Archive for December 2015

“The Advantage,” by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage, Lencioni, coverPatrick Lencioni’s book, The Advantage, is primarily about how to have a healthy process and environment in your organization, and why that is the most important thing you can do for your organization. The premise is based on four disciplines that healthy organizations adhere to:

  1. Build a cohesive leadership team (using the strategies laid out in one of his previous books, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team)
  2. Create clarity by ensuring that the leadership team is aligned to six critical questions (why do we exist, how do we behave, what do we do, how will we succeed, what is most important right now, and who must do what?)
  3. Over-communicate clarity “repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly” (with an intentional emphasis on repetition)
  4. Reinforce clarity, by establishing simple, basic processes and systems the for people that support that clarity

After explaining these ideas (with his usual flair for using analogies and stories to explain the point), Lencioni adds a few more helpful principles that are necessary for health, including a plan for incorporating effective meetings, steps for establishing momentum, and the importance and role of leadership.

 

Like his other books, The Advantage is a very practical guide for organizational health, with lots of great examples and illustrations. I finished reading this just as I finished my first six months as headmaster in a new Christian school, and I found the ideas to be a tremendous benefit. I already had a previously scheduled planning meeting with my Lead Team, and providentially it then coincided with the completion of this book, so I was able to incorporate the insights and wisdom into the planning process that took place. Based on this experience, I would wholeheartedly say that this is an excellent tool for your leadership and book for your shelf.

 

 

Lencioni, P. (2012). The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA.

Week of December 28, 2015

Remember What Matters

I have recently been reading the book “Scaling Up,” by Verne Harnish, on the Rockefeller Habits and the four decisions every organizational leader must make (people, strategies, execution, and cash). In one of the early chapters, on the development and roles of the leadership team, the book suggests the use of a tool called a one-page personal plan (OPPP). Within this tool, there are five factors listed in the left-column that have been identified (based on research by wealth advisor James Hansberger) as the five things that matter most to people when they near the end of their leaves, in this order: Faith, Family, Friends, Fitness, and Finance.

 

As I looked through and pondered this document, while also thinking about this current time of the year, I realized that those same five items become a significant part of our thought process during the season of Christmas. It’s the time of the year when we focus on the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ as a baby in Bethlehem, which then becomes the central purpose behind the season for me (Faith). It’s also the time of the year when we gather with family, reconnect with loved ones, and generously give to them (Family). It’s a time when we enjoy gatherings and parties and feasts and activities, all centered on the celebration of the season (Friends). Like it or not, it’s a time when we often over-indulge in food, followed by New Year’s commitments to get in shape (Fitness). And it’s a time of the year when we spend money, and are urged by advertising and stores to spend even more (Finance).

 

It seems that even if we don’t happen to be near the end of our lives, the Christmas season is one that causes us to be drawn to those things that really matter. It happens without us realizing it, so I would challenge you to make it happen intentionally. At this time of the year, think about what really matters. Start with faith – if you don’t already have a personally relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior, would you please consider speaking to someone about it? – and then think about the value of your family and your friends, and the wise care of your fitness and your finances. Allow this season to be one that helps you to purposefully identify those things that really matter, and make them a priority in your life. Don’t’ wait until your life is nearing it’s end; do it while you have the opportunity to enjoy that which really counts.

Week of December 21, 2015

“Quotable,” on leaving a legacy

“Your legacy is the influence you leave behind that continues to impact people after you are gone. It could be an impact that has a negative influence on people, one that continues to cause residual damage and results in people breathing a sigh of relief when you are no longer there, or it could be an impact that continues to enrich and shape lives. Either way, you will leave a legacy, and to leave a good one requires forethought and intentional actions.”

Jeff McMaster

What It Means to Leave a Legacy

One of the many enjoyable memories that I have of my grandmother is about something often took place around Christmas time. Grandma Schaller’s hobby was crocheting, and usually she was crocheting afghan blankets for other people. It was therefore not unusual for one of her afghans to show up under the Christmas tree as one of my gifts.   These became special gifts, tokens of her love, and they continued even after I was married and had children. Grandma crocheted several beautiful afghans for my wife and me to use in our home, and made special crib-sized afghans for the each of my children when they were born. We still have many of these, and beyond keeping us warm, they also represent significant meaning.

 

Grandma Schaller passed away a number of years ago, when my oldest child was a sophomore in high school. Her afghans became her legacy, one of those special things for which she was remembered. But then, something incredible happened. When my oldest graduated from high school two years later, she received a gift – from Grandma Schaller. My parents gave her a box, and it contained an afghan that Grandma had made for that occasion (and amazingly, it had the same colors my daughter had chosen for her dorm room). We then learned that when Grandma had discovered that she had cancer, and that her time would be short, she made an afghan for each of her great-grandchildren, to be given to them at their next significant life event. It was her legacy, and it continued even after she was gone.

 

This is a wonderful example for me of what it means to leave a legacy. Grandma Schaller made an impact with her life that was remembered after she had passed; and then, not just her memory but her life continued to make an impact on the lives of those who knew and loved her. Even though she was gone, she impacted us not simply by her memory but by her forethought and her intentional actions.

 

Now apply this concept to your leadership: how are you leaving a legacy? I recently wrote about a king described in the book of 2 Chronicles whom we are told “departed to no one’s regret.” This is a sad commentary on someone whose greatest legacy was that people were glad he was gone. Think of the travesty if this were to also be said of you or me. You see, your legacy is the influence you leave behind that continues to impact people after you are gone. It could be an impact that has a negative influence on people, one that continues to cause residual damage and results in people breathing a sigh of relief when you are no longer there, or it could be an impact that continues to enrich and shape lives. Either way, you will leave a legacy, and to leave a good one requires forethought and intentional actions.

 

There is no question that you will leave a legacy. Your life has an impact, and it doesn’t go away when you’re gone. For good or for ill, you will leave something behind. So the only question left is this: what kind of legacy will you leave?