Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.

Patrick Lencioni

American Business Consultant, Author, Founder and President of The Table Group

"Make your values mean something."

"As a leader, you’re probably not doing a good job unless your employees can do a good impression of you when you’re not around."

"As difficult as it is to build a team, it is not complicated. In fact, keeping it simple is critical, whether you run the executive staff at a multi-national company, a small department within a larger organization, or even if you are merely a member of a team that needs improvement."

"Building a strong team is both possible and remarkably simple. But is painfully difficult."

"Building a cohesive leadership team is the first critical step that an organization must take if it is to have the best chance at success."

"Great teams do not hold back with one another. They are unafraid to air their dirty laundry. They admit their mistakes, their weaknesses, and their concerns without fear of reprisal."

"If everything is important, then nothing is. "

"If you could get all the people in an organization rowing in the same direction, you could dominate any industry, in any market, against any competition, at any time."

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare."

"People are hungry for those who will tell them the kind truth."

"Politics is when people choose their words and actions based on how they want others to react rather than based on what they really think. "

"It's as simple as this. When people don't unload their opinions and feel like they've been listened to, they won't really get on board. "

"Teamwork remains a sustainable competitive advantage that has been largely untapped because it is hard to measure (teamwork impacts the outcome of an organization in such comprehensive and invasive ways that it’s virtually impossible to isolate it as a single variable) and because it is extremely hard to achieve (it requires levels of courage and discipline that few executives possess) – ironically, building a strong team is very simple (it doesn’t require masterful insights or tactics)."

"The team you belong to must come ahead of the team you lead: this is putting team results (e.g., organizational needs) ahead of individual agendas (e.g., the team or division you lead, your ego, your need for recognition, your career development, etc.) Confidentiality is respected downward more than it is respected upward. Organizational alignment is a direct result of this hierarchy (if it were the other way around, organizational alignment would be very difficult to achieve)."

"Remember teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability. "

"Your job is not to look smart. It’s to help your team do more and better."

"Trust is knowing that when a team member does push you, they're doing it because they care about the team. "

"A core value is something you?re willing to be punished for. If the market is not rewarding you for it, you will do it anyway."

"A job is bound to be miserable if it doesn?t involve measurement."

"A mission statement is not a good way to develop clarity."

"Achieving vulnerability-based trust (where team members have overcome their need for invulnerability) is difficult because in the course of career advancement and education, most successful people learn to be competitive with their peers, and protective of their reputations. It is a challenge for them to turn those instincts off for the good of the team, but that is exactly what is required."

"An organization has integrity?is healthy?when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense."

"And so, like a chain with just one link broken, teamwork deteriorates if even a single dysfunction is allowed to flourish."

"As politically incorrect as it sounds, the most effective and efficient means of maintaining high standards of performance on a team is peer pressure. One of the benefits is the reduction of the need for excessive bureaucracy around performance management and corrective action. More than any policy or system, there is nothing like the fear of letting down respected teammates that motivates people to improve their performance."

"All human beings have a need to assess from themselves that they?re doing a good job."

"As tempting as it may be, leaders must not abdicate or delegate responsibility for communication and reinforcement of clarity."

"Aspirational values. Values we wish we had but we don?t."

"At every step in the process, the leader must be out front, not as a cheerleader or a figurehead, but as an active, tenacious driver."

"Because they [dysfunctional teams]are made up of human beings with varied interests and frailties. When you put them together and leave them to their own devices, even the most well-intentioned people will usually deviate toward dysfunctional, unproductive behavior. And because most leaders and managers are not schooled in the art of building teams, small problems are left untreated and spiral further and further into ugliness and politics."

"Churches struggle with core values because they confuse them with permission to play values."

"Bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organizations, and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity, and communication."

"Clients are more interested in candor, modesty and transparency than they are in confidence, authority and perfection. That?s not to say that competence is irrelevant; clients need to know that we have the knowledge and experience to help them. But once we?ve reached that level, the best way to differentiate ourselves from competition ? not to mention help a client implement the ideas we?re recommending to them ? is to be vulnerable with them."

"Be humble and hungry. By humble, I mean "that you do not believe that you are inherently a better or more important person than the people you lead." So you see yourself as their equal (or better yet as their servant) as Ken Blanchard's book talks about. On the other hand, though, to be a great leader you have to recognize that the words and actions that you choose and that you take are going to have a great impact on the average person. And you have to be both [humble and hungry] at once which is hard because people who are really humble often times think, ?Well, who am I to lead people and get up in front of people and really inspire them?? While on the other hand people who are not terribly humble but are confident in getting up and inspiring people often think, ?Why I must be a pretty special person.? And so to be a great leader you have to simultaneously embrace both of these concepts. As Jim Collins likes to say: ?Reject the tyranny of the ?or? and embrace the genius of the ?and,?? and simultaneously be humble to the people you lead, but also be comfortable being out front. That?s part of what hunger is about: wanting to drive things forward but not in the ego sense. Hunger is also not being complacent and not needing others to provoke you to greater action....You can be hungry to achieve a lot but humble enough to recognize that you are not more important than others. That?s what keeps you in balance as a leader."

