Patrick Lencioni Explains How to Build a Healthy Team

Last week Patrick Lencioni, author of national best-seller ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’, spoke at the Art of Leadership where he outlined his thoughts on how to build a healthy business.

At the conference he explained that there are two requirements for success:

  1. Be Smart 

    Have a clear strategy, structured and accurate marketing and financial plans and use the right technology.

  2. Be Healthy

    Have minimal politics and confusion, a high morale and low turnover and a high level of productivity.

He commented that although many companies have worked hard to be ‘smart’, the key way to diversify your business is to build a ‘healthy’ team.  There are four disciplines in building this type of team:

1) Build a Cohesive Team

  • Trust

    A great team is one who trusts each other implicitly.  This trust can only be earned when all cards have been put of the table.  Each member must openly disclose their weaknesses as well as their strengths and know that those weaknesses will not be used against them. 

  • Conflict

    It is important to realise that conflict is not a bad word.  A team will never think the same way about everything; the important thing is to discus those disagreements instead of letting them fester in the background.  However it is important to remember that without first establishing trust, conflict becomes politics.

  • Accountability

    By being open, trusting and unafraid of conflict allows team members to hold each other accountable for their behaviours and actions.  This accountability allows teams to commit to decisions and push forward together as a unit.

2) Create Clarity

Many disruptions in business are created when team members are not clear about who the company is, where it wants to be and who is responsible for getting it there.

Confusion can be minimised by clarifying: why you exist, how you should behave as a brand, what your goals are, how you will achieve these goals, and who is responsible for what. 

3) Over-Communicate that Clarity

It is not just about you and your team being clear about who the organisation is and where it is going, you must also communicate it to the rest of your employees.

Make your messages simple, and repeat often.  By repeating the message it demonstrates that there is still a commitment to that same direction. Don’t fall into the trap where leaders communicate a 'plan' but do not support it or ensure it is completed. 

That communication doesn’t to just be verbal; there are many different mediums you can use.  Posters in your staff kitchen, notes on payslips, in team meetings.  The messaging can be applied to anything; it just needs to remain consistent. 

4) Reinforce the Clarity

That messaging can also be reinforeced by applying to processes in your business.  The way you hire new employees, how you evaluate your employees, how you recognise the employees who do a good job and how you dismiss those who do not.  These processes must be designed in a custom way to intentionally support and emphasize the uniqueness of your business.

The biggest reason that people reject organizational health is that it requires courage. Courage to take a step back and realise that we all have weaknesses, that all businesses have some dysfunction and that not everyone is truthful.  By recognising this and committing to walking straight into uncomfortable situations to address issues that prevent you from achieving your potential, you will achieve a healthy team.

To find out more about Patrick Lencioni and his books: The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, visit