Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review #1 - The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

As I've promised myself as part of my #oneword2013, I will be reading at least one book per month which is either directly or indirectly related to my work in Student Affairs.

The first of these books is entitled The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, written by Patrick Lencioni and published in 2002.  Given that most teambuilding/leadership books tend to be quite dry, I wasn't really sure what to expect when reading this one, but thought it might be worth reading anyways, given that I am now responsible for a team of student leaders for the first time as a professional. I was pleasantly surprised by not only how quick this book was to read (I made it through the 224 pages during two lunch breaks and a one-hour wait for an appointment), but how interesting it was as well.

Most of the book revolves around a fictional scenario in which a new CEO attempts to 'fix' a very disconnected executive team by identifying and addressing a list of 'dysfunctions' which prevent it from being successful. The book concludes with an in-depth review of the five dysfunctions, as well as a self-evaluation meant to allow individuals and groups to assess their team dynamics.

What I found most significant in reading this book was that even though I haven't had any real problems with my own team, I was able to identify behaviours which upon further reflection, would qualify as having a negative impact on the group.  Evidently, working in a group in which I am a professional staff member supervising a group of student leaders, I am not able to apply all the techniques that could work for a company's executive team. I am however getting some ideas for how to improve the dynamics within my current group, as well as how to help form next year's Residence Assistant team.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone working with a group of individuals, as either a supervisor or a team member.

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