The 6th DYSFUNCTION of a Team – Fear of Being Blamed for Failure

In his fascinating and insightful book, The FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS of a TEAM, (Jossey-Bass), Patrick Lencioni lists the 5 Dysfunctions as:

Absence of Trust – resulting in Invulnerability

Fear of Conflict – resulting in Artificial Harmony

Lack of Commitment – resulting in Ambiguity

Avoidance of Accountability – resulting in Low Standards, and

Inattention to Results – resulting in focus on Status and Ego

These resonate almost exactly with what is experienced and demonstrated by participants in the “CorporateTheatre” workshops.  In fact, those who have been through the workshop will be pleasantly surprised to see in the book, statements very similar to what they heard or said during the course of the sharing and processing sessions.

Here are the “CorporateTheatre” perspectives on these critical ingredients of high-performance (with some redefinitions as experienced through the workshop):

Trust:  Even people who do not like or trust each other as people can form high-performance teams almost instantly when they are clear about the same goal and aligned to the same collective success.  It is not about trusting the other person.  It is about trusting the other person’s clarity and commitment to this project now.

Conflict:  Managing Conflict is like managing sickness.  It is more productive to manage health.  While confrontation is healthy and enables us to view the situation from different perspectives and respond more competently, being possessive about my perspective as against the other person’s perspective converts healthy confrontation into unproductive conflict.  Conflict affects enjoyment, dilutes quality, and leads to considerable waste of time, resulting in poor time management.

Commitment:  As repeatedly and consistently demonstrated in the workshops, when there is clarity and Commitment, people inevitably find the necessary new competencies and create even seemingly unavailable resources.

Accountability & Result Orientation: (These two elements are deeply interlinked).  In theatre, not just the actors and the director, but every other function like sets, props, light & sound, costume, are accountable to each other, and more importantly, to the audience.  This accountability makes them commit to improving the play and the audience experience show to show.  In the process, the play keeps evolving even beyond the expectation of the group themselves.

In addition to the above, “CorporateTheatre” defines a SIXTH Dysfunction – “The Fear of being Blamed for Failure”.

One of the inhibitors of performance that we often hear about is the “Fear of Failure”.  Failure is not a problem.  In fact, it is healthy and makes people more interdependent and alert, and can be a very powerful learning and bonding experience.  In the “CorporateTheatre” workshop competitive activity, more often than not, it is a team that fails in the beginning that goes on to finally win.  Participants come up willing to take risks at higher levels of challenge where one slip can demolish the team’s ranking.  The breathing is hard, and I have often seen hands trembling as they reach out to pick up the task slip.  What is interesting however, is that even if the person fails and the team loses, she is welcomed back with a hug and a word of comfort.  There is no fear of being blamed for failure, because there is total trust in each other’s commitment to making the team win.

Lack of trust converts the smallest of failures into a blame game and the resulting blamestorm makes people intensely self-conscious and unwilling to step outside their safe zones, at the cost of performance beyond the ordinary and the predictable.





One thought on “The 6th DYSFUNCTION of a Team – Fear of Being Blamed for Failure”

  1. Mridula says:

    Very interesting!

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