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Corporate Team Building

Book Reviews

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick Lencioni tells a fable to highlight the challenges that leaders face as a result of the five dysfunctions of a team, and then details his model in the last section of the book. The story begins with the hiring of a CEO that is new to the company and to the industry. The technology-based organization has many of the personnel and business issues faced by executive teams in any line of work. Lencioni introduces his model through the efforts of the new CEO to unite the team and build a high performing team.

Following the parable, Lencioni presents his models in a pyramidal stage theory design. He identifies the five dysfunctions as:

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

A 15-question instrument evaluates a team’s susceptibility to the five dysfunctions. The author briefly describes each dysfunction, gives suggestions for overcoming the dysfunction, recommends actions that the leader can take, and then connects the dysfunction to the next dysfunction.

Overall, the author presents an interesting fable and a practical model in an easy-to-read book. Most executive teams, however, will find the story a bit simplistic, but will be able to glean examples from it that sound familiar. For example, the value of offsites and the importance of confronting the issues resonates strongly throughout the story.

The author’s model includes five of the most important and common challenges facing teams. Readers that have a good knowledge of the identified dysfunctions will find the brief descriptions to be good reminders of key points. High producing teams will find the need to address some issues more deeply.

The author writes with a refreshing skepticism of the jargon of the team building industry. He also expresses dissatisfaction with some experiential team building programs but states that they “can be valuable tools for enhancing teamwork as long as they are layered upon more fundamental and relevant processes.” To that end, most executive teams will find value in using outside consultants that have strong theoretical and practical foundations in the very specific areas of the identified dysfunction.

Organizations that make the commitment to working in a team environment will definitely want to read this book and use it as a resource in the continuing development of a high producing team.