Medical marketing is not for sissies. It takes the intelligence to properly utilize data from research and development, the insight to see how marketing, PR and sales can uniquely leverage that data, the courage to take risks in testing new marketplaces and media, the tenacity to stick to a strategic plan and the flexibility to know when and how to optimize campaigns.

When a medical marketing team is firing on all cylinders, it exhibits five traits, as adapted from The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni. They are, in this order:

1. A culture of trust.

A team that is unable to trust tends to hire the wrong employees and contractors, delegate then retract work and perpetuate a general sense of dis-ease, or dysfunction. By contrast, the trusting team agrees on a single vision, gets the right people on board to deliver the solutions needed to fulfill that vision, delegates and trusts that work will get done with little to no further input and, therefore, trusts that the marketing strategies will work.

2. A culture of healthy conflict management.

Underperformance in this area can manifest as a general feeling of having to “cover your butt,” secrecy and conflict avoidance in less dominant team members and aggressiveness or anger in more dominant team members. Pointing the finger at others as a source of any problem is common. On the flip side, teams that deal with conflict management in healthy ways have open dialogue, exhibit vulnerability, take responsibility for one’s part in a problem and come to the table with solutions. More than anything, they continually work to grow and develop themselves as individuals in order to grow and develop the team.

3. Commitment from all team members.

The team in need of development in this area exhibits unsureness, may be unable to articulate a common goal, cannot show or explain the marketing strategy or plan and doesn’t communicate well among the team or with outside departments or vendors. Conversely, the healthy marketing team is collectively confident, in agreement on a singular goal, understands and can take ownership of one’s part in the marketing strategy or plan and masters inter- and intra-communication.

4. A culture of accountability.

The unhealthy team is not able to gauge success in the first place due to a lack of development in the first three traits, and therefore is unable to hold themselves or others accountable. The positive opposite of this is a team that agrees on a goal, roles and responsibilities and the strategy for getting to the goal. That team has frequent conversations among themselves and with stakeholders on where they are, where they want to be and specific actions needed to close the gap.

5. A focus on results.

Notice this trait comes last. A team focused on results but not able to create a culture of trust, healthy conflict management, commitment and accountability will be perpetually ineffective. On the other hand, once the first four traits are established, the marketing team is able to collaborate to develop a single goal with supporting key measures for success. From there, the fully functioning team is able to delegate (in the spirit of trust), overcome obstacles to the goal (through healthy conflict management), follow through with the strategies and tactical plans (with commitment from all team members) and take mutual responsibility for reaching the goal (holding one another accountable throughout the process.)

Is your marketing team firing on all cylinders?