The Decisive Lead

The Model – The Decisive Advantage (by Patrick Lencioni)

1. Build a cohesive leadership team

Cohesive teams eliminate politics and increase their effectiveness by doing the following.

  • Being open and building trust
  • Engaging in constructive ideological conflicts
  • Committing to clear decisions
  • Holding each other accountable for behaviour and performance
  • Focusing on collective results

2. Create clarity

Healthy organisations reduce the risk of confusion by clarifying the following.

  • What is our raison d’être?
  • How do we behave?
  • What do we do?
  • How will we succeed?
  • What is most important at the moment?
  • Who should do what?

3. Overcommunicate clarity

Healthy organisations align their employees around organisational clarity by communicating key messages through…

  • Repetition
  • Simplicity
  • Multiple mediums
  • Cascading messages

4. Reinforce clarity

Organisations sustain their health by ensuring consistency in …

  • Recruiting
  • Managing performance
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Dismissal of the employee
  • Meetings

The Decisive Advantage

1 Introduction

All the competitive advantages we’ve pursued throughout our career are gone disappeared. That is correct. Strategy. Technology. Finances. Marketing. All gone.

No, those disciplines have not disappeared. In most organisations they are all still very much alive. And that’s good because they are important. But as meaningful competitive advantages, as true differentiators that differentiate one company from another, they are no longer what they once were.

That’s because virtually any organization, of any size, has access to the best ideas and practices around strategy, technology, and those other topics. As information has become ubiquitous in this digital age, it is nearly impossible to maintain an advantage based on intellectual ideas.

However, there is one more untapped competitive advantage that is more important than any other. It’s simple, reliable, and virtually free.
I am talking about the health of an organisation.

  • Cohesive teams eliminate politics and increase their effectiveness by doing the following.
  • Being open and building trust
  • Engaging in constructive ideological conflicts
  • Committing to clear decisions
  • Holding each other accountable for behaviour and performance
  • Focusing on collective results

2 The Healthy Organisation

A healthy organisation is one that has all but eliminated politics and confusion from its environment. As a result, productivity and morale soar, and good people almost never leave. For those leaders who are a bit sceptical, rest assured that none of this is touchy-feely or soft. It is as tangible and practical as anything else a business does, and even more important.

Why? Because the smartest organisation in the world, the one that has mastered strategy and finance and marketing and technology, will eventually fail if it is unhealthy. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen again and again. But a healthy organisation will always find a way to succeed, because without politics and confusion, it will inevitably become smarter and tap into every bit of intelligence and talent that it has.

So, if all this is true, and I am absolutely convinced that it is, then why haven’t more companies embraced and reaped the benefits of organisational health? For one, it’s hard. It requires real work and discipline, over a period of time, and it must be maintained. On top of that, it’s not sophisticated or sexy. That means it doesn’t excite a group of executives who are looking for a quick fix or a silver bullet, something that they will be reading about in the Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg Businessweek. Moreover, in spite of its power, organisational health is hard to measure in a precise, accurate way. It impacts so many disparate areas of an enterprise that it is virtually impossible to isolate it as a single variable and quantify its singular impact on the bottom line.

But the biggest reason that organisational health remains untapped is that it requires courage. Leaders must be willing to confront themselves, their peers and the dysfunction within their organisation with an uncommon level of honesty and persistence. They must be prepared to walk straight into uncomfortable situations and address issues that prevent them from realising the potential that eludes them.

3 The Four Disciplines

What exactly does an organisation have to do to get healthy? There are four simple but difficult steps. They are:

3.1. Build a cohesive leadership team

The first step is all about getting the leaders of the organisation to behave in a functional, cohesive way. If the people responsible for running an organisation, whether that organisation is a corporation, a department within that corporation, a start-up company, a restaurant, a school or a church, are behaving in dysfunctional ways, then that dysfunction will cascade into the rest of the organisation and prevent organisational health. And yes, there are concrete steps a leadership team can take to prevent this.

3.2. Create clarity

The second step for building a healthy organisation is ensuring that the members of that leadership team are intellectually aligned around six simple but critical questions. Leaders need to be clear on topics such as why the organisation exists to what its most important priority is for the next few months. Leaders must eliminate any gaps that may exist between them, so that people one, two or three levels below have complete clarity about what they should do to make the organisation successful.

3.3. Overcommunicate clarity

Only after these first two steps are in process (behavioural and intellectual alignment), can an organisation undertake the third step: overcommunicating the answers to the six questions. Leaders of a healthy organisation constantly — and I mean constantly — repeat themselves and reinforce what is true and important. They always err on the side of saying too much, rather than too little. This quality alone sets leaders of healthy organisations apart from others.

3.4. Reinforce clarity

Finally, in addition to overcommunicating, leaders must ensure that the answers to the six critical questions are reinforced repeatedly using simple human systems. That means any process that involves people, from hiring and firing to performance management and decision-making, is designed in a custom way to intentionally support and emphasise the uniqueness of the organisation.

In addition to these four steps, it is essential that a healthy organisation gets better at the one activity that underpins everything it does: meetings. Yes, meetings. Without making a few simple but fundamental changes to the way meetings happen, a healthy organisation will struggle to maintain what it has worked hard to build.

Can a healthy organisation fail? Yes. But it almost never happens. Really. When politics, ambiguity, dysfunction and confusion are reduced to a minimum, people are empowered to design products, serve customers, solve problems and help one another in ways that unhealthy organisations can only dream about. Healthy organisations recover from setbacks, attract the best people, repel the others and create opportunities that they couldn’t have expected.

At the end of the day, at the end of the quarter, employees are happier, the bottom line is stronger, and executives are at peace because they know they’ve fulfilled their most important responsibility of all: creating an environment of success.

AboutTrixolutions and Patrick Lencioni

Trixolutions is exclusively CAPA PRO accredited and therefore a member of Patrick Lencioni’s Table Group. Together we are dedicated to giving employees more fulfilment by making organisations healthier. Trixolutions has worked with hundreds of senior executives and their teams in organisations. Through his work as a best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni has pioneered the organisational health movement. Trixolutions is very proud to work directly with him.


Possibilities (digital) training and coaching

The above insights, methods and exercises can be offered to you in the following formats:

Offline (Covid-19 proof)

  • Personal coaching
  • Inspiration session of 1,5 hours
  • Half day workshop
  • Training journey

Online (Platform ZOOM, TEAMS or VEDAMO)

  • Personal coaching
  • Inspiration session of 1,5 hours in our Trixolutions Virtual Classroom
  • Half day workshop in our Trixolutions Virtual Classroom
  • Digital Learning Journey

Request a free demo demo of our Trixolutions Virtual Classroom! Ask for more information about the possibilities!