It may have been around for a few years, but The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series) is worth a second read. A bestseller by Patrick Lencioni, this book explores the fundamental causes of organisational politics and team failure. Like most of Lencioni’s books, the bulk of it is written as a business fable.
According to the book, the five dysfunctions are:
- Absence of Trust – The fear of being vulnerable prevents the building of trust within the team.
- Fear of Conflict – The desire to preserve harmony stifles the occurrence of productive conflict.
- Lack of Commitment – The lack of clarity or buy-in prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to.
- Avoidance of Accountability – The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable.
- Inattention to Results – The pursuit of individual goals and personal status erodes the focus on collective success.
The one theme that stands out in this book is the importance of open, frank communication between team members. Most of the time when people are in a group setting, their primary goal is to avoid offending other members of the group. This leads to poor decision making since nobody ever objects to bad ideas for fear of making another co-worker look bad.
This book drives home the important point that conflict in groups is good, as long as it is respectful, because it leads to much better decision making.
It is is a very quick read and will make a thoughtful manager re-think whether his or her team is optimally managed.
Not surprisingly, the book has given birth to a supporting industry in the form of a web site, follow-up titles, videos, training materials and an online team survey.