22 July 2011

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable
Patrick Lencioni 

With only one week left until I (fingers crossed!) complete my Master's Degree, I figured it was about time for me to review one of the many books I've had to read for that degree. And this was the best book I had to read for my graduate program.  It wasn't written in the same style as the other educational theory books I've read - many of those books come across as inspriational-self-helpy.  This one didn't.  In fact, on many occasions Lencioni says that working toward fixing any of the five dysfunctions is often the most difficult task any professional will face in their career.  He also makes it clear that we all will face all five of the dysfunctions at some point.

The book starts out as a fable.  Kathryn has just been hired as CEO at DecisionTech - a company that despite it's amazing start, is faultering.  She is faced with the task of "fixing" the very dysfunctional executive team - a task that is not easy.  There is no holding hands, singing kumbaya.  Lencioni does an amazing job of weaving his theory of 5 dysfunctions into a very real story that is not self-helpy at all.  In fact, the theory is so simple and the fable is so well written, it causes the reader to understand that working together on a team can be an excellent thing - meetings don't have to be boring, politics can be left outside, and real results can be achieved.  And although some parts of the story would not work in a school setting, his theory could absolutely bring about change to any dedicated team that is looking to work more effectively together.

The other thing I liked about the book is the fact that even though it sounds like it's going to be super negative, it is actually written from a very positive viewpoint.  Lencioni basically says, here are the five biggest, intertwined issues facing businesses/groups today, and here's why and how you can fix them.

I will not say that I have completely bought into his theory.  However, I will say that unlike many of the other books I've read, this one actually seems like it can work, and Lencioni doesn't claim that his method is the ultimate fixer of all woes.  It's just on way to make working with other adults more effective.  And as a teacher, I know that working with other adults is often more difficult than working with teenagers (ask any teacher you know and they'll agree with me.  The only reason other people don't agree is because they haven't had to work with teenagers...)

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