Category Archives: Teams and Leadership

The Advantage

Some organizations are really smart.  Their structure, marketing, finances, and technology are all at the highest levels.  Does that make them successful?  Well…sometimes smart isn’t enough.  In The Advantage (Jossey-Bass, 2012), Patrick Lencioni (author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and Death by Meeting) proposes that organizational health can be just as – if not more – important than technical proficiency.  He points out that both good and bad decision-making can be a product of organizational health, though they are often only attributed to intelligence.  He identifies the signs of a healthy organization as minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover.

So how do we make sure that the health of our organizations is not casting a shadow on its intelligence?  Lencioni sets out the Four Disciplines of Organizational Health:

  1. Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
  2. Create Clarity
  3. Over-Communicate Clarity
  4. Reinforce Clarity

He begins by highlighting the role of leadership as played by a team of leaders, and advises the assessment and recognition of personality styles as a starting point on the path to organizational health – creating a solid, trusting relationship between leadership team members.  Once team members understand each other’s personality styles, they can mitigate or put aside points of stress that stem from personal behaviors.  That, however, is not to say that a lack of conflict is a sign of a healthy team.  Lencioni argues that the avoidance of conflict keeps important issues from being discussed at a level where truths are brought forward, and best solutions are reached.  Reaching not a passive consensus, but commitment through conflict leads to accountability – if a public agreement is reached, everyone feels more comfortable confronting deviant behavior.  This commitment to cohesive behavior within the leadership team translates to the rest of the organization as well.

Once the leadership team is operating as a unit, Lencioni urges them to identify or clarify standards of alignment with the following questions:

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

Providing real-life examples at every step of the way, he guides us through the process of developing a “strategy,” and how this strategy needs to be communicated in order to assure organization-wide alignment.

A great thing about this book is that it doesn’t just hand its readers a strategic plan and push them out of the nest; it explains how organizations change over time, and how leaders can keep them on track through those changes.  The final chapters of The Advantage show how hiring and meeting structure can be keys to maintaining alignment in a healthy organization.  Lencioni provides us with a checklist of all the steps he’s laid out, so that we can see what lies ahead for our soon-to-be healthier organizations at a glance.

The Advantage is, by no means, a guide for only new organizations.  You can teach an old dog new tricks, as long as he’s healthy enough to perform.  Give your organization the advantage of health today!

Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results

Extraordinary Groups, a collaborative effort by Geoff Bellman and Kathleen Ryan (Jossey-Bass, 2009), explores a specific interpersonal phenomenon – group activity leading to personal transformation.

Group-work, in this case, can be either personal or professional – Bellman and Ryan begin by reminding readers that forming groups is a part of human nature.  Group membership functions as both a tool for addressing external needs (the function of the group), and a means for fulfilling needs associated with interpersonal cooperation (why the group’s members have come together).

It is when these needs have been met that a group can be transformative to its members – that it can become extraordinary.  As Bellman and Ryan put it, “An extraordinary group achieves outstanding results while members experience a profound shift in how they see their world.”

Extraordinary Groups is structured around a model of 6 group needs:

Each need is defined by three goal statements.  The need is met when all three statements are true of the group/self/world.  One example is the Acceptance need.  Its goal statements are:

  • I know who I am and I know what I bring, strengths and limitations.
  • I can express who I am to myself and others.
  • I accept myself for who I am right now.

When one can say these things truthfully of oneself, the Acceptance need has been met.

While Self needs are no more or less important, other needs may require more work to fulfill.  They depend on the thoughts and actions of the group as a whole.  Extraordinary Groups provides guidance as to how individuals can act within their groups to contribute to these needs.

Through self-reflection and awareness, an individual can shape their own experience and the experiences of their group-mates.  Acknowledging differences and encouraging others to express themselves when conflict arises will help the group become more aware and better able to work toward meeting Group needs – focusing on what brings the group together.

Through the stories of individuals deeply affected by their own extraordinary groups, Bellman and Ryan shape the reader’s journey to transformation through shared experience.  Help your team reach its full potential with Extraordinary Groups.

The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success

“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”

When you consider the idea of accountability, what comes to mind? Perhaps, like most people, you think of punishment, blame, or guilt. According to Linda Galindo, author, educator, and expert in executive leadership development, “Until leaders and, subsequently, their followers, collectively stop acting victimized and experience accountability in a relevant and useful way — believing ‘it starts with me’ — they are fooling themselves about how their definition of success can be achieved.”

In the first few pages of The 85% Solution, Galindo makes a convincing case for all of us to step up and take 100% ownership of our projects, even if we’re working with or for someone else. Her message can be put to work in any setting. We all engage in team activities – from household chores to large projects at work.  Regardless of the task at hand, people who experience the success and freedom associated with The 85% Solution take ownership of the entire project’s success, not just their own slice of the pie.

Here are the three most important steps to taking on The 85% Solution:

  1. Be responsible for the success of everything you do. Stand behind your choices, behaviors, and actions, before you know how it all will turn out.
  2. Empower yourself to succeed. Take the actions and the risks that you need to in order to ensure that you achieve the results you desire.
  3. Be accountable for your actions. Demonstrate your willingness to answer for the outcomes that result from your choices, behaviors, and actions, without fail, blame, or guilt.

