I read The Five Dysfunctions of Team last week at the request of a friend from church in preparation for a meeting. It was a quick read and I finished it in the better part of a day (thanks to my ability to read while driving!) Patrick Lencioni is known for putting leadership and business principles in parable format. Hm, does that remind you of anyone?
In a nutshell, this is the story of Kathryn Peterson, a mid-career executive who takes the helm of a struggling software company. Having experience some rapid growth early on, as was the case with many of the Silicon Valley start-ups, Decision Tech finds itself unable to consistently reach sales and revenue goals and is thwarted in its hopes of going public. Enter Kathryn. For the first few weeks, it is business as usual, as she merely observes the company in action. Everything changes with her announcement of several off-site meetings for the executive team.
I was surprised to find myself entering into the emotional tension of this story as Kathryn faces conflict head on, and seeks to instill a true sense of teamwork among her direct reports. The story moved quickly through these critical dysfunctions that she identifies to her team via whiteboard and some team building exercises. The last chapter of the book steps away from the story and reflects on each of the dysfunctions and how they were addressed.
What surprised me is how I was able to see my own fear of conflict fleshed out in a story setting and how lack of trust has kept me from moving ahead in many areas of my life. I was challenged not to thwart in any way any team dynamics in which I play a role. I also realized how helpful it is to view my own marital relationship in a team setting. What is more important to me – my own personal security or the goals of the team? I would highly recommend this book to anyone on any kind of team, and hopefully that includes all of us!
P.S. I see the author has a new book out on the topic of family. I can’t help but think I’ll be reading more of this guy’s work in months to come.