How Healthy Teams Make Beautiful Music

How Healthy Teams Make Beautiful Music

About 15 years ago, author Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Now, with over 2 million copies sold, Lencioni’s leadership principles are as true as ever.

The point of Lencioni’s book is simple:

  • A working team needs enough TRUST to have meaningful conversations
  • Meaningful conversations that matter lead to some levels of CONFLICT
  • Constructive conflict allows team members to COMMIT to what they helped shape
  • Commitment is the basis for willingness to be held ACCOUNTABLE
  • Accountability consistently leads to growth and excellent RESULTS


Many teams have members who like each other enough to talk, laugh or even have drinks together. However, they don’t trust each other enough with things that really matter. What often presents as harmony is actually limited engagement—a false harmony. When trust levels are low, teams generally get along with each other to minimize conflict. When teammates don’t actually say what they really think or believe, decisions are made that are much weaker than necessary. Weak decisions that result in poor processes or products are difficult to commit to by teammates.


The opposite of false harmony is frequent discord. Rolling eyes, cynical comments, snide remarks, and outright attacks of the person instead of the idea being debated is often limited to those willing or eager to enter into arguments. But fighting isn’t the same as constructive conflict. When trust levels are sufficiently high, healthy teammates call each other out on personal attacks and refocus conversation on the idea at hand. Teams that trust each other know that work is improved when the best ideas and changes to proposals have a chance to be surfaced, then implemented. Products and processes become stronger than originally presented. Teammates are willing to commit to building on the shared work.

Sweet Music!

When teams believe in what they build, commitment and accountability become realistic and meaningful options. And when that happens, people grow, teams become healthy, and excellent results are the outcome. This creates sweet music not only to the team, but to the larger business, and especially to the customer.

Content provided by: Philip C. Bergey, PhD, is an executive leadership coach and process consultant who lives in Lancaster with his wife Evon. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in its Organizational Dynamics program. As a partner in Design Group International™ he designs and helps leaders implement leadership solutions and organizational change initiatives in their business and organizational settings. Learn more at: Phil’s firm is a member of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and Industry.