Vision, Values, and Victory: A CEO’s Blueprint for Organizational Clarity

One of the most critical roles of a CEO is to create and maintain organizational clarity. This clarity encompasses everything from the company’s vision and values to understanding competitors and defining clear expectations for each team member. Let’s explore how CEOs can effectively cultivate this clarity.

Defining the Organization’s Vision and Values

(1) Craft a Compelling Vision: Your vision should be inspiring and provide a clear direction for where the company is headed.

(2) Establish Core Values: These values should reflect the essence of your company’s ethos and guide every decision and action.

Understanding and Communicating the Business Landscape

(1) Know Your Business: Clearly articulate what your business does, its products or services, and its value proposition.

(2) Identify Your Competitors: Understand who your competitors are and how they impact your business strategy.

(3) Highlight Your Uniqueness: Clearly communicate what sets your company apart from the competition.

Setting Clear Expectations and Priorities

(1) Define Roles and Responsibilities: Ensure every team member understands their role and how it contributes to the larger vision.

(2) Communicate Your Priorities: Set and share organizational priorities so everyone is aligned and working towards common goals.

Leading By Example

Indra Nooyi, Former CEO of PepsiCo: Indra Nooyi is renowned for her role in redefining PepsiCo’s vision and strategy. She led a significant shift towards healthier products, aligning with emerging consumer health trends. Nooyi’s vision, ‘Performance with Purpose,’ aimed to deliver sustainable long-term growth focusing on more nutritious products, a smaller environmental footprint, and empowered people. Her ability to communicate this vision and drive organizational change was vital to PepsiCo’s success during her tenure.

Conclusions on Organizational Clarity

Organizational clarity is not a one-time effort but a continuous process. As a CEO, it’s your responsibility to revisit and reinforce these elements regularly.

Consider scheduling a coaching session to explore further how you can develop and maintain organizational clarity within your company.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is an accomplished CEO coach and the founder of Activate Group Inc. He specializes in assisting leaders to maximize their potential and build high-performing teams, drawing upon a wealth of experience and proven methodologies.

 

Leadership by Design: A CEO’s Strategy for Building a Winning Team

As a CEO, one of your most critical responsibilities is assembling and nurturing a leadership team to drive your company toward its strategic goals. This article provides insights and actionable strategies for selecting the right individuals and fostering an outstanding leadership team.

Understanding the CEO’s Role in Team Building

The CEO is not just a decision-maker but also a visionary who sets the tone for the team’s dynamic and performance. Your role involves identifying potential leaders, aligning them with your vision, and creating an environment where they can thrive.

Strategies for Selecting the Right Team Members

(1) Look Beyond the Resume: While experience and qualifications are important, also consider candidates’ alignment with the company’s values and culture.

(2) Diversity: Often, leaders like to hire people who are more like themselves. A diverse team brings varied perspectives and fosters innovation.

(3) Emphasize Emotional Intelligence: Leaders with high emotional intelligence can navigate complex interpersonal dynamics and foster a positive team environment.

Building an Excellent Leadership Team

(1) Foster Open Communication: Encourage transparency and open dialogue within your team. This builds trust and ensures everyone is aligned with the company’s goals.

(2) Develop a Shared Vision: Involve your leadership team in shaping and owning the company’s vision. This creates a sense of shared purpose and direction.

(3) Invest in Professional Development: Regular training and development opportunities help your team grow and stay engaged with the company’s evolving needs.

Consider how Satya Nadella transformed Microsoft’s leadership team, focusing on collaboration and innovation, which was key in revitalizing the company’s culture and business.

Conclusions for Leadership by Design

Selecting and building an exceptional leadership team is a critical and ongoing process. It requires a strategic approach, a keen understanding of people, and a commitment to nurturing talent.

For personalized advice on building your leadership team, consider scheduling a coaching session to explore strategies tailored to your company’s unique needs.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is an accomplished CEO coach and the founder of Activate Group Inc. He specializes in assisting leaders to maximize their potential and build high-performing teams, drawing upon a wealth of experience and proven methodologies.

Measuring a CEO’s Success: Beyond the Income Statement

Traditionally, a CEO’s success is evaluated based on hard financial metrics reflected in the income statement – revenue growth, profitability, shareholder returns, etc. However, this narrow focus can overlook critical aspects of leadership that significantly impact an organization’s long-term health and sustainability. This article delves into the often-overlooked areas of CEO performance evaluation: Culture, Human Capital Management, Team Cohesion, and the effectiveness of Strategy and Execution.

