In his latest bestseller, The Advantage, author and consultant Patrick Lencioni describes the concept of organizational health and asserts that it presents the greatest opportunity for success in any organization. While I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment, I believe that many organizations have simply given up trying to attain organizational health. Why would organizational leaders give up pursuing something that could make such a meaningful and lasting impact, especially when it is free? The reasons vary, but the bottom line is this: if you run an organization, you have the opportunity to create an environment that is healthy and fosters success. It is not necessarily an easy process, and it may require some tough decisions on your part, but it is possible.
What exactly is organizational health? There are a variety of ways to describe and define it, but Lencioni provides five criteria:
- Minimal politics
- Minimal confusion
- High morale
- High productivity
- Low turnover (of good employees)
I don’t know about you, but I have not worked for an organization where all of these qualities were present. Perhaps a few were, but not all. What I do know is that my greatest professional frustrations have usually come as a result of organizational politics and confusion that typically resulted in declining morale and productivity. Ultimately, the loss of great employees is inevitable under such conditions. What winner wants to be part of team that is mired in political struggles and constant confusion? Not me, and hopefully not you. Do top performers typically stay in an environment where the morale is in the tank and productivity is scarce? I don’t know of many who would.
So, why is understanding and pursuing organizational health important for leaders today? I think it presents a defining moment and unique opportunity for any leader who desires to develop a great organization. More than finding smart and competent people, leaders that want to cultivate a healthy organization must identify the right people and establish the right environment for them—one where they can thrive and grow. This might sound a little idealistic right now, but the good news is that organizational health is possible if you as a leader are committed to taking the steps and making the tough decisions to cultivate this environment for your organization and team.
Over the next few weeks I will be dissecting this concept of organizational health and explaining why achieving the five criteria is so essential for a healthy organization. I will also provide some perspectives on what leaders must do to make this a reality. Whether you are running a large corporation, small business, non-profit, or a church, these principles are relevant and applicable. This topic of is for all leaders! Just ask yourself right now, “Is my organization healthy?” If your organization is like most, chances are the answer is “no.” Good news though…you can change that reality!
Let’s examine this issue closer and discover some ideas for creating healthier, more productive, and more successful organizations.