Title: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (Affiliate Link)
Page count: 220 in hardback (I read the Kindle Edition)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Who should read: Leaders, managers, and members of teams of any type
The Punch Line: 80% of the book is a fable based on the essential message of the book, which is centered on the five dysfunctions as described by the title. If you only have 30 minutes to an hour, start with “The Model” on page 185. From pp. 185-220, Lencioni describes the five dysfunctions and gives sample exercises to overcome each of the dysfunctions.
Extended Thoughts and Summary:
The book begins with a brief introduction by the author and then launches straight into the fable.
‘Kathryn,’ a fictional character, has been selected as the new CEO of ‘Decisiontech, Inc.’ The company is a tech startup in Silicon Valley. Because previous leadership did not take the company to the heights expected by analysts, Kathryn has been called in as a turnaround expert and team guru. In her fifties, she doesn’t even remotely match the typical profile of a Silicon Valley CEO.
Over the course of several two-day off-site executive retreats, Kathryn goes over the five dysfunctions model with her team. The five dysfunctions are:
- The absence of trust
- Fear of Conflict
- Lack of Commitment
- Avoidance of Accountability
- Inattention to Results
In walking her team through the model, Kathryn helps them to realize how dysfunctional is the executive team at Decisiontech. In addition , Kathryn develops strategies to cope with each dysfunction within the team.
Along the way, more than one of the executive team members either quits or is fired, but in the end the team is all the better for the wear. By the end of the fable, the team is much more functional and Kathryn has proven herself to be a capable change agent.
Much more helpful and important than the fable material are the last 35 pages of the book. In these pages, Lencioni provides an overview of each dysfunction, an explanation of how the dysfunctions are related, highlights typical symptoms of each, and, finally, provides relatively simple team exercises to tackle each dysfunction head on.
As shown through my rating and punch line, I did not find the entirety of the book to be incredibly enlightening or necessarily worth the page count. However, the last 35 pages are very practical and useful, which should prove to be valuable for future reference.
I would recommend reading the book, but definitely not to be put at the top of your reading pile. As stated, start with the last few pages and come back for the fable if you want a light read that incorporates the basic principles.
For group discussion, I recommend using the team assessment on page 191. Follow up by utilizing Lencioni’s suggested team exercises over the course of several team retreats if possible.
Interested in reading the book based on this review? Buy it here: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Affiliate Link)