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Casey Anthony and 4 Dysfunctions of a Team
July 2011

What does Casey Anthony have to do with you? Plenty. She reminds me how dysfunctional some teams are. The Anthony family hits the exacta for nailing 4 dysfunctions of a team.

(By the way, I think the verdict was...correct! Uh-oh, I see nasty emails in my future.)

One thing to remember is that most dysfunctional teams don't realize they're dysfunctional. It usually takes someone from the outside to see the dysfunction. I saw one of Casey's former boyfriends interviewed the other night, and he was surprised how dysfunctional the family was.

Whereas Casey probably didn't notice the dysfunction, it was obvious to this guy. Why? Because according to him, he grew up in a "normal" family. When he arrived at the Anthony home, he felt like he was in The Twilight Zone.

So, let's look at some of the dysfunctions he noticed, and see if they apply to teams you know. Or teams you're on. Or, heaven forbid, teams you lead.

Keeping Secrets: If you're often blind-sided by finding out about key events/info/situations after everyone else does, this one applies to your team. Remember that Lee Anthony, Casey's brother, supposedly found out about Casey's pregnancy after she delivered.

Usually it's a trust issue. People don't tell you because you'll get mad at them, or use the incident against them later. All sorts of reasons. Your job is finding out why you're always the last to know.

Destructive Conflict Resolution: Yelling, screaming, threatening may make you feel better initially, but they're destructive methods for conflict resolution. And they destroy teamwork. Conflict resolution must be constructive so that it enables team members to work together effectively in the future.

Badmouthing Other Team Members: Apparently, all the Anthonys displayed remarkable skill at badmouthing each other, sometimes in front of everyone. We shouldn't badmouth anyone, especially members of our team.

If you notice team members making disparaging remarks about other team members, you as the leader (or even if you're not the team leader) must let people know that such talk detracts from teamwork. That it prevents your team from fulfilling its noble purpose. And that you won't tolerate it.

Living in the Past: According to the ex-boyfriend, the Anthonys (all of them) were continually bringing up previous failures, slights, etc., some of which had occurred years earlier. The inability of people to "let go" of these incidents makes constructive conflict resolution impossible.

There you have it: 4 dysfunctions of a team.

Teams are supposed to work together effectively, so that together they accomplish more than they would working individually, on their own. That's synergy. The Anthony family has what I call "negative synergy." Together they perform worse than the sum of their individual efforts.

Your job is to look at your team, identify any dysfunctions, and then take actions to remove those dysfunctions. Usually dysfunctions indicate a lack of trust. So building trust will be a big part of eliminating the dysfunction.

Which dysfunctions apply to your team? What are you doing to eliminate them?

Until next edition, keep leading the way!

Copyright (C) 2011 by Terry Wall


alumni@drexel.edu