"Cohesive Leadership ? Results, Accountability, Commitment, Conflict, Trust."

"Collective responsibility implies, more than anything else, selflessness and shared sacrifices from team members."

"Cohesive teams build trust, eliminate politics, and increase efficiency by? Knowing one another?s unique strengths and weaknesses? Openly engaging in constructive ideological conflict? Holding one another accountable for behaviors and actions? Committing to group decisions."

"Commitment and conflict are not possible without trust. If team members are concerned about protecting themselves from their peers, they will not be able to disagree and commit. And that presents its own set of problems, not the least of which is the unwillingness to hold one another accountable."

"Contrary to conventional wisdom, teamwork is not a virtue in itself. It is merely a strategic choice, not unlike adopting a specific sales model or a financial strategy. And certainly, when properly understood and implemented, it is a powerful and beneficial tool. Unfortunately, management theorists and human resources professionals have made teamwork unconditionally desirable, something akin to being a good corporate citizen"

"Every family can relate to the craziness of trying to manage a long list of competing priorities. Keeping the kids active versus spending more time at home as a family. Saving money for college vs. taking nice vacations. Maintaining date night with your spouse vs. carving out one-on-one time with the kids. Working harder to earn more money for the family vs. coaching the little league team. The list is endless, leaving us breathless and frustrated, and all-too-often, feeling defeated."

"Every employee needs to know that there?s somebody out there that they serve. And when we don?t let people know that for one reason or another, we?re depriving them of a fulfilling job."

"Executives must understand that there is an alternative to teamwork, and it is actually more effective than being a faux team. Jon Katzenbach, author of The Wisdom of Teams, calls it a "working group," a group of executives who agree to work independently with few expectations for collaboration.The advantage of a working group is clarity; members know exactly what they can, and more important, cannot expect of one another, and so they focus on how to accomplish goals without the distractions and costs that teamwork inevitably presents."

"Good people don?t leave jobs where they?re known."

"For most of us, whether we're running a household, a junior high school, a church or a corporation, our biggest challenge quickly becomes deciding what NOT to do. And when our heads hit the pillow at night, we don't want to be thinking about a long list of unrelated issues and e-mails and complaints that just happen to have found their way onto our desks. If we're going to be losing sleep, we at least ought to be focused on those issues that truly matter most. And if there is no such list, then we're going to be losing a lot of sleep with little or nothing to show for it."

"Great teams do not hold back with one another."

"Great teams do not wait for the leader to remind members when they are not pulling their weight. Because there is no lack of clarity about what they have committed to do, they are comfortable calling one another on actions and behaviors that don't contribute to the likelihood of success. Less effective teams typically resort to reporting unacceptable behavior to the leader of the group, or worse yet, to back-channel gossip. These behaviors are not only destructive to the morale of the team, they are inefficient and allow easily addressable issues to live longer than should be allowed. Don't let the simplicity of accountability hide the difficulty of making it a reality. It is not easy to teach strong leaders on a team to confront their peers about behavioral issues that hurt the team. But when the goals of the team have been clearly delineated, the behaviors that jeopardize them become easier to call out."

"Healthy organizations align their employees around organizational clarity by communicating key messages through? Repetition: Don?t be afraid to repeat the same message, again and again. Simplicity: The more complicated the message, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency? Multiple mediums: People react to information in many ways; use a variety of mediums? Cascading messages: Leaders communicate key messages to direct reports; the cycle repeats itself until the message is heard by all."

"Here I am as a best-selling author on teamwork and leadership, and I volunteer to coach my sons? soccer team (my twin boys). I don?t know a heck of a lot about soccer: I played it for two years when I was a kid, and I didn?t follow it very much [growing up]. We had twelve boys on our team, and we were in a competitive league with other very good coaches and nice people who knew a lot about soccer....I remember thinking, 'Maybe it's not about soccer. Maybe it's about teamwork, and maybe it's about inspiring these kids to be more than they think they can be.' Through often humbling experiences and hardworking experiences and doing some things that were a little bit kooky (in terms of bringing the boys together and talking about attitude in life), we built a little team that was really, really good and won most of its games. Most importantly, every one of those kids wanted to play again on the same team. The majority of them said, 'We don?t want to play on another team. We don?t want to stop playing. We really want to keep being on this team.' It was beyond soccer. It was something about being part of something bigger (where they were growing). I am tough on them sometimes, and I think, 'These kids are going to hate playing for me.' I came to realize that 'everybody wants to become the best version of [himself or herself]' as Matthew Kelly, my friend, says. Sometimes I think we overestimate the power of knowledge and specific technical skills and underestimate the power of being a role model and just leading, trying new things, and putting ourselves out there....I chose kids on the team for their attitude?who I thought would listen and try hard. Some were not very fast and some were not that skilled, but it was so great to coach and lead a bunch of kids who wanted to be there and were willing to be team players more than individuals."

"His biggest problem was his need for a problem."

"Healthy organizations must be intellectually aligned."

"Healthy organizations minimize the potential for confusion by clarifying? Why do we exist? How do we behave? What do we do? How will we succeed? What is most important, right now? Who must do what?"