Why is Team Building Important?A leadership and CEO evaluation client asked me recently,”So why is team building important?  What is the downside if we haven’t invested in team building?”.  

Why is Team Building Important?  That is a great question.

This we know: leaders must build teams; they can’t simply annoint them.  Yet most are simply annointed.  Their leader assembles what s/he considers to be a good team, and says essentially,”OK, now you are my team”.  Only, they are not a team.  They are simply a work group.  True team building happens only through a purposeful process of creating teamwork and maximizing the effectiveness of the team. 

 A little background first. 

Patrick Lencioni in his landmark business best seller “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” describes the five elements of good teamwork as follows:

  • Building trust
  • Mastering conflict
  • Achieving commitment
  • Embracing accountability
  • Focusing on results

If any of these five functions is not in place, Lencioni says, the team will be operating on a sub-optimal level.  This means its work is also sub-optimal.  And the higher placed the team, the greater the organizational impact of this dysfunction. 

Let’s take one example: trust. 

Trust is the first of the five dysfunctions for a reason: it’s a major part of the foundation of any truly good team.  Trust must be in place before the other four functions can have their fullest effect. 

On a team, trust is all about vulnerability, which is difficult for most people.  Building trust takes time, but the process can be greatly accelerated.  Like a good marriage, trust is never complete; the team must build and maintain it over time.  And although they build trust over time, they can destroy it in a second. 

Teams must have trust in order to have what Lencioni calls “passionate, unfiltered debate on the issues”.   The best teams build trust both in each other and in the team itself.  If trust isn’t there, the team is sub-optimal. 

Likewise it may be dysfunctional in some (or all!) of the other four elements too.  If so, the team is not doing its best work (even though it may think it is). 

Where will this show up?  Where it always shows up: results.