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

Conflict Management MindMap

Here is the conflict resolution & conflict management Mindmap. This map is self explanatory on conflict characteristics, conflict management influence factors & gives more info on each resolution type.


Characteristics of Conflict

  • Natural & inevitable

  • Forces a search for alternatives

  • Team issue

  • Needs to be resolved by conflicting parties itself

  • Can be escalated to Project Manager

  • Pros

    • Increased Productivity

    • Better decision making

    • Stronger team

  • Cons

    • Low team morale

    • Decreased productivity

    • Biased decision making

    • Divided team

Conflict Management

  • Characteristics

    • Openness required for resolution

    • Resolution focus on issues

    • Resolution focus not on personalities

    • Resolution focus on present, not the past

    • Different styles followed by different manager

  • Influence Factors

    • Relative importance & Intensity of the conflict

    • Time pressure for resolution

    • Position taken by conflicting parties

    • Need resolution for Short term or Long term basis?

  • Techniques

    • Withdrawing/Avoiding

      • Worst way to resolve conflict

      • Withdrawing or Avoiding potential conflict situation

      • Temporary solution & leaves the conflict exists

      • Spoil goals & relationships

    • Smoothing/Accommodating

      • Temporary solution & conflict may resurface later

      • Making differences smaller they seem by emphasizing more on agreement areas

      • Good for relationships

    • Compromising

      • Permanent solution & conflict may resurface later if solution not followed

      • Getting into a solution that both parties agrees to some extent

      • middle-of-the-road kind of solution

      • Neither lose nor win

      • Will not make any difference in relationships

    • Forcing

      • Provides Win-Lose solutions

      • One party forces other to agree

      • Happens when one has more power than other

      • Permanent solution but not the best

      • Spoil relationships

    • Collaborating

      • Permanent solution & incorporated from one out of many resolutions

      • Resolutions provided from different viewpoints

      • More than one resolution identified, ranked and agreed best option selected

      • Leads to consensus and commitment

      • Experts or team involved in getting their viewpoints

    • Confronting/Problem Solving

      • Permanent and indisputable solution

      • Best way to resolve conflict

      • requires a give-and-take attitude and open dialogue

      • Conflicts considered as problems & solved

      • Finds one correct solution for each disagreement area

      • Clear resolution -> no disagreement after this

      • Good for relationships

* Note# 1: There could be some typo or presentation errors. Please reply back for any corrections.

* Note# 2: You can use this for personal use (like studying for PMP Exam or PM activities). But don’t share this in common forum or web sites.