Next week we are going to take the time to break out the pieces of the last behavior for building a cohesive leadership team which Pat Lencioni calls focusing on results. If you are like me your first thought may have been really? At first glance this does not look all that earth shaking or cutting edge. After all, isn't that what all good companies do? How much time is spent on metrics and performance measures and always, always the bottom line? Pat's answer in a word is yes, however he goes on to point out that many times that company goals get shunted aside by a process that looks like goals but in fact is not.
Every team has its targets and measurables. Every department head has been given their marching orders for where they are expected to be by the end of the budget cycle and everyone goes back to the team they lead and go about setting plans in place to achieve those targets. Good leaders care about their teams, become loyal to them, work hard to ensure they get the resources they need and often will defend their team vigorously. There too is the issue of status, ego and corporate climbing. After all you create an outstanding team and you know you are going to get noticed and possibly position yourself for that next big promotion. Most of us assume that each group or team pursuing its goals all somehow work together for the common good. Not necessarily so.
Which Results and Why
There is an old African saying; "It is always the village goats that starve first." This came from the practice that some villages had where some people owned their own goats and the village would also have goats that were shared in common for the good of the village as a whole. No one owned those goats and for the most part they were left to fend for themselves and as the saying implies when things got tough they suffered first. The point is this; there is a tendency to place personal or department goals or results on a higher level than the company's goals and in fact how many actually know the company goals? We base our approach on the assumption that if the departments are all collectively doing well then the company is too but that is often not the case. Added to this as well is the idea that we base success on the financials or the budget metrics. While this is important those are not the only company goals. Consider the following example.
Company X which we mentioned in a blog last week was one of those companies that had a dedicated and capable group of leaders who all took managing their teams seriously and were very capable. This was also the group that had to compete with each other for company resources and because that was the norm budget became the king of every department's metrics. It did not start out that way as this was a technology company and it relied on R&D and innovation to compete. Yet as more and more emphasis was placed upon making every dollar stretch, without realizing it each department began looking to demonstrate competence by hitting what were very tight budget targets. Soon many operational and departmental policies were based on hitting the budgets each year. And guess what? They did. Each and every year the departments figured out ways to reach their budget targets. A lot of discussion went into those budget meetings but there were some unsettling things brewing. Troubling results came in regarding slippage along the lines of innovation and competitiveness. In fact it came to light that indeed each department actually had downward trends in customer satisfaction, innovation and employee satisfaction. Not only that but those trends were now well established over a multi-year period. How could this have happened? Budget targets, which were paramount, had been met so where was the disconnect?
We will explore the final behavior of a cohesive leadership team which is focus on results. Which results and why they are important and different from the kind of metrics you might expect. And we will explore how Lencioni identifies how to break out of that model, what model to implement and how to change the focus of the leadership team so that they are committed to the right results for the greater good of the company.