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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

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by Patrick M. Lencioni

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In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of


In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech's CEO, faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail? Lencioni's utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
This informative book focuses on the problems and conflicts that often prevent teams from working together to achieve their stated goals. As he has done in works such as The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, Lencioni couches his insights in narrative form: This time, he focuses on a fictional high-tech Silicon Valley start-up that has much potential but is burden by executives whose egos seem to be constantly clashing. The board brings in a talented CEO, Kathryn Peterson, whose experience lies mainly in manufacturing. How she wins over her executive team, who are wary of her nontechnological background, is the crux of the book -- and we become flies on the wall in three very dramatic but realistic off-site meetings that Peterson conducts with her direct reports in order to deal with the company's chronic problems.

After this fable, Lencioni provides a practical discussion of the methods Peterson used. The five dysfunctions of the title -- lack of trust, fear of conflict, unwillingness to commit, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results -- are ones that many leaders will recognize, but few will know exactly how to fix. Although Peterson’s Yoda-like wisdom may seem unrealistic to some, the universality of the issues she confronts will ultimately win you over.

This work is easily devoured in one sitting, and you may find yourself doing just that. Clearly, Lencioni’s fable and the ensuing discussion are drawn from his experience as the president of a Bay Area management consulting firm, but even not knowing that, you’ll appreciate the wisdom of his teachings. If you’re a member of a leadership team, this will prove to be an invaluable book. (Holly McGuire)

Holly McGuire is a book editor and consultant based in Chicago, Illinois.

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. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Building a cohesive team is not complicated, declares Lencioni, president of his own management consulting firm and author of The Five Temptations of a CEO. Departing from the dry, theoretical writing of many management books, he presents his case in the context of a fictional organization, and in doing so succeeds at communicating his ideas. The story is about a female CEO who is hired to bring together a dysfunctional executive staff to work as a team in a company that just two years earlier had looked promising. The scenarios that follow are recognizable and can be applied anywhere teamwork is involved, whether it is a multinational company, a small department within a larger organization, or a sports team. The five dysfunctions discussed are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. At the end of the story, the main points are summarized, and clearly written suggestions and exercises are offered to help bring about change. Concise and easy to follow, this book is recommended for academic and public libraries with management collections and for anyone who is a member of a team that needs improvement. Bellinda Wise, Nassau Community Coll. Lib., Garden City, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Publication date:
J-B Lencioni Series , #13
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Barnes & Noble
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783 KB

Read an Excerpt

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.

A friend of mine, the founder of a company that grew to a billion dollars in annual revenue, best expressed the power of teamwork when he once told me, "If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time."

Whenever I repeat that adage to a group of leaders, they immediately nod their heads, but in a desperate sort of way. They seem to grasp the truth of it while simultaneously surrendering to the impossibility of actually making it happen.

And that is where the rarity of teamwork comes into play. For all the attention that it has received over the years from scholars, coaches, teachers, and the media, teamwork is as elusive as it has ever been within most organizations. The fact remains that teams, because they are made up of imperfect human beings, are inherently dysfunctional.

But that is not to say that teamwork is doomed. Far from it. In fact, building a strong team is both possible and remarkably simple. But it is painfully difficult.

That's right. Like so many other aspects of life, teamwork comes down to mastering a set of behaviors that are at once theoretically uncomplicated, but extremely difficult to put into practice day after day. Success comes only for those organizations that overcome the all-too-human behavioral tendencies that corrupt teams and breed dysfunctional politics within them.

As it turns out, these principles apply to more than just teamwork. In fact, I stumbled on them somewhat by accident in my pursuit of a theory about leadership.

A few years ago I wrote my first book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, about the behavioral pitfalls that plague leaders. In the course of working with my clients, I began to notice that some of them were "misusing" my theories in an effort to assess and improve the performance of their leadership teams -- and with success!

And so it became apparent to me that the five temptations applied not only to individual leaders but, with a few modifications, to groups as well. And not just within corporations. Clergy, coaches, teachers, and others found that these principles applied in their worlds as much as they did in the executive suite of a multinational company. And that is how this book came to be.

Like my other books, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team begins with a story written in the context of a realistic but fictional organization. I have found that this allows readers to learn more effectively by losing themselves in a story and by being able to relate to the characters. It also helps them understand how these principles can be applied in a nontheoretical, real-world environment, where the pace of work and the volume of daily distractions make even the simplest of tasks seem arduous.

