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

Key Leadership Skill – Relationship

There are two kinds of people in this life:
Those who walk into a room and say,
“Well, here I am!”
And those who walk in and say, “Ahh, there you are.”
—- Frederick L. Collins

Above quotation tells nicely about the essence of relationship building. All our worldly activities becomes successful with our best relationships. You might have read a story about a dog that saved its master’s life. How come that is possible for a dog? It is the outcome of master’s great relationship with his dog.

Relationship - Networking

Relationship – Networking

Better relationship leads to better understanding. Understanding gives meaning, comfort and success in life. All of these leads to ultimate happiness which is what everyone wants and searching in this world. In search of meaning for his life Einstein said – “Life isn’t worth living, unless it is lived for someone else.”

It is worth pointing one event from Einstein’s history. Toward the end of his life, he removed the portraits of two scientists — Isaac Newton and James Maxwell — from his wall. He replaced them with portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer. Einstein explained that it was time to replace the image of success with the image of service.

Networking is part of leaders everyday life. Building relationship is most important for their success. Out of those two types quoted start of this article – which one is yours? Are you the one extending help? or Are the one getting more help from others?

Are you mostly trying to make yourself happy? or are you interested in the happiness of those around you? Look around. Closely watch all Leaders around you. It is obvious that, in their life, service occupies most of their time than self-centered activities.

Foundation of Leadership lies on the Relationship between Leader and Follower. It is another key skill for any leader. Strength of relationship of leader and follower decides the levels of commitment & involvement towards the vision. This eventually brings unbreakable bond that leads to success.

Key Leadership Skill – Communication

Communication is the key skill for Leaders. Do you think you need a special stage or dais or forum to show you are a good communicator? No. Even communication between just two people will make you a good leader between you two.



Let us understand the events that happens when two people communicate or exchange information:

* Each one tries to show their proficiency on the topic they are presenting/discussing
* Each one may have different views on same issue or topic
* Each one tries to influence other to agree with their view
* There could be mutual agreement on the conclusion
* At the end, even there is no mutual agreement, surely one get influenced by others’ opinion in one or other way
* We never know who or how much we influence

*Reflection of the influence is not immediate or straight forward. But we will show it on some other day in different ways

Consider each communication opportunity as opportunity to show your leadership ability. By doing so, you will be placing yourself well in your leadership path.

Knowing & Switching Leadership Styles for Managerial Effectiveness

We discussed few topics like ‘What is Leadership?‘ and ‘Situational Leadership‘. Research on Leadership style model are usually based on orientation between Task behavior & Human Relationship behavior.

Basically, knowing these leadership styles helps us in adopting them in different situations. Though there could be one predominant leadership style as a whole for a person, he/she cannot just stick on to a particular leadership style always. Switching between the leadership styles is necessary in different project management situations to achieve success.

Like Hersey & Blanchard Situational Leadership model, William Reddin introduced a model of leadership style containing four basic types, namely:

1. High relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as INTEGRATED TYPE.

2. High relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as RELATED TYPE.

3. Low relationship orientation & high task orientation is called as DEDICATED TYPE.

4. Low relationship orientation & low task orientation is called as SEPARATED TYPE.

Further, by measuring the level of effectiveness of each style Reddin developed this basic model into eight leadership styles. The modified model is called “The 3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness.”

3-D Theory of Managerial Effectiveness

The below table shows the Less Effective & More Effective Leadership styles in each basic types. Even we can map the H&B Situational Leadership styles (Telling, Selling, Facilitating & Delegating) to Reddin 3D Theory model.

Less Effective Basic types More Effective
Deserter SEPARATED Bureaucratic
Missionary RELATED Developer
Autocratic DEDICATED Benevolent Autocratic
Compromiser INTEGRATED Executive




This is essentially a hand-off or laisser-faire approach : avoidance of any involvement or intervention which would upset the status; assuming a neutral attitude toward what is going on during the day; looking the other way to avoid enforcing rules; keeping out of the way of both supervisors and subordinates; avoidance of change and planning. The activities undertaken (or initiated) by managers who use this approach tend to be defensive in nature. People who achieve high scores may be adverse to managerial tasks or may have begun to lose interest in such tasks. This does not necessarily mean they are bad managers; they just try to maintain the status quo and avoid “rocking the boat”.



This is a legalistic and procedural approach: adherence to rules and procedures; acceptance of hierarchy of authority; preference of formal channels of communication. High scorers tend to be systematic. They function at their best in well structured situations where policies are clear, roles are well defined and criteria of performance are objective and universally applied. Because they insist on rational systems, these managers may be seen as autocratic, rigid or fussy. Because of their dependence on rules and procedures, they are hardly distinguished from autocratic managers.




