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on June 5, 2006
Lencioni begins the discussion concerning overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team by asking two questions that should be asked BEFORE any team building effort:

1. Are we really a team?

2. Are we ready for heavy lifting?

His definition of a team, "a relatively small number of people...that shares common goals as well as the rewards and responsibilities for achieving them" seems logical enough, but what I really liked was his overall attitude. He seemed to suggest that if your group isn't a team, well that's OK too, but regardless, be clear about who and what you are. The heavy lifting reference simply means that building a team, similar to any marriage or other worthwhile relationship, takes a considerable investment in time and emotional energy.

Dysfunction #1 is the absence of trust, so building trust is the key to overcoming this first dysfunction. Lencioni's definition of trust in one where vulnerability is paramount thus beginning to trust starts with showing vulnerability, usually by telling some personal history story that includes some important challenge that was overcome during childhood. The reasoning for this is based on something called the fundamental attribution error. Simply stated, this is the tendency to attribute (falsely) the negative behavior of others to their character while attributing our own negative behavior to the environment. In other words, I do bad things because of the situation I've been placed in, while you do bad things because you are a bad person. This personal story exercise helps individuals to understand each other at a more fundamental level by showing how each person became the individual that they are, at least in some small way. Lencioni's second exercise deals with behavior profiling (he recommends the MBTI for various reasons) in order to "give team members an objective, reliable means for understanding and describing one another" (p. 25). This is designed to facilitate individuals' discussion of strengths/weaknesses, and begin to make it "safe" at least in terms of constructive feedback.

Dysfunction #2 is fear of conflict and overcoming this fear, while admittedly uncomfortable at times, is essential in order to maximize a team's effectiveness. Lencioni argues that inevitability of discomfort is no reason to avoid conflict and goes on to describe a sort of conflict continuum where the ideal conflict point lies directly midway between artificial harmony and mean-spirited personal attacks. In order to engage in productive conflict, he advocates conflict profiling (MBTI and/or Thomas-Kilmann Instrument). This is important in order to understand all team members' comfort levels and viewpoints regarding conflict. Conflict norms among teams must be discussed, negotiated, and made clear and available. Lastly, there are times when an effective leader must "mine" for that productive conflict among respective team members especially if individuals are avoiding necessary, progressive conflict.

Dysfunction #3 is lack commitment and is best overcome by gaining buy-in and achieving clarity. Buy-in is not to be confused with consensus, and in fact, true commitment is about getting buy-in when all the team members don't agree. Clarity allows members to benefit from their commitment by removing assumptions and the accompanying frustrations. Lencioni discusses two techniques to best overcome this third dysfunction called commitment clarification and cascading communication. Commitment clarification deals with leaders asking: What exactly have we decided here today? This ensures that everyone leaves a meeting with the same impressions. Cascading communication demands that team members communicate these same impressions to the rest of the staff within 24 hours, again ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Dysfunciton #4 is the avoidance of accountability. Lencioni argues that accountability is the willingness of team members to remind each other when they are not living up to whatever standards have been agreed upon by the group. This not only involves the leader, but peer-to-peer accountability is integral as well. Interestingly, most leaders are willing to hold team members accountable for results, but not so much for behavioral issues. When this filters down to the team members, and they become reticent to hold others accountable for their behavior, the result seems to be a lack of respect. Lencioni's team effectiveness exercise seems to be an effective method for beginning to hold others accountable by openly discussing each person's (including the leader) most important quality that contributes to or derails the strength of the team.

Dysfunction #5 is the inattention to results. Lencioni suggests that self-preservation and self-interest make this a difficult handicap to overcome. The key lies in keeping the results where members of the team can see them at all times, i.e. a visible scoreboard of some sort. How should these results be measured? It doesn't really matter, as long as the team has one or two items that they can consistently focus on and rally around. Distractions include egos, career advancement, and departmental priorities. Key points for negating this dysfunction are avoiding the distractions, and staying focused on clear, visible results.

Lencioni also goes into depth regarding many common questions, and obstacles to avoid. Additionally, he includes a host of exercises, schedules, definitions, and references that can be tailored to facilitate the team building process in any organization. I found that this book offers specific, practical guidance toward team building that any novice should be able to understand. Additionally, the tools, assessments and examples provided a clear picture of a roadmap to overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team. In short, an easy read, full of practical ideas and examples that bring the points home.
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on March 13, 2006
This does give exercises that go with the book if you want to use it in training sessions and it leads you through how to use the concepts with your team. I think it would be valuable in an intact team. I used one of the exercises with a staff retreat recently with some success. I think it will take a skilled facilitator to use it, though.
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on December 9, 2007
I'm not a big fan of management books because they tend to get long-winded, technical, and impractical. This book is none of the three.

I did not read the original book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" (240 pages), but with this field guide, you don't need to read it. The field guide is 180 pages of easy reading. It's not complicated, very practical, and you don't need to be a CEO to implement the concepts.

I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend this book to anyone who labors in futility on a fumbling team. It's worth your time.
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on April 17, 2005
A couple of years ago Mr. Lencioni published a book on the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In it he listed the problems that if allowed to continue would destroy a teams effectiveness, and quite possibly destroy the team itself. As a result of questions and comments from readers he has produced this guide to specifically address how to overcome these dysfunctions.

The particular points beind addressed include:

Building Trust

Mastering Conflict

Achieving Commitment

Embracing Accountability

Focusing on Results.

Each of these points is discussed with a view towards increasing the functionality of the team. This is followed by questions and comments from participants in classes and seminars and finally by some exercises in helping to build the team.
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on March 7, 2006
Not only does this book cover mistakes and problems within a team, it explains a way to address the problems. This book goes one more than, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable".

Don't just tell me about a problem, tell me how to fix it.

Jeff Howard
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on June 11, 2006
Having read Lenconi's first book, a parable titled "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team", I was curious about this follow up title. I believe this book is better than the original title because it provides practical solutions. Lenconi recommends disclosure of a childhood vulnerability that you overcame as a starting point for building trust. Overcoming self interest by keeping common goals visible to the team is also recommended. I highly recommend this book along with Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self (to teach teams how to consistently maximize situations) and Winning (to teach leaders how to put principles into practice).
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on February 19, 2006
Lencioni again speaks clear, insightful & practical knowledge and concepts. This field guide is a must-have for everyone in a position of leadership and influence. The foundations of successful team building laid out in the "Five Dysfunctions of A Team" are built upon here with real world ideas on how to overcome the problems that undermine progress and harmonious achievement.
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on February 24, 2006
New and seasoned professionals leading teams will find lots of rich practical advice. Using the five dysfunctions of teams from his previous book, Lencioni provides readers with excellent tools to stay focused and keep their teams performing. The techniques offered in this book, along with its guiding questions will help anyone reflect on the dynamics of their teams and uncover a whole host of new ways to invigorate them. As a professional facilitator I see this book as an indispensable resource.
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on August 13, 2007
This field guide is extremely useful for working with teams - from dysfunctional teams to those that are running smoothly. The exercises are practical and get to the heart of team dysfunctions.

I am a pastor who also works in the corporate world. I will use the ideas and exercises in this book with teams in the office and in the church.
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on July 21, 2007
Teamwork really is the one sustainable advantage that a group or company can have. Patrick Lencioni has put together a prescriptive method of bringing a group of people together to form a team. He walks through a step by step approach of breaking down the levels of teamwork in a narrative format in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable which really builds the case for why you would want to follow this method. In this book, he all but builds your team for you. It'll be imperative that you can foster the right levels of communication and potentially have someone with you to help as you rebuild your team; however, this method does give critical insight into how groups of people become a team.
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