Evaluating Culture and Human Capital Management

The culture of an organization is a direct reflection of its leadership. A successful CEO nurturing a positive culture fosters an environment of innovation, collaboration, and employee satisfaction. But how do we measure this?

Employee Engagement Surveys: Regular surveys can provide insights into employee morale, belief in the company’s vision, and their perception of leadership effectiveness. We use Gallup’s survey around their renown 12 questions.

Turnover Rates: High turnover can indicate issues with the organizational culture. A successful CEO typically sees lower turnover rates, especially among high performers.

External Employer Ratings: Platforms like Glassdoor provide unfiltered employee feedback, which can be a valuable measure of a CEO’s effectiveness in culture-building.

Assessing Team Cohesion

The ability of a CEO to build cohesive leadership teams is crucial. Cohesive teams are more likely to implement effective strategies and achieve organizational goals.

360-Degree Feedback: Feedback from various organizational levels can highlight how well a CEO fosters collaboration and teamwork.

Team Performance Metrics: Evaluate the performance of key teams within the organization. Successful teams often reflect effective leadership at the top.

Five Dysfunctions of a Team Survey: We administer an assessment developed around Patrick Lencioni’s best-selling book. It helps teams self-assess their effectiveness in the areas of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, and results.

Measuring Strategy and Execution

A CEO’s prowess in strategy formulation and execution is pivotal to organizational success. This is measured by:

Alignment of Strategy with Outcomes: Assess how well the CEO’s strategic decisions align with the outcomes. This includes looking at long-term growth, market expansion, and product development successes.

Innovation Index: Evaluate the company’s investment in innovation and its returns. This could include new product launches, patents filed, and market disruptions.

Adaptability and Crisis Management: How a CEO navigates challenges and unexpected market changes is a critical measure of their strategic acumen.

Measuring CEO Success Conclusion

While the income statement provides a snapshot of financial health, it doesn’t fully capture a CEO’s effectiveness. By incorporating measures of culture, team cohesion, human capital management, and the success of strategy execution, we gain a more holistic view of a CEO’s performance. These soft skills are as crucial as financial metrics in ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of an organization.

For organizations and boards, it’s essential to broaden the criteria for CEO performance evaluation. This comprehensive approach not only enhances the accuracy of performance assessments but also encourages CEOs to focus on these vital areas of leadership.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

The Paradox of CEO Leadership: Decoding CEO Success

In the ever-evolving landscape of corporate leadership, the role of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) remains pivotal and perplexing. Through my journey as a CEO Coach, I have encountered a spectrum of leaders who, despite their diverse approaches, have steered their companies with varying degrees of success. This article delves into the intricate maze of CEO leadership, debunking the one-size-fits-all myth and offering actionable insights for C-suite leaders.

The CEO’s Diverse Faces

The role of a CEO is not monolithic. I have witnessed CEOs who create a thriving company culture and others who lead successful organizations despite creating a toxic work environment. Consider the case of Company X, where the CEO’s narcissistic tendencies and singular focus on profit yielded significant financial success, albeit with a high employee turnover rate. Contrast this with Company Y, led by a visionary CEO, whose lack of operational finesse was balanced by a strong executive team, leading to sustained growth.

The Misconception of a One-Size-Fits-All CEO

Success as a CEO does not always follow a conventional script. Some leaders check all the traditional boxes of effective leadership – charismatic, empathetic, strategic – yet their companies struggle. This was evident in the case of Company Z, where the CEO’s exemplary leadership traits failed to translate into market success due to external factors like market volatility and competitive dynamics.

Team Dynamics and Leadership

A CEO’s approach towards team building and management can significantly influence a company’s trajectory. Some CEOs are disciplined in crafting exceptional teams and promptly addressing non-performance. Others adopt a more laissez-faire approach, leading to varied outcomes. The success story of Company A, where deliberate team optimization led to breakthrough performance, stands as a testament to the power of effective team management.

Actionable Takeaways

(1) Embrace Flexibility: Adapt your leadership style to your company’s unique context and challenges.

(2) Build Strong Teams: Invest in building a diverse and capable executive team.

