Make a Healthy Organization by Patrick Lencioni

Patrick-LencioniOrganizational health is the biggest advantage for any organization. Many organizations can’t believe something as simple as org health is so important. But it’s not beneath us. It’s too important.

To be successful:

  1. Be smart (This is stuff like strategy, marketing, finances, etc.)
  2. Be Healthy

A healthy organization has a minimal of politics or confusion, and a maximum of morale and productivity.

These two aspects of success should be 50/50, but most organizations invest time 99/1. That’s because the “Smart” side is objective and measurable. It’s easy. But “Health” is subjective and hard. The reality is, though, that Health is the multiplier of Smart.

4 Disciplines to Build Organizational Health

  1. Build and Maintain Healthy leadership. The Leadership must be behaviorally and intellectual aligned.
  2. Create Clarity (Pat offers 6 clarifying questions in his book)
  3. Over-communicate clarity
  4. Build basic human systems to reinforce clarity

How do I make a Healthy, Cohesive team?

Click to buy The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni on Amazon!
Click to buy The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni on Amazon!

1. The most essential element is Trust

This isn’t “predictive trust”, a trust based on repeated, consistent performance. That’s essentially reliability. This is Vulnerability-based Trust. It’s getting emotionally naked with the team we lead.

One person can and will poison & limit our organizations. Help them to become vulnerable or manage them off the team.

To build this trust, the Leader has to goes first.

Whatever “product issues” we see are downstream issues of lack of vulnerability. We’re tempted to try to fix them, but unless the Trust issue is addressed, nothing will get better.

People will walk through walls of fire for a leader who’s vulnerable and human.

2. Embrace Conflict

When we can’t be honest with someone, we discredit them privately, which always eventually comes out. We owe it to each other to disagree. When we don’t disagree on an idea, it ferments around a person. We end up saying, “Now we’ve crushed her spirit, but at least we didn’t disagree with her idea!”

When there is trust, conflict is nothing but the pursuit of truth. Without trust, conflict is politics.

Make sure people aren’t holding back their opinions.

3. Commitment

Force clarity and closure.

Catalyst Make4. Accountability

On great teams, peers hold each other accountable. This is not firing someone. Firing is the final act of cowardice.

If I love somebody, I owe it to them to enter the danger and hold them accountable.

5. Results

Focus on Collective Outcomes.

Follow-Up Interview with Andy Stanley

Q: How do you use this book with a Leadership Team?

A: Read the introduction quickly, then work through the rest in chunks.

Q: What’s the First Action Step?

A: Get out of the office for 1 1/2 days and workshop the book.

Choose to be vulnerable. As a leader, sometimes the people you care for will have to care for you.

Generosity and Community, but Blunt.

The Mound City Post Office displayed this sign for a few days before the funeral.  The POST OFFICE. This doesn't happen in cities.  Or even big towns, for that matter.This series of posts comprise my reflections on the life of my grandfather John Barnes. The first entry is here.

A few years after John and Helen married, Eastern Kansas was struck by a pretty severe drought that left their small family in dire straights (since John was a farmer).  They were unable to pay their gas bill, but the owner of the station knew John and extended him credit for over a year until they could harvest a good crop and begin to recover from the drought.

When I first heard this story, I was overcome by the generosity of the store owner.  Such an act of kindness is far from commonplace in my culture.  Credit is offered by VISA and MasterCard, not by a local business owner, and we don’t do business with the same persons often enough that they know our names, much less vouch for our honesty and work ethic in so tangible a way.

That singular act of generosity is a window for me into John’s world; he and my grandmother were unfailingly generous as well.  I remember snippets of conversations overheard by my young ears – discussions between my mother and her brothers about some loans Grandma and Grandpa had made.  I never really knew the persons in question nor did I fully grasp what had actually transpired (I was far to busy exploring the barns or swimming in the lake to be troubled by such grownup concerns), but I do remember that they always seemed to give more than most everyone else thought they should.

I also remember when a good friend of theirs was finally dying.  Her husband had long since died, and she had no children to care for her (whether she had never had children or they were not there for some other reason I never knew), so my grandparents cared for her for a long time, visiting her several times every week and helping her to put all her affairs in order.  Small town gossip being what it is, several persons in town began to speculate that they were trying to weasel into her will.  I’ll never forget that my Grandma looked  at me and said, “I don’t know how anyone could think such a thing.  She’s our friend.”  John simply nodded his agreement.

That was John Barnes to me.  He didn’t say much.  And when he did speak, it was straight to the point (for instance, when I got my first tattoo – Hebrew on my left forearm – I knew instantly that he was not thrilled.  He asked me what it said, and when I started to tell him, he cut me off by exclaiming, “It says bulls*** to me.”  That was the first time I ever heard him cuss.)  For most of my life, I’d always taken his gruffness to be a sort of sullen anger – as my mother pointed out in her funeral reflections, he always could throw a good fit.  But in retrospect, I realize that John was just a simple man.  Not intellectually; as my uncle Jim said, “He didn’t say much, but he didn’t miss much either.”

No, I wonder if John’s simplicity was a sort of embodied honesty.  He worked hard.  He loved well.  He lived in a community that respected hard work but that caught you when you fell.  And he didn’t see much point in trying to be anything other than what he knew.

There’s an authenticity there that many of us are missing.  The communities in which we live have become so detached, so disembodied that we now have to seek out those experiences that were part-and-parcel of John’s every-day-life.  And we’re having to learn to be real in a way that he never did.

John wasn’t perfect; far from it.  And that’s the point.  If you knew John, you knew him flaws and all.  He never had a conversation about ‘taking off masks’ or ‘tearing down walls’ in his community.  I’m not sure those conversations would have even made sense to him, so far are they removed from his lived experiences.

It makes me wonder what we have to learn from actual communities actually living in community.  Where your loss is my loss and your win is my win.  I wonder what we can do to begin to reclaim that level of honesty in our lives.  I wonder how we can move back towards an embodied sense of community.

Any thoughts?