Book Report: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

By: Jeannette M. Nieves, Legal Assistant/General Practice Division

BOOK REPORTThe Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni is a wonderful book for anyone who is part of a team.  With an engaging story line, the author explains in details how a great team is focused on the achievement of collective results, with a clear plan of action where they hold each other accountable.

The five dysfunctions are:

  1. Absence of Trust – To become a great team we must make ourselves vulnerable to one another, while becoming confident that our vulnerabilities will not be used against us.
  2. Fear of conflict – When a team overcomes a fear of conflict, they resolve issues quickly and completely.   The team learns to have debates with no residual feelings of collateral damage.
  3. Lack of Commitment – Great teams understand the danger of seeking consensus, and find ways to achieve buy-in even when complete agreement is impossible.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability – Team members should hold one another accountable by clarifying publicly what the team needs to achieve a goal and who will be responsible for each task.
  5. Inattention to Results – Teams should avoid caring about anything other than the collective goals of the group.  The team’s focus should be on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes. 

In my opinion, it is no coincidence that Mr. Lencioni chose Absence of Trust as the first key point.  I agree with the author that absence of trust is not only the most common dysfunction, it can potentially incapacitate any team.  Trust is the foundation of great teamwork.  To become a “great team” we must learn to be unafraid of admitting our mistakes, weaknesses and concerns without the fear of reprisal.  When a team becomes comfortable at being exposed to one another, they become free to act without concern for protecting themselves, resulting in complete focus on the tasks at hand.

Let’s not forget that teams succeed because they are exceedingly human.  When a team acknowledges their imperfections, they achieve their natural tendency to trust, commitment, accountability and focus.