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October 2005
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Teams In Trouble 6: Strategies for Consensus - - How To Avoid False Agreements

Everyone is in the room.  It’s time to make a decision and run with it.  You want buy-in from everyone.  You want consensus.

Agree But how do you know you’re truly building consensus?


A team recently met to decide on their top three departmental objectives for 2006. The decision would affect everyone in the department.

After 20 minutes of discussion, the team leader summed up what he thought were the top three objectives on the table. He then asked the group if there was a consensus in adopting his stated objectives. Some people nodded, others remained silent but did not raise any concerns. Based on what the leader observed, he felt a consensus had been reached. 

However, a week later he heard through the grapevine that a couple of his team members had serious reservations about the objectives and where the department will be focusing its future resources.  One member even said “there’s no way I’m going to support this!”

The team leader was heard saying “Why the hell didn’t someone speak up when I asked if we had a consensus?”

You are the facilitator and you’ve been called in to help the team.  What do you do?

Michaelgoldman_2I led a free teleclass today with my colleague Michael Goldman (pictured) of in which we address this situation.

Michael shared a proven process that helps teams build consensus.  His process answered the following questions:

-- What makes consensus building difficult to attain? 
-- Why is consensus the preferred decision-making option on teams?
-- What are the 3 key components of a consensus building process?

I shared one of my favorite teambuilding activities that helps teams EXPERIENCE what it takes to reach consensus in a conscious way.  Unlike in past Teams In Trouble TeleSeminars, I actually lead this experiential learning exercise LIVE with four volunteers from the class!

Listen to the 60 minute TeleSeminar now for free (limited time offer).  Click the link below to download the mp3 file.

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Download directions to the team building game Tom shared during the teleclass for free (limited time offer). 

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Patrick Lencioni asks "Is Your Team Dysfunctional?"

Five_dysfunctions The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a best selling book that explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failure.

I bought the book in the unabridged audio format through  The book is written in a fable (story) format and is so compelling that I found myself sitting in the car listening to the book in the driveway after I had returned home from a short trip.

If you work with teams you need to read this book.

I contacted the author Patrick Lencioni and here's the results of a little Q&A:

Patrick_lencioni Q: What is this book about?
A: Essentially, it’s about the root causes of politics and dysfunction on the teams where we work, and the keys to overcoming them.  It’s also a testament to the power of teamwork, and the competitive advantage that it can bring to any organization.  Finally, the book is a reminder that success in business may be difficult, but it’s not overly complicated.  It is more about discipline and persistence than intellectual prowess.

Q: Why are so many teams dysfunctional? 
A: Because they are made up of human beings with varied interests and frailties.  When you put them together and leave them to their own devices, even the most well-intentioned people will usually deviate toward dysfunctional, unproductive behavior.  And because most leaders and managers are not schooled in the art of building teams, small problems are left untreated and spiral further and further into ugliness and politics.

Q: What is the worst behavior you’ve ever seen on a dysfunctional team?
A: Choosing just one is difficult.  But if I had to select one, I would say it was a company where the CEO was unable to confront his direct reports about basic behaviors such as their blatant refusal to attend staff meetings and honor reporting structures.  Ultimately, this led to the stifling of conflict around key issues, resulting in massive financial losses and scandal. 

Q: What advice do you have for someone struggling with a dysfunctional team?
A: If you’re the leader of a team, go back and start by ensuring team members trust one another and are comfortable engaging in open conflict around issues.  There is no substitute for trust—it begins with the willingness of team members to open themselves up to one another and admit their weaknesses and mistakes.

In addition, any individual, whether an executive or a line employee, can impact a team in either a positive or negative way. Without holding one another accountable, even the best-intentioned team members can create dysfunctions within a team.

If you’re not the leader of the team, find a way to get your leader committed to addressing the five dysfunctions.  Or be prepared to take risks calling people on unproductive behaviors.  If neither of these options are possibilities, think about finding another team.

Q: Can you apply this model to any current events?
A: Yes.  Enron, President Bush and his Cabinet, The New England Patriots, and of course, the break-up of the Go-gos.

Q: What exactly are the five dysfunctions of a team?
A: Lack of trust.  Team members are uncomfortable being vulnerable with one another, unwilling to admit their weaknesses, mistakes or needs for help.
Fear of conflict.  Team members are unwilling to engage in passionate, unfiltered debate around important issues.
Inability to commit.  Team members fail to achieve buy-in around clear decisions and courses of action.
Unwillingness to hold one another accountable.  Team members fail to confront one another around behaviors and deliverables that do not conform to agreed decisions.
Inattention to results.  Team members put their individual needs for career development and recognition before the collective goals of the team.

Q: Why do you convey your messages through fables?
A: I believe that readers learn more through fables because they can relate to the characters and more easily internalize the messages.  In addition, they are more apt to finish a book if they find it intriguing and fun to read.  Finally, because I’ve had some experience writing screenplays, I enjoy the process of bringing my theories to life through interesting dialogue and character development.

Download the Five Dysfunctions Model below

Download five_dysfunctions_model.pdf

Buy books by Patrick Lencioni HERE

Do you love this book (like I do) AND do you also love to teach using experiential exercises (like I do)?  If yes, I've got a great resource for you! 

On October 4, 2006 I led a live TeleSeminar where I shared 5 experiential teambuilding exercises that support the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  You can access the recording, the class notes, and detailed descriptions of the activities along with video clips right now by clicking HERE.

