Leadership Works 2019 Wrap Up Meetings

Meetings. What should be done about them?

Meetings! 

They are the most common of all business activities, yet also one of the most troubling.

There’s hardly an organisation we know who does not wish to improve the quality of their meetings.

It’s a real source of pain.

Why are they so troubling and what should be done about it?

Our first post in early 2020 will tackle this question.

Also in the New Year

  1. Launch of a new programme – Tracking Success.
  • We are excited to launch a new programme in 2020. It’s designed for your next team offsite or large company conference.
  • Tracking Success will inject energy and a fascinating new metaphor into your way of thinking.
  • Watch the short video to find out more.

  1. We’ll be traveling to Dallas in March to participate in Patrick Lencioni’s annual UNCONFERENCE.
  • It’s a unique event that celebrates the importance of Organisational Health.
  • Patrick Lencioni will talk on what motivates leaders to become CEOs. Are they leading with the right motive? For the reward? Or the responsibility it’s intended to be?

Meetings LeadershipWorks 2019 Into 2020

  • And then the piece I’m most excited about.

Southwest Airlines – one of the healthiest companies in America.

The Chief Learning Officer, Elizabeth Bryant and other SWA executives will talk about how they have sustained the culture and heart of Southwest Airlines, over so many years.

There will be much to learn and we will write about all of it. Please stay tuned.

Finally, in case you missed it, our most-read article in 2019 was The Power of Relationships.

It’s about an unusual friendship between two people, Alex and Renias. Their story is the inspiration behind our new programme, Tracking Success.  Click here.

Thank you for your support this year.

It’s highly valued. We wish you a wonderful holiday and great blessings over the festive season.

Best wishes,

Grant

Grant-and-Patrick

The 4 Essential Things A CEO Cannot Delegate: Patrick Lencioni Interview

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Last month I spent time with Patrick Lencioni. I always get so much value when I spend time with him. He is an incredibly gifted writer and without doubt the leading voice in the world today on organisational health.

During our time together I asked Pat a variety of questions, all of which arise from the challenges and issues we encounter while working with executive teams, in South Africa and around the world.

It is a powerful and insightful interview and I hope you find it as interesting and stimulating as I did while making it.

We deal with issues such as:

1. What are the 4 essential things that a CEO cannot delegate?
2. What does it really mean to develop a performance culture?
3. Why are meetings often so unproductive and what can you do about it?
4. How do you get communication to flow in large organisations with lots of layers?
5. How to tell the kind truth upwards and why doing this will double your influence in your organisation?
6. Why do managers wait so long before addressing poor performance and bad behaviour?
7. What are the ideal attributes of a great team player?
8. Why is clarity more important than certainty when you are an executive?

Patrick Lencioni Interview

Download The Full Interview

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First Who Then What Team Right People

Who is sitting at your table?

Reading Time: 3 mins

A few years ago I had the privilege of working closely with Jim Collins.

He researches great companies and he explains what separates them from mediocre ones.

A key differentiator he concludes is the Executive Team. First Who Then What is his organising principle … get the people right, he concludes, and go from there.

His point is that as the future gets harder to predict your only guarantee of success is who is on the team.

Given this, team selection – applying the ‘first who then what’ principle – is arguably your most important job as the Chief Executive.

At the top you’re not just selecting your team, you’re setting the standards for everyone else. You are creating the cultural blueprint for your organisation.

Who then is sitting around your table?

I recently starting consulting with a newly appointed CEO. She inherited an Executive Team of 14 people.

Her business has lots of competition. Their world is changing quickly.

She knows they need to be faster and more responsive to the market. But this team is too big, too unwieldy, too bogged down, so she must make changes.

(See our previous post;  Is Your Team Small Enough?)

We spent time together talking about what kind of team she really wants.

She wants an executive that …

  • learns quickly from mistakes,
  • bounces back from setbacks,
  • has a culture of healthy debate, so the team finds the best answers and makes good decisions.

She wants a team where people bring data and detail to discussions. People who bring passion, energy, and belief to their work.

Ultimately she wants a team that enjoys the confidence and admiration of peers and who have the respect of those they lead.

First who then what’ is critical to whether she will be successful or not.

Patrick Lencioni has recently written about this subject.

His latest book The Ideal Team Player describes 3 essential human qualities necessary for team membership.

