The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team: Dysfunction Two

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5 Dysfunctions  Dysfunction Two

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team is a book written by Patrick Lencioni. It is written as a fable about a CEO that joins to rebuild a team of executives in a company that is struggling in a competitive market place. It describes as a leader how she goes about building a highly functional team by using the 5 dysfunctions of a team model.

I have previously started writing about the 5 dysfunctions, see my post:

We have learnt so far, in the above post, that the foundation to build a functional team is to establish trust. We need to feel that we are in an environment where we can talk freely and the first dysfunction underpins dysfunction two.

Dysfunction Two: Fear of Conflict

If we work in a team where we fear conflict, we will never deal with the difficult issues that the team really want to discuss or feel that are important. We have a tendency to walk on eggshells. We dance around the edges rather than deal with conflict head-on.

Many teams meet, discuss and leave a meeting only to come back and meet again and carry on discussing the same problems. However, they are left with a feeling of not really achieving progress because no one wants to discuss the difficult aspects of problems that everyone has on their mind because they prefer to avoid conflict. You need to deal with the elephant in the room.

Fear of Conflict

Therefore, when there is a fear of conflict the team works with a sense of artificial harmony. The team may think they have harmony - but they haven't achieved harmony if they haven't discussed the difficult problems.

Removing the Fear of Conflict in your Team

The best way of removing the fear of conflict in your team is by tackling it straight on. You can do this by carrying out an exercise called "mining for conflict". What you need to do is to get each team member, to raise their "elephant in the room", that is, what they see is the biggest issue impacting the team. Then discuss it as a team.

This may be very uncomfortable because the team have avoided discussing this big issue for exactly that reason, it is not easy. However, if you have established a trusted environment in your team then that will enable you to mine for conflict.

Even though it is uncomfortable, many teams will find this exercise liberating. Finally, the big issues are being dealt with rather than the easy issues. Once your team get used to it, make sure you repeat the exercise regularly. Keep mining for conflict and you will achieve team harmony.

Of course, it doesn't mean that you will always come to a consensus. It is natural to have disagreements and differences of opinions on complex issues. However, most people just want to have their opinion heard and if they have been taken seriously they are more likely to accept that majority opinion. However, without the open debate in the trust environment, you will be left with artificial harmony.

Next Post

In the next post, I will continue this journey on how to build a functional team by removing the dysfunctions. Each dysfunction builds on the previous one with trust being the foundation.

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It is true that most people are afraid of conflict while others solve the conflicts by creating new ones. It is important to face the problems and not make a habit of running away from them, because at the end of the game we will always have to face them. And it's better to be willing to do so than to feel like a punch in the face!

One of the biggest problem in getting a team to achieve success at all level is the Fear of Conflict. In cases were there is or are persons who see themselves as the Alpha et Omega instead of team mate, then there start to be a problem. Team members will by all chance try to get themselves of this person and their numerous issues and at this point, when the person raise suggestions that are detrimental to the organisation, the team mates just let him be so as to get off trouble and with this, the team is building trouble for themselves already.

raising the elephant in the room is the best way to get this off, giving the team a moment to share what they do not like or support among them.


Hi @gbenga - you are right. And for many of us who are not so extrovert, it is difficult dealing with dominant alpha-type personalities. However, we need to be brave and speak our mind. We should not be afraid of the conflict in an environment where we can build trust.

Thanks for your comment. Stay safe my friend.

A team where that lacks trust in each other should not be considered a team in the first place and when the team understands that winning is not for a personal reward but rather for all of them as a team, they tend to agree more on several decisions.

Thank you for telling us about this.


You are right @frederickbangs and this is why teams are by default dysfunctional because it takes effort and hard work to build the trust that is required to function effectively. The team need to realised it is not about personal gain but is about the results for the whole team.

You need to deal with the elephant in the room.

And even if little disagreement may occur from time to time, the team needs the understand that they have to achieve what they must achieve as a team.


Exactly, it takes courage but they have to deal with those difficult problems.

Thanks for your comment @ojerinde

Solid read.
Resteemed already. Upvote on the way :)

Wow! This is really impressive and I really doubt it if there are any good friends or husband and wife who don't engage in conflict sometimes. This also applies to business.

If we work in a team where we fear conflict, we will never deal with the difficult issues that the team really want to discuss or feel that are important

I strongly agree with you here. It will actually get to a stage of wanting to play it safe which is really a very bad idea and it also affects the company's productivity.

Thanks for sharing this great post with love from @hardaeborla and I hope you have a great day ahead


Hey @hardaeborla - thanks for your lovely comment and words of encouragement.

It is easy to play it safe - it takes courage to tackle the difficult issues that no one really wants to talk about. We will feel better if we do and achieve better results.

Stay safe my friend.

Great post @awah.

Generally, most people prefer to flee from conflicts rather than face them, if you want to grow in a group or business area you must identify the problems and confront them, otherwise you will surely run away wherever you go.

Thanks for sharing!


It takes courage but yes, we need to confront our problems.

Thanks for your comment @fucho80

Dear @awah

Finally I've managed to read your post. I bookmarked it like 2 days ago, to ensure to check it out once I have some free time :)

I wonder when will you past part 3 of this new amazing series.

You need to deal with the elephant in the room.

Yeah, it's surely difficult. Especially if one is working in corpo.

Solid read, upvoted already.
Yours, Piotr