Jimmy Springston

Book Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

I first read 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni (Link to Amazon) in 2014 while employed at USAA Federal Savings Bank. I saw copies sitting on the desks of various VPs at the bank and was curious about why so many people in leadership roles were reading it.  

The first time I read it, I thought it made some good points and, at the time, immaturely identified the flaws of my bosses and coworkers portrayed by the main characters in the book. I went through it quickly and moved on with my life.

Upon joining the Valiant Construction team in 2018, I reread the book based on the recommendation of our Implementor as part of the team’s EOS (link to EOS website?) journey. As a new Integrator charged with team health and already nervous about being accepted by the existing leadership team, I quickly prioritized this book.  

Though our team performed the recommended team health exercises located in the back of the book, nothing happened that dramatically improved our team’s health. 

After a total leadership turnover during three tumultuous years at Valiant Construction, the company owner and I invested in various coaching and training programs to give clarity on how we can improve the culture.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: Comprehensive Kit. My recent experience and information in this kit helped me understand WHY the concepts in this book are so important and gave me clarity about how we could integrate and apply EOS Tools, Predictive Index (link to Predictive Index Website?), and the concepts of Non-Violent Communication (NVC) (Link to NVC Website?) with it to benefit the entire team at Valiant Construction.

The Five Dysfunctions

  1. The Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

For an in-depth summary of each dysfunction, I recommend this book summary on Blinkist.

What I Liked About This Book

It is an easy-to-read business fable that provides a useful model to describe what’s going on below the surface of our teams.

  • Its a quick and easy-to-read book that a whole team or company can read together.
  • It provides a foundational “why” to the questions about adopting tools and systems like EOS, Predictive Index, and NVC.
  • Like most books read by a team, it provides a common language that can make communication more efficient and effective, thus creating the conditions for the Ideological Conflict Patrick Lencioni encourages in Five Dysfunctions of a Team. 

 What I Didn’t Like About the Book

The author mentions a few exercises to help with team health but does not provide a long-term, sustainable solution for maintaining team health. 

4 Key Takeaways

  1. We can’t skip Vulnerability-Based Trust and Ideological Conflict and expect Commitment, Accountability, and Results. 
  2. Reverse engineering the Team Health Assessment Questions help determine which tools are needed to create and maintain team health. 
  3. The Five Dysfunctions are interdependent. And therefore a weakness in one weakens the entire system (better word than system?)
  4. If Stephen M.R. Covey is right in his book The Speed of Trust, and getting results is a trust-building behavior, then the Five Dysfunctions Model creates a feedback loop that can either enhance or tank our company’s culture and business performance.

Virtuous or Vicious?

The Speed of Trust illuminated natural feedback loops within the Five Dysfunctions of a Team model that would accelerate team health if harnessed. 

Conversely, if ignored, it would create a vicious cycle that would be nearly impossible to recover from.

A team will tend to engage in actions that foster a virtuous or vicious cycle.

A Vicious Cycle is a sequence of reciprocal cause and effect in which two or more elements intensify and aggravate each other, leading inexorably to a worsening of the situation. 

Recurring actions that increase the beneficial effect of the next create a Virtuous Cycle that lifts the team and everyone on it. 

I will publish an article soon with an in-depth discussion of the Virtuous and Vicious Cycles.

The Wisdom of Teams

Why Teams? 

Because, to conquer the most difficult business challenges and take advantage of the biggest opportunities, we need people working together as a team. 

Do I have a Team or a Group?

A “Group” is a collection of individuals with a loose (or non-existent) shared purpose and individual performance goals/metrics.  

 A “Team” is a collection of individuals with a shared and meaningful purpose and a corresponding shared performance goal.

Teams consistently outperform individuals and groups, especially when performance requires a variety of insights, capabilities, talents, skills, perspectives, and experiences. 

Teams are created by effectively communicating with many people while harmoniously integrating various activities, personalities, skills, moods, and capabilities. 

People will not come together as a team, nor cannot exist for long as a team without a common, demanding, meaningful, and performance-driven purpose. 

Who should read this book?


We are all part of a team, or group, in different areas of our lives. The concepts taught in this book, when understood and implemented correctly, can help people work better together and accomplish more as a result.