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Overcoming dysfunctions in a team

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Overcoming The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Patrick Lencioni
Esseen arvioitu lukuaika on 5 minuuttia.



Overcoming Five Dysfunction of a Team (2005) is a book written by Patrick Lencioni. Patrick Lencioni is a world-famous business consultant in California and a very well-known keynote speaker all around the world. Patrick Lencioni has written lot of best-selling books by the New Your Times among The Ideal Team Player (2016) and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002). Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team is a continuum for the first one published in 2002. As the first book is a fable to the matter in hand. The second book is a field guide to leaders, managers and facilitators to overcome the dysfunction and fix team with the tools from the book. Reason for the book is to understand better how to build greater teams and be a successful team leader. Understand the key factors in team building and master the tools to build or fix successful teamwork.


Five dysfunctions of a team -method


First the main idea of team building is to recognize the dysfunctions. Like the books name says there is five of those.  First one is the absence of trust. Trust is the foundation of teamwork and team building. In trust of the team is about vulnerability. Team members need to get comfortable to be vulnerable front of each other. Without trust the second dysfunction is going to stay as a dysfunction. Second is fear of conflict. If the team cannot dive into a passionate debate team would not get all of the great ideas heard from the members of the team. If the team cannot dive into a passionate debate, members of the team won’t say their mind about the matter in hand. Which creates the third dysfunction to the team. Lack of commitment. When team members don’t have the chance to say their mind about the problem, matter or difficulty and being “left-out” the decision making. They won’t commitment to the decision.

Fourth dysfunction is avoidance of accountability. With accountability meaning is that the leader is not the only in the team that is accountable of the team members success at the job. Every member should be accountable others success too. Not only by their own success in a team. If there is commitment to the task. Team members have better chance to be accountable for their neighbor inside the team. Fifth is inattention to results. Of course, because everything is about the results. But one simple thing is good to keep in mind about the results of team building. Not every result is a company-based meters of revenue. These results are for the team.  Team can decide for themselves what they want to achieve as a team in some period of time. If the goal is measurable and helps the team grow and makes them a better team. Then that is a great goal and should be a result for the team. Patrick Lencioni has made an triangle to clarify the dysfunction.


Breaking the dysfunction of a team


There is various tools to help teams overcome these dysfunctions. Some of those are bigger and takes more time and some of those are very easy to make like in a meeting. When team starts to overcome dysfunctions. Teams should keep in mind that these are not those type of problems that can be overcome in one day and one exercise. These are problems that needs to be aware all the time and needs to be nurture every day. Beginning to overcome dysfunctions these exercises should be done in off-site place. Some other than the workplace. Recommended is that the team will go off-site for two days and goes through the dysfunctions with certain exercises.


  1. Beginning to build trust into the team might sound as a touchy-feely kind of thing. But these type of exercises are eyes opening to your colleagues. One exercise is low-key, but effective. It is called the personal history exercise. In personal history exercise there is three questions that everybody needs to answer. First, where did you grow up? Second, how many children there were in the family? And the third is, what was the biggest difficulty challenge of being a child? Because our childhood has a big effect to us how we grow up. This is important exercise. With this exercise team members get to look inside their peers past and recognize behavioral patterns in their adult life and personality. Almost every time team members get to know new aspects about their peers.


  1. To overcome fear of conflict team members should learn more about the personalities of their peers. One good exercise is that everybody makes the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI -test is developed by Isabel Briggs Myers at 1940s. Test indicates 16 different personality types and is very accurate about our behaviors. This test is good to make before the off-site meet because it helps team members also to building trust. Results of this test is valuable to overcome fear of conflict. “The MBTI profile includes a very specific analysis about how each type deals with conflict.” (Lencioni 2005, 41.) Understanding how different people deals conflict is a good start to build passionate debate into the teamwork.


  1. Achieving commitment to the team is where you can start to talk about the work-related matters. This is the time also to start practice diving into a passionate debate with the team members. Because the lack of commitment comes from not getting a chance to say your thoughts or ideas. Now when team is debating work-related matters the team leader should facilitate the conversation and make sure that everybody gets to tell their mind and ideas. After the debate when there have been decisions made. Leader should go final round of arguments. Ask everybody that have there been said that individuals want to say. Then leader needs to go again what type of decision they have just made. This time leader writes those down to a whiteboard or a big paper that everybody can see the decisions. If there comes still confusion about the decisions. Team will go again through the uncertainties.


  1. Embracing accountability there is a tool to encourage the culture of peer-to-peer accountability. Most of the people will think that is old-fashioned feedback. But it’s not. Feedback at the beginning can be hard because it is a skill to be good at. This tool is called Team effectiveness exercise (TEE). In this tool team members need to answer two questions towards every team member. Team members don’t answer about themselves anything. Just about their peers. “The first question: “What is the single important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that contributes to the strength of our team?” (Lencioni 2005, 65.) “The second: “What is the single important behavioral characteristic or quality demonstrated by this person that can sometimes derail the team?” (Lencioni 2005, 65.) In this exercise the team leader goes first. It shows leadership to the team members and lowers the tension from the exercise.


  1. Now when there has been work done for the four previous dysfunctions. Is time to get results. Team needs to set up some goals. Those goals can be anything, but those have to be goals that team have set for themselves with trust, passionate debate and everybody needs to commit to the goals also everybody needs to be accountable towards each other. Recommended first goal is that short period of time that team looks to these dysfunctions and reflects if there has been progress in these. It is good to set up some meters. How to measure the success overcoming dysfunctions.


In the book there is lot of different tools to overcome dysfunctions. Team and team leader should know that these tools can be designed to your team needs. Team leader doesn’t need to do exactly how these tools are presented in the book. By using common sense and own knowledge these exercises can be facilitated differently by the team leader and the team.




Lencioni, P. 2005. Overcoming the five dysfunctions of a team – A field guide for leaders, managers and facilitators. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Lencioni, P. 2002. The five dysfunctions of a team. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Lencioni, P. 2016. The ideal team player: how to recognize and cultivate the three essential virtues. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.