(3) Focus on Sustainability: Ensure that success is not just a flash in the pan but sustainable over the long term.

As we navigate the complex realm of corporate leadership, it is essential to learn and adapt continuously. I invite you to reach out for a personalized coaching session to explore how you can enhance your leadership journey.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the founder and CEO of Activate Group Inc., a growth-focused coaching firm for business leaders. With decades of experience, as a CEO Coach and the author of The Leader Launchpad and Your Business is a Leaky Bucket, Howard is dedicated to empowering leaders to unlock their potential and propel their organizations to new heights.

Unlocking Team Success: The Imperative of a Leader’s Commitment to Meetings

In my years working with leaders, a recurring theme has emerged: meetings are seen as both a blessing and a curse. When done well, meetings can drive results. When done poorly, they can bring entire organizations to a halt. The key differentiator between these two outcomes? The leader’s approach.

The Heart of Leadership: Commitment to Their People

The number one job of a leader is to make time and be present for their people. Even though it is evident, leadership must be committed to participating and engaging in the established meeting rhythms for organization and team effectiveness. Commitment differs from a decision. We can decide to have meetings but not be committed. Commitment is the higher standard of dedication to meetings because it will improve communication, teamwork, and decision-making.

Meetings are not about you; they are about the organization and the team. Frequently missed meetings send a message that you care most about yourself and are not committed to being a vital team member.

The Power of Precedent – The Secret Sauce of Effective Teams

Let me share a story: Rachel, a senior executive, prided herself on her team’s agility. However, she frequently shifted meeting times, causing havoc in her team’s schedules. Over time, this inconsistency led to missed targets and a frustrated team.

Consistency of active participation from individual team members is critical. When consistency drops, so does priority focus, agility, and timeliness of decisions. Missing meetings unconsciously causes silos and reduces the effectiveness of the organization.

Top leadership has a higher burden to set the right example. Their actions set precedents and can often be the deciding influence between adoption, engagement, and success; or resistance, withdrawal, and disappointing results – the rest of the team takes their direction from them. Leadership must always be mindful to avoid the Do as I Say, Not as I DO trap.

When leaders aren’t consistent in their approach to meetings, focus wanes, agility diminishes, and the timeliness of decisions suffers. As silos build, the organization loses momentum.

Reframing the Meeting Narrative

Yes, there might be too many meetings. But the real issue? Too many bad meetings. Instead of eliminating meetings, focus on improving them. Engage the right stakeholders. Set clear agendas. And ensure each meeting serves its purpose.

Actionable Steps for Leaders:

(1) Evaluate Your Commitment: Reflect on your meeting attendance and engagement. Are you truly committed?

(2) Prioritize Consistency: Stick to scheduled meetings. Reschedule only when absolutely necessary.

(3) Set the Tone: Remember, your team is watching. Model the behavior you want to see.

(4) Seek Feedback: Regularly ask for input on meeting effectiveness and be open to making changes.

Conclusion: Your Call to Action to Unlock Team Success

Your team’s success rests heavily on your shoulders. But remember, you don’t carry that burden alone. Your team can and will thrive with a committed and consistent approach to meetings. It’s time to recommit, be present, and unlock your team’s true potential.

Activate your leadership potential and make every meeting count. The success of your organization depends on it.

 

About the Author:  Howard M. Shore, CEO of Activate Group, Inc., is an acclaimed leadership coach and author of “The Leader Launchpad.” With decades of experience in guiding leaders and organizations to success, Howard specializes in unlocking the full potential of businesses by driving actionable strategies and fostering effective leadership practices.

Inspiring Beyond the Transaction: Elevating a Value-Centric Workforce in Today’s Business Landscape

In an age where mere service delivery is no longer the golden standard, businesses across the board find themselves navigating a transformative shift. The challenge? Transitioning from transaction-driven operations to a holistic, value-centric ethos. So, how can modern organizations embed this paradigm shift into their DNA? Let’s explore.

Company Culture: The Double-Edged Sword

Every organization has its unique culture, the invisible thread weaving its ethos. While it’s the bedrock of all great companies, a misaligned culture can inadvertently become a straitjacket, stifling innovation and creativity.

Case Example: A client in the financial sector shared a tale of procedural rigidity preventing a groundbreaking solution that could have streamlined a complex customer journey. Instead of breaking boundaries, the firm’s culture erected them.

