“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  Peter Drucker

It’s easy to surround yourself with smart people. But for an organization to have a long-lasting life, you also have to be healthy. Smart people create great strategies. Healthy people create great cultures! Healthy is the harder of the two to accomplish.

Hard Conversations

Every EOS journey I start with clients, I explain to leadership teams that in order for them to get what they want from the business, they have to be both healthy and smart. In a recent session, we were reviewing the Accountability Chart and clearly there were some unsaid changes that were taking place that was privy to the founder (Visionary) and the COO (Integrator). It made for an uncomfortable start of the day with rest of the leadership team. I pushed for transparency in the group and I could feel the tension rise as the founder and COO spoke more code.

Fortunately, the COO stepped up and said, “I can fix this if I could have 30 minutes with some key people.” Apparently, an agreement was made between the founder and COO in some key leadership team positions within the last 24 hours that had not been communicated with the team yet. So I stepped onto a landmine that was unbeknownst to me and other key players.

After the 30 minute intermission, the COO and the affected key leadership team members came back enthused, on the same page, and ready for a productive full-day session. We went on to crystalize the vision of the company and establish priorities for the upcoming 90 days (Rocks) that everyone was aligned with. If the hard conversation had not happened in the beginning, it would have been a completely different ending; possibly key leaders leaving disgruntled, not on board with the future of the company, or secretly looking for another opportunity thereafter.

Embrace Healthy Conflict

Some may say these conversations and communicating with clarity and transparency is the “soft stuff” in business. There’s nothing soft about having these hard conversations! The easy (or cowardly) route would have been to avoid conflict and assume the problem will take care of itself.

Pat Lencioni (The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) spells out how teams look that fear conflict compared to those who embrace it.

Teams that Fear Conflict:

·      Have boring meetings

·      Politics and personal attacks thrive

·      Ignore controversial topics

·      Doesn’t tap into opinions of team members

·      Waste time with posturing and interpersonal risk management

Teams that Embrace Conflict:

·      Have lively, interesting meetings

·      Extract and exploit the ideas of all team members

·      Solve real problems quickly

·      Minimize politics

·      Put critical topics on the table for discussion

Is Strategy Eating Your Culture?

Imagine your company with complete transparency where it’s encouraged to have healthy conflict. What would that do for your company’s productivity?  Would problems get resolved quicker and towards the greater good?

How healthy is your organization? Are you avoiding the “soft stuff” because it makes you uncomfortable? Be smart and healthy by embracing healthy conflict in your company. Had my client focused on strategy instead of protecting their culture by having the hard conversations, we would have wasted a whole strategy session not being on the same page.

Take the Organizational Checkup to gauge the health of your company! For more information on creating a healthy business lifestyle, read about the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS).

To Your Business Health!

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