The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition
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- Length: 239 pages
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Finally, I bought the book and was excited to read it. I opened it up, and a cold shiver went down my spine. When I saw that the first section of the book was titled “The Fable” and written like story, I rolled my eyes thinking I just wasted my money. But I pushed through, and to my surprise, I really enjoyed this book.
I strictly read non-fiction. I have tried, but fiction does not appeal to me. I was tempted to read only the last section of the book which is in essay form, but I’m glad I didn’t. Lencioni can tell a convincing story while driving home the message without being cheesy or painfully obvious.
I definitely think this book would be good for anyone who has to lead a team. Teamwork is incredibly difficult, however it can provide amazing results. I can attest that the five dysfunctions are real and a challenge to overcome.
The fable is about DecionTech, a Silicon Valley startup company with 150 employees. The two-year-old company has struggled of late with missing key deadlines, infighting, and low morale so they have asked their current CEO and co-founder Jeff Shanley to step down.
Next, we meet Kathryn. She’s a 57-year-old woman with a completely different background than the high-tech world where she’s been hired on as CEO to help with a turnaround.
There’s plenty of skepticism given her different background, her age, and the fact that during her first few weeks she does little but observe and meet with a few key employees one on one.
The skepticism only grows when she informs her department heads that they’re going to be spending time at some off-site meetings. We are struggling to make deadlines and we’re going to take time away from the office for meetings?
It’s at these off-site meetings where Kathryn provides the framework for the five dysfunctions of a team which she believes to be why her group at DecionTech is underperforming.
The five dysfunctions of a team are written on a pyramid and are listed below from top to bottom.
• Inattention to Results
• Avoidance of Accountability
• Lack of Commitment
• Fear of Conflict
• Absence of Trust
The off-site meetings foster some good debates after Kathryn works on building trust with her department heads. She’s candid with everyone and says that she expects that her team may not wind up staying intact and that turns out to be true.
This is a short read but it’s compelling with memorable characters and great lessons.
Amazon reviewers give this one 4.6 stars after 1,910 ratings. Goodreads gives it 4.01 stars after 45,454 ratings and 2,218 reviews. It’s evident to me why this has become an instant classic and I gave it 5 stars.
#FridaysFind #MIAGD #TheFiveDysfunctions #PatrickLencioni
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.
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.