Book Report – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni


“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni follows a new CEO, Kathryn Petersen, to a top company aptly named DecisionTech. Kathryn aspires to turn the members of her CEO board into a fully functional team, despite various problems each one of them has. She does this by pointing out the five dysfunctions of every dysfunctional team.

One of the first key points in this book is to identify the most common dysfunction, which here is an absence of trust. The absence of trust stems from a team’s inability to be vulnerable with each other. Each team member must embrace their own vulnerabilities by being  open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses. By doing this, a team will be able to build a foundation for trust.

The second key point in this novel was to recognize whether your team has a fear of conflict. Kathryn teaches us that conflict is not always a bad thing. It stimulates discussion, and helps us to make smarter decisions. Fear of conflict blocks others from sharing ideas that could be game changing, and stymies useful conversation. By not being afraid to face conflict head on, new ideas can be generated.

This leads directly into the third key point. Kathryn teaches us that a fear of conflict leads to a lack of commitment amongst the team. Team members are generally not willing to commit to a plan that they have had no say in, or where they have hidden their true opinions about the matter. Thus, without committing to team decisions, any possible goals of the team are virtually unreachable. Furthermore, a lack of commitment by team members can create a non-committal ripple effect in each individual team member’s subordinates, which is incredibly damaging to a company as a whole.

The fourth key point that I thought the book did a great job of illustrating was that not everyone who starts with the team will end with the team. If someone is more willing to advance their own agenda-“ego” as Kathryn calls it- than to advance the agenda of the team, they need to be let go. Not only are they holding the team back, but there are other businesses that encourage that kind of behavior, where they would be better suited.

Lastly, the fifth key point I found important in this novel was that each team member must hold the each other accountable for their actions. Team members must not be afraid to respectfully point out when another team member is not holding up their end of responsibilities. Without accountability, one of two things occurs; either the task goes undone, or another team member has to pick up the task on top of their own duties (which leads to a lack of quality work by that team member).

I think this last point is the one that has affected me the most. It is very uncomfortable to call someone out when they’ve done something wrong. However, every situation of accountability can be done in a tasteful manner, so as not to offend the other team member. Will this ruffle some feathers every once in a while? Yes. But it is better to ruffle one member’s feathers than to kill the whole flock by allowing business to wither and decrease. In the end, if a team member is all about the team and not about their own ego, they will take it in stride.

This book can definitely affect change in our office. I honestly believe this should be a mandatory read for all new hires. It makes you uncomfortable at times in the execution, but I think the results would speak for themselves. There is a particular point in the novel where the team has followed all of the instructions that Kathryn has given them, and they believe they are done and no longer need any more training. I think this point is where a lot of law firms reach and continue to stay, where yes, they will do well. But the point of this book, and the point I think is great for any office to embrace, is to strive to be the best team you can be. Not just one that is average.

Overall, this was a really good read. I enjoy self-help books with an engaging story line. I would definitely recommend it for those who are visual learners. This novel’s story line really paints a picture, so you don’t have to sit through it reading a bunch of boring steps.