“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni: a review

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This article is a review of “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni.

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni: a review


Patrick Lencioni’s leadership book “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” describes five main dysfunctions that prohibit teams from reaching their full potential. According to Lencioni, these dysfunctions are interrelated, with each one building on the one before it, and that overcoming them necessitates a mix of vulnerability, healthy conflict, clear communication, reciprocal accountability, and a focus on collaborative results.

Style and premise

Because the book is structured as a fable, it is an engaging and relatable read. The story begins with the introduction of Kathryn, a new CEO tasked with turning around DecisionTech, a struggling technology company. Kathryn quickly realizes that DecisionTech’s executive team is dysfunctional, and that their problems are causing problems throughout the organization.

Kathryn decides to use a team-building approach to address the underlying causes of the dysfunction, and she gathers the team for a remote retreat to work through their issues. Kathryn leads the team through a series of exercises and discussions over the course of two days to help them identify and address the underlying dysfunctions. Kathryn assists the team in understanding the significance of each dysfunction and how they are linked as they work through their issues. She encourages the team to face their problems head on and to be open and honest with one another. The team learns to trust one another, engage in healthy conflict, commit to team goals, hold one another accountable, and focus on achieving results through this process.

Lencioni’s writing style is engaging and conversational, and he illustrates his points with relatable characters and situations. The book is also very practical, providing readers with actionable advice that they can apply to their own teams. The characters are believable, and their struggles are easy to relate to. The team has been transformed by the end of the book, and the organization is well on its way to success. This book is a powerful example of how addressing team dysfunction can have a significant impact on an organization’s success.

Who is it for?

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” is primarily intended for team leaders and executives, but it is also useful for anyone who works in a team environment. Scrum Masters, in particular, I believe will benefit from the book’s insights into team dynamics and dysfunction.

The book offers a comprehensive and practical framework for comprehending and dealing with team dynamics. Scrum Masters work closely with their Scrum Teams and understanding the root causes of team dysfunction can assist them in identifying and resolving issues more effectively. Because the book offers practical advice and solutions for dealing with each of the five dysfunctions. Scrum Masters can use this advice to assist their teams in overcoming common problems and improving performance. The book concludes with some extremely beneficial team-building exercises that Scrum Masters can use with their teams to foster trust, healthy conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. These exercises can be a valuable tool for improving team dynamics and performance and should be included in the toolbox of a Scrum Master.

The Five Dysfunctions

The book identifies five common team dysfunctions and provides practical advice for addressing each of these dysfunctions and building a strong, high-performing team. These are the dysfunctions:

  1. Absence of trust
    • When team members are afraid to be vulnerable and open with one another, trust suffers;
  2. Fear of conflict
    • When team members avoid healthy conflict in favor of artificial harmony, they may be unable to address critical issues;
  3. Lack of commitment
    • When team members do not fully embrace decisions, it can result in a lack of commitment and follow-through;
  4. Avoidance of accountability
    • When members of a team fail to hold each other accountable for their actions, it can lead to a lack of responsibility and ownership
  5. Inattention to results
    • When team members prioritize their personal goals over the goals of the team, it can result in a lack of focus on achieving results.


The book taught me that, while we all prefer to avoid it, conflict is an inevitable part of teamwork. This was an insight I’d like to expand on, read about, and write about more in the future. My view on conflicts in teams was more on the side of resolving them.

Because I am a visual learner, the book’s fable approach helped me understand the dysfunctions much better. For those who prefer a more “to the point” approach to learning, the format may appear a little convoluted (“an entire novel dedicated to a single model?”). Aside from that, Patrick Lencioni makes his points very well, and the book reads like a page-turner to me. On a Saturday evening, I finished the book from cover to cover.

A very good read for everyone who works in (or facilitates) teams: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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