The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, describes the pitfalls teams face while trying to work together to achieve their goals. This article provides actionable suggestions for dealing with each of these problems. It is an invaluable resource for any team leader looking to improve their effectiveness. Here are five of the most common problems found within teams.


Team members who lack trust hide their weaknesses, hesitate to ask for help, and make rash assumptions about others. As a result, meetings are often dull and lack energy. In addition, those who work in a team lacking trust are more likely to worry about politics, personal risk management, and conflict management than about achieving results.

The lack of trust is the first of the five dysfunctions of a team. Lack of trust is rooted in the inability to be vulnerable. In teams without trust, team members cannot share their ideas and failures, setting the stage for conflict. When team members lack confidence, they are hesitant to admit their mistakes and often avoid open discussions altogether. Because of this lack of trust, teams with high levels of discord and conflict fail to achieve their goals.


Inattention to results is one of the five dysfunctions of a team that often arises when team members fail to hold each other accountable for their actions. The root cause is that team members place their personal needs ahead of the team’s overall goals. Accountability can be strengthened by ensuring that teammates are comfortable sharing their feelings and opinions. To build trust among teammates, team leaders must create an environment that doesn’t punish their vulnerability. By creating a trust and mutual respect climate, teams are more likely to engage in passionate debate and avoid censorship.

Team members must be held accountable for their actions and performance. They must also be able to stand up to colleagues when they are acting in a selfish or harmful way. Ineffective accountability will lead to mediocre results. Even the best-intentioned team members will often slip into unproductive behaviors. And managers who lack team-building skills will often lead dysfunctional teams. However, by developing skills and strategies, teams can become high-performing and cohesive.


Five major problems can be the root cause of the dysfunctions of a team, but each one is interrelated. These five are often confused as separate issues, but together they form a model. Even one dysfunction can be lethal. The key to a high-performing team is a commitment to results. High-performing teams engage in unfiltered conflict around ideas, hold each other accountable for delivering against plans, and focus on achieving collective results.

Lack of commitment is one of a team’s three most significant dysfunctions. Lack of commitment results in ambiguity regarding priorities and direction. It breeds fear and lack of confidence, leading to mistrust and second-guessing by team members. So how can a team overcome commitment problems? Here are some strategies. Let’s look at each one in turn. And don’t forget to give yourself enough time to implement the plan.


Team members who don’t trust each other can lead to dysfunction. Human beings are naturally inclined to be self-reliant and control their destiny, but this doesn’t always lead to good collaboration. One of the easiest ways to fix this is by ensuring that all members share the same objectives. To do that, you must be clear about what you want to achieve and why. Here are three ways to make sure that your team is functioning at its best:

First, you must ensure that everyone on the team understands why the project is essential. Typically, team members are concerned about their careers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care about the project. If a team member cannot understand why their role is essential, it will be challenging to motivate them. In addition, team members often feel disconnected from the larger vision. If this is the case, team leaders may have to remind them of the larger picture or the project’s deadlines.

Opposing ideas

The five dysfunctions of a team are interdependent and affect team performance. When one of these dysfunctions thrives, the team suffers. High-performing teams engage in unfiltered conflict around beliefs and hold one another accountable for their results.

Lencioni’s book also introduces a simple model to make teams work better together. It’s a pyramid model, and each step builds a crucial foundation for the next. Without trust, a team cannot engage in constructive conflict. If a team lacks confidence, it will not engage in productive conflict. A team that lacks these five dysfunctions will be unable to achieve its goals.