The WBENC Book Club came together in February to discuss Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Rumps Everything Else in Business. Lencioni breaks his book into four disciplines. By working through each of the disciplines, a company can create a healthy organization.
“At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity- is healthy- when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.”
Discipline One: Building a Cohesive Leadership Team:
“An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are charged with running it are not behaviorally cohesive…A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization.”
A cohesive leadership team is one who trusts each other, can manage conflict, achieve commitment, embrace accountability, and focus on results. Without these important traits, a leadership team can unknowingly wreak havoc on the rest of the organization’s ability to function. The leadership team must be able to honestly and fully discuss issues to truly explore the best resolutions before communicating their decisions down through the organization. Building a cohesive leadership team is the foundation to a healthy organization. A healthy organization simply cannot exist without one.
Discipline Two: Creating Clarity
“Leaders often agree to disagree with one another around seemingly minor issues, thereby avoiding what they see as unnecessary contentiousness and conflict. After all, from their vantage point, the gaps in their opinions and decisions seem small and innocuous. What they don’t understand is that by failing to eliminate even those small gaps, they are leaving employees below them to fight bloody, unwinnable battles with their peers in other departments.”
Within Discipline Two, Lencioni encourages the Cohesive Leadership Team to sit down and answer six critical questions:
- Why do we exist?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do?
- How will we succeed?
- What is most important, right now?
- Who must do what?
These questions aren’t meant to be complicated and overly wordsmithed. Rather they are supposed to be simply stated, easy to understand statements. The answers to these questions becoming the guiding principles for the leadership team. The answers help them when faced with future challenges and questions. All future decisions should be made through the lens of the answers to these questions. Who to hire, which projects to take on, how to craft a new marketing campaign – every aspect of the business should be decided based on the answers to these questions.
Discipline Three: Overcommunicate Clarity
Once the questions to the six questions are finalized then the task comes to communicate, or as Lencioni says overcommunicate, the concepts down through the organization.
“Once a leadership team has become cohesive and worked to establish clarity and alignment, then, and only then, can they effectively move on to the next step: communicating those answers. Or better yet, overcommunicating those answers – over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.”
Lencioni stresses that just because a leader thinks they clearly communicated a concept once, does not mean that it has in fact actually been understood. Employees are just like your audience during marketing campaigns, they need to hear something seven times before it truly is understood and internalized. Overcommunication, Lencioni argues, is actually the single most important task for a leadership team. He encourages a leadership team to embrace several types of communication, including cascading communication, top down communication and lateral/upward communication.
Discipline Four: Reinforce Clarity
In addition to communicating, the leadership team must also implement the answers to the six questions in all of their actions.
“In order to ensure that the answers to the six critical questions become embedded in the fabric of the organization, leaders must do everything they can to reinforce them structurally as well. The way to do that is to make sure that every human system – every process that involves people – from hiring and people management to training and compensation, is designed to reinforce the answers to those questions.”
If the six critical answers are structurally applied within the organization it creates a self-sustaining infrastructure that continues to reinforce the strategy determined by the leadership team.
Lencioni goes into great detail about each of the disciplines, giving real life examples of how teams grappled with the processes and concepts the book covers.
Have you read The Advantage or any of Lencioni’s other books? What was your biggest takeaway?
Next Book Selection:
We hope you will join us on May 5th at 1:00 PM EST as we discuss Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM). Sign up here to join the discussion.