Why Team Dysfunction Is a Leadership Problem

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During a talk last week to a group of COOs of Distribution Companies across the United States we spoke briefly of the origin of team dysfunction. It would seem that all leaders deal with dysfunctional teams at one time or another and although there are various methods to overcome dysfunction, what we spent the most time on was discussing the origin.

You see, whether you are dealing with dysfunction at the executive level or on the front lines, the origin is always the same. It’s the leader of the team.

Every leader creates the environment they inhabit. Put another way, if you have a team that doesn’t get along well, or is unproductive, or causes havoc with other departments or teams, before considering what might be wrong with the team, first consider the leader (or possibly former leader) of the group. It’s the leader who sets the tone and agenda of the team; therefore dysfunction is most often the result of this being done incorrectly or ineffectively.

What’s also interesting is that it’s not necessarily the weak leaders who cause dysfunction in a team. I’ve met leaders at various levels across an organization who are strong minded, strong willed and determined, however the problem is this is the exact traits that their teams take on, often acting like bullies when it comes to attempting to partner with or collaborate with others.

When you look across the various teams in your organization, which are most dysfunctional? Now consider the leader of the team. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the leader? It’s the leader that sets the tone for the team, and in turn it’s the leader that must demonstrate the willingness to communicate effectively, to support collaboration and to support creativity and innovation amongst the team if the team is to be as effective as possible.

Which leaders are your weakest links in your organization?

© Shawn Casemore 2015. All rights reserved.

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