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May 24, 2021

Book Review: “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team - A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni is a quick read that will pack a punch in how we lead others in our daily work lives. John Tooley promises you will not regret purchasing this book.

By: John Tooley


This is the sixth in my book review series I’ve written for the Building Performance eJournal. The books I write about in this series are books that have changed my life and have given me guidance during good and hard times. I am blessed to have many mentors, and I hope these books can help others achieve their full potential.

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni is a quick read that will pack a punch in how we lead others in our daily work lives. I promise you will not regret purchasing this book.

In keeping with the parable style, Lencioni begins by telling the fable of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members succeed as a team. Storytime over, Lencioni offers explicit instructions for overcoming the human behavioral tendencies that he says corrupt teams. The five dysfunctions, he says, are:

  • Absence of trust—unwilling to be vulnerable within the group
  • Fear of conflict—seeking artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate
  • Lack of commitment—feigning buy-in for group decisions creates ambiguity throughout the organization
  • Avoidance of accountability—ducking the responsibility to call peers or superiors on counterproductive behavior, which sets low standards
  • Inattention to results—focusing on personal success rather than team success

Therefore, the characteristics of a cohesive team are trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results. If each is maximized, it will result in a team that operates as efficiently and effectively as possible. Succinct yet sympathetic, this guide will be a boon for those struggling with the inherent difficulties of leading a group.

Building a cohesive team is not complicated, declares Lencioni. Departing from the dry, theoretical writing of many management books, he presents his case in the context of a fictional organization, and in doing so succeeds at communicating his ideas.

John Tooley
Building Science Consultant

John Tooley is a building science consultant and owner of his company John Tooley, LLC. Regarded as a pioneer in the world of energy efficiency, Tooley has trained countless builders and contractors, and frequently gives keynote addresses at national conferences. He is recognized for his contributions to many of the largest utility and building programs in the nation.

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