The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

by Luke Wroblewski March 4, 2007

On a recommendation from Christina, I recently raced through The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. Written as a “leadership fable”, the book drives home its points through a narrative account of a fictional start-up company and its leadership team. Though mildly entertaining in of itself, the story is used to walk through a model of effective teamwork based on the following:


  • Genuine team work in most organizations remains elusive
  • Organizations fail to achieve teamwork because they fall prey to five dysfunctions
  • These issues cannot be addressed in isolation as they form an interrelated model
  • Absence of Trust: stems from an unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group; team members who are not open about mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build trust
  • Fear of Conflict: team that lack trust are incapable of engaging in passionate, unfiltered debate about important issues
  • Lack of Commitment: with open discussions and airing of issues, team members rarely buy into and commit to decisions
  • Avoidance of Accountability: without committing to a clear plan of action, people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive
  • Inattention to Results: failure to hold people accountable creates an environment where individual needs or needs of groups are put above the collective goals of the team
  • Though this model is simple, it is extremely difficult to apply effectively because it requires discipline and persistence