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Accessible, useful and best read alongside The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
on 2 May 2013
I'm a consultant psychologist who specialises in developing leaders and leadership teams. In my work, I combine the lessons from "The Five Temptations of a CEO" with those in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" - which is also a quick, easy and worthwhile read. It's basically the same model, told from different perspectives, and I present the temptations as the things a leader (or even team member) can be understandably tempted to do that are likely to stir up the dysfunctions in their team.
Without the Five Dysfunctions, you may be left with something far less useful as a tool for your own leadership. Turned on their head, the 5 Dysfunctions become the 5 Fundamentals for a high performing team. These make intuitive sense and they're fairly well-supported in the pre-existing literature - one example being "The Wisdom of Teams", which I believe pre-dates Lencioni's book and presents very similar concepts - albeit in a drier, more manual-like way.
Speaking of style, Lencioni has a tendency to bring his own religious views into his writing, which can leave some readers feeling overly preached to - this is compounded by the style in general, which is likely to appeal most to an American audience. That said, I kinda like it as an alternative to some of the really dull (but often informative) leadership books out there.
As a psychologist, I do have one professional reservation when using Lencioni's work - which I do often. The psychological evidence on team and leadership performance is more complex than Lencioni's underlying model suggests. For instance, Lencioni focuses on "vulnerability based trust" which appeals to many team building facilitators or "touchy feely" types, but is an overly simplistic perspective on trust. Trust is a critical factor, for sure, but I find many intelligent, task-driven teams need a fuller description of trust, based on the psychological research, to be convinced of the need for this fundamental in their team. Otherwise, they become distracted by the idea that they're going to need to share their deepest darkest fears with each other.
As I said in my review of the Five Dysfunctions: could Lencioni have addressed those nuances and still delivered a book that's as readable and lessons as memorable? Perhaps. But, frankly, the book's done rather well as it is: if it ain't broke, why fix it?