Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Over the past 14 weeks, we completed a re-read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Jossey-Bass, Copyright 2002, 33rd printing).  The book lays out a hierarchal model of the dysfunctions that can plague a team or organization. For me, there are three main takeaways.  The first is the model of the five dysfunctions. They are:

  • Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust
  • Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict
  • Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment
  • Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability
  • Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results

As we noted earlier in the re-read, you can think of each of dysfunction as a card in a precariously balanced house of cards.  Each card is important and, if withdrawn, the whole structure will collapse.  Each dysfunction builds on each other and,  unless dealt with, can poison a team or organization.  When using the model to facilitate the behavior change of a team, use the overall model as a critical reminder that you can’t just jump to the end state. Improving any team requires the application of careful and concerted effort continuously over time.  

The second takeaway is that trust is always the starting point. The model is built on trust.  Lencioni is not the first person to recognize how critical trust is to effective organizations.  In SPaMCAST 424 Penny Pullan quoted Tom Wise who defines trust as credibility plus reliability plus intimacy divided by self-orientation.  We will tackle this equation in a future blog entry; however, it is important to recognize that trust is a complex topic that doesn’t just emerge from a meeting but requires facilitation and experience.  The fable that is at the heart of the 5 Dysfunctions makes this point through Kathryn’s Offsite meetings followed the team returning to the office to apply the lessons they learned.

The third takeaway is more of a reminder. One person can poison a team whether through an attribute or putting their needs ahead of the team. The impact reduces the effectiveness and efficiency of the team. In the book, we see examples of characters both with bad attitudes that putt their need or the needs of their department ahead of the goals of the organization.  In the book, Nick’s behavior came to a crisis over the acquisition he proposed. The crisis helped him decide to commit to the team. Mikey’s crisis, on the other hand, forced Kathryn to remove the poison with the organization.

Since my initial read of 5 Dysfunctions, I have measured teams against the model Lencioni laid out in the book.  The model has been useful for me to plot a path to coach for coaching and in some cases even to know just how far I plan to help a team evolve.   Lencioni’s book is a tool that is useful for anyone that leads a team or coaches a team or organization.  I am glad I have it on my bookshelf!

Next week we begin the re-read of Carol Dweck’s Mindset, buy a copy this week.


Previous Installments in the re-read of  The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni:

Week 1 – Introduction through Observations

Week 2 – The Staff through the End Run

Week 3 – Drawing the Line though Pushing Back

Week 4 – Entering Danger though Rebound

Week 5 – Awareness through Goals

Week 6 – Deep Tissue through Exhibition

Week 7 – Film Noir through Application

Week 8 – On-site through Fireworks

Week 9 – Leaks through Plowing On

Week 10 – Accountability through The Talk

Week 11 – Last Stand through Rally

Week 12 – Harvest through The March

Week 13 – Model Overview through Team Assessment

Week 14 – Model Overview