The Ideal Team Player Pat suggests is humble, hungry, and smart with people. In other words …

  • They create space for others and easily share credit and praise.
  • They are eager to help. They love getting results and they have a tremendous work ethic.
  • They exercise good judgment with people. They are tuned into group dynamics and are aware of the impact and effect of their words and actions

People with these attributes (humble, hungry, and smart) are precious. They will build a team together that wins the admiration and respect of peers and direct reports.

For my client making changes to the team will be uncomfortable, delicate, and demanding. But the process is underway.

She knows that right now it is her most important task and one that she has to tackle head-on.

Our next step will be to convene the new team offsite and begin the process of building cohesion and clarity. But not before the team is properly formed and the right people are sitting around the table.

Please comment on the post below or mail me, (grant@leadershipworks.co.za) and I will send you what Jim Collins regards as the key characteristics of the right people on the bus.

Next time I will write about a subject I am very passionate about. Lions.

In a lion pride, team selection is an essential part of their survival. It’s a life or death issue.

I will talk with Ian Thomas, author of Power of the Pride and he will share his deep wisdom from a lifetime spent watching lions and working with teams.

matches pass passion along leadership works top teams

Do you have a real team at the top?

Last time I promised to write about how to start to tap into the gold mine inside your organisation.

The first step is to build a real team at the top.

When your company’s executive team are not on the same page about what’s best for the whole organisation and they put their own interests, needs and functional areas before the priorities of the larger organisation there is a problem.

A bank executive told me recently, when there is no cohesion and unity at the top, the stage is set for interdepartmental rivalry, backbiting, confusion and infighting everywhere else. This behaviour he insists does not serve the overall best interests of the bank and neither does it help the customer.

The journey to a healthy organisation begins then with the Executive Team.

When your executives, the people with the greatest influence on behaviour in your organisation, start sharing information, support group decisions, dismantle the walls that once protected their turf and outlaw political games and hidden agendas, the message about how to behave is clear to everybody else.

How your leaders behave plays a vital role in ensuring that people don’t turn instead to cynicism, apathy and escapism.

Almost every employee has a deep need and desire for a cohesive and unified team at the top. They want to be inspired, to respect their leaders and to not have to take sides and fight unwinnable wars on issues that should have been resolved above them.

For many this deep need remains unmet and it’s a huge contributing factor to why large numbers of people are not emotionally engaged in their work.

At the initial offsite with the top team the first really difficult question we ask executives is, which team is your first team?

It’s not a trick question.

Which hat you wear as you sit around the Executive table is vital to how you show up and behave. Surprisingly, many Executives have not thought much about this.

For most it’s first their functional area or business unit – the team that they lead – that gets their main loyalty. This is where they are most comfortable. Where their knowledge and power base is.

Yet in a healthy organisation – there needs to be a clear Team Number One.

This is a small group of people – the Executives – who have the total interests of the business at heart and who are guided by one overarching leadership question, “How do we unlock and release the future full potential of the whole business”.

This means they are also completely dedicated to stopping the turf wars, ambiguity and every other barrier and bad behaviour that gets in the way of survival, growth and winning in the market.

They know that the stakes are high.

They know that the competition is organised and that every ounce of human creativity and intellect has to be focused outward and not wasted on internal struggles and needless empire building.

An executive I worked with – a very straight and direct man – used to challenge his team by asking; “do you want to be Executives or do you want to be Branch Managers?”

A stinging question, not intended to demean the latter but to remind his Executives of their main purpose … to build a real team at the top.

A Team Number One, that positions the whole business to meet customer needs and to set the example for getting people to submerge their egos and co-ordinate seamlessly. This team works tirelessly to make sure they don’t squander more human capability and goodwill than they actually use.

This is the first step to building your healthy organisation.

Next time we will write about the actual characteristics your Executive Team needs.

In the meantime please visit our Resources Page and download “Do We Work Well Together?” Ten questions that will make you think deeply about your team and what you look like to the people around you.

As always we love hearing from you.

Please comment below. We’ve just received fresh copies of Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book, The Advantage and will give away three copies to people who comment.

Leadership Works 2017

What is your most important priority as a leader in 2017?

Every business we work with today is experiencing major competition and change. Under this constant pressure everyone is striving to stay ahead.

Despite this, many leaders still limit their search for competitive advantage to conventional and largely exhausted areas like marketing, strategy and technology.

It’s not that these aren’t important. They are and always will be. But the obvious is being ignored. In every organisation there is an untapped gold mine sitting right beneath every leader.

