Facilitating Team Building Sessions using The Five Dysfunctions of a Team


Great business books for a new managerI recently faciltitated a team building session for a senior management team at General Mills. The team consisted of nine individuals, each with a senior leadership role within the same function.   The team was seeking to build trust and relationships by gaining a better understanding of team dynamics, their role on the team and insight into the styles and preferences of the other individuals on the team.

I based the process for this team building workshop on Patrick Lencioni’s book titled “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.”  In his book, Lencioni discusses the following 5 team dysfunctions: absence of trust, fear of conflice, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and, finally, inattention to results. Each must be addressed in order to overcome the dysfunctions. We decided to address “trust” in this initial workshop.

Prior to the workshop, all team members were asked to read this book and to fill out a survey that would help identify the strengths and weaknesses of the entire team. In addition, each participant filled out a Tracom Social Styles Profile. The combination of these two tools helped the team understand where the team as a whole needed to focus and how to better work with one another.

The Social Style Assessment that each team member completed identifies four behavioral styles, each with positive and negative attributes related to productive work relationships. The model charts behaviors on two scales related to an individual’s assertive and responsive behaviors. When combined, those scales reveal the four quadrants of behavioral patterns, or Social Styles: driving, expressive, amiable, and analytical. The key concept of applying Social Style is understanding Versatility, a measure of how well a person works with others.

The process of the workshop focused on a combination of trust building exercises, where particpants were asked to gradually reveal more about themselves — both personally and professionally, and understanding the team dynamics.

After participating in this Team Building Session, team members  have a better understanding of and appreciation for:

1.      The overall team dynamics and how each individual plays a role in those dynamics. 

2.      Team dysfunctions in the areas of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results and a foundation for beginning to build a more cohesive, high functioning team.

3.      Their individual social style and how it affects the way they interact with and are perceived by team members.

4.      Their degree of versatility as it relates to their social style and how it influences their behavior.

5.      The styles of team members and how they relate to individual strengths and weakness.

6. Tools for working with the different social styles and becoming more versatile, and thus more effective as a team player,  in their own styles.

I would recommend The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to almost any group seeking to increase team performance and results and create more effective relationships.

—- Cindy Diamond, Principal Diamond Marketing Solutions & IGNiTE


7 thoughts on “Facilitating Team Building Sessions using The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

  1. Richard,
    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Your question is, obviously, more of a truth than a quesiton. The real question is how to create more dynamic leaders. When I teach my facilitator training workshops, my goal is to teach teams how to “self facilitate” — where every member of the team has the faciliatation skills needed to take that leadership role. Learning to be an effective facilitator involves an understanding of team dynamics, individual styles, knowing your strengths & weaknesses, achieving consensus, decision making techniques, etc. — all are skills which contribute to dynamic leadership skills. When a team is self-facilitating it is because all team members have become dynamic leaders. They are able to step into and out-of the leadership role with ease.

    Ultimately, the self-faciltiating team no longer requires an outside facilitator. I guess you could say my goal is to work myself out of a job!

    By the way, I visited your website and enjoyed reading about your team building techniques! Thanks again for your post,


  2. Hi Cindy
    I agree with your enthusiasm for “The Five Dysfunctions” have you seen the “Field Guide” he published as a companion volume?
    I have used a similar approach to yours, including an exercise he suggests in which each member of the team tell a story of a difficult situation from their childhood. This is an extremely powerful exercise in building trust. However I have found it important to contract very carefully with the team as some of the members can become quite emotional. But on every occasion teams reported on how barriers in the team had been broken down.

    I like to introduce the workshop with the 10 components of a thinking environment from Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think”. These pave the way well for this exercise.

    I am enjoying your site here.

  3. Stephen,

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I do have the Fieldbook for the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. I have found it to be a simple repetition of the book and not very useful. Instead of stretching the concepts and thinking, it’s just like a facilitation guide.

    I have also used the exercise where team members reveal emotional stories and I, too, have seen people collapse into tears. Team members are generally very supportive of the members who display this type of honesty and vulnerability.

    I am going to learn more about Nancy Kline’s “Time to Think” and report back on my blog!

    Please visit my blog again!


  4. I think that it’s great that you got the participants to read the book before coming to the workshop. I’m sure they were a lot more prepared and got a lot more out of it.

  5. I am glad to meet a seasoned team building facilitator. I am a 3 0 year old teacher from Kenya. I have identified a business opportunity in team building facilitation for the small and medium sized companies in my country. Kindly guide me on how you started and other books that I can read on the same.

  6. This post is really good and helps me to get clear how I can design my own session. Thanks!!
    One question: did you facilitate more since then and if yes, do you have additional learnings?

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