Vantage Blog


A different type of Competitive Advantage

A client recently asked me to run a workshop for their leadership team based on Patrick Lencioni’s book The Advantage’

Having not heard of him, let alone read his book, I was a little wary at first.  Was this the latest fad, would it be appropriate material for a team development workshop, did it make sense... just some of my questions.

A quick download to the iPad, a pretty fast read and I was hooked.  His simple approach to getting teams to be high functioning, and thus a competitive advantage in and of themselves, is simple in structure and application. He has pulled a number of common sense threads together relating to team dynamics and making sure you have a focus on execution.

Based on what he calls the five dysfunctions of teams, Lencioni lays out an approach to getting teams working together and operating at a high level.  It is not a simple panacea (or a simple workshop for that matter) but it requires people to start laying the foundations of trust and building from that point. 

It is a journey that has the potential to have quite a significant impact. But it requires commitment beyond reading the book or attending a workshop.  A key requirement is for team members to hold themselves and each other accountable for what they commit to.  And not just through the leader – between each other, each and every day.

The approach is grounded in the belief that the most important team is not the one you lead (i.e. your department) but the one you are a part of (i.e. the next level of management up).  And what is critical in his approach is that this model will only work if led from the top – the CEO or MD. Only from there can it cascade throughout the organisation.

A part of the process for building trust is in sharing personal histories – basically showing vulnerability as a starting point.  This can be a powerful activity if approached with goodwill.  From there addressing each of the 5 dysfunctions are like building blocks.

In particular I found the approach to focusing on ‘what is important right now’, that is what you need to achieve in the next 6-9 months as the basis for alignment and resource allocation, really powerful.  You frame a theme around that objective, identify supporting strategies and then structure your meetings and communication around achievement of that theme. It also has resonance with such concepts as one page planning. It also includes some commonsense approaches to meeting structures and formats to help teams stay focussed and on track. Ideas that make sense on a standalone basis.

Well worth a read.  

If you are interested in seeing how this approach could benefit your leadership team please give me a call on 0419 516 655. James Atkins, Vantage Strategy & Marketing

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