Becoming a healthy organisation is how to access this gold.

As Patrick Lencioni asserts, instead of trying to become smarter (most organisations have enough of this already) leaders must shift their focus to becoming a healthier organisation, allowing them to tap into the more-than-sufficient intelligence and expertise they already have.

One of our clients is a well-known South African company.

They have great marketing, a distinctive strategy and the very best technology and systems in the world. Their products are stunning and they have terrific employee benefits and perks.

Yet there is also mistrust and fear. They are bedeviled by silos, turf wars and internal competition that wither away goodwill, damage trust and cause good team members to disengage.

In their marketplace there is what they describe as ‘hyper competition’. It’s real and it’s relentless. Areas where they have dominated for many years are for the first time being seriously challenged by global players. Yet just when they need every ounce of resourcefulness, initiative and commitment on the inside, people are holding back,

Morale and productivity – which should be high – as it is when people pull together to unify against a common threat, is low and in its place is ambiguity, victimism and interdepartmental rivalries.

This is only good for their competitors. Good people are leaving (or thinking seriously about it) taking valuable skills and years of hard earned experience with them.

They are also troubled by a recent survey that reveals that very few people in middle management aspire to become senior leaders in the organisation. This gap between top management and those close to the front line is worrying and has a big effect on productivity.

Ironically the leaders are really great people. I know them personally – predictably they too are also not having much fun.

It does not have to be like this.

For this organisation the warning bells have sounded and they have begun to take action.

What is your most important priority as a leader in 2017?

Will this be the year that you tap into the gold mine inside your organisation? Take up the challenge and use 2017 to defy and attack the root causes of dysfunction, politics and confusion inside your organisation?

  • Imagine if you got everyone rowing in the same direction?
  • Imagine if everyone was crystal clear on the goals and what your business needs to do to succeed?
  • Imagine teams where people submerge their egos, co-ordinate seamlessly, support each other selflessly and do whatever it takes to succeed?
  • Imagine too a genuinely cohesive team at the top. Where all the executives are on the same page, setting the tone, standard and pace in a credible and unifying way for every other person in your organisation.

Nothing about this work is touchy-feely or soft.

It is as tangible and practical as anything else a business does, and even more important.

When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are released to concentrate on the customer, empowered to design products, solve problems and help one another in ways that unhealthy organisations can only dream about.

Yes it takes hard work, commitment and courage – anything that’s really worthwhile does. The rewards for everyone are immense and when you do you will be satisfied that you have fulfilled the most important leadership responsibility of all – to create an environment of success.

Next time we will write about how to start.

We love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts on this post with us below. Do you think building a healthy organisation is the most important leadership responsibility of all?

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The Ideal Team Player

Teamwork is a subject that receives so much attention.

Almost every organisation wants more of it and is willing to invest in getting it – especially at the top where it is often in the shortest supply.

But do we know what qualities to look for in someone who will make a good team member?

The Ideal Team Player Book Patric Lencioni

Well this month Patrick Lencioni released his latest book, The Ideal Team Player.

It’s written in his usual style as a fable and it’s a wonderful read. In the book he describes the qualities of an ideal team player. I had a discussion with him about these qualities.

Question: Patrick what is your latest book all about?

This book is focused on individual team members rather than the dynamics of the team as a whole. I wrote it because while I’m confident that almost any group of people can become a team with the right amount of guidance and support, there are some individuals that greatly accelerate the process because they share three distinct attributes.

Question: What are these attributes?

The first and most important virtue of an ideal team player is humility.

A humble employee is someone who is more concerned with the success of the team than with getting credit for his or her contributions. People who lack humility in a significant way, the ones who demand a disproportionate amount of attention, are dangerous for a team.

Having said that, humble team players are not afraid to honestly acknowledge the skills and talents that they bring to the team, though never in a proud or boastful way.

The next virtue of an ideal team player is hunger – the desire to work hard and do whatever is necessary to help the team succeed.

Hungry employees almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They volunteer to fill gaps, take on more responsibilities and are eagerly looking around corners for new ways to contribute to the team.

The final virtue of a team player is not about being intelligent, but rather about being wise or smart in how to deal with people.

Smart employees understand the nuances of team dynamics, and know how their words and actions impact others. Their good judgment and intuition help them deal with others in the most effective way.

