Teams are an integral part of any organization. Building cohesive teams is a critical aspect and area of study in organizational behavior. A high performing and cohesive team ensures the success of team efforts, leads to greater innovation and contributes to a healthy work environment. With all these benefits, the process of building a high performing team has always been an area of organizational behavior study. Many though-leaders have penned their thoughts on how to build successful teams. One such popular theory how to build successful teams is the “Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team model theorized by Patrick Lencioni.
In his study of teams Patrick Lencioni found that there are some common behaviors if found in a team, make the teams more productive and results oriented. He said that each of the 5 behaviors are connected to one another and do not work in silos, it’s a step by step process of working on one behavior that leads automatically to the next behavior and so on.
These 5 critical behaviors for the success of any team are:
The process of team building must take a team through the journey of starting by building trust and working the way up to results.
Let’s see what these 5 behaviors mean and how they are connected to each other.
- Trust – Patrick Lencioni said that the first factor to build a high-performing and cohesive team is Trust. To him trust is not just about faith in each other’s abilities, but vulnerability-based trust. Vulnerability based trust exists in a team when the team members are comfortable being truly transparent with each other to the extent of being open about mistakes and misses. The first step in building a cohesive team therefore is trust. Once there is vulnerability-based trust, a team is able to engage in healthy conflict around ideas, and this is the next step in the process of team building.
- Conflict – Conflict here is defined as a healthy conflict that centers around ideas and does not get into personal attacks. According to Lencioni, one a team has trust, they are able to engage in healthy conflict around ideas. People feel comfortable expressing their views and disagreements without the fear that they will be misunderstood. The disagreements are also around constructive ideas and not personal issues. All this is possible due to the presence of vulnerability- based trust. A healthy conflict in turn gives a space for ideation, brainstorming and innovation. It also leads to greater commitment which becomes the next step in the process of building a team.
- Commitment – A team cannot function and achieve results without commitment. Most teams experience lack of commitment because team members feel their ideas and opinions are not heard, they don’t feel like they are part of the decision-making process. In the model by Patrick Lencioni, commitment is achieved as a result of conflict around ideas. In healthy conflict people share their views and opinions freely and after thorough debate, decisions are taken. Since everyone’s views are heard, they feel greater commitment to decisions because everyone now believes that their views were heard and after thorough debate, the best decision was taken. Team members are clear about the decision and what action needs to be taken, and this gives rise to accountability. Accountability is the next step in building a team.
- Accountability – Another dilemma that most teams face is a lack of accountability. Most people feel a sense of limited accountability because they have not truly committed to the decisions. Accountability here is not just driven by the managers but by peers as well. Lencioni believes that when people truly commit to ideas then they also hold each other accountable even peers, to ensure that commitments are met. This is a high level of accountability and leads to team that is working on achieving common results. That is the last step in building a cohesive team.
- Results – The ultimate goal of a high-performing team is to achieve collective team results. A team that has trust, is able to engage in healthy conflict, is committed and accountable, finally becomes a team that is able to focus on team results and achieve them. Team members don’t get side-tracked by personal agendas but understand the team results will finally contribute to their personal goals.
If a team is able to work on this 5-step process and is able to incorporate these behaviors, then it will become a truly cohesive and high-performing team. The lack of even one of these behaviors will have a negative impact on the team results in the long run.