Tony DeMeo

The Five Dysfunctions of Team by Patrick Leneconi

Every coach on the planet knows the correlation between winning and teamwork but only winning coaches know how to create a team environment. Some coaches completely underestimate the power of synergy. Just remember how our Olympic Dream Team basketball team floundered in the 2004 Olympics due to selfish play. Even the most talented athletes in the world were defeated because they couldn’t function as a team. The Five Dysfunctions of Team by Patrick Leneconi is a great little book that is invaluable to any coach interested in developing a “Team Environment”.

The Five Dysfunctions of Team is a fable about a CEO in charge of turning around a sagging company. The new CEO’s first order of business was to get all on the same page. She started by observing and absorbing the situation. She then started a series of off-sight retreats to get the team pulling in the same direction. She used a pyramid model to explain the Five Dysfunctions. They were as follows:

  1. Absence of Trust – the base of the model was the absence of trust. Lack of trust stymies discussion and debate so there isn’t much creativity going on. No creativity means no growth and no “buy in”. When people are not listened to, they never take ownership.
  2. Fear of Conflict – is the second level of the pyramid. Fear of conflict prevents bad behavior from being corrected. To turn any program around you have to establish the creed that” Everything is Important” – details are the difference. Whether you study Vince Lombardi, Bear Bryant or Joe Paterno, they all were stickler for details. If you worry about being liked, details will start to slip and before you realize it, you’re losing.
  3. Lack of Commitment – is the third level of the pyramid. Great teams unite behind a decision because all have been given a voice. A leader must be decisive and never fear being wrong. A leader must be willing to trust his intuition to make tough choices.
  4. Avoidance of Accountability – is the fourth dysfunction. The great leader must be willing to challenge the team members and call them out when their performance doesn’t meet expectations. It’s always easier to over-look sub par performances rather than to confront them. Simple evaluations and performance reviews are a must for team growth.
  5. Inattention to Results – is the final dysfunction. This is the ultimate dysfunction – to care about your agenda rather than the team goals. Like Larry Byrd once said “Some guys put up numbers and some guys win championships.” Whenever an individual places more importance on “his touches” than winning; then he has to go.

This book is not only informative but directly relates to the team-building every coach is faces. In a culture of the “ESPN Moment” and the media glamorization of the showboat and loudmouth, building team values may be the most difficult challenge facing coaches today. I strongly recommend The Five Dysfunctions of Team as a tool to help you with the process.