Five Dysfunctions of a Team

TAGS: dysfunctions of a team, training performance, training athletes, strength and conditioning, squat, Mark Watts

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite authors. I got turned on to him after listening to an audio interview with him and Joe Kenn on elitefts™. Joe had referenced Lencioni's most popular book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, which is a must have for anyone in management. Lencioni writes in fables and used those to develop a model. His other books—Three Signs of a Miserable Job, Death by Meeting, and The Advantage—have also shaped my professional career.

Here are the five dysfunctions and how they relate to strength and conditioning:

1) Absence of trust:

Without trust, nothing else matters in any relationship. Coaches need to trust the athletes and each other. Athletes need to trust the coaches and each other. This should be a number one priority for any coach.

2) Fear of conflict:

Coaches need to be able to confront their colleagues without worrying that they're hurting others' feelings (remember Brian Cain’s function over feelings?). Coaches need to know that criticism from a sport coach, assistant strength coach, or an athlete isn't a personal attack or insubordination. If you have a solid base of trust, you shouldn't have a fear of bringing up important issues directly to the parties involved. You almost have to look for conflict for the betterment of your program.

3) Lack of commitment:

This is pretty obvious in terms of a negative attribute, but the responsibility rests on head coaches, assistants, and athletes. Coaches need to take responsibility for their athletes' commitment levels. To do this, coaches must make sure that the expectations and responsibilities are clearly communicated. It's difficult to ask your athletes to be committed to your program if they don’t fully understand what they're committing to or why their commitment level needs to be where it is.

4) Avoidance of accountability:

Ignoring accountability issues can not only affect performance, but it can also cause resentment, finger pointing, and disassociation. Coaches and athletes need to take responsibility for their actions and performance. Coaches need to find out why factors like low testing numbers, injury rates, and lack of intensity are occurring  as well as how they'll be fixed and who needs to fix them.

5) Inattention to results:

Remember Jack Hatem’s quote from Woody Hayes? Value all people, praise all effort, and reward performance. At the end of the day, what matters is what you do, not how you did it or who gets credit for it.

I realize that strength coaches have to preach great technique and great effort. Win the day every day and they will add up, but the bottom line is the results. You should treat every athlete with respect. Praise great technique on the squat and the fact that the athlete wasn’t afraid to get under the bar for another rep or to attempt a PR.

However, if an athlete only put 10 pounds on his squat or bench press from fall camp to when he left after the spring semester, technique and effort just became irrelevant. Having perfect form on a hang clean is great and grinding out the last rep on that set of bench presses is admirable, unless, of course, it is the same weight the athlete was using last year. Results matter.

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