Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


I have  been asked to do an MBTI workshop for a team of executives because the leader had read Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions ofa  Team and was inspired by its use of the MBTI. I had flipped through Lencioni’s book several times (I have owned a copy for years) but had never read the book cover to cover. I figured this was the right time to get into it so I would have a sense of where that request came from.

I already knew that it advocates the use of tools such as the MBTI to increase team members’ self-awareness and ability to adjust to each other’s differences. A team I had been a part of some years ago has use the concept of personal histories to increase sharing and trust in the team, but without follow-up, it had no lasting effect.

So it was time I read the whole book to get an overall view of Lencioni’s approach. The book is a quick read, and rather than being a structured exposé of the approach, it is a fictional story about how the approach can be applied to a concrete situation, an extended example of how it can work out. Lencioni calls it a fable. Some people don’t like this type of business book, feeling it is a watered down approach, and that it does not covered options and alternatives. The book does end with a 35-page section that lays out the model in a structured way, defining the 5 dysfunctions, describing the behaviors found in a team that suffers from each of the dysfunctions and those that don’t. It also provides suggestions for overcoming the dysfunctions. These have been expended in Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a  Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators, published 3 years later, which I have also perused but must also read through.

According to Lencioni, this is “how members of truly cohesive teams behave:

  1. They trust one another.
  2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  3. They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  5. They focus on the achievement of collective results.”

So the corresponding dysfunctions are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. These dysfunctions are interrelated and should not be addressed in isolation.


Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA: 2002.

Lencioni, Patrick. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a  Team: A Field Guide for Leaders, Managers, and Facilitators. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA: 2005.

Other things (Lencioni’s consulting firm)


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