It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare, according to Patrick Lencioni in his book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. Because they are made up of imperfect human beings, teams are inherently dysfunctional. Teamwork requires mastering a set of behaviours that are theoretically uncomplicated but very difficult to put into practice.
The leadership fable tells the story of DecisionTech Inc, a promising and well-funded Silicon Valley start-up with an experienced and expensive executive team, which is underachieving and experiencing low morale because of poor teamwork. We watch as a new CEO, Kathryn Petersen, diagnoses the problems and systematically deals with them, confronting and overcoming resistance, and building the executives into a true team.
The five dysfunctions which cause lack of teamwork, according to Lencioni’s model, are:
Lencioni is a skilled “business fiction” writer, and he manages to inject plenty of tension and interest into what could otherwise be fairly dry management theory. I found the book an enjoyable and informative read, and I believe that many of the organisations I have encountered would benefit greatly from taking the author’s team-building lessons to heart.