The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick M. Lencioni Book Summary

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick M. Lencioni | Free Book Summary

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick M. Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a book written by Patrick Lencioni. The author brings out in-depth analysis based on the study about the pitfalls the team faces when they grow together and explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failures.

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Every individual in the team is unique, with their own strengths, weaknesses, interests, culture, skills, and capabilities. Together, it’s more important for a team to be productive and happy with a collective goal in mind.

The Five Questions

Author starts asking these 5 questions about every team before we look into the dysfunctionsFree book, podcast summaries

  1. Do your team members openly and readily disclose their opinions? Reflects how vulnerable the team is and the trust between the team members
  2. Are your team meetings compelling and productive? Reflects conflict management
  3. Does your team come to decisions quickly and avoid getting bogged down by consensus? Reflects the team’s commitment
  4. Do your team members confront one another about their shortcomings? Reflects the behavior of accountability
  5. Do your team members sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team? Reflects contribution towards team’s result and effectiveness.

The Five Dysfunctions: #1 : Absence of trust (Bottom most part of the pyramid)

The five dysfunctions are stacked in a pyramid and are hierarchical, much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Without building a strong foundation at the bottom, there is no way to achieve the higher-level goals.

Trust is one of the fundamental building blocks of a high-performing team. Normally, teams believe they can trust each other only if they know each other. The pace at which the teams are growing in every organisation, be it co-located or virtual, building trust becomes an integral part

Suggested team activity

Team introduction: Share name, details about family, geography, culture, memories of childhood, challenges, etc

Personality based tools

These activity helps build team dynamics, create empathy

Once the trust is build part of the culture, rest assured on the foundation of the pyramid.

#2 Fear of Conflict

During discussions, brainstorming, and meetings, the team’s important role is to discuss openly so that the discussion is healthy and fruitful. Conflict discussions without trust get manipulative, resulting in unconstructive, unhealthy discussions. Trust between the teams will improve by sharing appreciation, sending a thank you note, and sharing critical feedback that displays bold character. Preparing ourselves to be uncomfortable, discussing a bad idea to see if everyone agrees or avoid the conflict, team introspection will help in building trust and resolving fear of conflict.

Discuss Now

If there are disagreements during the discussion, instead of pushing it as offline discussion, encourage the team to discuss by interrupting them. This opens up the world of different perspectives both for the leader and the team to understand

#3 :Lack of Commitment

It is very important for a team to have clear goals and clarity on key decisions and actions. Every discussion should have clear goals, review the key decisions at the end of the meeting, and have every individual commit to the actions agreed upon. People should weigh in with their opinions and improve on their commitment. Commitment to the decisions is achieved when the conflicts are healthy within the team.

#4: Avoidance of Team Accountability

Accountability becomes a collective behaviour of the team. When a team member does not commit to a clear plan of action, the peers hesitate to call on the actions which becomes counterproductive for the entire team. This behaviour pulls down the overall team’s productivity and performance rather than being a self disciplined team.

Team members should challenge difficult issues to hold each other accountable. Clear protocols defined on team behaviour by the team themselves, regular introspection, appreciations would ensure the team stays healthy and accountable for their actions.

Team effectiveness (360 deg feedback)

  • Understand the behaviour, habits that make them great as a team
  • Top one or two things that hurts in the team
  • One thing they can do it differently to improve
  • Every team member commits to an action before they complete this activity. (creating accountability)

#5: Inattention to results

The team’s collective goals are key to the success of the business. When the teams have built good trust, healthy conflict, stand by their commitment, be accountable for their actions and are recognized within their organisation with rewards/others, teams are naturally inclined to stand by their collective goals, stay focused and be resilient. 

Let’s break down the walls to build good synergy with the team. As a leader you would enjoy working with the team, feel accomplished for your team’s success and happiness and of course for your business goals as well. 

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