Geneva College



MSOL Book/Article Review - Dec. 2013

five-dysfunctions-of-a-team.jpgThe Five Dysfunctions of a Team
By Patrick Lencioni

Review by Anthony Kladitis, MSOL '12

The first step toward reducing politics and confusion within your team is to understand that there are 5 dysfunctions to contend with. Below, I will summarize one of the most successful and helpful leadership books written recently; Patrick Lencioni's "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team."

Dysfunction #1: Absence 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. Lencioni says that the leader of the organization must go first when it comes to building trust. In this sense, the leader resembles a domino; and by the leader showing vulnerability, everyone else will follow suit.

Dysfunction #2: Fear of Conflict
Teams that are lacking in 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 and what I like to call, "active passivity" ensues.

Dysfunction #3: Lack of Commitment
Without conflict, it is difficult for team members to commit to decisions; this creates an environment where ambiguity prevails. Lack of direction and commitment can make employees—particularly star employees—disgruntled and give them enough incentive to start looking elsewhere for work. This leaves the company waning as its top talent has left the building.

Dysfunction #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. By this point, many just give up; the fire that roared inside has turned into a tiny spark and the company now has a situation where employees are performing their jobs without any real direction.

Dysfunction #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 is the final nail in the coffin. If your business finds itself in this category, perhaps bringing in an outside consultant may be advisable. Generally speaking, major revamping may be necessary to restore health to the business.

If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
Ecclesiastes 4:10