“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” By: Patrick Lencioni

I attended the Oklahoma City Human Resource Society of which I am a member luncheon.  The presenter that day reported on a concept Ernie Gomez_214of this book to the audience.  At the end of the presentation, there was a drawing for one of the “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” books and I was one of the lucky winners.

The majority of the book reported on a fictitious company “Decision Tech” and how they put the five dysfunctions of a team to work and how they overcame them.

The problem that the owner of Decision Tech had was that his team was under performing two of their top competitors with revenues and customer growth.  The Decision Tech even though they were under performing had a more experienced set of executives, more cash, better core technology and a more connected board of directors.

Jeff Shanley, 37 years old, was asked to step down as CEO and he was co-founder of Decision Tech because of their under performance.

Kathryn, 57 years old, who was old in Silicon Valley standards was bought on as CEO. She came to Decision Tech from a manufacturing background.  She had a board of seven direct reports to begin with, Jeff – CEO and Head of Business Development, Mikey-Head of Marketing, Martin-Chief Technologist, JR-Head of Sales, Carlos-Customer Support, Jim-CFO and Nick-COO.  After Kathryn restructured, she ended up with four direct reports, Jan-CFO, Nick-COO, Joseph-VP of Marketing and Jeff-VO of Business Development.

Kathryn called meetings of her direct reports off sight, which was not the norm of her board.  During these meetings they started practicing and observing some of the dysfunctions of a team.

The first meeting was getting to know her team.  She noticed that Martin was the last to get to the meeting right on time.  He was also observed as being on his laptop the entire time he was in the meeting.  She wanted them to ‘Get Naked’ and state personal facts about themselves like how many children, where they went to school, their strengths and weaknesses.  She stated her strength  was getting straight to the facts with no fluff.  Her weakness was not being a PR person.

She stated to her team to put aside their egos and not play as individuals but like a football team plays.

She proceeded to describe the five dysfunctions of a team:  Bottom to top


In the book it gives charts of the dysfunctions and how to use them with or without the attribute:

Members of teams with an absence of trust

  • Conceal their weaknesses and mistakes from one another
  • Jump to conclusions about the intentions and aptitudes of others without attempting to clarify them
  • Dread meeting and find reasons to avoid spending time together

Members of trusting teams…

  • Admit weaknesses and mistakes
  • Accept questions and input about their areas of responsibility
  • Look forward to meetings and other opportunities to work as a group

Teams that fear conflict…

  • Have boring meetings
  • Ignore controversial topics that are critical to team success
  • Fail to tap into all the opinions and perspectives of team members

Teams that engage in conflict…

  • Have lively interesting meetings
  • Solve real problems quickly
  • Put critical topics on the table for discussion

A team that fails to commit…

  • Watches windows of opportunity close due to excessive analysis and unnecessary delay
  • Revisits discussions and decisions again and again

A team that commits…

  • Aligns the entire team around common objectives
  • Develops an ability to learn from mistakes
  • Moves forward without hesitation

A team that avoids accountability…

  • Encourages mediocrity
  • Places an undue burden on the team leader as the sole source of discipline

A team that holds one another accountable

  • Ensures that poor performers feel pressure to improve
  • Establishes respect among team members who are held to the same high standards

A team that is not focused on results…

  • Rarely defeats competitors
  • Encourages team members to focus on their own careers and individual goals

A team that focuses on collective results

  • Minimizes individualistic behavior
  • Retains achievement-oriented employees

The takeaways from the book that I got from reading it:  rebuilding a team is like breaking an

arm, the only way it will heal is by re-breaking it again, don’t have to get your way just to be heard, meetings should be like movies and last only 90 minutes to 2 hours, and things may get worse before they get better.

I would recommend this book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” to be read by all.  From the other reports that we have heard have had some of the same concepts – Egos and Trust.