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Your Organization Should be Smart AND Healthy

Bestselling author, Patrick Lencioni, in his book, “The Advantage” makes the case that organizations need to be both SMART and HEALTHY.  He goes on to say that:

“Organizational health will one day surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.”

Smart organizations are good at the typical activities we associate with business – strategy, financial performance, marketing and productivity.  These are all important aspects to any organization, especially for-profit businesses.  But being smart is not enough even though it’s what gets the most attention.

Healthy organizations have minimal politics, clarity of purpose, high morale and productivity and low turnover.  These parts of the organization often are ignored because they aren’t as tangible or measurable as the technical aspects of the business.  In his book the Advantage, Mr. Lencioni shared his experience with leaders when explaining the concept of Smart and Healthy.  He said he usually gets one of two responses; the first is a quiet laugh of guilt and the second one is a sigh, suggesting the thought, “Wouldn’t that be nice?”  What is amazing, as he continues to share, is that none of the leaders that he presents this to, even the most cynical ones, deny that having a healthy organization would transform their company.

So why aren’t more companies becoming healthier?  There are two reasons.

First, I refer to another story from Mr. Lencioni.  He was attending a client’s leadership conference and sitting next to the CEO.  This wasn’t just any company but one of the most successful American organizations for many years.  The company was smart, based on its financial success, and healthy, based on the high employee morale and lack of labor strife.  As Mr. Lencioni witnessed award after award being presented because of the activities that have made the organization so healthy, he asked the CEO why don’t his competitors do any of this?  The CEOs response was, “I honestly believe they think it’s beneath them.”

Many leaders don’t embrace organizational health because they are biased against such activities.  They are too sophisticated, too busy or too analytical to care, based on Mr. Lencioni findings.  Most leader’s backgrounds are on the smart side of the equation so they have a bias towards these activities.  As mentioned before, smart and healthy are BOTH important to a successful organization.

Second, many leaders suffer from a “Fad” mentality.  What is the latest sexy fad that will transform my company?  Leaders often think, “What is going to fix my organization NOW!”  There must be something I can buy, install and Wollah!  We are transformed!

The truth is, becoming a healthy organization is hard work.  To think this kind of transformation is easy is akin to thinking if I buy a Fitbit I will lose 20 lbs.  You still have to exercise regularly, eat healthy and get plenty of sleep.  One still has to put in the work.  The same goes for healthy organizations.  It takes work and lots of it.  A cohesive team trusts each other, has healthy conflict, is committed and holds each other accountable and pays attention to results.

Having the courage and discipline to these five behaviors is the foundation of a healthy organization.

Mark is the founder of Lōkahi Leadership Solutions, a consulting firm that focuses on leadership development, team cohesiveness and coaching solutions.  Lōkahi is a Hawaiian word that means unity, accord and harmony.  Mark believes that cohesive and collaborative teams achieve more.  He is certified in the following programs:  Everything Disc®, Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™, the Leadership Challenge®, and The Myers-Briggs™ Assessment Tool.