Leadership by the book

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | August 28, 2014

Image with caption: Kathleen Brandert, director of the Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute in the College of Public Health, is a fan of

Kathleen Brandert, director of the Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute in the College of Public Health, is a fan of "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team."

If you've been walking through a UNMC office or talking at a coworker's desk, you might have seen one of them: a little red hardcover book.

The book is "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable," by Patrick Lencioni, and -- having garnered high praise from UNMC Chancellor Jeffrey P. Gold, M.D. -- it is showing up at many places around campus.

The book charts the efforts of a new CEO at a fictional company to unite a dysfunctional leadership team. The CEO deals with recognizable personality types and common office conflicts as she works to build an effective team.

"This was the first book I gave to staff members to read and discuss," Dr. Gold said. "From time to time at staff meetings, we discuss current UNMC issues within the context of what we have learned from reading the book."

"It isn't like any leadership book or 'how to' I've ever read. All through the story the five dysfunctional areas are discussed in a positive way that is easy to understand."


Joan Hill

Howard Liu, M.D., asked his team at the Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska to read the book. He purchased five or six books for them -- some had already bought their own.

"In one of his earliest interviews, I read that Dr. Gold felt it was a critical book for senior leadership to understand at UNMC," he said.

"The biggest lesson I took away from the book is that team building must be an intentional process for leaders on this campus," Dr. Liu said. "The first chapter on trust is the critical element that makes everything work. As a leader, I think that it is easy to get so caught up in what we need to accomplish that we don't pay attention to the care and feeding of our team members."

"It isn't like any leadership book or 'how to' I've ever read," said Joan Hill, director of Student Services and Student Financial Services. Her team plans to meet and discuss the book at some point this fall. "All through the story the five dysfunctional areas are discussed in a positive way that is easy to understand."

Kathleen Brandert is director of the Great Plains Public Health Leadership Institute in the College of Public Health, which has been using "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" as a training tool for 10 years. She was excited to find that Dr. Gold knew of the book.

"I got a nice feeling when I heard that," she said. "It's not even directly related to that book. Just the idea that Dr. Gold appreciates leadership, and the need for leadership training, and the need for conversation around leadership -- that's thrilling for me."

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Stephani T.
August 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Very cool Katie.

Carol Russell
August 28, 2014 at 6:52 AM

Katie, Nice article and nice picture.