A functional team?


  • Business
  • Monday, 20 Jan 2003

By ALVIN TAY  

Title: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team  

Author: Patrick Lencioni  

Publisher: Jossey-Bass  

THE Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni which targets group behaviour is quite an entertaining, quick read filled with information easy to digest. But implementing it within a multinational company may give it more scope and perspective to expand, especially with the “healthy conflict” (read confrontation) bits.  

The final instalment in a trilogy that includes The Five Temptations of a CEO (1998) and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive (2000), this fictional story demonstrates how a newbie CEO reforms a dysfunctional executive team with a series of sometimes painful off-site meetings.  

Lencioni weaves his lessons around an unexpected choice for a new CEO: A retiree from a traditional manufacturing company from two years earlier at age 55, who is hired to bring together a dysfunctional executive staff to work as a team in a company that just two years earlier had looked promising.  

Decision Tech has superior tangible and intangible assets yet but is behind its competitors in terms of revenue and customer growth. Kathryn Peterson is brought on board as CEO and she forces her reluctant team to examine their interpersonal behaviours, such as letting individual ego get in the way of team goals.  

Peterson demands healthy conflict and ac- countability among the group and vigilantly prevents them from sliding back into old habits. Losing a couple of executives in the process, Peterson faces the ultimate leadership crisis: Uniting a team in such disarray that it threatens to bring down the entire company. Will she succeed? Will she be fired? Will the company fail?  

Showing exactly how existing personnel failed to function as a unit, and precisely how the new boss worked to re-establish that essential conduct, the book's first part colourfully illustrates the ways that teamwork can elude even for the most dedicated individuals, and be res- tored by an insightful leader.  

A second part offers details on Lencioni's “five dysfunctions” along with a questionnaire for readers to use in evaluating their own teams and specifics to help them understand and overcome these common shortcomings.  

He offers instructions for overcoming the human behavioural tendencies that he says corrupt teams (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of ac- countability and inattention to results).  

Departing from the dry, theoretical writing of many management books, Lencioni presents his case in the context of a fictional organisation, and in doing so succeeds at communicating his ideas.  

The scenarios that follow are re- cognisable and can be applied anywhere teamwork is involved, whether it is a multinational company, a small department within a larger organisation, or a sports team.  

At the end of the story, the main points are summarised, and clearly written suggestions and exercises are offered to help bring about change.  

Lencioni is president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay Area management-consulting firm. In addition to his work as an executive coach and consultant, he is a sought-after speaker.  

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