Is this the tool to help your team win?

Great leaders surround themselves with great people.  The best leaders have systems that empower the great people to do great things. What are you doing to empower those around you to do great things?

Part of my job is working with a volunteer committee, other organizations might refer to it as a board. These are local community members who help the organization last over time, they are working partners as well as decision makers.  We meet monthly in order to discuss the health of the organization and create action steps to improve.  However, I felt like I was doing a sucky job leading them.  I didn't feel like we were making the decisions that needed to be made.  We weren't leaving the room with action steps and a clear definition of who was in charge of what.

Have you left meetings feeling like that?  It's not good for you or the team.

If you can relate to my situation then it's time to pick up a copy of Patrick Lencioni's The Advantage.

I've been a fan of Lencioni's work for a while now.  His other books Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team have been some of my favorite leadership books.   Whereas Lencioni's other books have been business fables, The Advantage is straightforward leadership advice around the topic of culture.  Yes, he discusses profit organizations but quite often he will include valuable insight to non-profit work as well.

But here's what I have found to be the most insightful tool in the book: the topic of clarity. Specifically what Lencioni refers to as having a Thematic Goal (aka. The Rallying Cry). I'm not going to give you all the insights around the topic because I think you need to BUY THIS BOOK (which you can do my clicking on the book above or clicking on the book any time it's mentioned). This is the way that Lencioni defines a Thematic Goal:

The best way to identify a thematic goal is to answer the questions, If we accomplish one thing during the next X months, what would it be?  In other words, What must be true X months from now for us to be able to look back and say with any credibility that we had a good period? These questions provide a critical level of focus for leaders who are being pulled in numerous directions.

Once you have your Thematic Goal the team creates Defining Objectives for the goal to become a reality.  I used the question, "What has to happen for us to reach this goal in three months?"  After identifying the Defining Objectives the team identifies Standard Operating Objectives, which are the things we have to keep doing every day in the mist of having this goal.

Seriously.  One of the most productive conversations we've had in a long time.  Here is what we came up with:

Preview of “Thematic Goal Winter 2012-2013”

Obviously there are a lot details behind these objectives but we worked through those details on a separate document that Lencioni calls "The Playbook."  Our playbook has what needs to be done for each objective, Who's responsible for what needs to be done, and when does it have to done.  Isn't that great!?

If you're like me, a big vision leader who struggles with the "must get done details" I highly recommend reading The Advantage.  I wasn't taking into consideration how our culture was being affected by my natural bent towards vision instead of details.  Regardless of natural gifts, I would encourage every leader to read this book because the culture of your organization is critical to your long term success.

At this time I'd like to give a "word up" to my hommie Patrick Lencioni for helping me...wait...was that a bird?


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