The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

I probably won’t write a lot about books I read in this blog, but since I feel this is very relevant in my life right now, I’m gonna write down some thoughts I had while reading.  I will say that I usually don’t read a book in a few hours, this one I did.  Most of the time, I read about half the book and then kind of skim the rest.  🙂 

This book is by Patrick Lencioni, who is said to be a great leadership strategist (which in this book I would agree) and a strong follower of Jesus.  I sometimes wonder if reading a business book is really the right direction, but as I’ve been reading and Jesus has been speaking to me through the book, I see how big Jesus is and how committed he is to guiding us… through books, circumstances, people, etc… He’s big. 🙂

Why am I reading this book?  We’re going through a process at work where outside consultants help us discover our distinctives (what makes us unique), our targets and intiatives (things that will help us healthyfully move forward), and the roadblocks that keep us from getting there.  This book is one of the assignments.  I’m cautiously optimistic and no matter what happens, I’m growing and learning a lot.  🙂

I think I just may write down the places in the book I underlined… I may comment on those or not.  Of course, the context is working together as a team. 🙂  Here’s a graph that shows the five dysfunctions.  They all relate and build off one another.


Most of the book is a fable, which is a cool way to help you remember and imagine a team in action.

Here are some things I underlined in random places in the book.  I’ll call them points.

Point 1: Being called “The Staff”
They make a reference to the executives being called The Staff.  I find this interesting since we have staff meetings rather than team meetings and we are called the pastoral staff rather than the pastoral team.  I don’t put too much on a name, but it’s interesting that I feel part of a staff more than a team.

Point 2: to achieve results
Point well taken.  If nothing comes out of our meeting together, then it’s a waste.  You can take this idea too far of course, but I’m not going to. 🙂

Point 3: Repeating the reason we’re here
One thing I noticed in the fable was that the CEO would repeat the reason they were there every time they met.  Later in the book one person asked her stop, saying they didn’t need that anymore.  She replied, whenever the statement is no longer true, then I’ll stop stating it.  I like that.

Point 4: “No matter how good an individual on the team might be feeling about his or her situation, if the team loses, everyone loses.”
Good statement illustrating a response to individualism.

Point 5: That’s not a team.  It’s a collection of individuals
In the fable they describe what if the baskeball coach during halftime went to each position individually and told them how to improve without anyone else knowing what was said to the other.  That’s not a team.  It’s a collection of individuals.  Sometimes I feel like this. 

Point 6: The definition of Politics
I like this. “Politics is when people choose their words or actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think.”  Word.

Point 7: Closer to your own staff than the staff of peers
One of the struggles they faced in the fable was everyone was really close to their own staff, but not close to executive staff made up of their peers.  An interesting dynamic that I relate to currently.

Some specifics…

Point 8: When there is Absence of Trust
The trust that is a characteristic of a great team “require the team members to make themselves vulnerable to one another, and be confident that their respective vulnerabilities will not be used against them.  The vulnerabilities I’m referring to include weaknesses, skill deficiences, interpersonal shortcomings , mistakes, and requests for help.”  I like this and would like to lead and be part of a team like this.  🙂

Point 9: The role of the leader under Fear of Conflict
“…a leader’s ability to model appropriate conflict behavior is essential.  By avoiding conflict when it is necessary and productive–something many executives do–a team leader will encourage this type of dysfunction to thrive.”  I thought this was a powerful statement.  Maybe because I really like resolving conflicts and don’t do well holding it in.  🙂

Point 10: Overcoming Lack of Commitment
Basically they say to set deadlines and honor those dates with discipline and rigidity.  This is pertinent for us.

Point 11: Overcoming Avoidance of Accountability
“An absence of accountability is an invitation to team members to shift their attention to other areas other than collective results.”  Basically, lack of accountability encourages individualism.  🙂

Point 12: Overcoming Inattention to Results
“Teams that say, ‘We’ll do our best,’ are subtly, if not purposefully, preparing themselves for failure.”  I like this statement because is calls us to be bold.  Go big or go home!

Point 13: Elements of a Strong Team
“… a strong team spends considerable time together, and that by doing so, they actually save time by eliminating confusion and minimizing redundant effort and communication.”  I think Jesus modeled this the best….well, of course he did. 🙂  I’ve seen this in other places and it’s amazing what happens when done well.  Obviously, Jesus was able to influence the whole world this way. 

Well, that’s about it.  I got more from the book, but these are some highlights as I was reading.  Pray for our team!



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