The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Book Review

Patrick Lencioni is now one of my favorite authors of business-related books. I previously reviewed his Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, and in the comments Val Sanford said The Five Dysfunctions of a Team had “transformed the leadership team in my previous company.” So I put it high on my Audible download list, for when my monthly credits became available.

In this leadership fable and the 40-minute theory discussion that follows, Lencioni outlines his model for what makes teams dysfunctional. In my next post, I will approach his five elements from a positive perspective, as they are exemplified by one of the best and truest teams I have every had the joy of observing.

  1. Absence of of Trust. “This occurs when team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another and are unwilling to admit their mistakes, weaknesses or needs for help. Without a certain comfort level among team members, a foundation of trust is impossible. ” When team members are concerned that others will pounce on their weaknesses or mistakes, the trust needed for working together effectively is undermined.
  2. Fear of Conflict. “Teams that are lacking on trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered, passionate debate about key issues, causing situations where team conflict can easily turn into veiled discussions and back channel comments. In a work setting where team members do not openly air their opinions, inferior decisions are the result.”
  3. Lack of Commitment. “Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions, creating an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees, particularly star employees, disgruntled.”
  4. Avoidance of Accountability. “When teams don’t commit to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven individuals hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that may seem counterproductive to the overall good of the team.”
  5. Inattention to Results. “Team members naturally tend to put their own needs (ego, career development, recognition, etc.) ahead of the collective goals of the team when individuals aren’t held accountable. If a team has lost sight of the need for achievement, the business ultimately suffers.”

This book is part of the core curriculum for Social Media University, Global not because it directly deals with social media, but because SMUG is about making practical business use of social media, because teamwork is essential to business success and because social media tools can greatly enhance teamwork and collaboration.

The social media tools themselves aren’t magic, though, and they’re not able to fix dysfunctional interpersonal relationships.

So, SMUG students, get this book! It’s well worth buying, but in keeping with our “everything is free” policy, you can check it out from a local library. And if you’re not yet a SMUG student, enroll now.

Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 14. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

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