I recently finished one of the most impactful leadership books I’ve ever read. It’s called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, written by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a must read.
The main idea is that to make a company successful, you must have healthy teams that function well together. Being a functional or dysfunctional team is what separates top companies from their competitors.
This books lays out the five most important dysfunctions that teams struggle with and actionable steps on how to fix them.
It’s written as a fable, which makes it easier to connect with.
Instead of just being theoretical, it makes it practical as you see a story of how to put these principles into practice.
It goes through the story of Cathryn, a recently hired CEO in charge of turning around a failing Silicon Valley technology company called DecisionTech. By all indicators, DecisionTech should be light years ahead of its competitors, yet they’re behind two of its competitors in both revenue and customer growth.
The reason why: the executive team is so dysfunctional. Once Cathryn steps in and teaches the five dysfunctions of a team to the executives, they are able to understand the dysfunctions and start acting differently. Then the company starts turning around and hitting their targets.
At the end of the fable, Lencioni breaks down the model into more concrete practical steps for how to stop being dysfunctional. He gives tools for team assessments and actionable steps for each dysfunction, so it would be a great thing for your team to work through.
The five dysfunctions quickly defined:
Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust – Team members who aren’t willing to be vulnerable with each other will have no foundation to build trust on.
Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict – By not trusting, there is no ability to engage in unfiltered debates of ideas or thoughts. The team is left to petty discussions where people don’t express how they actually feel.
Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment – By fearing conflict and not airing their opinions, team members won’t buy in and commit to the team’s decisions.
Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability – If the team isn’t committed to the decisions that have been made, then no one will want to call their peers on decisions that seem unaligned with the plan.
Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results – When there is no accountability, then team members will start to put their individual goals above the collective purpose and results of the team.
Changing those dysfunctions can seem deceptively simple, yet they can be very powerful if actually enacted by teams.
Think back to teams you’ve been a part of. Which has plagued your team the most?