Reflections on Becoming Dr. Karavedas – No. 7

The doctoral program through the School of Education at Brandman University provides a great combination of convenient online class access plus the support of a cohort group to travel this journey with you. My cohort is made up of six women –

yes, by some crazy coincidence, we’re all women on the road to becoming doctors.

This diverse mix of women of various ages and stages has come together to learn, grow, and support one another. For the most part, this cohort has been a positive experience. We have our own personalities, but we’ve handled these differences and made it work.   A recent team project, however, exposed a struggle within the group that may never be resolved.

Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. If you work with or lead others, this book is indispensible. Lencioni describes five areas that prevent teams from being successful –

  • Absence of Trust
  • Fear of Conflict
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Avoidance of Accountability
  • Inattention to Results

Our team project revealed that after more than a year in this doctoral program together, our cohort is still dysfunctional. A result was achieved, be we struggled hard to get there. I could clearly identify four out of the five of Lencioni’s team dysfunctions within our cohort. We lack trust, we avoid accountability, we fear conflict, and we did not provide enough attention to the results.

It is evident that this previously high functioning team still has plenty of work to do. It is also clear that without attention, things can fall apart quickly.

Competition reveals the true characteristics of a team.

The truth is, we are six leaders thrown together and told to excel. We choose how excellence will look. There must be agreement on this vision of excellence, as well as the necessary steps to achieve it. Different standards are revealed when the stakes are higher.

How do we change? After all, this is a transformational leadership program. We should be a team of leaders that excel at leading. Transformation begins within – with the leader. Each of us can be transformed through this program, but we must be open to this transformation. It will be interesting to see the direction of the cohort from this point forward. How will we address trust and conflict? What about accountability and results? Time will tell. I only know that if I am to become a transformational leader, I must transform myself.


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