Three Core Dysfunctions of a Team

Yesterday we talked about absence of trust as the first dysfunction of a team. Patrick Lencioni places the five dysfunctions in a a pyramid with absence of trust at the bottom of that pyramid. It is also the foundation for the remaining four dysfunctions. Absence of trust in an organization is recognized by invulnerability. Today we jump ahead to the fifth dysfunction at the top of the five dysfunctions pyramid before we talk about two, three, and four. (You have no idea the inner conflict I’m having right now, going along with the book and not putting them in the correct order.) Anyways, on to number five!

The fifth dysfunction is inattention to results and is defined by status and ego.¹ At the top of the pyramid of dysfunction as described by Patrick Lencioni, is when the driving force is  ego or self instead of the team. This is seen on some professional sports teams where some individuals who get paid multimillion dollar sports contracts and advertising contracts are able to excel by themselves, but do not know how to use their leadership potential to build a team. Another great analogy is the one that Patrick uses when telling the fable of the company DecisionTech and its CEO Kathryn.

“Kathryn went back to the sports analogy… …’Okay, imagine a basketball coach in the locker room at half-time. He calls the team’s center into his office to talk with him one-on-one about the first half, and then he does the same with the point guard, the shooting guard, the small forward, and the power forward, without any of them knowing what everyone else was talking about. That’s not a team. It’s a collection of individuals.'”²

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Photo Credit: Dragomir Vujnovic. Used by Permission.

The second dysfunction of team, just above absence of trust at the base of the pyramid, is fear of conflict. Fear of conflict is evidenced by artificial harmony. ³ “If we don’t trust one another, then we aren’t going to engage in open, constructive ideological conflict. And we’ll just continue to preserve a sense of artificial harmony.”³ Just because everyone seems to be getting along, doesn’t mean that team is really happening. When we’re not honest and open with each other then we’re doing it behind each other’s back. And nothing like artificial harmony can lead us to the third dysfunction.

The third dysfunction of team is lack of commitment which is evidenced by ambiguity.Lack of commitment is directly effected by fear of conflict because, “When people don’t unload their opinions and feel like they’ve been listened to, they won’t really get on board.”5 Everyone doesn’t have to agree they just have to know they’re being heard. Plus creating an environment where people believe they can be open and honest, and can be heard will keep that communication from being cut off. Don’t be fooled, that communication will happen, whether or not you foster the right environment for it to grow in is up to you.

Finally, the fourth and final dysfunction of a team we’ll talk about tomorrow.

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Sarah Jackson

Vigilant Poster Girl

Every week I talk about a book that we’re reading on leadership and self-development. You can follow along by going to the Book of the Week page at the top. And order a book (either kindle, audible, or paperback) by clicking on the photo of that book. When you do that, it also helps fund this site. 


  1. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni picture pg 72
  2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni pg 83
  3. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni pg 91
  4. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni pg 93
  5. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni pg 94

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