The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

My review for the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” – Five stars:
By dedicating 90% of his book to a so-called leadership fable, Patrick Lencioni very effectively conveys the very essence of the model he proposes in order to deal with dysfunctional teams. Though the story he presents is that of a hypothetical newly appointed CEO of a distressed start-up and (in the beginning of the story) her highly dysfunctional executive team, the model is perfectly applicable to any team throughout most organizations.

The model consists of a pyramid with the five dysfunctions of a team (from the bottom, up):
1) Absence of trust: stemming from an unwillingness in the team members to be vulnerable and genuinely open up with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses.
2) Fear of conflict: inability to engage in unfiltered, passionate (yet constructive, though it may strike you as odd) debate.
3) Lack of commitment: no buy in and commitment can be expected when ideas and opinions have not been aired and genuinely taken into consideration prior to a decision.
4) Avoidance of accountability: without commitment to a clearly defined set of goals, team members will hesitate to call their colleagues on their actions and behaviors that are counterproductive for the team.
5) Inattention to results: Lencioni brings it all home through the realization that avoidance of accountability leads to a state where team members tend to put their individual needs above the team’s collective goals.

Throughout the last leg of his book, Lencioni contrasts how dysfunctional teams behave by comparing them to a cohesive team in the case of each of the five dysfunctions. He also provides suggestions on overcoming each of the dysfunctions and insights into the role of the leader in this process, all in a very structured and to-the-point way. Complementing this, he provides a Team Assessment tool to help determine where your team is at in terms of each of the five elements of the model.

As much as the book can be digested without too much trouble in 2-3 straight hours, it is inevitable (unless you are fooling yourself or you operate in a very healthy team) to have your managerial wheels in your mind turning at full speed by the time you are done with it. As a manager and an avid reader, I welcomed this book with open arms because I found it to be very useful and readily applicable. Now comes my challenge in putting it to use.