“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Lencioni

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 3
Words: 1033
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: Master

Major Management Concepts Discussed

The major management / leadership concepts discussed in the book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, as defined by the Leadership Effective Inventory (LEI) competencies, include:

  • Team Building – Inspires and promotes team commitment, spirit, and trust. Facilitates cooperation and encourages team members to fulfill group goals.
  • Continual Learning – Evaluates and acknowledges own strengths and weaknesses; aims for self-development.
  • Conflict Management – Foresees counter-productive confrontations and takes measures to prevent them. Manages and resolves conflicts in a constructive manner.
  • Accountability – Holds self and others accountable for measurable high-quality, timely, and cost-effective results. Identifies objectives, sets priorities, and delegates tasks. Assumes responsibility for mistakes. Follows established control systems and rules.

While the LEI focuses on competencies that team members should possess, the book describes behaviors that team members demonstrate when they have or lack the specified competencies. The five dysfunctions described in the book are related to a lack of these competencies. In particular, the absence of trust is related to a lack of team building and continual learning competencies. Fear of conflict stems from a lack of conflict management competency. A lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results are caused by underdeveloped accountability competency.

Book Summary

The book describes five dysfunctions that hinder team members from working successfully as a team. The first part of the book is written in the form of a business fable. It narrates a story of a Silicon Valley startup, DecisionTech, that was a promising company two years ago but now was struggling because of ineffective management. After Kathryn was hired as a new CEO, she began transformations by addressing five dysfunctions present in their team.

In the second part of the book, the author describes the model comprising the five dysfunctions and suggests ways of overcoming them. The model is depicted as a pyramid with one dysfunction serving as the base for the next ones. The five dysfunctions of a team are as follows:

  1. Absence of trust: This dysfunction is the base of the pyramid. It refers to a lack of vulnerability-based trust within the team, which means that team members do not feel they can share their failures and vulnerabilities with others and be sure that they will stay on their side. The author suggests that team members’ sharing their weaknesses fosters group cohesion and helps them concentrate on the group’s objectives.
  2. Fear of conflict: A lack of trust leads to team members’ avoidance of engagement in conflicts. The author argues that, instead of engaging in a constructive conflict to resolve problems, team members with a lack of trust maintain artificial harmony. Teams with this dysfunction cannot openly voice their opinions, which leads to suboptimal results.
  3. Lack of commitment: The author argues that commitment is not about consensus; instead, it is about whether all team members express their opinions and concerns during a conflict. This dysfunction builds on fear of conflict because if there is no conflict, no opinions can be voiced. If team members do not contribute their ideas to the group discussion, they will not genuinely support the made decision and will not be committed to the accomplishment of the group goals.
  4. Avoidance of accountability: When team members lack commitment, they do not feel responsible for the group results. Consequently, they also do not hold others accountable.
  5. Inattention to results: When team members are not committed and do not hold each other accountable, they cannot be sure that the others will do their part to achieve the common goal. Therefore, they focus on their individual goals rather than group results. This dysfunction is often characteristic of executive teams that concentrate on the results of their departments rather than on the company’s strategy.

Several key themes can be defined in this book:

  • Consensus should not be a goal.

The main purpose of constructive conflicts is to allow all team members to contribute to the discussion and express their opinions. If everyone is heard, they are more likely to be committed to the group goals.

  • The company leaders should lead by example.

Leaders should be the first to address the dysfunctions they identify in their teams. It means that they should be the first to show their vulnerabilities, encourage constructive conflicts, clarify responsibilities and deadlines, set performance standards, and focus on results.

  • Group interests should transcend individual ones.

If everyone is focused on their individual interests and results, group performance will suffer. When team members do not agree to put group interests first, they may be expelled from the team. For example, in the book, JR Rawlins left because he could not stand the team-building process, and Mikey was fired because she was reluctant to become an integral part of the team and undermined the discipline.

Discussion of the Significance of the Book’s Concepts to My Work Experiences and Learnings

The book is valuable to managers and executives because it describes issues that have to be paid attention to in order to improve the performance of the team. It seems that the most important concept of the book is engagement in constructive conflicts. Prevalent beliefs are that conflicts should be avoided and that if they occur, their purpose should be to reach a consensus. This book demonstrates that these beliefs are wrong in terms of team success. Managers should encourage constructive conflicts to ensure that every team member is heard. This will help them increase team members’ accountability and commitment to group results. In addition, managers should be the first to implement change in their team processes. They should lead by example, which should be accomplished by defining responsibilities, setting priorities, and establishing trust.

Recommendation for Including This Book on Next Year’s Management Reading List

I would recommend adding the book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to the next year’s management reading list because it has relevant content for leaders and an engaging form. The book is written as a fable, so readers can see how the dysfunctions manifest themselves in practice. This will help them better identify these issues in their own teams. Furthermore, the book contains valuable information about why teams may have suboptimal performance and how to tackle these issues.


Patrick Lencioni (2002). The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Jossey-Bass