The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and How to Overcome Them

Meet Patrick Lencioni. He’s a stud. He knows stuff. His wisdom can absolutely catalyze your leadership. I’ve been sitting at his feet for the past few years. He’s improved the way I view leadershipmeetings, and teamwork. And it’s my pleasure to introduce the two of you if, in fact, you’ve never met.

His most well-known work is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. In it he simply, but powerfully, helps leaders understand the importance of building and maintaining a cohesive leadership team. This does not happen naturally. What comes without thinking is me, me, me rather than team, team, team. What happens naturally is dysfunction. Lencioni sketches these five dysfunctions out:

    • Absence of Trust
    • Fear of Conflict
    • Lack of Commitment
    • Avoidance of Accountability
    • Inattention to Results

These dysfunctions happen anywhere you might find a team. It’s as common to see a dysfunctional team in a church as it is an office, school, or civic group. Dysfunction can strike a team built for sports, community service, or government. The teammates can be volunteering their time or being paid handsomely for it. Team dysfunction is an equal opportunity provider (that last line was written in “smart aleck” font).

I’ve experienced these dysfunctions before. I would bet you have too, maybe even now. Am I right?

Preparing yourself to return to work again tomorrow

So, how do you, as a leader, or even a team member, seek to overcome these? Hey, he wrote a book on that too!

    • Overcoming Absence of Trust – Be the one who goes first, shows vulnerability, and shares your personal story. Start to build trust by showing trust to share important stuff with your teammates. Lencioni notes that this can be the toughest nut to crack.
    • Overcoming Fear of Conflict – Master conflict by mining for it. Really? Yes! Don’t ignore it. Root it out and talk it out so you can work it out.
    • Overcoming Lack of Commitment – Achieve greater commitment from all team members by clarifying individual responsibilities.
    • Overcoming Avoidance of Accountability – Embrace a culture of accountability that applies to ALL team members, including top tier leaders.
    • Overcoming Inattention to Results – Focus on collective outcomes. Win as a team. Lose as a team.

What role can you play? It’s my belief that regardless of your position on the team (lead leader, assistant, newbie, etc.), you can help your team to function more effectively by modeling these “overcoming” behaviors yourself. So, how about it?


  1. What’s the state of your team (could be at work, church, big, small, wherever or whatever)? Are you functioning as a cohesive unit? If not, what needs help?
  2. Is there any one of the five dysfunctions that jumps out at you because you’re more sensitive to it?
  3. Which of these five dysfunctions are you more naturally gifted in and, thus, likely to help your team with?

Your answers to these questions play a vital role in helping others. Do not hesitate to put forth a response. It might be just the encouragement another reader is needing.


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Posted on by Cor in LEADERSHIP

3 Responses to The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and How to Overcome Them

  1. Fake Pastor Trike

    So, if I comment here, I’ll either get quoted in a sermon or a tweet? I’m in. Here’s my comment. Its already over, though.

  2. ned berube

    I got a hold of 5 Dysfunctions about 8 years ago when a fellow pastor asked me to take his team through this route.
    This is excellent stuff and Lencioni is a very gifted.Hardly any b.s. And though all of his books are cast in a business model, the interpolation to the church is almost seamless.
    Recently I read his latest book, “The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business”. Much of the book is a re-hash of 3 of his other books but I think this is his best offering. I am presently using this to help other churches get a hold on this matter. It’s not terribly far from Jesus in John 13 as He challenges His leadership team to serve and love one another.
    However, a hearty yes to Lencioni’s 5 Dysfuctions book (actually, I think the workbook is better than the book) and a heartier cheer for “The Advantage”

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