Over the past few months, I have picked up a few books written by Patrick Lencioni (https://www.tablegroup.com/pat/). He likes the idea of using a modern-day fable to help teach leadership lessons. Using the fable format can be very helpful. There is much to learn and glean from these books as they provide a potential real-life understanding of how to put these principles into practice.
Recently, I picked up “The Advantage – Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business” (https://tinyurl.com/ya33wlo6). In this, Patrick chose to not use fables. He gives some real-world examples, and provides a bigger picture of why organizational health is far more important than pure intelligence when it comes to running a business. There is clearly nothing wrong with having a great mind and high intellect for business leaders. I would argue that intellect is almost always a pre-requisite to get someone in the “C” suite or any upper management position. However, if the leadership team is interested in the greatest possible growth, there are specific organizational health issues that must be addressed.
The first section of this book deals with building a cohesive team and brings in the idea of 5 behaviors that are crucial to making this happen. “Trust” is the foundational behavior. This is far more than, “I can trust that Sheryl will be on time”, or “I can trust that this will upset Fred”. The foundation of trust deals with understanding one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Allowing each other to be vulnerable and make mistakes feeds into this kind of trust. Knowing why someone behaves a certain way and trusting that they are motivated by what they believe is best for the team and the company, is the foundation of any healthy organization.
The issue of trust among the executive leadership team cannot be overstated. This trust allows for passionate conflict over decisions without allowing for personal attack. There is room for accountability among all team member across all directions. It is expected that a CFO who is trying to keep a close eye on budgets would have pointed discussions around costs associated with venturing out into new business strategies. With today’s security risks escalating around the implementations of IoT (the Internet of Things) and other emerging technologies, CIOs will likely need to work with other team members while speaking with clarity and brevity about the need for out-of-budget expenditures.
There is so much more to a healthy organization than just trust. If trust is missing among the executives, upper management, and/or board of directors, any other attempt at leading in our current business climate will meet with a modicum of success at best. I have worked in companies where the trust is clear and leadership is cohesive. These companies have thrived through difficult economic challenges. I also have experience with leadership that did not come to agreement on important decisions, but the person in charge simply dictated the outcome of critical decisions. The stronger companies are those whose leadership team does not always seen eye-to-eye, but after much discussion and possibly debate they do come to agreement and a common place on business-critical decisions. They trust that all want to work for a growing, improving, and healthy organization.
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