5 Enemies of a Team


Yesterday I co-chaired the media and entertainment day for the Leadership Brentwood program. We began the morning at the Dave Ramsey headquarters in the Cool Springs area, south of Nashville. Dave leads a thriving business with more than a dozen profit units. He shared with the group his list of the 5 enemies of a healthy team. According to him, if you don’t protect your team against them, your organization will be in trouble. If you want your team to work to its potential, then protect them from:

5 enemies of a team
1. Poor communication. When people don’t know what’s going on they assume the worst. The combination of human nature and old experiences can help derail your team faster than you can say “I have no idea what’s going on here.” Make sure your internal communication is intentional. Don’t assume that everyone knows what’s going on because they don’t. In my experience there’s no such a thing as over communicating.

2. Lack of shared purposes. If we don’t have common goals  nothing happens.  A functioning team knows where they are going and they do it together. Make sure you have shared values and purpose. According to Ramsey to get everyone on point “requires a sickening amount of repetition.”

3. Internal gossip. I would call this lack of loyalty.  If you’re frustrated you have one option: serve it up the organization; talk with someone in leadership, but don’t complain to people who cannot do anything about it. That doesn’t help anything only creates a destructive force in the organization. If you can’t trust what someone will say behind your back you cannot trust them.

4. Unresolved conflict. When there are disagreements leadership must step in and clean it up. A team that’s not unified cannot have a shared purpose and cannot perform well. Leaders who ignore internal strife and don’t deal with it are hurting the entire organization.

5. Sanctioned incompetence. Incompetence that goes unchallenged demoralizes. You cannot attract and keep great talent when other team members are not pulling their weight and are getting by with it. It’s true in business, ministry, sports and most any arena of life that “A” players do not want to deal with “C” and “D” players. Keep enough turkeys around and the eagles will fly away.

Have you ever experience any of these team enemies?

What else would you add to this list?

  • Good points Maurilio! Many leaders like to get outside of the box developing creative solutions for old challenges. Others claim to be more creative , and they decide to build their own new box. But lack of communication is an old fashioned problem and at the same time a very current problem. The leader should encourage the group to listen and to clearly communicate with one another.

    • Communication is a foundational issue. Before you can get "fancy" make sure you have the basics covered.

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  • Great list, Maurilio, thanks for sharing.

    I see #2 a lot. I think it helps to realize that's the natural state of a group made up of individuals. So many teams refuse to admit that this is the starting point. It's the leader's job to channel all the individual purposes into a unified effort.

    #5 hits me too. I tend to overlook it, so as not to hurt anyone's feelings or seem elitist; but, it's just the truth. Nothing demoralizes top performers more than being consistently held back and not challenged.

  • Really great insight!

    I saw most all of these play out in a church (where I was once a member). So sad that had we had some guidance in these areas, the organization could have gotten back on track. Instead, the church closed.

    • Sadly, churches are the worst at internal communication and team dynamics.

  • Derek

    I heard Dave give this same talk at Catalyst a few years ago and it was perspective changing. We had a lot of sanctioned incompetence happening where I was working at the time. To me it is the most infuriating out of the 5. The thing is, if number 1 happens often, all of the others are likely to be present. Communication is required in all of these areas so if you're not doing that well, you have no chance to fix the other ones. Great reminder. Thanks.

  • Excellent list. # 1 is a biggie and spills over to a lot of things. "Where there is a void negativity will fill it. The antidote is to communicate, communicate, communicate." : )

  • I think #1 & 5 are a great way to book-end this great post.

    It never ceases to amazing me how poorly organizations communicate or the degree of incompetence that will be tolerated before corrective action is taken.

  • Rob I

    Dude I love #5! I am going to have to work that phrase into my personal effectiveness pres.

    • Please do and don't worry about giving me credit. I probably stole it from someone else as well. 🙂

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