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The Author:

Patrick Lencioni is the founder and president of The Table Group, Inc., a

specialized management-consulting firm focused on organizational health.

Pat’s passion for organizations and teams is reflected in his writing,

speaking, and consulting. He is the author of of nine best-selling books with

nearly 3 million copies sold1. His national best seller The Five Dysfunctions

of a Team is a popular business fable that explores work team dynamics and

offers solutions to help teams perform better2. A former Bain consultant and HR exec

at Oracle, Lencioni, 43, started his business in 1997 because his felt most consultants ignored

organizational health3.

The Book:

According to the author’s website The Five Dysfunctions of a Team has

become the world’s most definitive source of practical information for

building teams since it was published in 20024. As most of the Lencioni’s

books The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is written in the business fiction

format. It describes the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to "row

together"5.

1
The Table Group. “Patrick Lencioni: Full Bio,” http://www.tablegroup.com/pat/ (accessed
May 15th, 2010)
2
“Patrick Lencioni,” Wikipedia, May 8, 2010 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Lencioni
(accessed May 15th, 2010)
3
Fortune.“10 New gurus you Should Know,” CNN.com, 2008.
http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2008/fortune/0811/gallery.10_new_gurus.fortune/10.html
(accessed May 15th, 2010)
4
The Table Group. “Five Dysfunctions,” http://www.tablegroup.com/dysfunctions/ (accessed
May 15th, 2010)
5
“ The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” Wikipedia, May 8, 2010
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Five_Dysfunctions_of_a_Team (accessed May 15th, 2010)
Summary of the Book:

The book is about the difficulties faced by any leader in trying to build a

successful team specially when the members of that team don’t now or don’t

want to work together. The book identifies five dysfunctions which most

companies struggle with when working as a team. Each dysfunction carries

with it a potential for team failure; they can‘t be treated in isolation since

they are all interconnected with each other.

The first dysfunction in a team is the absence of trust. In my opinion this is

the key to have a functional and well integrated team. This problem occurs

when the members of the team are not willing to be vulnerable with each

other. In the context of a team, trust means that each team member

believes in the good intentions of their colleagues, and there is no reason to

be defensive in the group6. Team members must get to know each other

and feel comfortable with each other, if not the lack of trust will continue

disrupting the ability of the team to work together toward a common goal.

The second dysfunction in a team is fear of conflict. Teams cannot engage in

unfiltered and passionate debate of ideas mostly because of the lack of trust.

The author called this debate “healthy conflict”, and according to Lencioni it

is essential to have this type of conflict in order to have great relationships in

businesses, marriages, and parenthood7. Unfortunately conflict is considered

taboo at work and especially in religious organizations. What distinguishes

6
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (California: Jossey-
Bass, 2002), 195
7
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (California: Jossey-
Bass, 2002), 202
this type of debate from disruptive conflict is that healthy conflict focuses on

ideological discussion and avoids personal attacks.

The third problem discussed in the book is the lack of commitment. Team

members rarely have buy in or commit to decisions creating ambiguity. This

conflict is related to the previous ones in the sense that when people feel

that they can’t express their opinion and that they are not being listened,

they don’t really get on board8. Another reason for the lack of commitment is

not having a clear course of action after a decision is made. It’ is very

frustrating to leave a meeting not known what is going to be the next step,

who is doing what, and what’s is going to happen.

The fourth dysfunction of a team members is the avoidance of responsibility,

it happens when team members don't call their peers on actions/behaviors

which hurt the team. According to Lencioni the essence of this dysfunction is

“the unwillingness of tam members to tolerate the interpersonal discomfort

that accompanies calling a peer on his or her behavior and the more general

tendency to avoid difficult conversations9.”

The last dysfunction covered in the book is called inattention to results. This

is when team members put their individual needs before those of the team.

Many individual like to be part of the team just to advance their careers,

their ego drives them not the goals of the organization and the team,

8
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (California: Jossey-
Bass, 2002), 94
9
Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (California: Jossey-
Bass, 2002), 212, 213
therefore individuals will protect their careers first when it comes to making

decisions.

Critique:

I found the book very interesting and easy to read. I was skeptical about

reading a book on leadership and teamwork from the business perspective,

because in my opinion they are extremely task oriented offering cookie

cutter solutions to the issues, like the “10 steps to improve profit”, for

example. I was gladly surprise by this book, it is written in a fictional format

and once I started to read the story I could stop reading until I finished it.