Actionable Step: Initiate periodic culture assessments. Pinpoint outdated or restrictive practices. Engage teams in suggesting areas ripe for rejuvenation.

Leadership: Pioneers or Gatekeepers?

Leaders wear multiple hats, from guides to decision-makers. But those who limit autonomy or appear unreceptive to diverse solutions might be unintentionally sidelining innovative strategies.

Case Example: In a prominent marketing agency, a newbie strategist proposed an out-of-the-box campaign. Instead of applause, she encountered resistance because she deviated from the “norm.” Such attitudes hinder more than they help.

Actionable Step: Leaders champion open-mindedness. Implement open-door policies and encourage individuals from all ranks to pitch their insights. Leadership isn’t about micromanaging but nurturing and igniting sparks.

Cultivating the Right Employee Mindset

To evolve from transactional thinking to value creation, employees should:

  • View each interaction as a steppingstone for stronger relationships.
  • Constantly scout avenues for refining processes and offerings.
  • Identify revenue potentials, even in seemingly mundane tasks.

Actionable Step: Host regular workshops emphasizing relationship building, critical thinking, and proactive problem-solving. Celebrate value-driven successes to foster a culture of recognition.

Revamping Role Descriptions

Critical thinking must feature prominently across all job roles to truly democratize innovation, not just the higher echelons.

Actionable Step: Reevaluate job descriptions to incorporate proactive problem-solving, critical thinking, and a commitment to continuous learning.

Compensation Strategies: More Than Just Money

While monetary rewards are effective motivators, it’s essential to understand that employees today value more than just their paychecks. Recognition, growth opportunities, and autonomy often outshine financial incentives.

Case Example: One of my clients introduced an “Employee of the Month” title. While the financial reward was symbolic, the esteem and recognition it conferred led to a marked uptick in proactive initiatives.

Actionable Step: Diversify your reward mechanisms. Engage with teams to understand what truly drives and inspires them.

To conclude, the business landscape, be it service or consumer-driven, is dynamically evolving. It beckons organizations to move beyond mere transactions and sow seeds of genuine value.

 

Call to Action: Are you geared up for this transformation? Let’s chart this journey together. Connect with Activate Group, Inc. for a strategy tailored to your organization’s aspirations.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., and the voice behind “The Leader Launchpad.” A beacon in the realm of organizational excellence, Howard’s mission is to provide guidance and help sculpt companies that deliver and inspire.

Empowering Your Team’s Input: The Key to Inclusive Decision-Making

As leaders, we are often responsible for making critical decisions that impact our organizations’ future. While it’s tempting to rely solely on our own expertise, there’s immense value in embracing inclusive decision-making. In this article, we’ll explore the transformative power of incorporating diverse perspectives and empowering your team’s input in decision-making.

The Strength in Diversity: Embracing Different Perspectives

As a C-Suite leader, you’ve assembled a team of talented individuals with unique backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. Leveraging this diversity can be a game-changer. When you invite your team to contribute to decision-making, you tap into a wealth of knowledge and creativity that can lead to innovative solutions and better outcomes.

Fostering a Culture of Openness: Encouraging Input

Creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas is crucial. Encourage open discussions and actively seek input from all levels of the organization. Emphasize that each voice matters and their contributions are essential to the decision-making process.

Building Consensus: Aligning Towards a Common Goal

Inclusive decision-making doesn’t mean making decisions by committee. Instead, it’s about finding common ground and aligning toward a shared vision. When diverse perspectives come together and reach a consensus, it strengthens the team’s commitment to executing the decision effectively.

Transparency and Communication: The Cornerstones of Success

Transparency is the foundation of inclusive decision-making. Communicate the decision-making process clearly to your team, outline the factors considered, and explain how their input influenced the final decision. Transparent communication fosters trust and shows your team that their opinions are valued.

Actionable Steps: Empowering Your Team’s Input

(1)  Cultivate an Inclusive Culture: Create an environment that celebrates diversity and encourages open dialogue.

(2)  Active Listening: Listen actively to your team’s input, ensuring they feel heard and valued.

(3)  Diverse Decision-Making Forums: Establish various channels for input, such as team meetings, suggestion boxes, or online forums.

(4)  Training and Development: Invest in training to enhance communication skills and problem-solving capabilities.

