After watching the local news this weekend (something I usually avoid)and watching the film clips of Mayor Wharton comments on how to come up with money for city schools, I realized he is following a team building strategy laid out in Pat Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, one of my favorite team building books, and one I have been evangelizing on lately.

Wharton is gathering the stakeholders, telling them the city has to come up with a plan, but he doesn’t know exactly what it should be (expressing his vulnerability). He just listened to and clarified the suggestions of the labor leaders and HR personnel. And proceeding to do the same with all other stakeholders.

This vulnerability builds trust, something that has been lacking within City Government in the past. This trust engenders positive input and creates buy-in from the participants, even if only a smidgen of their suggestions are used. Then all participants are more ready to commit to a solution, whatever it may be.

He also refused to comment publicly to the press about which suggestions he likes or favors, saying everyone will latch on to one of them and then political positioning begins and destroys the process before it begins.

This is the way to build teams. Good job Mayor Wharton. Stick to the process.