The five dysfunctions of a team

  • Do my team members admit their weaknesses and mistakes?
  • Do my team members openly communicate their opinions?
  • Are the meetings productive?
  • Are decisions made effectively?
  • Are my team members sacrificing their personal interests for the collective good?


If you answered “no” to any of these questions, your team may be suffering from one of the 5 dysfunctions conceptualized by Patrick Lencioni, in his eponymous book.

“Is it the financial resources, the strategies, the technology? No, it’s teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, and that’s because it’s so powerful and so rare.”  [1]

The five dysfunctions of a team, Patrick Lencioni, 2005.



Lack of confidence

There is a great temptation not to communicate about your mistakes and your feelings. Although showing your vulnerability is a challenge for some, you cannot build a strong team without confidence. So, you must get to know yourself and make yourself vulnerable.

Tips for developing a climate of trust: Promote teamwork and organize triad work sessions. People will get to know each other more. Also, conduct feedback sessions and hold gratitude sessions to mark successes. Team members will then know the strengths and weaknesses to work on.

Fear of confrontation

Without trust, a team cannot engage in a heated debate about ideas from which creativity and collective intelligence emerge. By establishing a climate of trust, a team makes confrontation possible. However, they should not be penalized for making comments that might otherwise be interpreted.

Tips for engaging in healthy confrontation: Establish teamwork methods and a mechanism for group decision making. Be a leader who reassures and confirms the added value of ideological confrontation.

Lack of commitment

Engagement is a function of two things: clarity and acceptance. By drawing on the views and opinions of all its members, a team can confidently make a decision and commit to its implementation, knowing that it has benefited from everyone’s ideas.

Tips for ensuring commitment: Write down the decisions made, establish the action plan and timeline. Be a leader who pushes to make decisions with discretion. This will help your team overcome their fears and avoid the potential pitfalls of immobility and the fear of failure.

Lack of accountability

Accountability is sometimes rarely practiced in teams due to the difficulty of dealing with the interpersonal discomfort that this causes. For team members to hold each other accountable for their behaviors and actions, they must have a clear idea of ​​the expected results.

Tips for strengthening accountability: Establish and disseminate goals and performance criteria. Be a leader who uses constructive feedback and act as a disciplinary arbitrator when necessary.

Indifference to results

If team members do not hold each other accountable for their contributions, they will tend to focus on their personal needs, thus helping to nurture both the ego and individualism.

Tips for focusing attention on collective results: Establish the results the team needs to achieve and focus the reward dynamics on collective results and not other personal factors. Be a leader who is humble and objective.

By Médina Cayer, MBA, Adm.A., C.M.C, CRHA, ACC

HR blog editor – Iceberg Management’s Consulting Space

[1] LENCIONI, Patrick (2005). Optimisez votre équipe – Les cinq dysfonctions d’une équipe : une fable pour les dirigeants, Un monde différent.