(5)  Recognition and Appreciation: Recognize and appreciate team members whose ideas contributed to successful decisions.

Unleashing the Power of Inclusive Decision-Making

Inclusive decision-making unleashes the true potential of your organization. As leaders, let’s empower our teams, embrace diversity, and harness collective wisdom to lead our organizations toward sustainable success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a renowned leadership development and executive coaching firm. With 20 years of experience guiding organizations to achieve their full potential, Howard empowers leaders to overcome challenges and achieve transformative results. He is passionate about helping executives navigate complex decisions, build high-performing teams, and create thriving workplace cultures. Howard continues to inspire leaders worldwide through his unique insights and proven strategies.

Leadership vs. Management: The Symphony of Organizational Success

In the vast business world, two distinct roles often stand head and shoulders above the rest, guiding the fate of organizations: leadership and management. While they intertwine, their differences are what make businesses thrive. Let’s break down these roles and amplify our understanding with a story from the corporate trenches.

The Spark and The Blueprint: A Real-life Account

Imagine a bustling tech firm. At its helm was James, a charismatic leader, constantly illuminating paths to groundbreaking innovations. His team revered him for his vision, but there was a palpable disconnect: those visions weren’t translating into actionable outcomes.

This changed when Maya joined the ranks. Her meticulous planning and execution-focused mindset became the blueprint for James’ spark. Together, they showcased the dynamism of leadership and management. With his ability to inspire and see the unseen, James was balanced by Maya’s knack for transforming vision into actionable steps.

Leadership: The Beacon

Leadership is the heart and soul of an organization. It’s the ability to envision what’s beyond the horizon, inspire, and kindle passion. Leaders are the beacons, shining light on new directions and possibilities. They answer the question of WHY, driving motivation, and setting the bigger picture.

However, a beacon alone can’t set the course; it requires a map and a strategy.

Management: The Navigator

Management is the brain behind operations. It’s grounded in the present, anchored in the HOW. Managers create strategies, allocate resources, and ensure daily tasks align with overarching objectives. They are the navigators, taking the light from the beacon and plotting the best course forward.

Without navigation, even the brightest beacon can lead a ship astray.

Taking Action:

(1) Introspect: Understand where you naturally lean. Are you the beacon or the navigator? Recognizing this can help you strengthen your role and collaborate better.

(2) Collaborate: Pair visionaries with executors. This balance is vital to ensure that inspiration translates to action.

(3) Educate & Grow: The world of business is dynamic. Embrace continuous learning to refine both leadership and managerial skills.

Wrapping Up:

In the grand orchestra of business, leadership, and management are the two hands that play the piano, each vital, each unique. One sets the tone and the other ensures harmony. When businesses understand and respect these roles, they create a symphony of success.

Reflect on your organization. Are you championing both vision and execution? Harness the power of leadership and management; and let your business sing.

 

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc. His decades-long journey in business has seen him help organizations, guiding them from challenges to milestones. Howard’s expertise in both leadership and management has been a transformative force for countless businesses.

Steering the Ship: Navigating Organizational Changes with Teamwork and Clarity

Today, we’re diving into the world of organizational structure decisions and the challenges they bring. When executive teams fail to work in harmony and proper communication is lacking, the organization can face unnecessary collateral damage. As leaders, it’s our responsibility to steer the ship and guide our teams through these turbulent waters. This article explores strategies to avoid pitfalls and help everyone move forward productively.

A Clear Vision: The Foundation of Successful Decisions

Any significant organizational change requires a clear and compelling vision. As leaders, we must communicate this vision effectively to our teams, ensuring everyone is aligned and understands the purpose behind the decisions. When the vision is embraced by all, it becomes the guiding light through the transformation process.

Unifying the Executive Team: Embracing Collective Responsibility

The executive team plays a pivotal role in implementing changes. It’s crucial to foster a culture of collective responsibility where all members work together towards common objectives. Encourage regular meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and celebrate achievements. Strong teamwork among executives sets the tone for collaboration throughout the organization.

Transparent Communication: The Bridge to Success

One of the biggest reasons organizational changes fail is due to poor communication. Open and honest communication is essential during these times. Share updates, be transparent about the reasons for the changes, and actively listen to employees’ concerns. Embrace feedback and address it constructively, creating an environment of trust and respect.

