Growth through people

Are there really only 5 dysfunctions of a team?

Patrick Lencioni Lencioni 5 Dysfunctions of a Team

#1: Absence of Trust

Team members are reluctant to be vulnerable with one another, unwilling to admit their mistakes, acknowledge their weaknesses or ask for help.

#2: Fear of Conflict

Without a foundation of trust, debate around key issues is filtered and dispassionate. The likelihood of destructive, back channel sniping increases and decision-making is less effective as true perspectives are stifled.

#3: Lack of Commitment

The lack of clarity, buy-in or healthy debate prevents team members from making decisions they will stick to; Ambiguity, confusion and frustration reign.

#4: Avoidance of Accountability

The need to avoid interpersonal discomfort prevents team members from holding one another accountable, especially if there is no clear and agreed plan of action.

#5: Inattention to Results

When team members do not hold each other accountable individual ego, recognition and personal status becomes more important than collective team results.

Lencioni 5 Dysfunctions of a Team Model

Having worked with – as well as in –  numerous teams over the years, we can certainly identify with Lencioni’s model.

Of particular note is his approach to conflict, which is usually considered a negative within any environment. But, when supported by a strong foundation of trust, it can be extremely positive and productive.

Trust is one of the fundamental requirements for building a strong team. Without trust everyone spends too much time and energy protecting themselves and undermining each other, instead of focusing on their work and the team’s common goal.

It’s also a very simple model, and easy to work through with a team. But there are a few areas critical to team effectiveness that are under‑emphasised in Lencioni’s model.

For example, lack of accountability can also be the result of poorly defined or communicated roles, or working methods are vague or broken.

Process is one of the fundamental requirements all teams, especially important for teams working with other teams. Without clear rules of engagement, how can anyone take accountability for their role?

Without a defined process how can you react quickly to opportunities? Agility in today’s business environment is essential, as is continuous improvement.

If you don’t know how to do it, how can you do it better?

When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer.

Patric Lencioni

In his Practical Guidelines  for overcoming the 5 Dysfunctions, Lencioni recommends “a personality instrument to help team members understand one another’s different preferences, skills and attitudes, and identify collective strengths and potential blind spots of the team.”

He also adds that this will “accelerate trust by speeding up the process of team members getting to know one another” and help “understand specifically how different team members naturally engage in conflict.”

Insights Discovery is more than just a personality assessment – we really dislike that term! – it’s a complete system of self , team and leadership development.

Insights Discovery Team Effectiveness Pillars
Team Effectiveness Dysfunctions


  1. Lencioni, P. (2002). The five dysfunctions of a team: A leadership fable. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.