Many organizations today claim to be team-centric but fail to build truly effective teams. Patrick Lencioni gave a keynote address about this issue at the recent ASTD Conference. Tony Karrer attended the conference and, in his blog, reminds us of the value of attending keynotes and brings renewed attention to Lencioni’s 2002 book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Derrick Eggbert summarized the contents of the book in a review he wrote for Roundtables for Executives. A summary of Eggbert's summary is provided here.


Five dysfunctions of teams:

  • Absence of trust – Members will not be vulnerable with each other. They will not “air dirty laundry, admit mistakes, weaknesses and concerns about fear of reprisal.”
  • Fear of conflict – Members will not engage in “unfiltered and passionate debate about ideas.” They refrain from disagreement and comments are guarded.
  • Lack of commitment – Members don’t have buy-in regarding important decisions. They don’t believe they’ve been heard in the group and, therefore, don’t get behind the decision.
  • Avoidance of accountability – Members are unwilling to confront each other regarding the quality of plans and actions.
  • Inattention to results – Members put their individual wants ahead of team goals.

Five functions of healthy teams:

  • Members trust one another.
  • They engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas.
  • They commit to decisions and plans of action.
  • They hold one another accountable for delivering against those plans.
  • They focus on the achievement of collective results.

I would argue that there are different kinds of teams and not all should or could achieve the level of functioning suggested by Lencioni. High performance teams, which are intended to leverage the collective wisdom and abilities of the group to achieve maximum results for the organization, should aspire to the healthy functions that Lencioni has identified in his book and at the 2008 ASTD Conference.