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Cowboys, A Cattle Herd, Corporate Fable And The Anatomy Of Team Dysfunctions


I know, I know, it sounds like a lot. But don’t worry. I’m going to break it down into small bite-sized pieces for you to digest over the next couple of months. Together, we’re going on a cattle herding experience, where the teachings of a corporate fable will come to light along with lessons about the five aspects of team dysfunction. You’ll probably learn a few things about cattle herding along the way that you never thought you needed to know. And you’ll also see how the basics of what makes a team highly effective are integral aspects whether you’re out-on-the-range, in a corporation or a personal relationship.


Before we set off on the journey, let me lay the groundwork based on a corporate fable written by Patrick Lencioni entitled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  For starters, whether your ‘team’ is a family, a civic or church group, a small business, a large corporate division or an international corporation, trust is the very foundation to success. That points to absence of trust as the eroding factor at the heart of every dysfunctional team.


Without trust, no member of the team will feel safe. In an environment without a foundation of trust, it’s every man, woman or child for himself. Team members feel like no one has their back. They don’t understand and cannot open up to each other. Trust is the single most critical part of building any team.


Stemming from lack of trust, an ineffective team displays inattention to results. Every team has a goal. It is a collective, not a personal goal. In an environment of mistrust, the tendency is for individuals to clamor for individual attention. But, when a team is trusting and focused on a collective goal, if the team loses, everyone loses. When the team wins, everyone wins.


The next identifying factor in an environment of distrust is the fear of conflict. It’s impossible to have open, construction, ideological discussions and arguments when people don’t trust each other. People don’t express their honest concerns and opinions. In this kind of environment there is also a huge tendency toward the avoidance of accountability. In a nutshell you’ll see finger-pointing and blame, but no true accountability from the top down.


With these thoughts in mind, the journey can begin. You can get started by reading this month’s article entitled, Saddle Up For A Series Of Team-building Lessons Learned From Cowboys.