The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Part I

Posted by Adam Richardson - 10/06/2020

Over the course of Lockdown, we have taken the opportunity to work our way through the various book recommendations we have received.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have discussed our learnings from the book ‘Traction’ by Gino Wickman. Over the next five weeks, we will be sharing our learnings from our latest read: ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’ by Patrick Lencioni.

This is a great read, told initially via a fable approach, before moving onto clearly explaining the five dysfunctions and how these can be overcome.

Over the next five weeks, we will discuss each dysfunction in turn, starting today with:

 Dysfunction One: Absence of Trust

Lencioni believes that trust lies at the centre of a fully functioning team – without trust, he believes that effective teamwork is impossible.

He advises that in a work / team situation, trust is defined as the confidence of team members that there is no need to be protective or careful around the others in that team.

 In other words, teammates must get comfortable with being vulnerable with each other.

By knowing their vulnerabilities will not be used against them, people will be more honest – sharing things such as their mistakes, weakness, skills deficiencies – and ultimately feeling able to ask for help.

By being more open, energy is less wasted on protecting themselves, and instead focussed correctly on the job at hand.

In a competitive environment, such as sales, this level of trust can be difficult – as colleagues are naturally competitive with each other. This is where it is important that an individual assesses what is in the best interest of the team.

 So, is ‘Absence of Trust’ a dysfunction of your team?

Here are some of the traits of teams with an absence of trust:

  • Hide their mistakes from each other
  • Dread meetings and find reasons to avoid spending time together
  • Fail to recognise other’s skillsets
  • Hesitate to ask for help

So, if we know this is a dysfunction of our team, how can we address it?

Obviously trust in a team cannot be built overnight, but Lencioni does believe it can be accelerated by using the below tools

Personal Histories Exercise: This involves the team spending an hour together and sharing answers to a short list of questions about themselves – questions such as first job, worst job, number of siblings, hometown etc. By sharing this information, team members start to relate to each other on a more personal basis – leading to greater empathy.

Team Effectiveness Exercise: This exercise has team members identify the single most important contribution that each of their peers makes – plus the one area that they should improve on for the good of the team. By completing this exercise, teams have shown their trust of each other, as well as gleaned valuable information (both positive and constructive) about themselves.

Personality Testing / 360 Feedback: Most of us will be familiar with these form of tests / feedback exercises. We may have even completed some form of personality profiling before being in the role we are in now – but how often are these reports reviewed once we are in the role? By bettering understanding our team member’s personalities and behaviours, barriers can be broken as people learn to empathise with each other.

And what if you are the leader of a team where there is an absence of trust?

Lencioni advises that you should be the first to be vulnerable. By doing this, it demonstrates to your team that it is ok to do the same – and that they are working in an environment where vulnerability will not be punished. You should also ensure there is regular interaction between the team so that the newly established level of trust is maintained – and of course work with the team on their identified development areas.

During lockdown, we have been exposed to people’s personal lives on a much greater level than before.

Even though the majority of us are now working remotely, a lot of companies are recognising this and arranging virtual team socials, coffee and chats etc to combat this issue.

Perhaps we have shared our concerns about the current climate – and the future?

We have all admitted that ‘it’s ok, not to be ok’.

At the very least, we have seen certain rooms of their homes via our video catch-ups – and probably their animals or family members!

Perhaps, differently to what we may have first anticipated, we are actually talking to our team more than ever before and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

So, what are the benefits of this increased level of trust? A trusting team would display the following traits:

  • Admit weaknesses and ask for help
  • Accept input about their area of responsibility
  • Focus time and energy on important issues, not internal politics
  • Offer and accept apologies


Next week, we will explore the second dysfunction that Lencioni identified: Fear of Conflict.

If you want to learn more about this subject, the book can be purchased here.

Making a Candidate Offer: How to maximise your chances of SuccessAdam Richardson

Posted by Adam Richardson - 17/06/2024

Making a Candidate Offer: How to maximise your chances of Success

In a recent poll of over 300 GTM Talent Acquisition Specialists, via our Community, The Launch Collective, we asked: What percentage of offers have you seen declined this year to date?

Through this Poll, we identified that some our our members, were seeing up to 30% of their offers declined. Not only is this a waste of valuable Talent Acquisition and Hiring Manager resource, it also increases the Time to Hire, resulting in increased lost revenue for the business.

Read More

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