One of the toughest obstacles for a leadership team of a company to overcome is “vulnerability based trust” where it’s safe to have conflict and take risks rather than fear them. It’s human nature to avoid uncomfortable or risky situations. Sure, there are people who are calm, cool and collected when the heat rises in a meeting but most become quiet or at least wait till someone else breaks the ice.
Recently, a new client of mine (the CEO) whose business partner is her sister, asked me to coach her through a difficult issue. She proceeded to tell me that although her sister is a hard working, competent and productive worker, she lacked the ability to lead, manage and hold employees accountable. The root issue is that the sister sits in a core seat in the organization that oversees 40 employees and things are falling through the cracks resulting in the company’s inability to deliver their products and services on time. The CEO desperately wants to tee-up the issue in their Level 10 Meetings but can’t bring herself to do it out of fear of hurting her sister’s feelings.
In the book titled “The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, he has written a fable that takes a CEO and her leadership team through a difficult crisis that threatens to collapse the company. The story reminds us that leadership requires guts, determination and the willingness to engage in healthy conflict.
The difference between a good team and a great leadership team is that the great teams are willing to say anything to each other, no matter how much it might sting. One way they accomplish this is that they drop their titles, drama and politics at the door when they enter their leadership team meetings. They elevate themselves above the company and look down on it and get to work “On” the company. Everyone is open & honest and they “Just Say It”. There’s good therapy in just saying it and getting it out of your system. Sure it might sting and cause conflict but that’s when the magic happens and vulnerability based trust can now begin to grow and make your good team a great team.