Quick Summary

The main premise in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is that teams are inherently dysfunctional because they are made up of naturally imperfect human beings.  This book highlights, primarily by way of a fable, the five steps that need to be taken to develop a team that really excels.

Why is this on the NewHire365 book list

You can look around your team and see brilliant individuals.  However, if those individuals aren’t working together effectively, you don’t really have a team.  And teamwork does not happen by accident.  Patrick Lencioni believes that “teamwork ultimately comes down to practicing a small set of principles over a long period of time”

There is nothing better than being part of a great team. And Lencioni is right when he says that is rare.  If you get it right it will not only give you competitive advantage, it will also create an environment that those team members will never want to leave.


Information about the author

I first came across Patrick Lencioni when I was researching my post on how corporate values can kill employee morale.  This article from Patrick Lencioni is the best thing I have read on the subject.

So I was keen to read more.  The Five Dysfunctions of A Team is one of many titles from this New York Times best selling author.  Through the art of storytelling, he shares some simple but powerful steps to create a high performing team.  The leadership fable is followed by some actionable steps to make the story come to life in your team.


Favourite Quote

Five Dysfunctions of a team


First Lesson : The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

  1. Absence of Trust – the unwillingness to be open about mistakes and weaknesses
  2. Fear of Conflict – the avoidance of passionate debate of ideas
  3. Lack of Commitment – failure to buy in to ideas, often despite feigned agreement initially
  4. Avoidance of Accountablity – hesitancy of team members to call out their colleagues for not delivering
  5. Inattention to Results – team members put individual needs of the team above the collective goals of the team

The book introduces these dysfunctions in ‘leadership fable’ that mirrored some experiences I am sure you have had (it rang some bells for me!)  Lencioni then goes on to give clear steps and exercises for each of these dysfunctions.


Second Lesson : These dysfunctions are interrelated

You should not treat these dysfunctions as distinct issues.  They are all interrelated.   In the book, Lencioni shows these five elements in a pyramid.  The foundation layer is the first dysfunction in the list above – Absence of Trust.

If there is Absence of Trust, people will Fear Conflict.  Without conflict (or heated discussion) there will be a Lack of Commitment as team member’s will not discuss their honest concerns.  Because of the Lack of Commitment, there will be an Avoidance of Accountability and if there is a lack of trust in the team, the other members will be unlikely to call each other out on it.  Avoidance of Accountability can result in Inattention to Results, as team members focus on their individual needs rather than the achievement of common goals.

Third Lesson – A Strong Team Needs Time Together

In order to create and maintain a great team, you need to spend time together.  In the example in this book, the team spent eight days per quarter in regularly scheduled meetings, including intensive planning sessions off site.

Many companies would balk at this, believing they are too busy to invest this amount of time when there is ‘real work’ to be done.  But this time together, when properly managed, can save time by ‘eliminating confusion and minimising redundant effort and communication’.

My Personal Takeaways

If you don’t have trust in a team, you won’t get conflict.  And conflict is healthy and should be encouraged.  If there is a fear of conflict, there will be ‘veiled discussions and guarded comments’.  People will play lip service to ideas and won’t really commit to them.  They may say they will, but their actions will tell you otherwise.

Encouraging healthy disagreement will help you understand concerns up front and find a way to move forward.

Who would I recommend this book to

The leader that is looking at a strong group of individuals and wondering why he is not seeing the results he wants.  The manager that is looking for simple steps to make his team more effective.  The business leader who is looking to gain competitive advantage in a tough market place.

Where to find this book

Just wanted to let you know

NewHire365 will earn a small commission if you buy through these links.  This adds no cost to you but helps keep the lights on at NewHire365 HQ. It’s also worth noting that I do not recommended anything that I haven’t read and enjoyed.

It's only fair to share...Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin