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What is Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions?

Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team form a pyramid, highlighting a progression of issues that can plague teamwork. The foundation is the absence of trust. Without trust, team members are unwilling to be vulnerable and share mistakes, hindering open communication and collaboration. This fear of vulnerability breeds the second dysfunction: fear of conflict. Team members become hesitant to express disagreements or engage in healthy debate, leading to surface-level solutions and missed opportunities for improvement.

The lack of trusting conflict creates a ripple effect. Without clear and honest debate, teams struggle to commit to decisions. This ambiguity fosters a lack of accountability, where team members are reluctant to hold each other to high standards for fear of upsetting the fragile harmony. Ultimately, this can lead to a focus on individual goals and a disregard for the collective success of the team. The final dysfunction is inattention to results. Team members prioritise personal gain or avoiding discomfort over achieving the team’s objectives. By addressing these dysfunctions one by one, starting with building trust, Lencioni’s model offers a roadmap for creating a cohesive and high-performing team.

What is an example use of Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions?

This is a great tool to use with a team as a way to surface what is going on and name some of the potential challenges.

It is useful as a discussion starter and reflective tool. This could be supported with scaffolding questions, such as;

‘Where do you think the team is at its best?’

‘Where might we need to focus next?’

‘What is your experience of the team in relation to these areas?’

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