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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


Personal Thoughts

Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, "The Five Temptations of a CEO" and "The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive". This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Summary Notes

  • Jeff looked like he was trying to decide whether to be humbled or angry, so Kathryn clarified. “I’m not trying to criticize what you’ve done so far, because it seems to me that no one cares more about the company than you do.” His ego now assuaged, Kathryn drove the point home. “But from a team standpoint, we are completely broken. And one sales meeting is not going to have a meaningful impact on our future, at least not until we straighten out the leadership problems around here.
  • Kathryn interpreted his silence as permission to continue her pointed lecture. “You’ve probably heard my husband say that a fractured team is just like a broken arm or leg; fixing it is always painful, and sometimes you have to rebreak it to make it heal correctly. And the rebreak hurts a lot more than the initial break because you have to do it on purpose.
  • Right now I’d like to start with the first dysfunction: absence of trust.” She turned and wrote the phrase at the bottom of the triangle.
  • Great teams do not hold back with one another,” she said. “They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.
  • But I’d have to say that more than anything I’ve been told by others, I see a trust problem here in the lack of debate that exists during staff meetings and other interactions among this team.
  • Theoretically, if everyone is completely on the same page and working in lockstep toward the same goals with no sense of confusion, then I suppose a lack of debate might be a good
  • But I’d have to say that every effective team I’ve ever observed had a substantial level of debate. Even the most trusting teams mixed it up a lot.
  • It was really quite amazing. After just forty-five minutes of extremely mild personal disclosure, the team seemed tighter and more at ease with each other than at any time during the past year. But Kathryn had been through this enough to know that the euphoria would diminish as soon as the conversation shifted to work.
  • Remember, teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.
  • All of you, every one of you, are responsible for sales. Not just JR. All of you are responsible for marketing. Not just Mikey. All of you are responsible for product development, customer service, and finance.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable


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