Lencioni’s advantage

Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of the consultancy, the Table Group, based in the San Francisco bay area, kicked off the World Business & Executive Coach Summit last week. With his signature dynamic enthusiasm, he summarised and blended his thinking from two of his eleven books, “The Advantage”, about organisational health, and, probably the better known, “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team”.

Refreshing was his opening point about not being linear and following his notes. He’s someone who gets distracted and “jumps around”. Yet he started this webinar at the outset of his career as a data analyst. After witnessing a political battle between two departments in a firm, he realised he might add more value by sharing his observations on toxic dynamics than by presenting data.

In his view, most companies try to be smart rather than healthy, that is, they focus on strategy, finance, technology and marketing. Apparently, however, this isn’t what keeps executives awake at night; instead, it’s all the unhealthy stuff that drains energy – the confusion, chaos, politics, low morale, the quick turnover of good people, the lack of resilience. For this reason, real transformation – and the competitive advantage – is about getting the leadership team on the same page, culturally and behaviourally. After this, clear and repeated messages are critical.

I liked how audience questions were woven intermittently into his talk, with the first one being about resistance to building organisational health. We learned about common executive biases and the preference for solutions that are complex and sophisticated, as much as instantaneous and tangible. “Health” work takes courage, time and persistence.

For those who didn’t know his team model, Mr Lencioni ran through issues from trust to accountability, examining – on being asked – what healthy conflict in a team looks like. Not surprisingly, he vouched for team learning over individual development work (though I disagree – both are important), and he also didn’t touch on the current crisis and its impact on organisational health. Nor the lack of resources at the moment for working on it.

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