This week senior staff leadership (me, Tom, Chris, Brian, and Alison) have been invited to California for a review and evaluation of how we work together as a team. The invitation comes from our friend Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of The Table Group, a management and consulting firm specializing in organizational health and executive team development. He works mostly with Fortune 500 companies. This week he’s working with us.
Patrick is also a best selling author of some incredibly helpful books, dealing in various ways with how things work and how they can work better. If you haven’t read his stuff, give it a try.
His most recent book, The Advantage might just be his most important work yet and definitely worth the read.
Everyone recognizes that successful organizations, need to be smart about what they do and how they do it. Therefore such organizations will emphasize and excel at strategy, product quality, marketing, finance, technology, guest services: in other words, they are all about what they do and how they do it.
But from the first, Patrick makes another point. The single greatest advantage any organization can achieve is organizational health. At its core organizational health is about integrity. An organization has integrity when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense. A healthy organization is going to have minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turn over among effective employees.
An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. They go together. Not so the other way around. Smart organizations don’t necessarily get healthier, and sometimes, in their lack of health, they get less smart. An organization that is healthy will inevitably get more successful over time too.
Patrick explains that an organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear or tidy fashion. Like building a strong family it can be a messy process. He breaks down that process into four simple disciplines.
Discipline #1: Build a cohesive leadership team.
An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people leading it are not behaviorally cohesive.
Discipline #2: Create clarity
The leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to staying so.
Discipline #3: Over communicate clarity
Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers clearly, repeatedly, and enthusiastically. There is no such thing as too much communication.
Discipline #4: Reinforce Clarity
Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish critical, nonbureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity.
The rules are the same for the largest corporations as they are for the smallest churches. Health means growth and success. Go for health.