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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

A Leadership Fable

By Patrick M. Lencioni
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The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick M. Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (2002) presents the notion that teams are inherently dysfunctional, so deliberate steps must be taken to facilitate great teamwork. A knowledgeable team leader can do a great deal to make his or her team effective, and the book outlines practical tools for achieving this.

Key idea 1 of 9

Teamwork is the ultimate competitive advantage; make it your top priority.

While it’s hard to define exactly what makes a team great, one clear trait is commonly acknowledged: great teams amount to more than the sum of their individual constituents. This can be seen, for example, in basketball, where a cohesive team of average players will routinely beat a more dysfunctional team of star players.

So why do even the most talented teams tend to perform poorly in the absence of teamwork?

They waste time and energy on politics, trying to outmaneuver each other. This results in low morale, less focus on performance and the loss of valuable players who have had enough.

Consider the example of a Silicon Valley technology company called DecisionTech. It was once seen as an extremely promising start-up, but it’s situation deteriorate quickly until its future looked bleak – it was struggling to find customers, despite having an experienced (and expensive) executive team, a very talented pool of engineers and more top-tier investors than most start-ups dare dream of.


The root cause was a lack of teamwork among the company’s leadership. In teams of ambitious and successful people, individual egos can hinder good teamwork as people compete against their peers.

Happily, poor teamwork can be fixed. This is precisely what Kathryn Peterson set out to do as the new CEO of DecisionTech. She prioritized teamwork even above hitting immediate financial targets, and by doing so, helped get the company back on track.

Next, find out why trust is the basis of all teamwork.

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