In his excellent book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni asserts that the first foundational dysfunction teams must face is the absence of trust. He discusses trust essentially as being confident in each person’s role and value to the team and being sure that each person is striving for the good of the team. We’ll add one nuance to Lencioni’s trust factors: ensuring everyone on the team is aligned toward the same purpose.
In a memorable project, the top performing team leaders in a high-stakes global sales role spent a significant percentage of their time focused on creating and sustaining team alignment. One place that was most evident was in client communications. The normal practice was to funnel all sensitive client communications through the team leader. This fairly standard procedure is designed to ensure the client always receives the right message in the right way without any confusion. But the top performing team leaders took a completely different perspective.
They first met with their team and aligned everyone to all aspects of the client situation, including goals, constraints, and preferred communications modes. Then, once the team was completely aligned, the members invited the client to communicate freely with anyone on the team at any time. That offer could be made with total confidence that all communications from the team to the client would be focused and purposeful. The result: more team bandwidth, more communications flow to each critical client, and stronger development of individual team members.
All this resulted from a focus on team alignment.
Questions to ponder:
- Are your teams aligned toward common goals, both large and small?
- Do your team leaders spend sufficient time focused on internal team alignment?