Question: What is the payoff for the team of these attributes?

The impact of ensuring that members of a team value and demonstrate these attributes cannot be overstated. Most teams that struggle are not lacking in knowledge or competence as much as they are unable to access that knowledge and competence because of dysfunctional behaviours.

A team full of people who are humble, hungry and smart will overcome those dysfunctions quickly and easily, allowing them to get more done in less time and with far fewer distractions.

Actually I’ve come to the conclusion that these three seemingly obvious qualities are to teamwork what speed, strength and coordination are to athletics—they make everything else easier.

Question: Of the three do you think any is more important than the other?

Yes, undoubtedly for teamwork the most important of these virtues is humility. The ultimate foundation of being a team player is a person being willing and able to put the team’s interests above his or her own. Only a truly humble person can do this effectively.

Question: Finally Patrick how do managers cultivate these qualities in their teams?

The most reliable way to ensure that teamwork takes hold is to hire only ideal team players. Of course, that is neither possible nor practical, especially considering that most leaders don’t have the luxury of creating their teams from scratch.

But all leaders can certainly do their best to try to recruit, select and hire people who are humble, hungry and smart when an opportunity arises to bring on someone new.

In my book I’ve outlined interview questions and assessment resources that can help managers and leaders mine for the qualities in potential job candidates. By interviewing thoroughly and checking references with an eye towards a candidate’s reputation and behaviour, a manager can hire people with a high degree of confidence that they’ll be good team players.

Patrick-Lencioni Interview LeadershipWorks

This book is a must read for any organisation that’s serious about teamwork.

All too often an organisation launches into the team building process without first thinking about this critical piece of the teamwork puzzle – the individuals and the qualities they possess.

We still have a few copies of the book to give away.

Please comment below – tell us what individual qualities are important to you in the members of your team and we’ll send a copy of the Ideal Team Player to selected contributors.

Leadership Qualities

What Qualities Matter Most In Your Leaders

We recently worked with a very well known global company in Asia. They are a household name and have a proud history of innovation and product design.

Along with its success the business has also become large and complex. Silos and bureaucracy have grown to compound the problem. The business has increasingly developed an inward focus and although everyone is working very hard they are not working together.

All this worries the CEO. It gives him sleepless nights.

Together with his executive team, they are working furiously to simplify the business’s structure and return to putting the customer first. One executive, in a moment of incredible honesty, told me they spend more time “doing business with themselves” than truly caring about the customer.

The CEO knows the company has to transform in order to survive into the future. Customer needs, technology changes and intense competitor activity are driving this need. To transform they will have to encourage greater creativity and risk taking – two vital ingredients of their early success that they lost along the way.

The constant pressure of delivering day-to-day keeps them locked in their current way of doing things.

It’s a fascinating challenge. Balancing the strategy of transformation with the tactics of everyday performance.

To get an outside view on his challenge the CEO invited the leader of an Asian based technology start up to speak to his leadership team.

This business is three years old. It is growing rapidly and disrupting a very established industry. They are winning new clients from huge companies who are finding it hard to change.

Her core-advice to the CEO and his team was, “Start by picking the right leaders. This is the key.”

She went on to explain the four vital qualities she looks for in the leaders who work in her business.

1. A track record of triumphing over adversity. People must be able to quickly get back onto their feet after a setback. Change is tough and adversity is a constant companion. As she explained “there is probably always a valid excuse for every failure and we look for people who overcome those valid excuses.”

2. No politics, no bureaucracy, no poison. These are the real obstacles. “I look for people who are totally collaborative. Not brilliant jerks that get the short-term numbers but damage the organisation in the long run.”

3. A desire to contribute and make a difference. People must be driven by the difference they can make in the world. “When personal gain is the first thing on people’s minds it’s very difficult to get the full power of teamwork released.”

4. Listening is vital. Leaders must walk the line between telling and listening. Find out what’s really going on. Put tools in place for listening. Skip levels. Know what needs to be done on the ground. Wisely she cautioned, “If people are not heard and obstacles not removed they stop caring and lose their desire to make a difference.”

In closing she said, “Everyone’s intelligent. Nowadays that’s a given, but we are trying to get to the future faster than our competition and they have far greater resources than we do. All four of these qualities are necessary, above intelligence, so we can innovate and stay ahead.”

As she spoke I felt her deep conviction that these qualities, embedded in her leaders, are what makes their business a success.