Four States of Consciousness And How It Affects Your Ability To Lead a Team

There are 4 states of consciousness as described by my good friend Barbara Waterhouse

1. To Me
2. By Me
3. Through Me
4. As Me

Icon_audio_9Listen to this 22 minute "recorded live" version of Barbara as she explains the four states of consciousness in detail (click the link below).
Download to_by_through_me_mp3_sm.mp3

The choices we make (individually, as a team, as a nation, as a planet) can only be made from the current state of consciousness that were in.  We can't make choices from a state of consciousness that we're not in.

For example...

If a team leader operates out of the "To Me" state of consciousness you will hear them say such things as:  "They did that to me."  or  "This happened to me."

Consciousness"To Me" consciousness is equivalent to powerlessness.  You'll notice people who operate at this state of consciousness will blame everything (people, government, weather, finances, etc.) for what they experience in their life.

A team leader operating at the "To Me" state of consciousness will experience great difficulty creating a high performing team, much less leading one.

Contrast this with the "By Me" state of consciousness.  This is what my dad taught me growing up.  This state of consciousness says that success is only possible with lots of hard work.  It's the "If it is to be, it's up to me" way of thinking.  If you stop working hard than nothing will happen.  The ego is very much in control at this state of consciousness.  Very little trust exists.  This is a great way to become exhausted.  This is how I've led most of my life.

Now I choose to operate in the "Through Me" state of consciousness.  I confess that it does require my attention to live in this state.  When I'm lazy I move back to the "By Me" state.

Shift your state of consciousness and you'll automatically shift whats possible for you and your team.

The Attractor Factor & Team and Leadership Development

Do you work hard, do everything right, and yet rarely achieve the results you had hoped for? 

You might be trying to build a better team or lead people in a more effective and conscious way.  You might be trying to become healthier or experience more fulfilling relationships.

So you go to a workshop or read a book or listen to a tape to learn more techniques and you think you're doing everything right and working hard but you never achieve the results you're after.

I've experienced this.  Working hard.  Doing everything I thought I was supposed to do.  And still not quit getting there.

What is the missing piece?

I found the answers I've been looking for in a new book by Dr. Joe Vitale entitled "The Attractor Factor - - 5 Easy Steps For Creating Wealth (or anything else) From the Inside Out".  This book has 75 five star reviews (the highest rating) at and has been a number one best seller twice at amazon - both times beating out Harry Potter!  Click on the book image to read the reviews yourself.

Joe reveals that success of any kind doesn't depend on what you're doing, it depends on what you're being!  In his book Joe combines time-honored practices of spiritual self-discovery with proven marketing principles into an extraordinary how-to manual for happy living both in and out of business.

Joe_vitale_1 I interviewed Joe recently and we discussed the revolutionary five step process he shares for manifesting whatever you want as well as THE KEY belief you must adopt to create big shifts in your life.

Click on the link below to listen to the 30 minute interview with Joe Vitale.
Download joe_vitale_mp3_sm.mp3

As you'll hear in the interview, the implications of the secrets Joe is sharing are profound.  With this information you can improve every area of your life.

Join us each week to discuss the book.  More info here.

Recordings of the Attractor Factor virtual book study group below:

Download attractor_factor_feb_14_2006_mp3_sm.mp3

Download attractor_factor_22106_mp3sm.mp3

Download attractor_factor_feb_28_sm.mp3

Download attractor_factor_march_7_1.mp3

Download attractorfactor_march14_sm.mp3

Milwaukee has Teams In Trouble

Yesterday I delivered the first ever "Teams In Trouble" workshop at a regional conference of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) in Milwaukee, WI.  The workshop is based on the popular teleclass series I've developed with my colleague Michael Goldman of

Ron_mcmillanThe event was attended by approximately 100 full time trainers and was called a "Knowledge Summit".  The morning presenter was best selling author Ron McMillan (pictured) of who is the coauthor of "Crucial Conversations" and "Crucial Confrontations".  Ron's presentation revealed some very useful skills in facing tough issues with people.  Ron was a humorous and lively presenter and he was thoroughly engaging plus he had a beautiful Power Point presentation (yeah, I'm a little envious).  We commiserated about missing our children's halloween parties. 

The lunch keynote speaker was Debra Schmidt whose topic was "The Power of Possibility Thinking".  I didn't get a chance to see Debra's presentation because I was meditating in my room (something I always do prior to delivering a presentation).  I did get a chance to visit with Debra before lunch and she is a super nice person who happens to be an accomplished wind surfer.

I was the third and final speaker of the day.  My Teams In Trouble workshop is designed to get people up and out of their seats, having fun learning through experiential activities.  I wrapped up my presentation with a piece on the power of intention and the Law of Attraction (more on this later).  A small group stayed after for an extra set of Power Point slides showing Dr. Emoto's amazing research with water crystals.

Tom_and_james_tIn the evening I visited with my good friend James T. Harris who is a remarkable speaker living in the Milwaukee area.  James and I are students of generational history and big fans of William Strauss and Neil Howe who coauthored a fascinating book entitled "The Fourth Turning".  We think we've figured out who the next president will be - - based on our understanding of the cycles of history (see The Fourth Turning) we predict it will be General Norman Schwarzkoph, Jr.  I hope James T will go into great detail at his blog as to how we came up with this prediction.  James and I met a month after 9/11 while helping our friend Laurie Beth Jones complete a home study video course for the Path Personal Mission Statement program.  We've been good friends ever since.