The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team (2002), Patrick M. Lencioni - Book Summary

Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002) makes the point that from the very beginning, working groups are bound to have flaws as a matter of course. So, in order for the process to work really effectively, we must perform certain actions. This “handbook” will help leaders do just that.

This book is suitable for

  • Those who want to know the prerequisites to make a perfect team;
  • Those who want to learn about leadership styles that can help members coordinate effectively;
  • People who want to learn about workplace etiquette

The author of this book is

Patrick Lencioni , strategic consultant and president of The Table Group. Besides, he is also the author of many best-selling books, most notably the book Death by Meeting . In 2008, CNN Money included him in the list of "10 experts everyone should know".

Chapter 1. The book's greatest value: How to build and maintain an effective team.

Anyone who has ever collaborated with other associates to achieve something knows how important and difficult teamwork can be. In fact, effective teamwork requires the efforts of all members. Teamwork itself has hidden holes since its inception because it is made up of people with different backgrounds, perspectives and personal goals.

However, leaders can completely fill those gaps with certain methods. For example, they must know how to build enough trust so that members are comfortable arguing with each other. Besides, they also need to set goals that motivate people to try. But equally important is that the leaders must turn themselves into a typical example for the members to follow.

The book will answer important issues related to teamwork, for example:

  • Why is teamwork so important even though the individuals themselves are excellent?
  • Why is trust the most important thing? Why should people openly share their weaknesses?
  • How can the whole team focus on common goals instead of individual interests?

Chapter 2. Make teamwork your top concern.

It can be a bit vague to define what makes a team successful, but one thing is for sure: A well-rounded team will be more successful than a single outstanding individual. That's why in basketball, a team of average but well-coordinated individuals can easily beat a team of talented but independent players. But why is that?

Because, those individuals are always fighting with each other, trying to become superior. That will depress team morale, undervalue work results, and cause potential actors to give up when they're too tired.

Decision Tech, a Silicon Valley technology company, is a prime example. This was once a promising start-up company. However, they gradually lost that position and the company's future eventually became completely uncertain. Decision Tech has always struggled to find customers, although they have recruited a team of talented and experienced sales and engineers, and attracted expensive investors. Then why?

The problem lies in the weak teamwork ability of the leadership. These talented and ambitious individuals always fight for personal interests first. So, right after taking office, the first thing that Kathryn Peterson, the new CEO of Decision Tech, does is change the way teams work. She prioritized this over any other financial goal, and the company slowly returned to its original stable trajectory.

In the next chapter, we'll learn why trust is the foundation of a good team.

Chapter 3. Trust – the important foundation of teamwork – is built only through being open to your own mistakes and weaknesses.

We all know that trust and respect are the most important things in all relationships. At the same time, it is also the foundation of a good working group.

When all members trust each other, they can freely exchange, discuss and give opinions on important and sensitive issues, from which the final decisions are really correct. On the contrary, important issues can be ignored to avoid conflict if they do not have enough trust with each other.

Decision Tech's sales department is a prime example of an open and honest communication style based on trust. When Carlos Amador, head of customer service, proposed to take over the new position, the remaining associates frankly expressed their opinion that Carlos was not really suitable for the position. Carlos is also very comfortable with that view and recognizes that the new CEO is a worthy candidate. If people in the department did not trust each other, then this situation would surely lead to conflicts and Carlos would certainly protect his ego to the end.

So how do you build trust?

The simplest way is that each individual is willing to respect and listen to others. However, in an unfair world, where people are always fighting for their own interests and trying to be the best, it is not easy.

To build trust, team members must feel that they don't need to be wary of their associates, but instead openly share their flaws. In this way, they will quickly realize the goodwill of their teammates towards them.

But who will be the first to share his weakness? The next chapter will help you answer that question.

Chapter 4. The first step to building trust is that leaders must be willing to admit their own mistakes and weaknesses.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, it can be said that building trust is one of the most important tasks of a leader.

Trust is built when people freely admit their weaknesses and mistakes without fear of being judged. Because that's when the members have begun to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses better, and they will try to help their teammates worry less and open up to everyone.

To do this at Decision Tech, Kathryn organizes opportunities for employees to share their strengths and weaknesses with others. But first, it is the leaders who must share about themselves, so that the employees see that no one will look down on them because of their weaknesses and mistakes. For example, Kathryn has confessed her disastrous mistakes in the past, even the brilliant CEO was once fired. The directness and courage of the leadership encouraged the employees to express themselves confidently.

In the next chapter, the reader will find that trust is also the single most important factor in effective debates and discussions.

Chapter 5. If people trust each other, people will not hesitate to participate in debates to make optimal decisions.

Most people think of conflict as a negative thing. However, the most informed decisions are often the result of vigorous debate, especially debate over the pros and cons of each opinion. However, this is only true when the argument is constructive. In other words, the members must focus on the topic rather than trying to protect their individual egos.

