Team Development

Leadership and Management Development

Take the 'Dys' Out of 'Dysfunctional'.

Patrick Lencioni is a renowned American author, speaker, and management consultant known for his work in the field of leadership, team dynamics, and organisational health. He was born on July 24, 1965, in the United States. Lencioni's work has had a significant impact on businesses and leaders seeking to improve their organisations.

Patrick Lencioni is also the founder and president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm that specialises in helping organisations improve their teamwork, leadership, and organisational health. He has worked with a wide range of businesses, from Fortune 500 companies to smaller organisations, to enhance their performance.

Lencioni's practical and relatable approach to leadership and management has made him a sought-after speaker, consultant, and author, and his insights continue to have a significant influence on the business world.

Lencioni is best known for his writings on management and leadership, which often focus on practical approaches to addressing common challenges in the workplace. One of his most notable contributions is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team outlines the fundamental issues that can hinder team effectiveness. The dysfunctions include the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results. Lencioni's model provides insights and practical solutions to help teams overcome these challenges. At Unify we like to flip all that on its head, but more on that later! 

Although a recipe for dysfunction alone, the book rose to fame partly because of the fable being written about the nasty backstabbing that can occur when a team has an absence of trust. This take on teamwork made it a particularly engaging read and brought the theory to life in a way other management books hadn’t been able to.

Let’s explore the Five Dysfunctions step by step.

1. Absence of Trust

The foundation of any successful team is trust. In a trust-lacking environment, team members are hesitant to be vulnerable, and open communication becomes an uphill battle. When team members don't trust each other, they don't feel safe expressing their opinions or making mistakes, and collaboration suffers.

2. Fear of Conflict
Conflict is often seen as something to be avoided, but it is a critical aspect of a healthy team. It is through constructive conflict that ideas are challenged and improved. When team members are afraid to engage in conflict, they end up having superficial and polite conversations, which lead to suboptimal decisions and a lack of innovation, epitomised by the "nodding dog syndrome".

3. Lack of Commitment

A team that lacks commitment can't move forward with purpose. Commitment is about making clear and decisive choices. Without it, teams may wander aimlessly, unable to rally behind a common goal. A lack of commitment can also lead to confusion and frustration among team members.

4. Avoidance of Accountability

Accountability is about ensuring that everyone on the team is responsible for their actions and performance. When accountability is absent, problems go unresolved, and excuses become the norm. Team members may be reluctant to hold themselves or others responsible, resulting in poor overall performance.

5. Inattention to Results

In a high-performing team, the collective result is the primary focus. However, in teams plagued by dysfunction, personal success often takes precedence. When individuals prioritize their own goals over those of the team, overall productivity and effectiveness suffer.

Is there any cause for optimism?.

Now, the above descriptions paint a pretty gloomy picture, and if a team is in such a state, the hope of change might feel relatively low; however, that is not the case. In fact, teams can rise from the ashes like a phoenix from the flames and the above dysfunctions can become the functions that save the day.

Take the Dys out of Dysfunctions - A Step-By-Step Guide.

Build Trust: Trust is not a static concept; it needs to be nurtured and maintained and when broken it can be repaired, maybe not as it was but it can exist again.

Here are some strategies for building and preserving trust:

Time out

Trust is built during the little moments as well as the big ones. Use coffee breaks, team walks around the building and get to know each other. Schedule lunches, team-building activities and learn about behavioural differences.


Encourage reliability. Consistency builds trust by showing that teammates can be relied upon.


Encourage openness around personal challenges. Start the ball rolling by showing understanding and compassion towards others. Empathy helps to build emotional trust and connection.

Listen Actively

Give your full attention when others are speaking. Listening demonstrates respect and genuine interest. Others will follow if you are leading by example.

Respect Boundaries

Recognise and respect the boundaries and privacy of others. Talk about them and listen to your colleagues' thoughts on where those boundaries should be.

Lead by Example

Whether you head up the team or not, we need to be the leaders we would like to be led by, and all have a responsibility to demonstrate the behaviours we expect. Set the standard for trustworthiness and expect the same from your team.

Apologise and Forgive

Inevitably, trust may be broken. Apologise sincerely if you're at fault and be willing to forgive when others make amends.

The Ripple Effect of Trust

The effects of trust ripple throughout our personal and professional lives. It impacts our relationships, our emotional well-being, and the way we work in a team. Trust is not just a nice-to-have; it's a necessity! By understanding its significance and working to build and maintain it, we can create more supportive, authentic, and successful relationships. Trust is the invisible force that, when strong, enables us to achieve incredible things together... and it is way less stressful to have it than to not have it in your working environment!

And now for the other four functions...

  1. Embrace Conflict: To overcome the fear of conflict, encourage open and honest communication. Establish ground rules for constructive debate and ensure everyone's voice is heard, respected and appreciated. You can also set up scenarios where the less comfortable can practice conflict in a safe space.

    Establish Commitment: Make it a priority to clearly define team goals and the specific actions required to achieve them. Ensure every member of the team understands their role in achieving these goals.

    Promote Accountability: Develop a culture of accountability where team members are responsible for their actions and performance. Make actions public, hold regular check-ins to assess progress and address any issues or roadblocks.

    Focus on Results: Keep the team's collective goals front and centre. Celebrate the team's achievements and ensure that everyone is aligned with the bigger picture. It's also useful to remind everyone that a team's purpose isn't just to achieve results, it's about supporting each other and enjoying the journey as well as the destination!

    Building a cohesive team requires effort, time and commitment and it's not something you have to do alone. Unify is here to help you every step of the way!
James Hampton (He/Him)

James Hampton (He/Him)


Our areas of specialism.


  • Self-awareness

  • Resilience

  • Personal Development

  • Change

  • Decision making

  • Growth mindset

Team development.

  • Hybrid team working

  • Communication

  • Meetings

  • Feedback

  • Collaboration

  • Trust

Leadership development.

  • Leadership styles

  • Psychological safety

  • Leading change

  • Mission, vision, values

  • Culture

  • Mentoring