How did the CEO and his team respond?

It deepened their resolve to not just concentrate on the technical side of their transformation. It was a timely and sharp reminder that the “business of business is people” and that to the people and therefore the business the qualities of the leader really matters.

(See also our South West Airlines post, November 2015.)

It’s these qualities that make it possible to blast through the corporate inertia. It’s these qualities that build the belief and momentum and the hope that change is possible.

How about your business?

Are you clear what qualities your leaders need to make your business succeed?

Please let us know by commenting below. We love hearing from you.

At the end of this month Patrick Lencioni will release his much-awaited new book, The Ideal Team Player. In it he describes the three crucial qualities vital to teamwork.

We will send five people who comment on this months article a copy of this brand new book and next month we will post extracts of an interview we did with him on the book.

Clear-as-a-Bell-Leadership-Works

Is your team in need of clarity?

We recently worked with an executive team that was working very hard but not seeing the results.

Perhaps you are part of a team like this? You are dedicated, work long hours, are constantly online, perhaps even take conference calls at 2.00 am, but your company is just not seeing the results.

What is missing is clarity.

Clarity means knowing what to focus on to get results. Clarity drives consistent behaviour and it eliminates unnecessary activity. Without true clarity you end up having too many priorities (which really mean none at all) and your behavioural standards are unclear.

Clear-as-a-Bell-Leadership-Works

This leads to confusion about what is most important and how to behave. Instead of the concentration of effort on a few things done really well that everyone supports, precious resources are scattered and diluted on too many things.

That’s exactly what was happening with the team I was working with. Some regions were doing better than others but overall when you added it all together, the sum of the parts was disappointing.

Effort was not being rewarded with results and it was taking a toll on them.

The confidence and energy in the team was low. What hurt the most was that good people were leaving for the competition and they felt powerless to stop it.

The real problem was they were working hard but not together. They did not have clarity on what was most important for the organisation. Each person had their own version of the goal but they were not the same. Due to these different goals the harder they worked the more they moved apart.

The pressure was on. “I need to get everyone rowing in the same direction” the CEO told me.

To do this we first needed every executive to see that their number one priority was to act in the best interests of the whole organisation. Their 1st team was the executive team and not the functional or regional teams they were leading back in operations. So often in the team at the top we see a lack of understanding on this important concept.

Individuals think that if their department is winning they are achieving their goals, but unless the business as a whole is victorious no one can be.

This was very hard for some. They had so much invested and they kept putting the hat back on of the team they were leading. What they lacked was the clarity around the bigger picture – the business’s single purpose and how they should contribute to it.

To find this clarity the team set about answering the six critical clarity questions.

These are the questions that get everyone at the top on the same page, focusing on the main goal and purpose of the business. They also ensure that each person’s effort is assisting the main cause and that the resources of the company are being properly channeled.

Through this process the team was now asking the right ultimate question – ‘how do we as executives unlock the full potential of the whole organisation?’ The moment this happened the energy of the team went up.

One of the six questions asks – ‘what is most important right now?’ What is the team’s single most important priority in the next 6-12 months? This question creates the focus and concentration of resources that leads to a breakthrough in performance.

For this team they felt that they had lost their ability and belief to close really big deals. This was a major contributor to their disappointing results and everyone believed passionately that this was their collective number one priority.

Within a few hours we had written up the main goal and identified five key activities that everyone was involved in to achieve the goal.

The excitement in the room was tangible. The rallying cry of the team had been set and the momentum and tone of the team had shifted materially. They couldn’t wait to get back to their teams and communicate the outcome, anxious now to get the whole organisation committed to the main cause.

So will the team turn the tide on its results?

It’s very early to tell. The task ahead of them is demanding. But everyone on the team is now in the same boat, rowing together. Now they have a fighting chance. They have even had their first big win and the belief is coming back.

Do you want to start this process with your own team?

Please add your thoughts and comment on the article in the space below and we will send you a copy of the six essential clarity questions.

Patrick-Lencioni-South-Africa-Interview-LeadershipWorks

Building High Performance Business Teams – Patrick Lencioni Interview

Patrick Lencioni is a best-selling author, speaker and consultant. He has worked with thousands of senior executives in organisations ranging from Fortune 500 corporations and professional sports teams to universities and nonprofits.

He is the author of the international best sellers The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Advantage, which are weekly fixtures on international bestseller lists; his books have sold over three million copies.