The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Much has been written about building high performance teams, but few books capture the essence of the task as well as this one.  Patrick Lencioni has written other best selling business books, but The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is his best. This is a “must read” book for any good manager who wants to be a great leader.

Written in an easy-to-read and clearly understandable style, the book is in two parts. The first is a leadership fable told from the perspective of a young corporate CEO charged with turning around a dysfunctional leadership team.  The story is engaging and conveys the gist of Lencioni’s points in a painless, enjoyable format.  The second part is a non-fiction review of the points learned in the fable.

As someone who has spent many years helping to build peak performing teams – from the inside as a leader and from the outside as a strategic advisor to leaders – I can honestly say this is the best book I’ve read on the issue. Lencioni captures the essence of the most common challenges with a “wish I’d said that” kind of clarity.

Lencioni’s key points are those that good leaders have made over the years. Nothing really new. However, his style of presentation is what makes this a great book.

By talking about dysfunctions, rather than key attributes, he is able to spin the situation around and present ideas in a recognizable format. Let’s face it.  Most leaders who are looking for advice on teambuilding – and most teams who are interested in self-improvement – are far more likely to recognize in their own experience and behaviours things they’re doing wrong more than things they’re doing right. It also makes the story much more interesting to read, and that’s important.  If you don’t read it, you won’t learn it.

My guess is that most people who pick up the book will find it enjoyable enough to read that few will abandon it half-way.

Lencioni’s five dysfunctions are:

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

Exploring just one of these a bit further: Absence of Trust highlights the fact that great teams trust each other enough to expose personal weaknesses and vulnerabilities. When there is trust within a team, team members admit their weaknesses and feel comfortable asking for help. This enables the team to capitalize on its members’ strengths rather than being continually sand-bagged by the hidden weaknesses.

A Must Read

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