of how paralysis can set in, and what we can do to address it and begin to let go of our fears concerning the future.
I’m enjoying the book and will be back to share more about it later next week. Until then, have a super weekend away from the grind and remember: You’re stronger than you think you are–You can do it!
How has uncertainty about the future affected you in the past? What one team or personal dysfunction do you most often see in play in your life or the lives of others around you?