- Series: later printing (Book 13)
- Hardcover: 229 pages
- Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1st edition (April 11, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0787960756
- ISBN-13: 978-0787960759
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2,415 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable 1st Edition
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Once again using an astutely written fictional tale to unambiguously but painlessly deliver some hard truths about critical business procedures, Patrick Lencioni targets group behavior in the final entry of his trilogy of corporate fables. And like those preceding it, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is an entertaining, quick read filled with useful information that will prove easy to digest and implement. This time, Lencioni weaves his lessons around the story of a troubled Silicon Valley firm and its unexpected choice for a new CEO: an old-school manager who had retired from a traditional manufacturing company two years earlier at age 55. Showing exactly how existing personnel failed to function as a unit, and precisely how the new boss worked to reestablish that essential conduct, the book's first part colorfully illustrates the ways that teamwork can elude even the most dedicated individuals--and be restored by an insightful leader. A second part offers details on Lencioni's "five dysfunctions" (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results), along with a questionnaire for readers to use in evaluating their own teams and specifics to help them understand and overcome these common shortcomings. Like the author's previous books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, this is highly recommended. --Howard Rothman
From Publishers Weekly
In keeping with the parable style, Lencioni (The Five Temptations of a CEO) begins by telling the fable of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members succeed as a team. Story time over, Lencioni offers explicit instructions for overcoming the human behavioral tendencies that he says corrupt teams (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results). Succinct yet sympathetic, this guide will be a boon for those struggling with the inherent difficulties of leading a group. 100,000 first printing.
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However, his fifth, and ultimate, principle - focusing on results - includes the “package deal” that associates individual goals with team failure. Or, put another way, he believes that an individual who is focused on her own goals will sacrifice the team for her own success. So, Lencioni says the individual must therefore sacrifice her personal goals for the team’s. By assuming this false dichotomy of sacrificing others to you or you to others, Lencioni misses a third approach that rejects sacrifice altogether: an approach that treats people as traders - voluntarily exchanging values to mutual benefit.
For example, take his protagonist, Kathryn. She is hired to reform the leadership team and is well-compensated to do so. The company believes her leadership is good for the business. She accepts the position because she believes the job is good for her. She aligns her interests with the company’s. Both benefit. Neither subjugates nor sacrifices one side for the other. Yet, this stands in direct contrast to his own definition of his fifth dysfunction.
Even with this (all-too-common) transgression, the rest of the book has more than enough value to overcome its shortcomings. Ultimately, I would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about leadership.
The biggest problem I see is that both books are framed about C-level and top level executive teams. Very few mid-managers would have the leverage and ability to implement all of these principles at lower levels of the organization. It's definitely possible in some cases, but it would significantly more challenging. His principles are universally true, but his coaching is directed at executives.
Patrick Lencioni, in his book, Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators, gives a detailed easy to follow plan on how to overcome the dysfunctions that many teams face. Lencioni says that teamwork is what is often missing from teams that are successful and then goes on to identify the five dysfunctions that many teams face. The five dysfunctions are the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and finally inattention to results. These five dysfunctions lay the foundation for his book as he explores each dysfunction and gives practical help on how the dysfunctions can be corrected and the team can achieve a healthy status.
The first dysfunction, absence of trust, is the foundation of a healthy team. Lencioni says, “I’ve come to one inescapable conclusion: no quality or characteristic is more important than trust.” For trust to be achieved within a team than leaders and team members must be vulnerable about their weaknesses, fears, and failures. The author goes on to give case studies of teams that lacked trust in their organization and how these teams achieved trust. Lencioni believes that team members need to reveal personal aspects of their lives so that other team members can better understand each other and put their guards down. As with all the five dysfunctions, the book gives great practices that can help teams accomplish trust.
The second issue that teams must deal with is mastering conflict. It is important to know that mastering conflict can only be accomplished after trust is established. Conflict, as described by Lencioni, as “productive, ideological conflict: passionate, unfiltered debate around issues of importance to the team.” Conflict can be difficult for some but “if team members are never pushing one another outside of their emotional comfort zones during discussions, then it is extremely likely that they’re not making the best decisions for the organization.” If a team is going to overcome this dysfunction than the leader of the team at times needs to mine for conflict.
The third dysfunction is the lack of commitment. To achieve commitment there most be clarity in what the team is trying to accomplish; this does not mean that everyone on the team must agree but rather be committed to the decisions made, even when they do not agree. Team members are committed because they believe in the bigger purpose or mission of the organization rather than every decision that is being made.
Avoidance of accountability is the fourth dysfunction that teams face. In order to overcome this dysfunction team members must embrace accountability, defined as “the willingness of team members to remind one another when they are not living up to the performance standards of the group.” This means that team members are willing to have difficult conversations with other team members that are not pulling their weight for the good of the organization.
