After decades of work and hundreds (maybe thousands) of business clients, he said successful companies must be:
The SMART aspect is the easy part. He pointed out that most companies have lots of smart people. It typically becomes clear when someone is not competent at their job.
Achieving organizational HEALTH, however, is much more difficult to accomplish and maintain. This requires minimizing politics and raising morale. Often leaders and their teams display far too much dysfunction.
Examples of HEALTHY organizations Lencioni cited include:
To accomplish the type of organizational health these companies display takes four things, according to Lencioni.
- Build a cohesive leadership team. This is required from the C-level on down. It requires vulnerability-based trust.
- Create organizational clarity. Answer fundamental questions, such as: Why do we exist? How do we behave? Who has to do what to make that happen?
- Over-communicate that clarity, seven times. Repeat it often or employees won’t believe it.
- Reinforce clarity. Institutionalize it without turning it into bureaucracy.
Do not let your organization fall into common traps where leaders behave in ways such as:
- Afraid to say “I’m sorry, I messed up,” or “I don’t know the answer”
- Demonstrating different personas at home and at work (lacking integrity)
- Failing to acknowledge when someone else has a better idea
- Not acting courageously in the name of “being nice”
- Placing individual results above collective results for the team
Organizational health or employee engagement surveys, when implemented and acted upon, tell you when these behaviors take root. As Lencioni commented at the conference, as leaders we’re expected to be competent, not perfect.