5 Whys is a blog about technical leadership in the software world.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

As part of my reading, one book i came across was

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)

it’s a great book and i recommend that every team leader, at any level, read this.

it connects very well to many other things I’ve seen and learned in the wild, but manages to tell and explain things at a very simple and yet real world level that i think most would be able to relate to, even if they have no leadership experience.

what are the five dysfunctions?

1) Absence of Trust

you can detect this easily if you have meetings where no one disagrees with each other, but everyone probably disagree or don’t care what others are saying. also, meetings are very political in nature.

As a team you need to be able to trust each other, so that you can expose weakness in a “safe” manner without fear. this allows raising real issues that need to be taken care of. Also, lack of trust leads to the second dysfunction:

2) Fear of conflict

if you don’t trust each other, then you won’t want to confront any of your team mates in real world productive dialog about things that are hurting the team and company. without conflict people also won’t air their real opinions about things going on, which leads to the third dysfunction:

3) Lack of commitment

many times, people will not commit to any decision made by the team if they feel they had not been heard. most people are ok with at least saying what they want to say and they they are able to commit even to a group decision they were against. as long as they were heard. without that, they will not feel committed to decisions.

fear of conflict and commitment also leads to:

4) Avoidance of accountability

if people can’t openly confront each other about the real issues without fearing hurting each other, then people may not feel accountable for their (lack of) actions for the team and company. Sometimes the leader takes on the role of the “accountability confronter” but this should really be on all the team. otherwise people can sit quietly on issues they don’t like and quietly expect the leader to do all the hard lifting of confrontation, but a trusting team should be able to openly and honestly confront each other on business issues.

all these lead to:

5) Inattention to results

in this state, especially with lack of accountability, team members put individual needs above the team’s needs. if as a team we cannot deliver results – specific goals the team sets itself on a weekly, monthly  or yearly basis, – then what are we doing?

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