This is an affective (supportive) approach. It emphasizes congeniality and positive climate in the work place. High scorers are sensitive to subordinates’ personal needs and concerns. They try to keep people happy by giving the most they can. Supportive behavior represents the positive component of this style. It has, however, a defensive counterpart. They may avoid or smooth over conflict, feel uncomfortable enforcing controls and find difficulty denying requests or making candid appraisals.



This is the objective counterpart of the missionary style. Objective in a sense that concern for people is expressed professionally: subordinates are allowed to participate in decision making and are given opportunities to express their views and to develop their potential. Their contribution is recognized and attention is given to their development. High scorers are likely to have optimistic beliefs about people wanting to work and produce. Their approach to subordinates is collegial: they like to share their knowledge and expertise with their subordinates and take pride in discovering and promoting talent.




This is a directive and controlling approach. Concern for production and output outweighs the concern for workers and their relationship. Managers who score high tend to be formal. They assign tasks to subordinates and watch implementation closely. Errors are not tolerated, and deviation from stated objectives or directives is forbidden. They make unilateral decisions and feel no need to explain or justify them. They minimize interaction with people, or limit communication to the essential demand of the task at hand. They believe in individual responsibility and consider group meetings a waste of time. They tend to be formal, straightforward and critical. For that reason, they are likely to be perceived as cold and arbitrary, particularly by subordinates who have strong need for support and reassurance.



This is the communicative counterpart of the autocratic style. It is still directive and interventionist. High scorers are seen as task masters who devote themselves comfortably to the accomplishment of production objectives. They enjoy tackling operational problems and may have less patience dealing with problems of human relation. They keep in touch with subordinates, instructing them, answering their questions and helping them with operational problems. They structure daily work, set objectives give orders or delegate with firm accountability. They would not hesitate to discipline or reprimand, but do that fairly and without antagonizing their subordinates. They meet group needs but ignore one-to-one personal relationship.




Express appreciation of both human relations orientation and task orientation. They however admit to difficulties in integrating them. Therefore they may vacillate between task requirements and demand for human relations. In order to alleviate immediate pressures, they may resort to compromise solutions or expediency. They may be sensitive to reality considerations which stand in the way, and willing to delay action for whatever reason, internal or external. Their realistic assessment of situations may explain why they do not use freely the approach they actually prefer, that is, the Executive approach.



This approach integrates task orientation and human relations orientation in response to realistic demand. It is best described as consultative, interactive, and problem solving approach. This approach is called for in managing operations which require exploration of alternative solutions, pooling different resources, and integrating opposing perspectives. They favor a team approach in problem solving, planning and decision making. They stimulate communication among subordinates, thus obtain collective ideas and suggestions. Managers who use this approach are usually perceived as good motivators who tend to deal openly with conflict and who try to obtain collective commitment.

There is a time and place for all of the leadership styles. If a leader has one tactic that he or she relies on almost all the time, it is almost certain to develop into a pattern or behavior, in other words a style.

The leader’s selection of a particular style in a situation will depend on:

· the individual personality of the person or persons led

· the frame of mind of the person or persons led

· the leader’s own current frame of mind

· the leader’s goals or objectives

· the relative power between the leader and those led

· the importance of time in the action the leader wants taken

· the type of commitment required to complete the desired action

· rules, laws, or authority of the leader in the situation

What is Leadership really means?

Let us briefly discuss about what Leadership really means.

Leadership means giving guidance or direction. If a person has to be called as a ‘Leader’ then he needs to have followers. A guy without a follower is just another person in the world and cannot be called as Leader at all.

Termed little differently, Leadership is the ability to motivate a group people towards a common goal and be an inspiration by working along with them.

Leadership is a quality or characteristics which can be developed by practice. So, what do one need to practice? Practicing certain principles, which are called Leadership Principles, throughout the life.

John C. Maxwell, a leadership guru, wrote “Leadership is influence; without influence one cannot lead.” He also mentioned that his favorite proverb on Leadership is “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”

From all discussion presented above, let me summarize the general components of leadership:

i) Leadership is a process – it will not stop at a point. Even some leaders live beyond their life time!

ii) Leadership involves a group of people – it does not starts & ends with an individual

iii) Leadership involves influence – influence happens through motivation & inspiration

iv) Leadership aims on goal attainment.

With this brief introduction of Leadership, let us discuss few questions related to Leadership like Leadership styles, Leadership principles, difference between leadership and management, Required qualities of a Leader, etc. in next topics.