Five Dysfunctions of a Team

March 1, 2012

Be YOUnique Blog


These are my “book notes” from reading FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM, by Patrick Lencioni.

1) Inattention to Results = Status & Ego

– the key is to make the collective ego greater than the individual ones.

– use results to define success.

– if the team loses, everyone losses.

– great athletes’ egos are usually tied to a clear result: winning.

– we aren’t going to leave any room for interpretation when it comes to our success, because that only creates the opportunity for individual ego to sneak in.

– adopt a set of common goals & measurements & use them to make a collective decision on a daily basis.

* Politics- is when people choose their words & actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.

2) Avoidance of accountability = low standards

3) Lack of Commitment = Ambiguity

– a failure to buy into decisions.

– some teams get paralyzed by their need for complete agreement & their inability to move beyond debate.

– disagree & commit.

– they need to weigh in before they can really buy in.

4) Fear of conflict = Artificial Harmony

5) Absence of trust = Invulnerability

– trust is the foundation of real teamwork. 

* Illus: Share strengths & weaknesses. 

* Film vs. Meetings

– if we cannot learn to engage in productive, ideological conflict during meetings, we are through.

– every great movie has conflict. Without it, we just don’t care what happens to the characters.

“If everything is important then nothing is.”

Positive things I learned:

1) They trust one another.

2) They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.

3) They commit to decisions & plans of action.

4) They hold 1 another accountable for delivering against those plans.

5) They focus on d achievement f collective results.


Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust 

– trust lies at the heart of a functioning, cohesive team.

– teammates must get comfortable being vulnerable with 1 another & be confident that their respective vulnerabilities will not b used against them. 

Vulnerability based trust.

a) Personal Histories 


– first job, worst job, siblings, hometown, unique challenges of childhood, hobbies. (Minimum time 30mins) 

b) Team Effectiveness Exercise (min time 60mins)

c) Personality & Behavioral Preference Profiles

– MBTI Myers Briggs Type Indicator (min time 4 hours) 

d) 360 degree 


– provide 1 another with constructive criticism.

e) Experiential Team 


ropes courses, although it doesn’t always translate directly to the working world.

*Regular follow up in the course of daily work.

Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict

– tools TKI Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument

Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment

– Commitment is a function f clarity & buy 

Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability

– the willingness of team members to call their peers on performance or behaviors that might hurt the team.

– the most effective & efficient means of maintaining high standards of performance on a team is peer pressure. There is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates that motivates people to improve their performance.

a) Publication of goals & standards.

b) Simple & Regular progress reviews.

c) Team Rewards

Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results

– the tendency of members to care about something other than the collective goals of the group. An unrelenting focus on specific objectives & clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance.

* Teamwork ultimately comes down to practicing a small set of principles over a long period of time.

– success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline & persistence.


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