The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team You Need to Know About

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Building a cohesive team is demanding but not impossible. If you run a multinational company, a small department, or you lead a team that needs improvement – this article is for you.

According to Patrick Lencioni, a well-known expert specializing in executive team development and organizational health, there are five behaviors that lie at the foundation of a well-functioning, cohesive team:

  • Trust
  • Constructive Conflict
  • Commitment
  • Accountability
  • Results

These behaviors are interrelated. And failing at even one of them can make a team vulnerable. Read on to learn about each behavior and the role they play in building a cohesive team.

1. Trust     

Trust is the foundation of effective teamwork. It helps build successful relationships between team members, leaders, managers, and directors.

By nurturing trust in the workplace, you build a team that feels safe to admit their mistakes and concerns without the fear of retribution. They are not afraid to ask questions, receive feedback about their work, and engage in open conversations. But above all, they focus their time and energy on important issues rather than politics.

But how does a team build a vulnerability trust-based relationship?

The first step toward developing trust between peers is having empathy and respect for each other. They must be willing to listen to others’ concerns in addition to offering constructive feedback.     

One of the most effective tools to build trust among team members is learning about their profiles, behavioral tendencies, and personality styles.

By knowing and understanding each other, your team members will be better positioned to engage in a relationship that is based on trust. As a result, they will be able to communicate, collaborate, and deliver more effectively.

2. Constructive Conflict

Constructive conflict is essential to teams being effective and productive. Productive conflict encourages teammates to share opinions, exploit ideas, and worldviews without fearing reprisal. 

They discuss their issues and commit to a plan of action together rather than ignoring uncomfortable situations. Constructive conflict is healthy in a way that it’s a passionate discussion on certain topics rather than attacking one another. This results in solving issues effectively, without residual feelings or harmful consequences.

How does a team ensure they engage in constructive conflict?

For teams to engage in healthy conflict, there has to be trust. Avoiding conflict can be a natural reaction. Let’s face it, it can be uncomfortable and challenging to navigate. However, when individuals engage in healthy conflict, they can commit to the team’s selection; even if it differs from their personal desire. 

Teams grow from the realization that healthy conflict generates new ideas and perspectives. It also encourages teams to get out of their comfort zone, resulting in growth and innovation.

By choosing personal discomfort over artificial harmony, teammates encourage others to speak up. This enables them to move on to following a decision that stems from the collective wisdom of the team, even without perfect information.

3. Commitment 

Because teams have trust, they can safely engage in a healthy conflict that enables them to commit. They can commit to what is in the best interest of the team versus their personal interests. 

Like the other five behaviors, commitment requires work. Commitment is about clarity and buy-in around objectives, actions, and deliverables. When a team commits to a plan, every member understands their role, priorities, and the direction in which the organization will go.

The lack of commitment breeds ambiguity, distrust, and fear of failure, resulting in second-guessing and delays in decision-making.

How does a team ensure the commitment is in place?

It cannot be stated enough, teams must have trust in order to commit. Teams can enhance commitment by decreasing ambiguity to achieve buy-in. For example, summarizing key decisions, establishing further actions, setting clear deadlines, and respecting those dates rigorously. 

Also, a leader must constantly encourage the team to close issues, make decisions, and be comfortable with their decisions. Leadership support of the team when the desired outcome is not realized is equally important to teams committing.

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4. Accountability

Accountability in the workplace means that members of a team are holding each other accountable for their behaviors, actions, and performance versus the leadership of the team.

Building on the five behaviors’ pyramid, accountability happens naturally when the team has committed to the path forward. 

When a member is not holding their weight, others are comfortable to address them and offer support for the team to be successful. This implicitly leads to improved work performance, trust, commitment, higher morale, and satisfaction.

The avoidance of accountability in the workplace results in low standards, unmet goals, lower engagement, and so on. Consequently, teammates will turn their attention to their own needs and career advancement.

How does a team ensure they hold one another accountable?

Demonstrate support for your team members. Ask what their support needs are when they have missed a deadline. Identify what options are necessary for the team to be successful, i.e. redistribute tasks, evaluate deadlines, consider roles and responsibilities, etc.

What is essential is that the team engages with one another versus going to the leadership to resolve. This cannot happen when trust is absent in the team.

5. Results

When teams have trust, engage in conflict, achieve commitment, and hold one another accountable, results happen automatically. 

Given that achieving results is the only true measure of a team, those other behaviors are key. A result-oriented team happens with ease when teams have trust. Ultimately, this benefits the organization in revenue growth, profitability, customer retention, innovation, and productivity.

How does a team become oriented to collective results?

Investing in building trust is the first requirement to getting results. Provide your team the resources that help them speak their teammates’ language by understanding each other’s personality and temperament styles. 

This understanding will support the team in engaging in healthy conflict, commit to the team’s goals, and hold each other accountable.

Final Thoughts

Imagine the vibrating energy that comes from a team where members trust each other, communicate openly, commit to decisions and plans, take responsibility for their actions, and focus on the achievement of collective results. Amazing, right?!

Interested in building a high-performing team with healthy behaviors? Check out our Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team Training to help your team learn their personality styles, the styles of their team members, and how they contribute to the team’s success.

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