Book recommendation: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni

Here’s the thing about professional development books: I tend to find them very hit and miss, in regards to whether or not I enjoy reading them. Give me one about writing or creativity, and there’s a high likelihood I’ll be hooked. But in most other cases, I’ll be hard-pressed to even read all the way through.

I found a rare exception a couple of months ago. I read The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick Lencioni, as part of a book club I was in at my previous job, one where we focused specifically on professional and personal development books. Of the four or five books we read before I left, this was easily my favourite.

A digital copy of the cover of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni, beside a notebook, pen and coffee mug.

In order to best achieve success, teams of any sort—be they work, athletic, or any other type you can imagine—need to learn how to come together. In this book, Patrick Lencioni presents a five-tiered model for how they can best do that. Each tier comes with actionable steps for a team to take, helping move them from struggling to accomplishing.

It took me a while to pinpoint why this particular book appealed to me more than others of its type. Eventually, I realized the reason was twofold: The majority of the information is presented in the form of a fictional story, and the advice itself just plain resonated with me.

I don’t know if it’s rare to find a professional development book presented partly as a novel, but I haven’t come across it often. Lencioni did a rather good job with his fictional narrative, too. It flows well, there’s something at stake for each of the characters, and it had an interesting resolution. It was easily enough to keep me engaged and reading.

Which is good, because it meant I got to take in Lencioni’s advice. Being on a team that not only gets along but also works well together is important to me; when I’m at work, I want to feel as though we’re working together, not competing against each other, and as though we support and trust each other, not just put up with each other.

Lencioni’s dysfunctions, and their counter-actions, offer great advice to help a team get to that point. It’s not advice I’ve had to employ, exactly, but I’ve been able to see how teams I’ve been on have used it without consciously knowing it, or even having read the book. It was an interesting connection to make as I read.

And it’s exactly why I’d recommend reading it. Whether you’re on a well-functioning team or one that could use a little help, there’s bound to be some insight in the book to help you see how you’re currently working together and why.

Goodreads summary

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni once again offers a leadership fable that is as enthralling and instructive as his first two best-selling books, The Five Temptations of a CEO and The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive. This time, he turns his keen intellect and storytelling power to the fascinating, complex world of teams.

Kathryn Petersen, Decision Tech’s CEO, 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? Lencioni’s utterly gripping tale serves as a timeless reminder that leadership requires as much courage as it does insight.

Throughout the story, Lencioni reveals the five dysfunctions which go to the very heart of why teams even the best ones-often struggle. He outlines a powerful model and actionable steps that can be used to overcome these common hurdles and build a cohesive, effective team. Just as with his other books, Lencioni has written a compelling fable with a powerful yet deceptively simple message for all those who strive to be exceptional team leaders.

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