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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a leadership fable – review


Author: Patrick Lencioni
Published by: Jossey-Bass, April 2002
ISBN: 0787960756
Price: £16.50
Paperback: Hardback, 224 pages

Buy this book from the TrainingZONE – Blackwells bookshop.

“Utterly gripping” “Keen intellect and storytelling power”, “Crisp Clear and Fun to read”

All these phrases are taken from the publishers splurge, and , as usual, none of them are true. It wasn’t so gripping, but it was better than most texts on teamwork.
As someone who has always found it more memorable to use stories and anecdotes for training, I found the book a lot easier to absorb than most texts, but there were no pages which I could underline and think, Aha I will use that story next time I’m running a group.

Patrick Lencioni has written two similar books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. I haven’t read either of these, but I am tempted after reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team .

The fable storyline is as follows:
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 tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

During the story, Lencioni lists the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams often struggle. He outlines his model and steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. There is unfortunately no great plot to the story except as a vehicle to introduce the areas of the model.

Part One: Background.
Part Two: Round One.
Part Three: Real World.
Part Four: Traction.
An Overview of the Model.
Dysfunction One: Lack of Trust.
Dysfunction Two: Fear of Conflict.
Dysfunction Three: Unwillingness to Commit.
Dysfunction Four: Avoidance of Accountability.
Dysfunction Five: Inattention to Results.

The Fable lasts for the first four sections and is 180 pages long. The Model Overview is about 40 pages long , and includes suggestions for overcoming the dysfunctional elements. There is a short 2 page assessment of the effectiveness of the team as it is currently operating.

It is not unputdownable, but is readable and much better value than some other team work resources that I have reviewed. If it inspires you to identify members of your own staff with characters in the fable then it will be money well spent.
Don’t think of it as a definitive guide to improving teams, but it’s a quick easy read for you, and if you can pass it around to others in the organization it will do some good.

Chris Green

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