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The First and Most Important Behavior of a Cohesive Team

Alice Dendinger | September 4, 2015 | Communication, DISC, Featured, Teamwork, Trust

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One of the most requested workplace training tools today is The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team program.  In this first of a series of five blog posts which describe how a team may journey towards improved results, Alice Dendinger will start with the concept of Building Trust.  Alice is a member of an elite group of professionals accredited to facilitate this program. The model was developed by Patrick Lencioni, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” who asserts that teamwork is absolutely crucial to business success.  Inscape-Wiley (publisher of Everything DiSC and other high-quality workplace improvement tools) created validated assessment tools which give participants specific individual and team feedback as they work through the program.

The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is a facilitated learning program which allows teams within any organization to work better together and empowers them to solve many of their own problems.  In this first post, I will focus on Building Trust.

The Five Behaviors program shows that teams that master the following five areas are highly successful and get significantly better results:

  • Build trust
  • Master conflict
  • Achieve commitment
  • Embrace accountability
  • Focus on results

Build Trust

The first and most important behavior is trust.  A team without vulnerability-based trust will struggle to achieve cohesion or embrace any of the other four behaviors of Lencioni’s model which establishes trust as the foundation.

Here is an example of a team which lacked Trust:

Employees of a utility company struggled in their willingness to trust the woman in charge of Customer Service.  Linemen interfacing with customers in the field often created “workarounds” in order to serve the customers as they saw fit from their own point of view rather than working as a team with the manager of Customer Service.  The situation created a lot of confusion and double work, and what was more, customers did not know who to go to for quality service.  The inability to trust those working inside was detrimental to the overall company.

Trust is all about vulnerability. Team members who trust one another can be comfortable being open to one another regarding their failures, weaknesses, and fears. Vulnerability-based trust is predicated on the idea that people who are willing to admit the truth about themselves are not going to engage in behavior that wastes time and energy and, more importantly, makes it difficult to achieve real results.

Team members that lack trust often exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Hesitate to ask for help or provide constructive feedback
  • Don’t offer help to people outside of their own areas of responsibility
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and attitudes of others
  • Fail to recognize and tap into one another’s skills and experiences
  • Waste time and energy managing their behaviors
  • Hold grudges
  • Find reasons to avoid spending time together

Team members need to be comfortable being vulnerable around one another so that they will be unafraid to honestly say things like “I was wrong,” “I made a mistake,” or “I need help.” Unless they can bring themselves to say these words they will waste time and energy thinking about what they should say and wondering about the true intentions of their peers. For a team to establish real trust, team members, including the leader, must be willing to take risks without a guarantee of success. They will have to be vulnerable without knowing whether that vulnerability will be respected and reciprocated.

Tips on building trust:

  • Trust comes from the vulnerability of team members’ sharing their weaknesses, skill deficiencies, interpersonal shortcomings, mistakes, and requests for help.
  • Like any good relationship, trust among team members must be developed over time.
  • The leader must be the first to demonstrate vulnerability.
  • Trust on a team improves greatly when members are able to set egos aside in order to move forward.
  • Members of great teams don’t waste time and energy putting on airs or pretending to be someone they’re not.
  • Everyone on the team knows that no one is going to hide his or her weaknesses, which helps build a deep sense of trust.
  • When people trust that their teammates have their best interests in mind, they feel comfortable asking one another for input and opinions. They aren’t worried about being exposed or shot down.


As with all cultural changes, leadership is critical.  For a team to be successful, the leader must understand the power of teamwork and be prepared to lead the effort in terms of setting an example and dedicating time to it. It’s important to note that many leaders who seem uninterested in teamwork are often just skeptical about the possibility of achieving it or afraid that acknowledging the need for it might reflect poorly on them. In these cases, success is possible as long as team leaders are willing to start the process with good intentions.

The Five Behaviors program is not your usual workplace training. It requires being bold and addressing the issues that get in the way of results.  If done properly and in earnest, it will enable a team to move into higher levels of performance and productivity.

Join Alice for a full-day learning experience on The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, focusing on Trust.

Stay tuned for upcoming blog posts on the other four of the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team!  The second post in this series The Second Behavior of a Cohesive Team: Mastering Conflict is now up!



Let’s discuss

  1. Josh Peichoto

    I really enjoyed this article. Thanks for posting.

    September 23, 2015

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