The Five dysfunctions of a Team

Have you ever been in a place or situation that it’s so tense and the air is so thick that you could cut it with a knife? I’ve been there and living it.  I think many people don’t think before they speak, or maybe we just don’t see it coming, but as for me, I have to say that I am thinking more than I speak this day.


This made me think of a book that I read in December of last year, it’s called the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.  It’s over 200 pages, and I read it in one sitting because it’s that good.  The book is about a lady by the name of Kathryn Peterson who took a job as Decision Tech’s CEO, she faces the ultimate leadership crisis and has to unite a team that is in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company.  This book defines the dysfunctions of a team, but I think it can also be applied to any relationship, not just work related.

The first dysfunction is absence of trust. Trust is the foundation of real teamwork, and so the first dysfunction is a failure on the part of team members to understand and open up to one another, great teams do not hold back with one another, they are not afraid to air their dirty laundry, they admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal, and the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.

The second dysfunction is fear of conflict, if we don’t trust one another then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive, ideological conflict, and we’ll just continue to preserve a sense of artificial harmony. The conflict here is not the same as passive, sarcastic comments, and false harmony is a result of people holding back their opinions and honest concerns, and I agreed with the book that I’d trade that false kind of harmony any day for a team’s willingness to argue effectively about an issue and then walk away with no collateral damage.

The third dysfunction is the lack of commitment and the failure to buy into decisions.  When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, then they won’t really get on board.  On a personal level, I think it’s very discouraging to be a part of a team that the lead person makes all the decision because s/he can, it’s not important of what you think because your opinions don’t count.  I hate to be a part of that type of team and dealing with that type of people, and I’ve to say that I’ve met many in my lifetime.

The fourth dysfunction is avoidance of accountability, people just don’t want to take responsibility of their actions and it’s easier to blame on other people, also making endless excuses for themselves, and as a result setting a very low standard for the team, then it’s a downward spiral of progress from there on.

The fifth and last dysfunction is inattention to results, status and ego. Trust is the foundation and is at the bottom, but the ultimate dysfunction is where a tendency of team members to seek out individual recognition and attention at the expense of results.  We see this all the time, it’s all about that person and s/he would do anything at what ever cost to reach that goal, to feed his/her ego.  When I see or meet people like that, it’s such a turn off to me, and I’ve met one too many.

I recommended and lent this book to people that I know and knew that it would help them in what they’re doing, but only to get it back unread and a reply of ‘I’m afraid to read it because I’m living it.”  After reading this book, I see things a lot clearer, especially in my personal relationship with people, I learned to recognize the dysfunctional signs, and weed out the ones that only think of themselves.  As bad as the economy is this day, it’s still a long road to recovery.


  1. sounds like a good book! But sadly, I don’t think I’d even have time to sit down and read a whole book like I used to.

    Oh by the way, did you ever read the book, “the secret.” I’ve often wondered what the secret was.

    • lady0fdarkness, I’ve not read the book “the Secret” but heard of it. I think it’s the same concept as Abraham-Hicks, the law of attraction, her original concept has inspired many books and movies.

      So the Secret is the law of attraction, everything that’s coming into your life you’re attracting into your life, and it’s attracted to you by virtue of the images you’re holding in your mind. It’s what you’re thinking, so whatever is going on in your mind you are attracting to you. They said if you think bad thoughts then you are attracting bad things, and vice versa. I think the law of attraction is like the law of the universe.

      • Wow Nye it looks like you have the idea down pretty well!

        As cheesy as the Law of Attraction is to some people, I find many truths to it. It’s like what they say….”You get what you give.” A bit like Karma, branching from Buddhism.

        • Cambree, I had this discussion at Sim’s blog before, he posted about Ester Hicks and I started to pay more attention to how our mind works, and negativity or negative thoughts do attract negative things in our life, I know it did mine. So I try to think more positive now, it’s like if you think you can, most likely you will be able to do it. 🙂

    • lady0fdarkness, a good example of the law of attraction is at your Darkness Lakorn blog, you had a bad comment, posted about it, then it creates more bad comments there and elsewhere, seems to attract more negativity, even though your intention of posting it is good but the nature of the comment is bad, so it spreads to other blogs as well, btw, I didn’t get bad comment from that person yet, still waiting. 🙂

  2. This sounds like a great book. I’ll look it up at our local library on my next trip there. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I’ve been wanting to read another business book titled, “Leading with Kindness: How Good People Consistently Get Superior Results”
    by William F. Baker and William F. Baker.

    I think in this day and age, companies that thrive or ones that are aware of how important it is to treat both workers and customers well. Such companies include Zappos Shoes and Costco. 🙂

    • Cambree, I’ve not read “Leading with Kindness…” and sounds like a good book also. My boss sent me to a customer service seminar several years back because I have to help out some during lunch break and they said that customers on the other end of the line can hear and feel your expressions through your voice, so they suggested us to smile when we answer the phone, I often thought of that class when I answer the phone. 🙂

      We recently had to let go the lead customer service person, and when our customers heard about it, their replied, “Does it have anything to do with her attitude?!?” I think she took a different approach, the all mighty type and people just don’t want to talk or deal with her, good customer service is very important this day and age and I’ve noticed that more and more places are doing something to improve their customer service.

      It’s ashamed that we don’t have Cosco in my area.

      • Dear Nye, As usual I am doing my weekly catching up on a very dear friend. This book says much about what is missing in our work lives these days. You always know sooo much! Missing you. AEC

        • Hi Audrey, it’s good to hear from you, hope all is well. I’m just hanging in there, I think at this stage of the game, most little companies have to pull their resources together and work as a team, that’s the only way to survive. A lot of places got hit hard, but it’s good to hear about Ethan Allen picking back up and hiring again, but only because they shut down the one in CA, I can’t say it’s better for the whole, just shifting in Location.

          The less people that we’ve here, the more we missed our old friends.

  3. I found this book intresting I think I should also read it. And thanks for your last visit on my blog, I had updated it.

    • Hi 1stdreamer, it’s an interesting book, gives you a better perspective of an organization as a whole, and everywhere you go, you will always see the same set of people so it’s best to learn to deal with them rather than running away.

      As for your blog, I wasn’t sure if it’s you at first, but now I know. Thanks.

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