“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43-45, ESV
There are many issues that press upon leaders, influencing their overall effectiveness. Many choose to focus on organizational intelligence, noting that having a clear vision and communicating it, are the most essential aspects of leadership. Support to this can even be found in the Scriptures. Proverbs, for example, informs us generally that without vision people perish (Proverbs 29:18). However, I would posit that organizational intelligence is not the most pressing issue leaders face today. The most pressing leadership issue of our time is organizational health. Here’s why:
Firstly, why is organizational health so important? In his book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, author and consultant Patrick Lencioni postulates, “The Single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health” (Lencioni 1). Specifically, the health of an organization is focused on those characteristics that promote safe working environments that ultimately lead to greater employee ownership and productivity. These include minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale & productivity, and low turnover to name a few (Lencioni 6). These then are the outcomes that healthy organizations produce as members take greater ownership in learning from each other: identifying critical issues, overcoming mistakes, and minimizing dysfunction (Lencioni 9). In other words, healthy organizations produce smarter organizations.
Secondly, if organizational health is so important, why do most leaders choose to focus their attention on the intelligence of the organization? Lencioni suggests that most organizations choose to focus more on intelligence based characteristics because these tend to be easily measurable, objective, and often data-driven (Lencioni 7). These include the traditional business disciplines – strategy, marketing, finance and technology. However, despite the obvious importance of organizational intelligence, through his research Lencioni has found that a majority of leaders undeniably agree that if they could achieve the characteristics that define a healthy organization, their companies would experience greater positive transformation and increased results (Lencioni 6).
All that to say, it is my assertion that organizational health is the single greatest factor that leaders must deal with today. In Change the Culture Change the Game, authors Roger Connors and Tom Smith speak to this, complimenting Lencioni’s work, by positing that in order to achieve true competitive advantage, it is the culture of the organization – built upon experiences, beliefs and actions – that must change (Connors & Smith 7). Put plainly, culture (organizational health) produces results. In the increasingly innovative, serviced-based, globalized economies of our time, leaders must strive to invest greater focus on the health and culture that supports their organization. The next competitive advantage will be found therein.
Connors, Roger, and Tom Smith. Change the Culture, Change the Game: The Breakthrough Strategy for Energizing Your Organization and Creating Accountability for Results. New York: Portfolio Penguin, 2011. Print
Lencioni, Patrick. The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2012. Print.