The one-sentence summary

Successful teams need to trust each other, engage in constructive conflict, commit, hold each other accountable, and remove ego to concentrate on results.

Can’t be bothered to read it? Listen to the 5-minute summary.


  • There are five dysfunctions that can ruin the effectiveness and cohesion of any team, particularly leadership teams. They are:
  1. Absence of trust. This stems from an unwillingness to be vulnerable within the group. Those who are not open about mistakes and weaknesses make it impossible to build trust.
  2. Fear of conflict. Teams that lack trust are incapable of engaging in unfiltered debate. Instead they resort to veiled discussions and guarded comments.
  3. Lack of commitment. Without having aired their opinions in open debate, team members rarely, if ever, buy in or commit to decisions, though they may feign it in meetings.
  4. Avoidance of accountability. Without committing to a clear plan of action, even the most focused people fail to call their peers on counterproductive actions and behaviours.
  5. Inattention to results. Failure to hold one another accountable creates an environment where team members put their individual needs, or those of their departments, above those of the leadership team.
  • Trust comes from overcoming invulnerability and admitting to weaknesses.
  • Constructive conflict needs to replace artificial harmony.
  • Creating commitment means removing ambiguity.
  • Accountability involves raising low standards.
  • Inattention to results can be addressed by removing status and ego issues.


  • The model can be used effectively in any management team awayday.
  • There are a series of questionnaires that can be used as a method to flush out opinions and character types.
  • Wasting time in unproductive meetings can be avoided by setting up 4 types: 1. Daily check-in (10 mins); 2. Weekly staff (45-90 mins); 3. Adhoc topical (2-4 hrs); 4. Quarterly offsite (1-2 days). These will only take 13% of your time.


  • The main part of the book is a fable, which may not be everybody’s preferred way of understanding a method.
  • The book should probably be read in conjunction with another of the author’s books, The Advantage, so that the behaviour of the senior team can be properly aligned to what the company is trying to achieve.

5-dysfunctions-pyramid 5-dysfunctions-summary