Mitigating the Impact: Prioritizing Employee Support

Big decisions can create uncertainty and stress among employees. As leaders, we must prioritize supporting our teams through these transitions. Offer training and resources to equip them for the changes ahead. Acknowledge the challenges they might face and provide a safe space for them to share their apprehensions. Be accessible and approachable to address their needs.

The Art of Accountability: Learning from Mistakes

Organizational changes may not always go as planned, but that doesn’t mean failure is the end result. Leaders must take accountability for missteps, learn from them, and adapt the approach accordingly. Use these experiences as valuable lessons to refine the decision-making process and strengthen the organization’s resilience.

Complaining vs. Constructive Problem-Solving: Channeling Discontent

During times of significant change, emotions can run high, and complaints may arise. However, leaders must differentiate between mindless griping and constructive problem-solving. Encourage employees to share their concerns with a focus on finding solutions. This approach cultivates a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Actionable Steps: Guiding Your Organization Through Change

(1) Craft a Compelling Vision: Develop a clear and inspiring vision for the organizational changes and ensure everyone understands and embraces it.

(2) Strengthen Executive Teamwork: Foster a culture of collective responsibility among the executive team to lead the way through the transformation.

(3) Transparent Communication: Keep employees informed through open, transparent communication, and actively listen to their feedback.

(4) Supporting Employees: Prioritize employee well-being by providing necessary training, resources, and a safe space for sharing concerns.

(5) Learn and Adapt: Take accountability for mistakes, learn from them, and adapt your approach to improve future decisions.

Call to Action: Leading with Grace and Resilience

As leaders, we have the power to steer our organizations through tumultuous times with grace and resilience. Let’s embrace transparency, foster teamwork, and prioritize employee support as we navigate the path to success.

 

About the Author: Howard M. Shore is the CEO of Activate Group, Inc., a renowned leadership development and executive coaching firm. With 20 years of experience guiding organizations to achieve their full potential, Howard empowers leaders to overcome challenges and achieve transformative results. He is passionate about helping executives navigate complex decisions, build high-performing teams, and create thriving workplace cultures. Howard consistently inspires leaders through his unique insights and proven strategies.

Building A Winning Team – Making Decisions Stick

Many leaders complain that they hate to go to meetings because they are non-productive. It is common to find that decisions taken at meetings do not stick.
Instead, group decisions at meetings become the subjects of post-meeting lobbying. Some team members call separate meetings to try to filibuster the decision. Others take a passive-aggressive approach, deciding to hope the decision goes away. In most organizations the latter approach works best because accountability is limited – by not doing your part, you might get a slap on the wrist in the worst-case scenario. In the end, the company loses precious time and money.

The above issues are found in varying degrees in every organization. Pat Lencioni has really captured this well in his book, “Five Dysfunctions of A Team”. This leadership fable identifies team behavioral factors that will reduce the results in your company. I think the book is a must-read for any organization that depends on teamwork to make money.
Company teams come in various forms. It starts with an executive team to run the company. Then it takes teamwork to: create loyal customers; deliver your product or service; manufacture your products; ship your products; execute a special project; and so on. The more employees and customers you have, the more complicated this gets because you need more teams, and each employee may have to play on more than one team.

I will give you a snapshot of the key issues I took away from the book, and then I want to encourage you to read the book for yourself. I believe that by addressing the five dysfunctions Pat Lencioni identifies, you will find that the decisions you make in your company will stick. The dysfunctions work in a pyramid, just like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you have not addressed lower level need with an individual, it is futile to address the next level need. Pat’s five dysfunctions are as follows:

  1. Absence of Trust
  2. Fear of Conflict
  3. Lack of Commitment
  4. Avoidance of Accountability
  5. Inattention to Results

Absence of trust, the first dysfunction, is the hardest to overcome. It starts with the premise that one must have confidence among team members, believe that one’s peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be careful around group members. In most teams, too much time and energy, and too many good ideas are wasted trying to protect one’s reputation by managing behaviors, comments, and interactions because of a lack of trust that was created in previous interactions. People are reluctant to ask for help and to offer assistance to others, causing lower morale and unwanted turnover. To address this dysfunction, a leader must demonstrate vulnerability first, and make sure this is genuine. Leaders must encourage open dialogue in meetings, look for situations where people engage in behavior that demonstrates lack of trust, and bring it out in the open. They need to have everyone openly discuss the strength each team member brings to the team. They also need to describe the behaviors that lead them to be distrustful and get them to address those behaviors. No one, including the CEO, is immune from this exercise. One bad apple will spoil the batch.

