Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, business consultant Patrick Lencioni tells the fictional tale of DecisionTech, a two-year-old tech startup, which is floundering.  Kathryn, whose background is not in the technology sector, gets the call to come in as CEO and set the ship aright.  As she points out to her executive team, DecisionTech has "a more experienced and talented executive team than any of our competitors.  We have more cash than they do. . . . We have better core technology.  And we have a more powerful board of directors.  Yet . . . we are behind two of our competitors in terms of both revenue and customer growth."  She pins their lack of performance and market share to one thing: a lack of teamwork at the top.

Lencioni uses the story to illustrate his five dysfunctions of a team: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.  In the final thirty pages or so, he develops this model, discussing the way these dysfunctions build on each other and offering suggestions for overcoming them.  This portion of the book is the real meat.  The story seemed like a waste of pages, although in retrospect it provides illustrations of the dysfunctions and solutions he discusses at the end.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is an OK read, but I think a lot of readers, especially busy executives for whom Lencioni is writing, will be impatient to get through the story part of the book.  To oversimplify, it could be summarized in one short sentence: Work as a team.  There's more to it than that, though.  If your team is having a hard time with that concept and all that it entails (setting ego aside, taking an interest in the tasks of other team members, focusing on results rather than career advancement), then spending some time with The Five Dysfunctions of a Team might help you point them in the right direction.

2016 Reading Challenge: A book about leadership

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