Focusing on results is how the final dysfunction is overcome. Teams need to be results-oriented and have a clear measurement of success. When teams understand what success looks like they can avoid distractions, such as ego, career development, and money. Lencioni suggest a visual scoreboard so employees will focus on the right tasks.
The third and fourth sections of the book give practical help to better flesh out how teams can achieve a healthy status. Section three answers common questions that many teams have after reading the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. The fourth section of the book gives very detailed tools and exercises for a team to use to overcome each dysfunction.
As Lencioni began to unpack the importance of building trust among team members I was reminded about a time in the life of our staff where there was vulnerability which increased the level of trust. Lencioni said, “when team members reveal aspects of their personal lives to their peers, they learn to get comfortable being open with them about other things. They begin to let down their guard about their strengths, weaknesses, opinions, and ideas.” Over the past year at least once a month we have been “huddling” our staff. During a huddle, we don’t talk about the business of our church, but rather we share about what God is teaching us and how we are personally doing as leaders. These huddles started out very slow, and there was never anything that was shared that was deep or vulnerable. Weeks and even months went by of surface level sharing; we did not have a foundation of trust. It all changed when one of the quieter members of our teams spoke up and started sharing about the difficulties he and his wife were having with one of their children. Fred, the quiet staff member, was struggling with his youngest son being diagnosed with a severe case of autism. Fred, a very smart individual, shared about his inadequacies as a father and how he just felt hopeless, not knowing what to do. As Fred tearfully shared everyone’s heart in the groups went out to him and there was a time of encouragement and prayer for Fred. This transparency moved our group to a deeper level and more people began sharing intimate details of their lives. While Fred’s intentions were not to increase the level of trust within the group that is exactly what he did. Fred unknowingly helped our team move one step closer to being a healthy group.
In reading through Lencioni's book, I thought that he did an excellent job achieving his goal of summarizing the five dysfunctions of a team and then giving practical advice on how leaders can help their teams overcome these dysfunctions. It is obvious that Lencioni has incredible knowledge and experience working with teams and it showed in this book. I not only enjoyed the concepts listed in this book but I also enjoyed the writing style of Lencioni and his attention to detail and practical information.
While I found the book simplistic and easy to follow, I noticed that the book lacked concrete data or studies that help strengthen the author's argument. While I understand the five dysfunctions that Lencioni lists, he doesn't give any empirical evidence to show that these dysfunctions are the main culprits for an unhealthy team. The argument in this book could have been strengthened if the author would have done more research, polls, and studies and not make conclusions only based on his personal experience.
I am also under the assumption that Lencioni's expertise is working with corporate America. In many of the examples and case studies, he shares about CEO's and other high-level executives. While I appreciate his willingness to work with these top executives, I would have appreciated more examples within the non-profit world. I have a small staff team that I lead but a majority of my time is spent working with volunteer teams. It would be helpful to see some practical example of how to overcome the five dysfunctions within a volunteer team.
The first dysfunction, building trust within the team, was the first area where I realized that I needed to take action. In talking about how you can build trust in teams, Lencioni says, “providing team members with common vocabulary for describing their differences and similarities, you make it safe for them to give each other feedback without feeling like they’re making accusatory or unfounded generalizations.” He goes on to recommend completing a profiling test with each team, such as the Myers-Briggs test. About a month ago one of our other team members asked if we could take the Myers-Briggs test as a staff. I didn’t see the need for it, plus I noticed that there would be a substantial cost for all of our team members to take the assessment. After reading through this book, I now realize that this assessment could help our team establish trust and better understand one another. The plan after reading this text is to hire someone who can administer the test to our team and then review the results with everyone; fortunately, we know someone who is trained in this material. I believe that once the team takes the assessment we will better understand each other and it will build trust among our team members. The plan is to have all our staff members complete this assessment by the end of April.
The second action that I need to implement into my life deals directly with the dysfunction of lack of commitment. While I believe that for the most part our staff is on board with the mission and vision of our church, we don’t do a great job at clearly measuring success. One of the ways Lencioni creates clarification is by creating a visual scoreboard that is a regular reminder of what the team is trying to accomplish. In addition to the visual scoreboard, Lencioni also suggests that you spend the last five minutes of a meeting asking the question: “What exactly have we decided here today?” By asking this question, the team is forced to communicate with each other until everyone is one the same page. I plan on using both the visual scoreboard and the commitment clarification exercise with our staff to help everyone be committed to what God has called our church to do. I will attach a large white board on our conference room wall. On the top right-hand corner, we will weekly track our attendance, number of guests, salvations, and baptisms. These numbers will be updated weekly and be a visual reminder of our mission, “to reach people far from God and lead them to become followers of Jesus.” On the same whiteboard after every staff, elders, and volunteer meeting I plan on asking the question, “what exactly have we decided here today?” In addition, to answering this question I would also like to answer the question, “in light of the decisions that were made, what is everyone going to do?” This not only clarifies expectations but also clarifies what everyone is going to do based on the information that was decided in the meeting.