The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A leadership fable

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Title: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A leadership fable
Author: Patric Lencioni
Edition: 1st
Publisher: Jossey-Bass

Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare.

The five dysfunctions of a team is a fable about leadership and teamwork in a tech company with more (and better) resources than its direct competitors but with significantly fewer results. Kathryn, the newly appointed CEO, is in charge of bringing back DecisionTech to the spotlight of Silicon Valley after several business failures by its co-founder and former CEO.

In a simple and engaging style, the fable revolves around DecisionTech’s leadership team and its diverse personalities, with issues and hostilities that are often familiar at the lowest hierarchy level in any real-world company. Absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results form the five dysfunctions that Kathryn identified in her team in her first few weeks and is required to solve.

In the second part of the book and after the fable, Patrick Lencioni explores these dysfunctions in greater detail. He identifies their root causes, their interdependencies, and how they impact every team. Thankfully, the author provides an assessment for the readers interested in reviewing their teams and complements with a few solutions for each dysfunction.

The five dysfunctions of a team is a refreshing and enlightening book that can serve as a framework for teams that want to become more efficient, productive and even market dominant. However, it is important to stress that the fable sets the context by indicating that DecisionTech had the best team, the best product and the most money compared to its competitors.

This context should be seen as a precondition before you decide to apply any particular solution since there are many different ways in which these dysfunctions can emerge. For example, suppose a boss has promised a raise that has never arrived or one employee is caught lying by another. In that case, it is unlikely that an experiential team exercise, like team building events or company trips, will increase the trust level between the two parties.

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