Need clarity on the vital internal drivers of business success? Look not to Steve Jobs or to Jack Welch but to Lucille Ball. Specifically, to an episode of “I Love Lucy” in which Ricky comes home to find his wife crawling on hands and knees in a determined search for lost earrings.
“You lost your earrings in the living room?” Ricky asks.
“No,” Lucy replies. “I lost them in the bedroom — but the light is so much better out here.”
Patrick Lencioni uses this sepia-colored story to illustrate the trap into which many leaders fall: Looking in easy places for answers to hard questions.
Most leaders, Lencioni says, know that success boils down to two things: smarts and health. The former – strategy, marketing, finance, technology – is largely quantifiable and actionable. In other words, the light is good.
Diagnosing and curing an organization’s health problems, however, is not so straight-forward. In fact, it’s downright uncomfortable at times. Which is why leaders too often shirk away from the hard work of creating a healthy company — one earmarked with minimal politics and confusion, high morale and productivity, and low turnover.
OK, health is hard. So how do good leaders begin to fix it? Brian Jones and Rick Packer of The Table Group laid out a five-step strategy for building management-team cohesion — the first step toward improving organizational health — at the Build/Live event in Atlanta.
Step One: Build trust.
- Do you spend too much time thinking about what you’re going to say?
- Are meetings routinely followed by private, closed-door conversations?
- Is your leadership style breeding high compliance but low buy-in?
- Do people trust each other? Really?
“It takes just one member of the leadership team who is not trusted to sink your company,” says Packer. And trust begins at the top.
So how do you get the members of your executive team to lose the fear, forget the ego, and learn to lean on each other for maximum efficiency and innovation? Easy: You ask for help.
Tell your team about your own weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and ask them to help you do better. Make sure they know that they’re in a safe environment where weaknesses are not judged, but improved upon collectively. And show them exactly what you mean through consistent, collaborative actions.
“Do you see vulnerability-based trust at your organization?” Jones asked the Build/Live gathering of C-level executives. Few hands peeked up. “As the leader, you must be vulnerable first.”
Step Two: Encourage healthy conflict.