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Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team

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Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Patrick Lencioni
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The essay is based on Patrick Lencioni’s book “Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. This book is a sequel to the first book of the same writer, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”. In the first chapter is introduced the five dysfunctions of a team, that reader is easier to continue to read this essay and understand second chapter. In the second chapter is introduced concrete tools that team leader can use to get team works better.


The five dysfunctions of a team

In his previous book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, Lencioni (2005) has identified five dysfunctions in the team that cause the team to fail.

These five dysfunctions are following:

  1. Absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflicts
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results

The following chapter discusses how to overcome these problems. How can a team start building trust? How should the team anticipate and prepare for conflict situations? Which are the things the team needs to commit to? How can responsibility be distributed in an equitable and effective manner? And how could the results be tracked? The next section will provide answers to all of these questions as well as practical tools for overcoming or preventing any disruption in the team.


Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team

This chapter discusses a variety of tools are related to dysfunctions in team. This part is shared five different sections. These sections are based on five different dysfunctions which are mentioned in previous chapter.


1. Building trust

Team members who trust one another learn to be open, even exposed, to one another around their failures and weaknesses. In the other words team members who trust each other can be vulnerable. Vulnerability- based trust is hard but it is possible. (Lencioni, 2005) The following parts discusses the two different tools that team can use to build trust.

The Personal History Exercise
In this exercise the team leader asks each group member to explain three things: where they grew up, how many kids were in their family, and what was the most difficult or important challenge of their childhood. By going through the Personal Histories Exercise, team members come to understand one another at a more fundamental level. (Lencioni, 2005).

Behavioral Profiling
Behavioral profiling tool help team members to accurately and openly assess their strengths and weaknesses. In his book, Lencioni recommend Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) -tool to do behavioral profiling. The idea is simple. Tool gives team members an objective, reliable means for understanding and describing one another. (Lencioni, 2005).


2. Mastering conflict

In his book, Lencioni (2005) describes a practical process that helps the team manage conflict situations. The process also helps the team learn about conflicts and see opportunities in conflicts. Without conflict, there is no genuine teamwork.

The first step in the process is for each team member to make their own conflict profile. The purpose of the profile is to make group members understand different ways of engaging in conflict. Team members can use the same Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) tool as in the previous section to find out their own conflict profile. After conflict profiling, the team should create a common culture of conflict and standards for how to deal with conflicts. (Lencioni, 2005).


3. Achieving Commitment

Commitment is essential in teamwork. The two most important things which Lencioni (2005) mentions in his book are commitment to common decisions and common goals. The following sections discusses practical tool that a team leader can use.

Tool for commitment clarification
The first tool relates to decision making. Five minutes before the end of the meeting, the team leader must ask the question: What exactly have we decided today? Then he writes down the group’s supposed decisions and gives them chance to question. This allows the team to identify inconsistencies before making a decision. The purpose is not to reach consensus, Purpose is a get decision that everyone can buy and commit to. (Lencioni, 2005)

Thematic Goals
In addition to joint decisions, the team must commit to common goals. Everyone in a group should know what its top collective focus is. The best way to do this and provoke team members to come up with a common cause is to help them set up what I call a “thematic goal”. This is only one team-wide unifying goal that every member of the team should think about when working. (Lencioni, 2005)

4. Embracing Accountability

According Lencioni one of the best ways to found to encourage a culture of peer-to-peer accountability on a team is uncomplicated tool called the Team Effectiveness Exercise (TEE). It all starts with all team members writing the answers to two simple questions about each team member: “What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that contributes to the strength of our team? What is the single most important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that can sometimes derail the team?” After that, everyone’s answers are discussed together. (Lencioni, 2005)

5. Focusing on result

Scoreboard is one easy way to make sure your team does not forget about results. Each team should have one easy-to-read tool to measure success at any time. In a good scoreboard is a small number of critical factors. The Scoreboard includes quantitative and qualitative evaluation. The best way to create a scoreboard is to use two primary sources: ongoing team dimensions and support goals that form the group’s thematic objective. (Lencioni, 2005).

6. Conclusion

Trust is the base of teamwork and trust is related to vulnerability. Building trust takes time but focusing on the process can speed it up. A good conflict between team members requires trust, which is associated with unfiltered discussion of topics. Conflict standards need to be discussed among the group. Conflicts should not be feared as they are fruitful for group development. The commitment of team members requires clarity. Clarity, in turn, means that teams avoid guesswork and end the discussions with a clear understanding of what they have decided together. After that, it is easier for the whole team to commit to a joint decision.


Lencioni, Patrick (2005) Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators. Jossey-Bass.


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