Applying Patrick Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions Of A Team To Embryo

Over the Christmas break, I had the opportunity to read the best selling book ‘The Five dysfunctions of a team’ by Patrick Lencioni.

The book details a leadership fable for a struggling technology firm with a leading product, yet dysfunctional executive committee. I found the book serves as a guide to avoid behavioural tendencies and to prioritise teamwork to achieve a common goal, success.

Without spoiling the book, I’ll be applying and reflecting on said dysfunctions, and rating my PPC team for each one in this blog.

Dysfunction 1: Absence of trust

The ‘T’ word I believe is massively overused, and my own personal belief of trust in the workplace is the confidence in another’s actions or ability.

Trust occurs in two main circumstances I believe for my team, gaining the trust of the client, and the trust of your peers.

Team Trust

PPC carries the advantage of being the ‘fastest’ results service in digital marketing. The turnaround window from idea to a virtual existence, and most importantly, results become increasingly prevalent.

Trust becomes vital for my team with challenging KPI targets, work turnaround times, and the delivery of our customer service. It would be impossible to manage individually what they are doing each minute of the day, and not only that it would create a negative working environment.

Client Trust

The vast majority of account managers can agree they have dealt with highly demanding clients, or they may be described as ‘difficult clients’. Ascertaining client trust is vital from the beginning of a new work relationship, to allow the client to be invested not only in your marketing but ‘you’ as a manager.

I don’t believe in difficult clients particularly, apart from a very small few (ill add that none are from my time at Embryo). As long as you manage a client diligently and gain their trust, you remove the difficulty, which results in you working in cohesion with each other for success.


There is a questionnaire at the end of the book with a series of mixed questions, for a more complex guide you can find one online.

The following key denotes the results from your scores –

  • A score of 3-5 suggests the dysfunction needs to be addressed.
  • A score of 6-7 suggests the dysfunction could become a problem.
  • A score of 8-9 means you do not have this problem.

How does my team Score?

I scored my team an 8/9, so a very respectable score. The introduction of a forced working from home with COVID-19 has been a huge benefactor I believe to this rating, as you have less presence to see how staff are getting on as you would in an office. I’m also very fortunate to have a very skilled team of managers at Embryo.

There is always room for improvement, however, and my personal reflection would be that we could communicate better internally about new learnings and struggles.

Dysfunction 2: Fear of Conflict

Now, the second dysfunction isn’t the fear of me becoming Tyson Fury on my team, it’s the fear of constructively disagreeing with others, to achieve a better result, to compromise, etc.

Constructive conflict occurs in PPC during the need for feedback, results, and opinions based on elements such as optimisation, ad creatives, keyword performance the list is endless.

I believe the need for conflict separates a good and excellent agency, putting away personal traits such as pride and ego, to maximise the best possible outcome for a client is vital for success. Furthermore, having the humility to ask when you are struggling.

How does my team Score?

I scored my team a 6/9 based on the questionnaire, I believe our feedback and critiquing is to a very high standard, however, there is room for improvement in areas to remove personal pride and ask for help, in order to achieve greater success, and to feedback on other departments input.

For example, further suggestions and feedback on landing page designs, new ideas or edits to banners from the design team. I always tell my team to never accept just ‘as is’ if you believe we could improve it.

Dysfunction 3: Lack of Commitment

Number three is the lack of commitment and investment in a team’s goals.

The third dysfunction applies to my team via the clarity in our desired objectives and also the passion for achieving results.

I believe that the teams who have unrivaled commitment are due to the dedication and ability to not settle for less. A great manager achieves commitment from his team and ‘buy in’ for tasks they potentially disagree with or do not want to do.

Furthermore, in my team, I believe that you should encourage a healthy competitive nature that helps others achieve more. In PPC, the more committed you are (the majority of the time) the more results you will achieve. The blessing of paid marketing being our work can directly contribute to core KPI improvements.

How does my team Score?

The only perfect score in the test, my team scored 9/9 for dysfunction three. I may be biased but I believe the success of Embryo in 2020, and our 500% growth in PPC clients have come from raw commitment.

One of Embryo’s slogans is ‘activity breeds confidence’ and I never truly related to it, until I witnessed it firsthand. In the new year, I have seen a huge influx of new ideas and also positivity inside Embryo, and this has had a great impact on results and the confidence in pitches and sales.

Make sure not to forget…

Commitment doesn’t mean you all agree on everything, but it means you have the required dedication, and you put personal opinions behind you to achieve the team’s overall goal.

This also doesn’t relate to working ridiculous hours and draining yourself.

Relating to dysfunction 2, it’s okay not to agree, have opposing opinions, and recommend improvements. The key focus is to achieve a team-wide involvement so that everyone has the desire to achieve your common goal of success.

Dysfunction 4: Avoidance of accountability

The fourth dysfunction focuses on accountability and the avoidance of tough/awkward situations that you must face as a manager.

For example, not letting another account manager’s contributions slide for the business, and having the ability to engage in unfavourable conversations, for the betterment of the business.

Or, another example would be addressing underperforming clients and making it known they are struggling, and clearly communicating your plan to resolve issues/recover performance.

Accountability is relatively black and white in PPC management, as you the manager are responsible for your clients, whether that be communications and planning or account work, you are held accountable for the performance and satisfaction of your clients.

How does my team Score?

My team scored 8/9 which is a solid score, however again there are small teething areas we could improve, such as increasing your communication and activity for clients struggling and involving myself and management earlier to assist with performance.

My score was also influenced by a team-wide occurrence, I think there are also small improvements to be made for all team members, to improve teamwork and growth.

These are all highly irregular occurrences, but if you do not address your weaknesses and find how to correct them, you will never be able to call yourself a ‘top agency’ or a ‘leading account manager’.

Dysfunction 5: Inattention To Results

The last dysfunction regards the ignorance of results and prioritising personal achievements vs a full team working cohesively on the same result.

One key thing to mention is this doesn’t have to be financial results (although it most often is). But it is the focus on prioritising teamwork instead of individual status.

How does my team Score?

I have scored us 8/9 for the final dysfunction, and I believe it would be quite alarming if we scored badly for this when we manage PPC!

This has been a positive learning experience moving forward from an account manager, to a team leader and ensuring I can provide assistance to have all clients performing well. If you asked me to do this questionnaire 6 months ago I would have scored much lower, because I mostly concentrated on my own personal clients, and not the entire team’s performance.

I think what is key for team results is the use of healthy communication and weekly meetings as a team to address any issues or clients struggling, by removing the pride factor and allowing for a team of experts to work together on a resolution, you remove judgment or pressure, which in turn, results in improved performance.

The data also supports this, during the entire of 2020, our PPC team client portfolio increased by 500%, and we lost one client.


If you haven’t already read the book I highly recommend doing so, it’s only a short story but you will quickly find yourself relating the scenario to your current work scenario and identifying strengths/weaknesses to work on.

I have set my team’s Q1 goal to be more challenging and to increase our feedback and suggestions input, to never settle with what’s provided, and look to optimise internal processes, not just accounts.


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