In order to help you apply the material in your own organization, a brief section following the story outlines the five dysfunctions in detail. That section also includes a self-assessment and suggested tools for overcoming the issues that might be plaguing your team. Finally, although this book is based on my work with CEOs and their executive teams, its theories are applicable for anyone interested in teamwork, whether they lead a small department within a company or are simply a member of a team that could use some improvement. Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope it helps your team overcome its particular dysfunctions so that it can achieve more than individuals could ever imagine doing alone. That, after all, is the real power of teamwork.

Meet the Author

PATRICK M. LENCIONI is founder and president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. As a consultant and keynote speaker, he has worked with thousands of senior executives and their teams in organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to high-tech startups to universities and nonprofits. Lencioni is the author of 11 best-selling books, including The Advantage and The Ideal Team Player.

To learn more about Patrick, and the products and services offered by his firm, The Table Group, please visit www.tablegroup.com.

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Five Dysfunctions of a Team 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 180 reviews.
Lencioni_Fan More than 1 year ago
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a book I enjoyed which Pat Lencioni wrote the foreword for. I found Lencioni's foreword intriguing (apparently I was the one person who hadn't heard of him). So, I decided to check The Five Dysfunctions out, and am so glad that I did. This book explores the fundamental causes of organizational politics and team failure. Lencioni does an outstanding job showing a team that's going through some typical, real-world sticking points, yet is able to maneuver through them successfully. The central premise is that any team can work together effectively once they understand and overcome the five dysfunctions. The Five Dysfunctions are: * Absence of Trust, * Fear of Conflict, * Lack of Commitment, * Avoidance of Accountability, and * Inattention to Results I'm now using The Five Dysfunctions with my work group with great success. They were already reading the EI 2.0 book, and didn't skip a beat when I threw this one into the mix. Highly recommended.
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
As a corporate human resources director, I am continually searching for material that will enhance our organizations team skills. Somewhat like another management book that I recommended Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions, the author uses fictional tales to deliver truthful insights into our business practices. I found the book to be a very intertaining and fun read along with a ton of valuable information.

The concepts within the book can be easily implemented and will result in continual improvement in your team building endeavors. The value of teamwork within the modern corporate structure is sometimes a hard sell in the real world. Managers need reference material and books that contain much needed advice if they are going to `prove' the value of teamwork to the CEO. Like communication, everyone says it is important but the rubber rarely meets the road.

The part of the book that details the "five dysfunctions" is a great reference guide and also a topic that sounds eerily familiar as all seasoned managers have been down that road. The `five' are:

1. Absence of trust,
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. Avoidance of accountability
5. Inattention to results.

