The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

A Leadership Fable

As I explained in talking about The Goal, I actually really enjoy reading these business fable books. Maybe it’s because I’m a nerd.

This book tells the tale of a CEO coming into a company and assessing the dysfunction on the managerial team.

Many teams exhibit the same dysfunctions. There are 5 of them. They are related to one another.

30 second summary

When people don’t trust one another, they stop having real and honest debate and communication.

Once you stop debating with people and fail to really communicate, you stop feeling commitment to the team and your actions.

Once you don’t feel commitment, you lose your ability to hold others accountable. When this happens to a group, accountability is lost among the team.

With nobody holding one another accountable, there is no real team. Actions are not coordinated well and cohesive, unified action cannot be achieved.

2 more minutes of summary

Coming soon…work in progress.

More on the Five Dysfunctions

Dysfunction 1: Absence of Trust

This is more than the trust that someone will get his or her work done on time. This is trusting someone else’s motives and intentions, and trusting them enough to show vulnerability.

Dysfunction 2: Absence of Conflict


When you don’t trust other people, it’s difficult to engage in rigorous debate with them. A lack of conflict means people guard ideas and don’t share openly. Good, healthy, ideological debate is necessary on a team.

Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment


When a decision is made without healthy debate/conflict, people don’t feel very committed to it. Lack of clarity or buy-in can torpedo any project requiring teamwork.

Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of Accountability

Without personal commitment, it’s difficult to have the uncomfortable conversations necessary to hold one another accountable.

Dysfunction 5: Inattention to Results

Without accountability, the team devolves into individual actions which are not collectively focused to achieving the team objectives.