Linda Galindo uses her own journey from living as a victim of circumstance to taking responsibility for everything in her life – whether it succeeds or fails – as a platform for her message. She entreats the reader to join her, and the compelling case she makes gives us plenty of fuel to plow right through the entire book in one sitting. The 85% Solution gives us all a benchmark for taking ownership and a ticket to freedom from victimhood. This book will transform the lives of those who take on Linda Galindo’s challenge, forever changing the way they communicate, consider their own choices, and move through their lives, both personally and professionally.

Whether you’re looking to improve your performance at work, or in in life, The 85% Solution may just be the solution for you!

While you’re thinking about accountability – and Linda Galindo – make sure to check out her training program, The Accountability Experience.  An assessment and workshop, The Accountability Experience will have your team empowered and taking ownership of team goals for a less stressful and more productive workplace!

What Is the Business Value of a Great Workplace?

In their new title, The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters, authors Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin ask us to consider why leaders, trainers, and human resources executives should put effort into making their workplace “great.”  You may ask yourself the same question.  After all, with all of the challenges that organizations have faced in recent years, many leaders may consider organizational culture secondary to basic financial and operational needs.

But, organizations that are considered “great” places to work by employees are also able to leverage the human capital that they have spent years finding, training, and paying, to accommodate those needs. This book takes readers on a tour of many companies that have been placed on Fortune Magazine’s “Top 100 Companies to Work For” list, including SAS, Microsoft, Scripps Health, General Mills, Google, and others. It explores what they all have in common, regardless of their unique culture, size, or industry.  The authors show the value of these real-world examples by highlighting their commitment to three critical ideals: trust, pride, and camaraderie.

Burchell and Robin draw on over 25 years of studying great workplaces.  Today, they conduct the largest annual study of workplace environments globally. In The Great Workplace, they have synthesized this wealth of information into a concise account of best practices for organizational culture that lends a warm, readable tone to a subject that is often treated with formulas and sterile definitions.

The message is simple: The great workplace is one where employees trust the people they work for, take pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with.  But achieving “great workplace” status is definitely a challenge.  The Great Workplace will show you all you need to know in order to make your organization the best it can be.

Register now for HRDQ’s next Webinar, presented by Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin, Wednesday, February 15, 2012 from 2pm-3pm EST

What You Will Learn:

  • Explore the essential ingredients of a great workplace
  • Understand the business case for developing a great workplace
  • Discover the best practices that separate great workplaces from the rest
  • Learn how the learning and development function is positioned at the best companies
  • Realize how learning and development leaders influence the creation of a great workplace

Who Should Attend:

  • Management team members
  • Trainers and organization development professionals
  • Human Resources managers
  • OD consultants

Space is limited. You will receive a confirmation email containing detailed instructions shortly after you complete the registration process. Special offer for attendees! Join us for this presentation and receive an exclusive offer from HRDQ.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, A Leadership Fable

In The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni depicts a fictional, yet realistic, executive team in disarray.  Aptly subtitled “A Leadership Fable”, the tale follows a newly-appointed CEO in her quest to unify a broken group of managers into a cohesive team with functioning, professional relationships.

Far from a touchy-feely story of training exercises involving falling off a platform into their co-workers arms, the team learns why it is so important to trust one another.  Making the point that trust is the root from which every important action stems, Lencioni spells out a simple formula for success.  It is not easy, as he tells us, but it is simple.  Hard work and dedication are always necessary parts of any improvement or advancement, but never more so than when dealing with very different personalities.  We all know the Apprehensive Anthony, Negative Nelly, and Arrogant Amanda types, and Lencioni describes the firm, consistent manner in which they should be handled for the good of the team.

Written in an easy-to-follow story format, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team provides valuable insight into why it is difficult for individuals to accomplish results when not working as part of a cohesive team.  The Leadership Fable follows a progression that begins with a problem familiar to many:

  • Part One: Underachievement, depicts a team that is not working as such, and in turn, the company is faltering.
  • Part Two: Lighting the Fire, details the sometimes incendiary process of implementing a meaningful change.
  • Part Three: Heavy Lifting, narrates the sometimes arduous task of performing consistent actions to achieve lasting results.
  • Part Four: Traction, finally demonstrates measurable results.

The last several sections of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team specifically detail the five dysfunctions and their symptoms.  Finally, there is an assessment included to be used for diagnosing your team’s particular problem areas and suggestions for overcoming each dysfunction.  The lasting message of Lencioni’s tale is best articulated by the author himself:

Patrick Lencioni, Author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

“As much information is contained here, the reality remains that teamwork ultimately comes down to practicing a small set of principles over a long period of time.  Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather of embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence.”

With this book, you’ll be able to develop a group training session to introduce every member of your team to the theories in this helpful tale, or use it in every day practice as a manual to reinforce the constructive work habits that breed success.  Read this best-selling book today and implement its  suggestions to get your team on the road to success!