Saturday, September 10, 2011

Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

There are a number of different team-work formulas that have circulated over the years. Some of them rhyme, some require sophisticated knowledge of varied personality profiles, and some rely on boundary-pushing activities to bring members together. Most of these frameworks have an element or two that are worthwhile, but none of them have the simple elegance of this week's book review subject: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni.

Like all of Lencioni's books, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team begins with a fable. In this case we follow the journey of a supervisor who has just been hired into a new team. Lencioni's five principles of successful teaming (and their corresponding dysfunctions) are illustrated through the story. Following the fable, the book concludes with a more formal analysis of the five dysfunctions and their remedies.

What I most appreciate about The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is that the framework makes sense, the key elements are communicated quickly and clearly with a minimum of abstraction, and that the model can be implemented in just about any team setting. This book is an easy read - you can do it in one or two sittings if you desire. But don't confuse brevity and clarity for lack of impact. The five fundamental elements of successful teams are easy to grasp, but they require real work to consistently implement over time.

I want to be careful not to reveal the choice material, but The Five Dysfunctions of a Team really shines in its discussion of the role of conflict in healthy teams. This book, paired with the tools found in Crucial Conversations, give teams an incredibly powerful set of tools to consistently produce results. Lencioni is not suggesting we build foo-foo, hold hands and sing songs teams. His framework aims for teams featuring healthy relationships and a strong commitment to meaningful results.

I recommend The Five Dysfunctions of a Team for any leader, manager, or team member wanting to learn the critical elements of building a high caliber team. For those who might want to work through this material with a team, I can also recommend the companion field guide or facilitator's guide.

Happy Reading!

David M. Dye

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Twitter: @davidmdye
David shares twenty years experience teaching, coaching, leading, and managing in youth service, education advocacy, city governance, and faith-based nonprofits. He currently serves as Chief Operating Officer for Colorado UpLift and enjoys helping others discover and realize their own potential.

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