Tag Archives: Patrick Lencioni

Is Your Organization Healthy?

Have you ever heard the term “organizational health”? In 2012 Patrick Lencioni wrote “The Advantage” addressing this topic. He wrote “Organizational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.” What is organizational health? It’s how cohesive the leadership team in the organization is and how well they are communicating with each other and the rest of the organization. Lencioni uses a four discipline model to describe his concept of organizational health. The first discipline is to build that cohesive leadership team, which is difficult and takes time. You are after a high level of mutual trust, the ability to have crucial conversations, commitment to the team and peer to peer accountability.

Where do you start if you think your team isn’t that cohesive? An exercise I use to get people to a higher level of trust quickly is the life story exercise. Each person takes 15 minutes and shares their life story, chronologically covering these questions along the way:

  • Where and when were you born and grew up?
  • What did your parents do for a living?
  • College or work?
  • When and where did you meet your spouse?
  • Children? Grandchildren?
  • How did you end up in the area if you are from somewhere else?

I have yet to see this not result in improved communication among the team members. They often find points of commonality or something difficult or even tragic that someone overcame. Even people who have been working together for years usually don’t know their co-workers life story. Building relationships is crucial to building trust and that takes spending time together.

The other three disciplines Lencioni describes are all related to clarity. The first is clarity among the leadership team. This can be somewhat measured by bringing them all together in a room and discussing the answer to six critical questions, checking for alignment. If the leadership team is aligned on these six critical questions, then the team can lead the organization more effectively. Here are the six questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

Once the leadership team is clear and aligned on these questions, they can effectively lead the rest of the organization. This is done by executing the other two disciplines, over communicate clarity and reinforce clarity. Note that the word “clarity” is part of three out of the four disciplines Lencioni describes as elements of a healthy organization. Communicating clarity is something I see many organizations struggling with. It was something I struggled with myself in running an IT company prior to becoming a C12 Group chair. Keeping the message simple and communicating it often, repetitively is key to successfully bringing clarity and health to your organization.

Lencioni provides some tools to help you evaluate your organization’s health at his website www.tablegroup.com. There is a survey you can take to get an idea of where you are and the resulting report will give you some suggestions on beginning the process to improve your organizational health. Reading the book is a good idea, of course. Another book that you should read and use as resource for the first discipline of building your cohesive team is “Crucial Conversations” by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler. It will help you immensely with the inevitable conflict that will arise as you work through the six critical questions. Their techniques will help in any conversation that is difficult, in any situation or setting.

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Filed under Business, Christian Life, Coaching, Self-improvement

Some Select Leadership Lessons

In the month of August I was fortunate to be able to attend two events that focused on leadership, Family Life’s men focused Stepping Up Saturday morning simulcast and Willow Creek’s annual two day Global Leadership Summit. The challenge in attending events like this is that you don’t always know what kind of wisdom you are going to be getting due to the variety of speakers and the short amount of time each speaker is given to say something worthwhile. Sometimes you are disappointed, but more often you get some good insight and learn something new or are reminded of something you already knew but haven’t been practicing. One of the takeaways from Patrick Lencioni was this point: “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.”

Here are a few leadership lessons from some of the speakers at these events:

Manhood is a decision, with character being one of its most important components. It is rooted in the right thing, demonstrated by endurance and consistency over time. It is not casual, it requires continual effort and work, an intentional pursuit of moral excellence, fighting against our sinful nature. Rely on the Holy Spirit and your surrender to Jesus Christ to help you in this battle. Don’t fight the battle on your own and don’t give up your role in the battle. Grace applies when we repent and ask forgiveness for our sin, it doesn’t apply when we keep sinning without repentance. This teaching from Crawford Loritts is based on 1 Timothy 3:1-7.

Dennis Rainey used 2 Timothy 2:2 to remind us that we need to help other men be men through mentoring, teaching and discipling. I was shocked by a statistic he shared, that 41% of all U.S. children are being born to unmarried mothers. Fatherlessness is epidemic in our culture. We need to teach boys and adolescents, we need to disciple young men, we need to be mentored ourselves, and as we age and grow in wisdom, mentor other mature men. The great commission applies the commands of discipling and teaching to all, not just those in foreign lands.

Condoleezza Rice reminded us that even though we are living in very challenging times, a world that has been shocked by the events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 2008 global recession and the Arab Spring revolutions, there have been times that were just as challenging. She compared the events of the years following World War II when the Soviets developed nuclear weapons, the Communists took over China, and the Korean War began. In those times and in our times we need to remember the promises of Romans 5:3-4: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.” ESV

Jim Collins used lessons from the 1910-1912 race to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott to demonstrate leadership qualities of humility and discipline. The presence of these leadership qualities in Amundsen were displayed in his successful expedition to and return from the South Pole before anyone else. Scott’s leadership qualities were evident in his expedition arriving more than a month after Amundsen and even more tragically in the death of his entire party before they reached their base. A humble leader has an ego, but that ego is channeled into a cause or purpose greater than themselves. A disciplined leader knows that there are forces beyond their control, that events can’t be accurately predicted and nothing is certain, so they must display consistent discipline in their actions, making  progress each day regardless of the challenges encountered.

Pranitha Timothy shared her story of transformation from cold and calculating to a bold woman of faith, rescuing thousands of slaves throughout the world through her work with International Justice Mission. Through her story she reminded us that we are called to serve, that our life belongs to God and that He is good. The strength of her message was contrasted with the weakness of her presentation, a result of a brain tumor and lost voice suffered years ago. That contrast made the message all the more impactful.

You will see common leadership ideas among these diverse presenters; humility, a desire to learn, discipline, endurance, courage and a dependence on God. I probably didn’t instruct you much here, but I hopefully reminded you of much you already knew.

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