​In this very brief overview of Patrick Lencioni’s book, the Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni describes five dysfunctions that can plague any team’s success. Each of these dysfunctions builds upon one another. (Condensed from pages 188-190 of Five Dysfunctions of a Team.)

  1. ​Absence of trust– Essentially, this stems from team members being unwilling to be vulnerable within the group. Team members who are not genuinely open with one another about their mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build a foundation of trust. 
  2. Fear of conflict– Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas. Instead, they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments. ​
  3. Lack of commitment- Without having aired their opinions in the course of passionate and open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in and commit to decisions, though they may feign agreement during meetings. ​
  4. Avoidance of accountability– Due to the lack of real commitment and buy-in, team members develop an avoidance of accountability. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused and driven people often hesitate to call their peers on actions and behaviors that seem counterproductive to the good of the team.
  5. Inattention to results– Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where inattention to results thrives. Inattention to results occur when team members put their individual needs (such as ego, career development, or recognition) or even the needs of their divisions above the collective goals of the team.

Another way to understand this model is to take the opposite approach – a positive one – and imagine how members of truly cohesive teams behave: 

  1. They trust one another. 
  2. They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas. 
  3. They commit to decisions and plans of action. 
  4. They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans. 
  5. They focus on the achievement of collective results. ​