The characters are developed in a way that anyone with even little

experience working in a team could see some team co-workers or partners

reflected in them, and even more important we could see ourselves

represented in at least one of the characters.

The main argument of the book is that for an organization to be successful

all team members should be working toward the common goal. For many

private or for profit companies, the bottom line might be profit but even for

them there have to be others goals along the way that will help them

increase profit. However, all types of organization, including families and

churches, need to have functional teams in order to reach success.

I agree with Lencioni that the most basic dysfunction of any tem is the lack

of trust. There is no way people can engage in meaningful discussions,

commit to organizational decisions, be willing to call other team members

out on their actions and sacrifice individual goals for the ones of the team if I
have no trust or confidence in the other member of the team. I have to point

out that the way trust is look at in this book is totally different to how it is

normally defined within teams and organizations. When we normally talk

about trust, from the teamwork perspective, we are referring to the

confidence we have in which each team member will complete whatever

task he or she is supposed to be doing. It is an assumption about the

responsibility and commitment of each team member in regards to the task

that needs to be completed. I trust that that the quarterly report is going the

get done by next week, or the work plan will be revise, or that the clients will

be call. The trust is based on task completion. On the contrary I think that

Lencioni is talking about something different here. He is talking about

opening up as individuals to other and show vulnerability. The type of trust

let other people know that we are humans, that we don’t have all the

answers, and open the door for team member to seek help without being

judge as a weakness. This, in my opinion, it what really promotes

cooperation and teamwork and get the ball rolling to overcome all the other

dysfunctions. The first model of trust promotes the completion of a task and

the invincibility of the individual, the second model promotes relationships

and genuine of being. I think that this book is very helpful and I would

recommend it to any organization who wants to transform their way of doing

business, not only will they become more successful but they will also be a

healthier organization.

Reflection:
I don’t think that Patrick Lencioni had in mind developing a biblical system

for teamwork when he wrote this book, but I think that some of his principles

can be found in Jesus’ style of leadership and in his work with the disciples.

The message of this book is clear; trust is the cornerstone of all teams. The

book also promotes cooperation rather than competition and encourages

team members to set aside their individual egos for the goals and success of

the team. I believe that Jesus example of leadership and ministry also

emphasized those three areas. There is no doubt that Jesus had very clear

goals in mind with a very clear message to be delivered, but his leadership

was primarily relational. He knew that the work on the cross could only be

done by him, but he also knew that for what was going to happen after the

cross, the spreading of the Gospel of salvation around the world for the

benefit of many, he needed the collaboration of many individuals. For that

reason Jesus focused on building trusting relationships with his disciples.

Jesus allowed his disciples to ask questions, to express their thoughts and

feeling even if they were completely missing the mark. Jesus stuck with

them through their victories but he was even closer to them in their worst

defeats. Jesus promoted collaboration, he sent the disciple to work in teams,

when they went send out in pair10, and in several occasions, such as in the

feeding of the five hundred11, the whole team needed to collaborate

effectively in order to accomplish a task successfully. Jesus was the first one

to set his ego aside, starting with the incarnation, to the washing of the

10
(Mark 6:7-13 )
11
(Mark 6: 32-44)
feet12, and spoke openly against about those who want to be recognized or

want to be in positions of prestige13. Today many churches are not working

effectively because they focus more in the task and have forgotten about the

individual completing the task. They measure success by the number of

activities celebrated during the year, the number of people that attended

service and if they were able to cover the budget, but they have neglected

building relationships. I think that we should start re-defining the meaning of

success not by eliminating those quantitative and measurable goals, but by

adding this other qualitative analysis base on building effective, honest, long

lasting relationship based on trust. Many pastor like to run their churches

like mini-dictatorships, they pretend to have open door policies, but in my

experience, their agenda is so set in stone that there is no real discussion or

dialogue, therefore there is very little buy in from their staff and their

congregations, they don’t share their vision, they want to impose a dream.

Also, there is this idea that there can’t be conflict in church, board meetings

and assembly meetings want to be run on consensus with fear of offending

others. Jesus had conflict with his disciples, and he said some very hard

thing as he did with Peter14, but they were able to have those discussions

and continued working effectively because they trust each other and they

knew that the main goal was to find the best solution for the benefit of many.

12
(John 13: 117)
13
(Mark 9: 30-37)
14
(Matthew 16: 21-28)