"The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual." 

Vince Lombardi

Running backs and quarterbacks know that while they get most of the glory and the compensation, they wouldn’t be experiencing that success if it weren’t for the offensive linemen that protected them and made room for them to do their work.  Gift giving to offensive linemen by the more notable stars of the teams has become legendary.  

Here are some of the more notorious gifts given:

  • Tom Brady (2008) - Audi Q7’s
  • Carson Palmer (2007) - hot tubs
  • Matt Ryan (2008) - Plasma TVs
  • Reggie Bush (2011) - Segways
  • Colt McCoy (2011) - Big Green Egg Charcoal Grills
  • Alex Smith (2017) - Yeti coolers & Gucci bags
  • Aaron Rodgers (2017) - ATVs

This is such an expected practice that there are lists published annually of the best gifts given.  Okay, a little bit ostentatious and ridiculous maybe, but the message is clear.  Even the more unglamorous of positions on the team are crucial to the team's success.  That points us toward our fifth dysfunction of a team.

So far, we have discussed the first 4:

Absence of trust

Fear of conflict

Lack of commitment

Avoidance of accountability 

Our fifth and final dysfunction of a team is inattention to results. If we fail to hold one another accountable to the commitments we have made, then this final dysfunction of a team will flourish. 

Inattention to results occurs when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team. Like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates if even a single dysfunction is allowed to flourish.  

If we don’t manage the tension connecting every monkey in the barrel, the whole strand will fail.

Members of a truly cohesive team:

1. Trust one another.

2. Engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.

3. Commit to decisions and plans of action.

4. Hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans. 

5. Focus on the achievement of collective results.

This ultimate dysfunction is a result of people caring more about their own success than that of the group.  It is no wonder that we experience this on our teams when so much of the broader culture is focused on individual success.  Shaping a culture that celebrates the collective achievement first is difficult and must start from the top.

I was part of a team that launched a successful and well-attended men’s ministry at a church.  We had just finished one session and we were planning to extend it into a second to keep the momentum with the hundreds of men.  We heard that the pastor wanted us to shut everything down and execute on a different idea he had.  When we asked if we could meet and make our case for continuing, we were told…

“We have to figure out how to convince him that continuing this program is his idea.”

It was one of the most demotivating and discouraging things I’ve ever heard.  To produce superior results with high levels of employee engagement and a sense of ownership from every team member, we have to build cultures that celebrate the collective results of the team and not the ideas or accomplishments of a few.

As leaders, it all starts with us.


  • Does your team struggle with any of the five dysfunctions?
  • Do you know that having a problem with any of them breaks down the opportunity for your best results?
  • Which ones does your team most struggle with and how are you going to address those problems?
  • Check out Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.  He has exercises and experiences that will help you overcome each of them.  We’ve helped a lot of teams work on these issues and Patrick’s book is a great resource.