What I’m Reading: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

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Around here, February is turning out to be a month focused on experimenting with new constructs and techniques. Reading the book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni is an easy way to delve into an organizational lab and learn about how teams function well…or poorly.

Lencioni has written a series of books exploring professional archetypes. He is founder of The Table Group, an agency that works with organizations to help them get out of their own operational and leadership ruts.

In this book, Lencioni crafts a fable illustrating sub-optimal group dynamics while providing a path to navigate and correct problems.

We’ve All Been There

Lencioni states that building a cohesive team is not complicated. He tells the story of a female CEO of a company hired to bring together a dysfunctional group of executive leaders to work as a team. The company, a fictitious entity headquartered in Half Moon Bay, CA, holds a lot of promise but has lost its way. The scenes he portrays in the fable, which navigate the new CEO’s arrival and a series of  executive offsite retreats she facilitates, are easily recognizable and can be applied to any scenario requiring teamwork.

The five levels of dysfunction discussed include:

  1. absence of trust
  2. fear of conflict
  3. lack of commitment
  4. avoidance of accountability, and
  5. inattention to results

Lencioni does a great job summarizing the attributes of each of the dysfunctional levels, which layer upon each other. He offers suggestions and practical exercises to improve a group’s dynamics. He even includes a short quiz to assess which of the five areas you have the most trouble with in your organization – and by extension, in your career. I immediately started thinking of ways to apply the teachings within my own team to see how we can improve.

A Good Start

This book does a terrific job exploring the mechanics of a dysfunctional group and offering clear suggestions for how to begin to turn things around. As you look to leverage your leadership and build in a high-functioning team, this book is a solid resource for initial, practical steps to take.