Getting Collaboration Right

Services Used: Gallup’s CliftonStrengths and Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni)

A Board of Directors was having problems working together. They had just hired a new Managing Director, who came from a completely different background than most of the other directors. Many of the BOD had worked with each other previously for 5-10 years, but they had a hard time launching their initiatives well and getting them done. It was essential for the team to gel and work well together. Yet, everyone’s personalities got in the way, especially since they were all well-respected C-level executives in their own companies. The MD, being new and from the different background, had a hard time fitting in with this new team. Tasks went undone or weren’t delegated. The MD hoarded tasks without becoming a good team player and wouldn’t delegate tasks to others,  being anxious that balls might drop if they didn’t take care of them themselves. Feelings got hurt and tensions were high. The team needed a way to work well together and unwind the unproductive behaviors it had become accustomed to. 

We worked with the team in three full-day workshops.  

Day 1 – Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Learning 

The first workshop used Gallup’s CliftonStrengths learning and was aimed at helping the team identify where each member was strong and get them used to the fact that each person had amazing capabilities. We identified their talents on the team and discussed where they could contribute their best efforts. One by one, they went around the room and told each other what they could contribute as the best versions of themselves. As the group went around the room, you could see people were starting to notice different things about each other, writing down places where each teammate could help best. Then we discussed where each team member contributed their worst – again, teammates took notes to help the team. We created their Team Grid, and unpacked the goodness of the team, and found areas where they needed help. This amplified the strengths on the team and helped them digest the fact that there were many gaps in the Grid that no one could take care of. All of these “aha” moments had a deep effect on the overall team. 

Days 2 and 3 we focused on how the team’s previous behaviors were detrimental to their success. Using Lencioni’s framework but inserting the Strengths knowledge they had just gained, we constructed learning sessions to dismantle additional bad behaviors. 

Days 2 and 3 – Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team  

The team shared their comfort level with conflict. They constructed two lists: “Good Conflict” – what they would accept from each other as feedback and redirection, and “Bad Conflict” – what they would NOT accept from each other as feedback or redirection. From then on, team members would hold each other accountable for behaviors on their Bad Conflict list, including calling each other out for it. 

We continued learning and deconstructing bad behaviors in the team in Day 3. We then  crafted the team’s current overarching Thematic Goal and plugged their Strengths Talents into the dashboard, noting when someone had a perfectly paired strength to tackle an objective. We then discussed behaviors – what behaviors made the team falter from trust and what behaviors helped trust build. At first, people were hesitant to share because they realized they had been contributing to the bad behaviors of the team themselves. But barriers were broken down, and people experienced joy and a recommitment to the organization. At the end of the day the group plugged what they learned into achieving their current Thematic Goal – and made the commitments to focus on their results for it. 


Outcomes: The result of this set of workshops was that the group became cohesive, working in ways they hadn’t before, acknowledging the goodness they gave each other and holding each other accountable for unproductive conduct and unaccomplished tasks. At the end of the 3rd quarterly meeting, the BOD’s initial Thematic Goal had been completed and the team went onto their next Thematic Goal which it accomplished in only 6 months.