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Several years ago I was preparing for my first off-site “on my own” – representing my own business. Before that I’d worked for a larger consulting group, where I’d received excellent training and mentoring in the leader / organizational development space.
In preparation for the event, a friend recommended that I read The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. I was aware of the author, but had yet to take a deep dive.
It was one of the best recommendations I’ve received. So much of what I had learned and believed about helping leaders and their teams succeed was on the pages, along with many other helpful ideas.
Lencioni’s concept of “Organizational Health” immediately resonated with me. It put a tangible framework around most of the work that I do, but had sometimes struggled to define for others. Lencioni advocates that organizations be both “smart” and “healthy.” A “smart” organization is good with financials, marketing, strategy, etc. A healthy organization is marked by “minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees” (p. 5).
The Advantage provides a framework and practical steps for moving an organization toward “healthy” and then keeping it there. Lencioni’s model is simple:
“Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
Discipline 2: Create Clarity
Discipline 3: Reinforce Clarity
Discipline 4: Overcommunicate Clarity” (pp. 14-16)
Helping leaders build – and maintain – cohesion is a key offering of Outsider Consulting. It’s so significant that it became the topic of our first eBook, “The CEO’s Express Lane to Cohesive Leader Teams.”
Lencioni emphasizes that this cohesion depends on healthy conflict. He describes an “ideal conflict point” that lies between extremes of “artificial harmony” and “mean-spirited personal attacks.” (This ideal point seems very similar to the “sweet spot” that Craig Weber describes in Conversational Capacity, and both Lenioni and Weber reference Chris Argyris (Harvard) and the late Don Schön (MIT)’s works.)
As a leader, you will be challenged and improved throughout the read. Other ideas include six questions to create clarity, aspirational versus core values, improving ROI on meetings by clarity in each meeting’s purpose, and the right size of a leadership team.
Since first reading The Advantage, I’ve continued to be enriched by Lencioni’s other works and the resources of The Table Group. For instance, their Team Assessment is a helpful, practical tool in assessing and increasing cohesion for your team.
If the The Advantage is not already in your library, add it to your list as a “must-read.”
Reviewed by Jamey Gadoury
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni