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The library of essays of Proakatemia

Five dysfunctions of a team

Kirjoittanut: Timur Kahlun - tiimistä Avanteam.

Esseen tyyppi: Akateeminen essee / 3 esseepistettä.

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

Five dysfunctions of a team.


Five dysfunctions of a team is a great tool for any teams in any position. In the book it’s clarified that what a team is and what is the difference with a group of people and a team. According to Five dysfunctions, a team is consisted from people who are working towards a common goal and everyone needs to make sacrifices to reach this goal. The difference between a team and a group is, that everyone knows each other in a personal level and are able to show vulnerability in front of each other. Trust is a key factor in any team and through trust, the team is able to present ideas to each other without having to worry about the idea or suggestion being bad and humiliating themselves in the process.


The way that the book was written was really interesting to the reader (at least for me), since the book started with a story, instead of being just another book stating arguments and trying to be relatable enough to keep the reader interested. The story began in a fictional software company, which was not doing too well and an older woman, Katherine was appointed as the new CEO of the company. The main issue in this fictional story is that, other competitors are on the rise and the company of the story is facing issues in growth and customer satisfaction. As the story progresses, it’s revealed that the problem lies in the boards lack of team spirit and Katherine is there to fix that.


At first is seemed odd, that she was just lurking in meetings and made the former CEO lead the meetings and the meetings went catastrophically, people were just defending their own work and statements, no one took responsibility, instead they spent the whole meeting arguing and blaming others. In this situation there were no trust between the group, and it showed.


Then it all started to make sense, when Katherine arranged an offsite with the board, while the company was having issues in the market. Every single board member was displeased and frustrated “There are more important stuff to go through” stated Mikey, the marketing chief, before the first offsite meeting. Katherine kicked off the meeting stating the company’s current position and problems that they’re behind their competitors. The board seemed displeased and frustrated, because all of them thought it was quite obvious and she’s just wasting everyone’s time. Katherine explained that she is going to repeat the statement as long as the situation is, what the statement is. This is a great tool for any team, since it clarifies their goal and sets the tone for the meeting and everyone knows what they’re working towards. The meeting didn’t have many topics discussing the problems or how to fix them, but it had many team building exercises, like telling something interesting about the team members to each other. The ultimate goal of Katherine was to glue the team together, and after they had set the course, they could start tackling “real” issues.


After the first offsite the situation quickly spiraled towards the starting point: The team started to back to their old ways rather quickly and it seemed that all the lessons of the first offsite was forgotten, so Katherine decided to have another. The team found their track again, but Katherine stated that it’s very easy for the team to slip back in their old ways and keeping the right track, is easy on paper, but very hard in practice. She also started to have one on one meeting with the members of the boards and told that, this is the way that the company is going to go and if someone was not okay with it, they either quit or corrected their behavior. One person, who was still causing issues, was Mikey, the head of the marketing department. In meetings she continuously kept rolling her eyes and mumbling in a way, that made the team question their own ideas and made them hold on to their opinions and not expressing them freely. Katherine took the bull by the horns and had Mikey to stay after the meeting was over. She straight up told Mikey that she thought that Mikey would be happier in another company. Mikey was shocked and explained that she’d come a long way and her behavior isn’t that destructive as Katherine described it to be. Katherine wasn’t going to budge and kept her head. The marketing manager got very defensive and angrily told her boss, that she won’t be fired, and Katherine told her that she doesn’t need to be fired, but she would have to change her behavior drastically. After taking a breather outside the one on one meeting, she came back and had demands for her quitting on her own and asking for money. Katherine wanted to give all that Mikey asked to her but didn’t want to seem as a pushover and told Mikey, that she’ll look into it. This was a great example of a firing situation, where the person being fired wasn’t humiliated or put down in any way and both parties emerged from the situation as victorious.



Company eventually was able to fix their course and thanks to Katherine’s team building activities and employees who were willing to make big changes in their behavior. The fictional story was a great example on how to turn a dysfunctional team into functional one.



The book continues after the story and lists the five dysfunctions and after the story, they were really easy for the reader to understand. The five dysfunctions were absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results and every dysfunction was opened up and explained through the examples of the fictional story and the writer.


Trust is considered the most important factor of any functional team, and according to the writer of the book, “Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they’re doing it because they care about the team.” – Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. When trust is present, the team is able to challenge ideas and push each other without the fear of offending and hurting the feelings of team members. Building trust with new team members can and is very difficult but if trust is achieved, the team can achieve great things together. Trust can also be broken within the team and fixing the issue can be even more difficult, because it hurts more, if a person you trust, betrays the trust.


For anyone looking to build trust, they have to be able to show vulnerability in front of others. “Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal.” – Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. For many people it’s difficult to do this in fear of judgement or shame. In time, if the members are willing to engage with each other, it will become easier and even more important to do so.


All of the dysfunctions are important, but they have one thing in common, they all revolve around trust and without it, there is only a group of people unwilling and lacking the courage to properly engage.

The five dysfunctions was a great read and can help any team in any situation. The storytelling part was engaging and well written and backed up with theory after the story was over.

In the book there was a lot of information that can be taken for granted and there can be exhausting and frustrating moments of “I already know this, can we move on?”, but the point is to go through the fundamentals over and over again, so they are not forgotten in the process, since it’s really easy to overlook these “simple” points and spiral back in to the starting point. If you or your team is experiencing any difficulties, or you just want to deepen the relationship of your team, the Five dysfunctions of a Team, is highly recommended read.




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