If there is no mutual trust, members will often try to avoid controversial topics, arguments to try to keep the peace in the group. For example, when Kathryn went to Decision Tech, she found that management rarely argued with each other. Because the trust between them is not strong enough, controversial issues are often ignored even though they are important. On the contrary, when they trust their partners, no one will be afraid to express their personal opinions because they know that, whether the opinion is positive or negative, no one will think that they are intentionally sabotaging. .

It can be said that wise decisions are the result of active debate, and positive debate comes from trust. So the book proves that, when trust is strong enough, the whole team can overcome any obstacle.

But what if it is not possible to come to a final agreement? In the next chapter, you'll realize that's not all that bad either.

Chapter 6. Everyone is responsible for a shared decision, even if it is not the consensus of the whole group or no one can guarantee its correctness.

Most of us have been in a situation where the whole team couldn't come to a final decision. However, one of the things that effective teams have in common is the ability to make decisions and hold them accountable. Because they know that whatever decision is made is better than no decision at all, especially on important matters.

At the same time, all members are responsible for the common decision, otherwise everything will be very ambiguous. In the leadership of a business, that will derail the end goal. In particular, when the work is transferred to the lower level, the deviation will be even more serious.

In well-coordinated groups, decisions are made so that everyone can count on them. However, to reach consensus among people with different views and opinions is very difficult. So trying to find an option that can please everyone is not a wise solution. Instead, people who are good at teamwork understand that consensus means that members are willing to take responsibility for it because they see the end goal of the work, even if it is not. inconsistent with their personal opinions.

To do that, all members must be given their own opinions, so that they always feel heard and respected. That's enough for so many people, they don't need people to listen to what they have to say. When all members' opinions have been considered, the group will begin to find the final decision. That is why in good working groups, everyone is responsible for the common decision even though they have argued with each other passionately before.

Chapter 7. In a team, all work must be objective and transparent.

One of the most awkward situations when working in a team is when you have to criticize another member's performance or attitude. Because, the other party will feel that you are pointing your nose into other people's affairs, or you are trying to promote yourself above everyone around.

But if they don't, the leader will become the root cause of the group's lack of discipline, negatively affecting the overall performance. So, at Decision Tech, if an individual doesn't complete a competitive analysis on time, Kathryn will remind the team to complete it, and inevitably then push the late member to take charge.

In some groups, members often try reluctantly to ignore members' problems to keep the peace. However, they do not know that this way of working will directly damage the relationship between people. Because, over time, people will gradually become annoyed with each other when someone does a bad job, affecting the whole group.

On the contrary, the cohesion between members will be significantly improved when they work openly and transparently with each other. That way of working will show respect when everyone is at the same level of job expectations. If an individual is reminded of their performance, they will understand that it is all about the work together.

Most importantly, transparency at work is what will bring the most optimal work results for the whole team. Because the members themselves will be aware that if they don't try their best, it will affect everyone.

Chapter 8. To work effectively, the collective results of the team must be placed above individual goals.

Any individual or workgroup has its own goals. But for effective coordination, common goals must come before individual ambitions.

That's why Kathryn's husband, a basketball coach, fired a talented athlete. Doesn't care if his team wins or loses, he only cares about the number of goals he scores.

If the same situation happens in your team, everyone will quickly forget the common goal of the whole team, all work will stall. Therefore, members who want to dedicate themselves to the common work will leave because they feel that this independent environment is not suitable for them.

But how does everyone focus on the common goal? Choose a specific goal. Decision Tech's goal of reaching 18 customers by the end of the year is an illustrative example.

When everyone is aware of a specific task, members will actively help each other to achieve a common goal even though sometimes it is not their responsibility. For example, the technical department will help the sales department in describing the product because that is the best way for them to achieve the team's goals.

Chapter 9. Effective teamwork saves time by spending a lot of time together.

No boat can go if each rower goes in a different direction, in other words, each person has a decision of his own. How to solve this problem? The answer is to spend a lot of time together.

First, it will help people stick together and trust each other more, thereby solving problems in the most effective and fastest way.

Secondly, all disputes and discussions will be much easier to resolve if they meet face-to-face.

In addition, when meeting face-to-face, each person will better understand the work of other members, thereby figuring out how to improve their own skills, avoiding unnecessary chores. For example, overcrowding will be minimized because everyone understands the work of other members. This is the perfect basis for the most rational and intelligent work assignment. That's why Katheryn organizes mandatory regular meetings for her employees.


Teamwork is one of the most effective methods. However, acquiring that skill will be very difficult because the group itself has many problems since its inception. The foundation of a well-coordinated team is trust, active debates, accountability for shared decisions, clear ways of working, and shared priorities.

Helpful advice

  • To be a good leader, make yourself a good example for everyone
  • Set clear and specific goals.