Patrick Lencioni's five dysfunctions of a team workshop.

Lencioni's Five Dysfunctions of a Team Workshop

Read time: 4 minutes

Have you seen a team fall apart due to bickering, infighting, or a general lack of respect?

It can be frustrating to witness such destructive behaviour, and it undoubtedly takes a toll on the morale and productivity of the team.

There is an insightful framework called Five Dysfunctions of a Team created by Patrick Lencioni that sheds light on the root causes of team dysfunction and provides guidance on how to address them effectively.

In today’s article, I’m giving you a workshop you can run with any team that delves into these five dysfunctions and helps you develop actionable steps to mend and strengthen your team.

Introduction to the Five Dysfunctions

The five dysfunctions Lencioni identifies are:

  1. 1
    Absence of Trust
  2. 2
    Fear of Conflict
  3. 3
    Lack of Commitment
  4. 4
    Avoidance of Accountability
  5. 5
    Inattention to Results

Let’s look at each dysfunction in a bit more detail:

Absence of trust

The first dysfunction identified by Lencioni is the absence of trust. Without trust among team members, communication breaks down and collaboration becomes nearly impossible.

Imagine an environment where everyone constantly second-guesses each other's intentions or actions - it's an unproductive nightmare.

However, through fostering a culture of vulnerability and creating opportunities for genuine connection, trust can be rebuilt within your team.

Fear of conflict

The second dysfunction is fear of conflict. Many teams shy away from healthy debates out of fear that disagreements will lead to tension or personal animosity.

But here's the truth - constructive conflict leads to better decisions and innovative ideas when handled respectfully.

Encouraging open dialogue, active listening, and establishing clear guidelines for productive disagreement can help channel disagreements into positive outcomes.

Lack of commitment

The third dysfunction is a lack of commitment. Have you ever been part of a team where members exhibit partial commitment or fail to buy into decisions fully?

It results in limited progress and missed opportunities.

To combat this dysfunction, foster an environment where individuals feel heard, have clarity on goals and expectations, and encourage collective ownership of decisions made as a team.

Avoidance of accountability

The fourth dysfunction is the avoidance of accountability. When individuals don't hold themselves accountable or hesitate to call out their teammates' shortcomings, it creates an unproductive cycle of mediocrity.

Building a culture of accountability involves setting clear performance expectations, establishing transparent evaluation systems, and encouraging feedback loops that hold everyone responsible for their actions and outcomes.

Inattention to results

The fifth dysfunction is inattention to results. If team members prioritize personal success over collective accomplishments or fail to align their efforts towards shared objectives, the entire team suffers.

To overcome this dysfunction, cultivate a shared vision that guides decision-making processes and celebrates wins as a team rather than individuals.

The Workshop

Would you like a workshop built around the insights from Five Dysfunctions of a Team to do a status check on where your team is and where you’d like to get to?

I’ve got you covered:

Step 1 - Setup a room

1 flipchart for each dysfunction. Place them apart in different areas of the room.

Five flipcharts with the Five Dysfunctions of a Team titles on them.

Five flipcharts with the Five Dysfunctions of a Team titles on them.

Step 2 - Discuss the 5 Dysfunctions

Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of what each of the dysfunctions is.

You can use the summaries I’ve given you above as the basis of a discussion or print off the table in the workbook and hand them out.

Speak about team characteristics generally at this stage. You don’t want to discuss your team’s positives and negatives. That comes later.

Dysfunctional Teams

High Performing Teams

Absence of Trust

  • People don’t ask each other for help
  • Meetings are seen as negatives
  • Lots of talking behind backs
  • Everyone participates in meetings and feels safe to speak up
  • Lots of learning from each other
  • Skills and strengths are recognised and utilised

Fear of Conflict

  • Lack of confrontation between team members
  • Problems are avoided rather than dealt with
  • Problems and issues aren’t allowed to fester
  • No politics and backstabbing
  • Open, honest and robust conversations between team members

Lack of Commitment

  • Discussions repeat without clear decision-making
  • People not showing up to work for personal reasons
  • Higher absentee rate (especially on Mondays and Fridays)
  • Team purpose and objectives are clearly understood and agreed upon
  • Clear priorities and buy-in for every team member
  • Happy to go all-in to support each other

Avoidance of Accountability

  • Deadlines are often missed or ignored
  • Poor performers are not held accountable
  • Poor performers are held accountable and helped
  • No favouritism. Everyone held to account (especially management)

Inattention to Results

  • Poor performance
  • Targets often missed
  • Target setting less and less ambitious over time
  • Stretch targets set over time
  • Expectations often exceeded
  • Hunger to do even better on the next cycle

Step 3 - Think

Give your team 5 minutes to think (in silence) about the task at hand.

Don’t allow discussion. You don’t want any consensus-building at this stage.

Please don’t miss this step. This is where the magic happens as each person forms their own opinion independently.

Step 4 - Write & Share

Ask them to write points down on Post-its and put them up on the flipcharts. One point per note.

Invite them to walk around the room taking in what others have written and use that as inspiration to add more.

After Step 4 your group has added points to each of the five flipcharts with the Five Dysfunctions of a Team titles.

After Step 4 your group has added points to each of the five flipcharts with the Five Dysfunctions of a Team titles.

Step 5 - Plenary

Discuss as a group key insights.

  • What jumps out?
  • Which of the 5 dysfunctions should we concentrate most on improving?
  • Is there anything easy/simple/cheap we could do right away that will make a big difference?
  • What should we do next to take this forward?

Create an action plan for the next steps.


This is not one of those workshops where you do it once, tick a box and move on. There are always things you can do as a team to improve in one or more of the five areas.

This gives you and your team a useful common language to address issues before they become serious problems.

By addressing these dysfunctions, you can pave the way for a highly effective and cohesive team that thrives on trust, healthy conflict, commitment, accountability, and a passion for achieving outstanding results together.

Don't let your team fall victim to these pitfalls any longer - take action now and transform them into an unstoppable force!

I hope you enjoyed it.

Good luck!

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About the Author

Nick Martin helps leaders & consultants improve team results with resources, advice & coaching through