The five dysfunctions of a Team

Few months back, I come across wonderful leadership fable called “The five dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni. Even in one dinner my VP discussed about this book with me. In this book, Patrick described analysis of one newly appointed CEO about her team. She finds there are 5 factors that makes the team weak and she explained factors to the team one after the other with very well narrated conversations. The five dysfunctions are:

  • Absence of Trust,
  • Fear of Conflict,
  • Lack of Commitment,
  • Avoidance of Accountability, and
  • Inattention to Results.
Five Dysfunctions of Team

Five Dysfunctions of Team

Here is few lines about each of those –

  • Absence of Trust – Trust is the basement of any relation esp. team integrity completely depends on one’s trust on other – trust between peers & trust between manager and member. In case lack of trust creeps up in the team lot of behavioral change in team member arises(like not showing weaknesses, to be vulnerable and open, getting into defensive mode, not helping) which in turn demolishes the very purpose of working as a team. Effect: Invulnerability

  • Fear of Conflict– Conflict is healthy in any team. There is one quote that says importance of conflict – “If two people agreeing in all terms then one is redundant. Conflict is healthy & required for progress”. People doesn’t want to hurt others or play politics avoid conflicts which again causes issues within the group. Effect: Artificial Harmony

  • Lack of Commitment – Running around without starting an activity with fear of failure & not really engaging one self. Giving due respect to each one’s suggestions, we cannot have good options. If some good options are not selected, people may do it for work sake but they do not commit.  Effect: Ambiguity

  • Avoidance of Accountability – No commitment then no accountability. In many teams, team member thinks that only manager is answerable to upper management & there is no accountability for them, but this is not true as such. This is because team members avoid accountability either they are not skillful or they don’t feel they are responsible for producing the results. Effect: Low standards

  • Inattention to Results – Ultimate goal of any project is producing excellent results. When teams are not held accountable the team members tend to look out for their own interests, rather than the interests of the team – this puts purpose of a team at stake. Effect: Status and ego

Do you think this model works only for organization? The answer is “No” It works in personal life too. Try simulating family as a team, you can find all of those dysfunctions cause issues in families.

This model is used in many organizations & reviews say “It really works!”. Put this in practice in your organization/ personal life too & get excellent results.


1. Patrick Lencioni (2002), The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, John Wiley and Sons, 2002

2. Wikipedia