Unlock Team Commitment

Great teams understand that they must be able to make timely decisions and commit, even when the outcome is uncertain and not everyone initially agrees.   It’s the desire for consensus and the need for certainty that prevents many teams from achieving commitment and moving forward.

Teams that fail to commit find themselves revisiting discussions and decisions again and again.  They encourage second-guessing which creates ambiguity and lack of confidence about the team’s direction and priorities.  Whether its avoidance of risk, excessive analysis, or fear of failure, a lack of team commitment means delay and lost opportunities. It also means a lot of wiggle room with fewer bases for accountability and an inattention to results.

Let’s face it, neither consensus nor certainty are possible in all situations.  Team commitment does not necessarily mean consensus, nor does it mean absolute decision predictability.  What it does mean and what is required, however, is a decision and everyone’s buy-in.  One of the greatest consequences for a team that does not commit to decisions is dissonance.  When a team fails to achieve buy-in from everyone, even if the differences seem relatively minor, there will be a distracting rattle that will take place usually after meetings are over.  These small gaps of disparity can become major points of conflict.

Commitment is about a group of individuals buying in to a decision when they don’t naturally agree.

According to Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, “good leaders achieve commitment among the team by first extracting every possible idea, opinion, and perspective. Then, comfortable that nothing has been left off the table, they have the courage to step up and make a decision, one that is sure to run counter to at least one team member, and usually more. The fact is, however, that most people don’t really need to have their ideas adopted in order to buy in to a decision. They just want to have their ideas heard, understood, and considered within the context of the ultimate decision.”

Team Commitment with Buy-In

Buy-in is the attainment of true emotional support for a decision. Too often, consensus is not real.  False consensus arises when, instead of discussing differences of opinion, team members just nod their agreement and move on.  This is frequently the result of issues of trust.  When team members trust one another, they are more willing to express opinions and debate ideas, and when this happens, there is a greater chance that they’re going to commit to whatever decision is made.

Team Commitment with Clarity

Clarity requires that teams avoid assumptions and ambiguity by ending discussions with a clear understanding about their final decisions. When it comes to commitment, the most critical ground rules that team members must agree to relate to timeliness at meetings, responsiveness in communication, and general interpersonal behavior. They must also commit to other principles such as purpose, values, mission, strategy, and goals. At any given time, all the members of a team must also know what the team’s top priority is and how each of them contributes to moving it forward.

To become a high performing and cohesive team, members must trust one another, engage in healthy conflict around ideas, commit to decisions, hold one another accountable, and focus on achieving collective results – these are the Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™.


The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team is based on Patrick Lencioni’s book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.  “The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team” is a trademark of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Tom Sullivan is an authorized partner of The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team.

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