- On August 21, 2012
Patrick Lencioni‘s recent book, The Advantage (Jossey-Bass, 2012) captures a message that has come to the forefront of leadership development in recent years—technical ‘smarts’ are not enough to make you successful either individually or as a company. Individually, you must nurture ‘emotional intelligence.’ As a company, you must have what author Patrick Lencioni is calling ‘integrity’ –an organization that is whole, consistent, complete. This is a message near and dear to this OD consultant’s heart! It is my passion to help leaders uncover this in their organizations.
Yes, a company must be good at strategy, finance, marketing and all those other business operations pieces essential to succeed in a competitive marketplace. But all those ‘smarts’ are misplaced if you don’t have organizational ‘health.’ Lencioni describes the components essential for organizational health in a Four Disciplines Model. If you’re a fan of his ‘business fables’ (Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death by Meeting, and others) some of this will sound familiar as the underlying principles behind his successful stories.
- Build a cohesive leadership team.
- Create clarity.
- Overcommunicate clarity.
- Reinforce clarity.
Clarity—being clear and focused—got that?
Sounds easy… until you remember that the heart of good leadership, clear vision, and powerful communications is openness, vulnerability, and humility. Behaviors that are often under-valued in business, in my experience. Lencioni provides both succinct examples and exercises so that you can start to build this capability in your organization.
The six ‘clarifying questions’ in Discipline 2: Create Clarity, resonated with me.
- 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?
The explanation of why and how to focus on just one priority at a time in Question #5 was a great reminder that ‘if everything is important, then nothing is important.’ I admit that in my past leadership roles, I struggled with setting too many priorities so as not leave anything out. If your leadership team and your organization understands the process (Discipline 3: Overcommunicate) behind determining “the most important” effort, you will actually get more done than if you dissipate your attention across the entire spectrum of things you do.
I appreciated Lencioni’s reinforcement of the positive role that assessments like Myers-Briggs (MBTI) (TM) can play in creating high performing organizations. I am also an advocate of the self-knowledge and communications improvement that assessments such as this spark in an organization, and use the MBTI as well as the EQi 2.0 (TM) assessment for Emotional Intelligence development, often in my consulting work. Business leaders sometimes dismiss these powerful tools in favor of training focused on ‘hard skills’ yet the long-term positive impact of behavior change is so much greater.
The Advantage places the responsibility for developing the health of the organization squarely on the shoulders of its leader. The book makes a great addition to a leader development program. However if you are not the one responsible for setting the direction of the organization, knowing what you will know after reading this book can create frustration if the rest of the leadership is not engaged in this type of change.
Having been a senior leader and now an OD consultant, I highly recommend this book if you are looking to take things to the next level in your organization. The Advantage offers both a powerful vision and the practical steps to develop the culture and behaviors that are the mark of a high performing organization.