Patrick Lencioni’s Theory Explained

Patrick Lencioni

Defined by his 2002 book, Patrick Lencioni put forward a theory, known as the Lencioni Model, on how workgroups should operate and take on challenges.

Over time, Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team has become a popular and useful tool for leaders and managers across many companies & industries. Today, we’re going to look into what these five behaviours are and how you can apply them to your own workforce.

What are the Five Behaviours in Lencioni’s Theory?

Over everything else, Lencioni has stated himself that teamwork is the most important aspect when it comes to compe­titi­veness between firms. For example, a company may have state-of-the-art facilities and endless amounts of cash, but without a great group of workers, most (if not all) companies simply cannot operate effectively or stand a chance at competing with others.

Patrick Lencioni - 5 Dysfunctions of a Team


Serving as the foundation of success, it’s no wonder why there is such an emphasis on trust when it comes to success. Getting to know your teammates and allowing them to form bonds will create a sense of trust amongst participants and between them and their leader.


Whilst this is a part of work life that we all try to avoid where possible, having a great foundation of trust in a group can mean that arising conflict could actually prove beneficial. Again, as long as trust is in place and the group feels open enough to discuss ideas, you can actually adapt this into “Brain­storming” as it allows the group to explore various points of view, ideas and issues.


Having participants that are committed to the project and the end goal is crucial to success. However, Lencioni makes a point of that “consensus” is not the same thing as having committed teammates. For example, if an idea has been adopted or dropped during the Conflict phase, others who don’t necessarily agree with the process must understand why the change in direction is necessary.


This is one of the more difficult elements of Lencioni’s Theory to implement into workgroups. Unless each participant has total reliance on another, it’s unlikely that your group will reach a point where everyone accounts for everyone else without missing a trick. Rather, it would be best to focus on the previous steps, as this way acco­un­ta­bility will work its way into your group naturally.


The most important part of any process is, of course, the results. After all, it’s the main reason why workgroups are formed in the first place! By this point, if previous steps have been put in place effectively, then your participants will likely be highly motivated and focused on getting the best results. Also at this point, the goals of the group are given more importance by the individual than their own.

Conclusion to Lencioni's Theory

Whilst Lencioni’s work stands as an important and accurate theory when it comes to managing workforces, the five dysfunctions of teams are rarely perfected after imple­men­ta­tion. Lencioni acknowledged that groups of colleagues change over time due to a number of different reasons (job change, maternity leave, long-term sickness, etc.) If this occurs, its recommended that leaders go back through the steps and identify where there are gaps and/or issues and rectify them. This way, the more important tiers of the hierarchy will naturally improve.

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