Patton's Picks from the PMA Library: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

May 2020

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni

If you're looking for book recommendations in the productivity and professional development genre, Patton offers a weekly summary of some of the essential and emerging titles from the PMA Library. 

Lencioni's engaging book walks readers through five interconnected characteristics present in dysfunctional teams, and explains actionable techniques to dismantle them. Written as an engaging fictitious story of the executive board of a struggling tech company, the story itself is a means for teaching readers to recognize these five dysfunctions:

1. Absence of Trust
2. Fear of Conflict 
3. Lack of Commitment 
4. Avoidance of Accountability
5. Inattention to Results


1. Take in the story. Fans of Lencioni's work know his parable-style writing makes for a fast and engaging read that is easy to remember and even easier to understand. Using a fictional case study of a particular executive team getting a revamp from a wise new CEO, Lencioni demonstrates in realistic, concrete examples exactly how the traits of dysfunctional teams exist through recognizable characters. Using the CEO's character, Kathryn, as a champion of his own method, he demonstrates the modes of implementing an improved teamwork strategy among the characters. If instructive manuals on leadership and teamwork just can't hold your attention, Lencioni's title is a fun exception. 

2. Take in both the lessons in leadership as well as those in teamwork. Many of the lessons are informed by Lencioni's research for his earlier book "The Five Temptations of a CEO," and his lucid understanding of the successful traits necessary for successful leadership. This story's fictional CEO Kathryn has both a great understanding of - and a mastery of - effective listening, communication, and facilitation. 

3. Utilize the Team Assessment Activities at the back of the book. While the majority of the book is Lencioni's parable of the fictional team working through their issues, the final section of the book is a concrete breakdwn of his method with actionable steps readers can take to confront each of the common dysfunctions of a team. These suggestions range from Myers Briggs Personality tests to methods for developing accountability among team members. 

Patrick Lencioni is an American writer of books on business management, particularly in relation to team management. Lencioni is president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. As a consultant and keynote speaker, he has worked with senior executives and executive teams in organizations and gives talks on leadership, organizational change, teamwork and corporate culture.