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Book Review: Five Dysfunctions of a Team – a Leadership Fable

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Teamwork is an inevitability of all aspects of life – family, school, sports, and work. How many different teams are you on? I joined a new team in early May when I became the Director of Education for CentreLearn Solutions, LLC. A few days after joining the team the company CEO asked me to read the Five Dysfunctions of a Team: a Leadership Fable.

About the Book
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team uses a fable of a fictional company and its management team after a new CEO is hired. Through a series of off-site senior leadership meetings the new CEO, Catherine, explains the five dysfunctions of teams. She uses a series of exercises to teach her team about the value of conflict, support versus consensus, shared group goals before individual goals, and focus on results.

The fable follows the team over several months to illustrate the growth of the team and the challenges it overcame. The book concludes with the author, Patrick Lencioni, giving more explanation of the five dysfunctions and suggested exercises to help any team overcome the dysfunctions.

Business Book Fables
I have never been much for business book fables. Who Moved My Cheese makes me shudder. I tend to prefer business books that are more how-to and less story telling. Nonetheless, I found myself relating the characters in the book to some of my own leadership traits, people I am working with now on different teams, and teammates I have had in the past.

Start of a Conversation
For me the most important part of this book was starting a conversation with my boss since he asked me to read the book. After reading the book I was able to ask him questions like:

  • What does conflict at our organization look like?
  • What performance objectives are already in place?
  • How do we reach a shared understanding of my priorities as Director of Education?

Leadership Books
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is nearly ten years old, first published just after September 11, 2001. Have you read it? Did you find it useful? What are your favorite leadership books? Can a book on leadership actually improve a team?