I was first introduced to Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable when my pastor used it last year as the basis for a series on marriage. It was a great series, and since then I’ve heard a couple of the executives at my organization refer to it. When I spotted it on the desk of one of our hospital’s new CEO, I knew it was time to pull it back out, review what I’d read and finish what I hadn’t.
Unlike other leadership fables that I’ve read, this one is actually both practical and insightful. The fable is of a woman who has been chosen to lead a troubled computer firm. She must navigate the individual personalities within the team she has been handed and figure out how to best clip or prune them to make them a cohesive and effective team.
The book is based on a pyramid of issues that keep a team from operating effectively from the foundation of “absence of trust” to the top point of “inattention to results.”
While it may seem that the fable format would not be very effective for teaching how to build a team, Five Dysfunctions is quite enlightening. It is easy to see the conversations Lencioni depicts in the real world, in real staff meetings. While human reactions are hard to predict, Kathleen is portrayed handing such a variety of interactions that a leader can pick up on tips on how to appropriately channel a wide range of everyday situations.
More important than these tips, Lencioni make an excellent case for five key ingredients to a well functioning team, the risks associated with not having them and realistic ways to grow from an unhealthy to a healthy team.
I highly recommend this for anyone who has been charged with leading a group. But given my origins with it, I think it is a great book for couples as well.
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