22 Aug 2011

Book Review: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable

Teamwork doesn’t just happen. A successful team requires commitment, hard work, openness and honesty. In this regard, the skills that are present in a successful team are not dissimilar to those required for a successful relationship. In both, the expectations, desires and needs of the members will change over time due to increased knowledge, experience and changing circumstances. Successful team have the skills to adapt to these changing circumstances and continue to flourish.

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

Patrick Lencioni

There are many things that can make the difference between a bad team and a good team. But what about the differences between a good team and a great team? Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable’ discusses the 5 key ‘dysfunctions’ that make the difference between effective and ineffective teams. According to Lencioni, there are five things that can get in the way of this communication, which can then undermine the team:


1. Absence of trust

2. Fear of conflict

3. Lack of commitment

4. Avoidance of accountability

5. Inattention to results


Why we like the book:

1.            The 5 Dysfunctions described hold true for all of the difficult and troubled teams that we have worked with. In fact, the first 2 Dysfunctions and the impact that they have upon a team account for most of the difficulties we have found with teams.

2.            The use of story or ‘fable’ to get the message across. This is a very easy read because the messages are so easy to understand and relate to; there are so many examples in this book that will have you thinking ‘I have seen that’, ‘That is just like when….’ or ‘I do that’.

3.            It is not bogged down with research / models / theory that cannot be applied to the workforce or your team.

4.            Too often leadership and team writers get carried away with their own cleverness, confusing their readers as often as clarifying areas to improve. That is not the case with the 5 Dysfunctions.

5.            It is not a long read. Cover to cover you can complete this book inside 3 hours. Be careful though, we found the book so full of ideas and ‘aha’ moments that we spent a lot of time taking down notes to apply to our own teams.

6.            Rather than leaving you with a problem (or 5 problems!) to ponder, the fable takes you through how a Manager deals with and overcomes the 5 Dysfunctions of her team in a realistic fashion.

7.            It can be applied to new or existing teams and leaders with both small and vast experience will be able to learn and apply the material to their teams.

In short, this is the best team development book we have worked with so far. In fact, we have designed a 2-day Team development workshop to help Managers implement the 5 Dysfunctions with in their teams Maximising Team Potential.

Well worth the read.

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