I recommend this book because I believe it will be a valuable addition to your bookshelf and certainly one that will be referenced again and again through the years. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR
DianeTHeel More than 1 year ago
My colleagues and I have been struggling with changes in leadership in the workplace. A dear friend recommended this book as a resource, so I went out and bought it that day (and a second copy for one of my work colleagues). The majority of the book focuses on the 'fable' of the team who has acquired a new leader. The remainder of the book is an easily read discussion of the 5 dysfunctions, how they impact the overall team/work of the group, and strategies for changing to a more effective approach. We're getting ready to use the book in some support sessions from our HR department. And my husband can't wait to read it next (I already lent it to someone else). Overall, an easy and entertaining read that has some real 'meat' in it -- reading it has given me the opportunity to identify some behaviors in myself that I'll be working to improve.
CPSA More than 1 year ago
Easy, quick read. The team assessment in the back of the book was the most valuabe piece for our organization and myself as a leader.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a quick, fluffy read, suitable for hip managers to hand out at motivational meetings. The author paints a great picture of a new leader cajoling her 'team' into a position of trust, constructive conflict, etc. Of course, since the book is a 'fable', there is no question that she will be successful. The author is head of his own management consulting firm, but apparently hasn't actually been the leader of a successful business outside of the management seminar field. If he were, he'd understand that real world teamwork problems cannot be broken down into five simplistic catagories. The reader's money would be better spent on books that examine successful teams in the real world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The whole concept that conflict may be beneficial to a team is a very North American idea. But it is a recipe for disaster in a cross cultural group. The basic tenets set out in the book are correct and relevant, but 'arguements that are quickly forgotten' are probably confined to siblings. This is another management book with a few good ideas but can not be used as a life guide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book for new and experienced managers....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a very quick and easy read. If you feel as I did that your team isn't firing on all cylinders I highly recommend this book. I'm a small business owner and after reading it myself I made it assigned reading for everyone on my team. The performance improvements I was trying to make to my team didn't resonate with them until we were all able to read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BartBlakely More than 1 year ago
A Must Read!! This book offers lots of valuable information for any team.  Lencioni puts it all into an easy to read story then breaks it out at the end of the book.  The story puts all the information into context and 'The Model' is something you can keep referring back to. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
5 Dysfunctions of a Team, is written so that someone with either a high school education or a masters degree can understand how to achieve an optimally run team within any office.  Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wishes to learn how to be a successful part of a team.
meCG More than 1 year ago
There were two functions to this novel, the first being a "fable" meant to portray the management point of the dysfunctional team, and the second part being a review of the concepts that were illustrated in the fable. To the first part, as it was supposed to be fictional, I would only give 2 stars. Overall, the writing was overly simplistic, the dialogue felt forced and unrealistic, and the characters were basically unrealistic and arrogant (a word that was used far too many times to describe other characters while the main character was noted as "confident" even though she was many times the very same thing). This was a juxtaposition to the whole second part of the novel, while it was small, that was a review of the concepts. The writing in this area was far superior lending to a 3 star rating. This contrast of writing between the two functions made me wonder if the author felt that fictional writing should be slushy, or if they honestly were just more adept at analytical writing than story-telling. If the latter where true, that is what they should stick to; however, I must point out that in both areas of the novel there were issues with coordinating conjunctions. What was more surprising to me was the fact that at one point the character steps back and realizes that she shouldn't use the word but to begin one of her sentences because of the connotation that it holds. I wonder why the author didn't realize that it was used the same way throughout the novel, even amongst his own analytical writing. In the second section where the concepts are reviewed the writing is better, the points are much more clear and the basis of the novel is well thought out. I did see some similarities to concepts in Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, such as mutual respect. I could watch the interactions in the fable and apply the skills I learned from Crucial Conversations to work through the issues at hand. I believe that the concepts in the novel are a good basic rendering of dysfunctions of a team (lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results), many of which I can see occurring in organizations that I have worked for, but that the book lacks in-depth instructions of how to truly handle these issues. It shows one how to recognize these innate truths and how to allow others to see these issues are causing dysfunction, yet it lacks the length to go into how to deal with these. It also seems to be meant for a corporate raider who possibly isn't a part of the problem but is there to facilitate the correcting of the problem. From my experience, and as Crucial Conversations shows , many times all that are involved are a part of the problem, including executives. I think this book is a good foundation, but a more thorough book like Crucial Conversations is required to truly understand and correct the problem. Overall, I think this book would be good for a person who needs to learn by seeing an example of dysfunction; however, the fable part of the novel was lacking in fictional writing finesse.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I gained much insight into interpersonal dynamics that I will be putting into practice in my business and my home life. Easy to read narrative style - the author paints a picture that is rich and easy to follow.
NathanIves More than 1 year ago
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni examines five obstacles to effective teamwork. Focused on the executive team, Mr. Lencioni illustrates the harmful effects diminished teamwork has on an organization's effectiveness. He then prescribes actions that can be taken to overcome these obstacles thereby increasing overall organizational performance. I believe that an organization can only perform effectively if there exists a cohesive, aligned, action-oriented executive team guiding it. I like The Five Dysfunctions of a Teambecause it highlights the common barriers to effective teamwork and an actionable process for overcoming these barriers. While the process presented focuses on an organization's executive team, we believe the same principles can be used to improve teamwork at all levels of the organization. Additionally, Mr. Lencioni's recommended actions support what I believe is key to sustained, superior success; shared vision, focus, and commitment. As a business novel, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team presents its principles for improved teamwork through a believable, vividly illustrated, and easily related to story of an organization's struggle to improve performance. Many of the best practice recommendations found on the StrategyDriven website compliment the actions prescribed in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team; making this book a StrategyDriven recommended read. All the Best, Nathan Ives StrategyDriven Principal
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DocGW More than 1 year ago
Lencioni will hold your interest with this book in which he helps the reader discern barriers to having a good team.
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jackeinalaska More than 1 year ago
A presenter showed the primary diagram from this book and it caught my interest so I got and read the book--if you have problems in a work, church, school or other team--the premises in this book will help identify and suggest some ideas for resolution. It seemed odd to start with a "fable" but it really helped to illustrate the issues and resolutions. Easy read that needs some follow-on thought to process.