Fear of conflict is the second dysfunction. Addressing the first dysfunction makes it much easier to address the second. If the first exercise succeeded, team members are mentally prepared to engage in passionate discussion without the fear of being perceived as vulnerable or the fear of reprisal. It means that one can speak up and not worry that someone is going to judge them, question their worth to the team if a particular comment is not one of their best, or interrupt them until they finish their thought. They know that while their idea may not be accepted, at least it will be heard. What is important here is to focus on discussion and resolving issues more quickly while avoiding personality-focused and mean-spirited attacks.

Many people have been trained to launch personal attacks when they are not getting their way. The leader has to make sure that this behavior is not tolerated, and that topics focus on the issues that need to be resolved. If everyone is not weighing in and openly debating and disagreeing on important ideas at your meetings, look for passive-aggressive behavior behind the scenes or back-channel attacks. What organizations find is that healthy conflict saves them a lot of time and leads to much better decisions. The role of the leader is to practice restraint and to allow for conflict and resolution to occur naturally.

The third dysfunction, commitment, is often missing in many organizations. As you can now see, it likely resulted from a lack of healthy debate in meetings, which led to false consensus and weak buy-in to the decisions. By having productive conflict and tapping into everyone’s perspectives and opinions, everyone can confidently buy in and commit. Even those who voted against the matter at least know their issues have been heard and considered. Now commitment is required.

Great teams know the danger of seeking consensus and certainty and find ways to achieve buy-in from the rest of the team. The leader’s role is to demonstrate decisiveness and to communicate awareness and acceptance of the fact that some decisions may turn out wrong. He or she must push decisions around issues, as well as adherence to schedules that the team has set. The leader must cascade messaging to key people in the organization to support follow-through on decisions so that everyone is clearly aligned.

The fourth dysfunction, accountability is also a team effort. Team members need to hold each other accountable in daily, weekly and monthly meetings when their behaviors and actions do not support the goals set by the team. Peer pressure is the most effective and efficient means of producing performance. A team should create clear standards, using leading indicators to enable each team member to know that they are doing their part. The more detailed the actions plans and the more specific the leading and lagging performance measures are, the easier it will be to hold people accountable. This is where many teams fall down. It is the leader’s role to demand these details and to allow the team to serve as the primary accountability mechanism. However, when the team does not serve this function well, there should be an external measure so that they team cannot run too far off course and eventually fail to achieve its goal(s).

The last dysfunction, inattention to results, seems obvious but is very hard to manage. This is where ego and self-preservation get in the way of company goals. If teammates are not being held accountable for their contributions to the collective results, they will likely look to their own personal or departmental interests and advancement. By having good measures in place to align an individual’s incentives with that of their team goals rather than their personal performance, an organization can produce better results. The role of the leader is to set the tone to focus on results. A problem will arise if team members sense that the leader values anything other than team results or demonstrates anything different in their own behaviors than what is expected of the team. It is important that a leader’s conversations with individuals are consistent with focusing on organizational results and not encouraging selfish behaviors.

Many organizations will find that they can significantly increase their results by improving the performance of their teams. Pat Lencioni has done a wonderful job of identifying these five areas that clearly compromise the efforts of most teams.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert that works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To contact Howard Shore please call 305.722.7213 or visit our business coaching page for more information.
Used the “Synopsis of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Randy Mayeax, of Creative Communication Network for www.15MinuteBusinessBooks.com as additional reference material.

Howard Shore’s Interview with Square Peg Round Hole

In this interview with Square Peg Round Hole, Howard shares an essential framework to ensure your business moves forward in this rapidly changing and competitive economy. He talks about the three guiding elements – strategy, execution and people – to finding success in your business and how if you’re not paying attention to these then you’re probably “leaving significant money on the table.”

Howard tells Matt and Dan the story of a $10 million company with a negative $200,000 in cash flow on the verge of bankruptcy, whose leaders were unaware of how bad the situation really was. He turned into a $12.6 million company with a positive $2 million in cash flow in 6 months using his three guiding elements.