Pat Lencioni started his talk with a story about parenting and how it relates to the management of teams. He echoed a key theme mentioned by previous speakers Bill George and Bill Conaty: TRUST. Trust in business? Huh? Trust the evil empire? But, Pat focused on PEOPLE in companies. He discussed five areas of improvement to build teams. But here, I want to focus on Trust and Conflict: Two issues I see surface repeatedly with women finding their way in both career and life.
(Note: Discussion questions added by blog author)
Q: What is meant by trust?
A: It’s about vulnerability. You should be able to say this to someone you trust: “I’m screwing this up. I need help.” It takes trust to deliver bad news, so things can get better.
Discussion: With whom do you have such a relationship in your life and business? What conditions present that allow you to trust them?
Q: How do you establish trust across genders, races, generations?
A: The generation these days has a high need to know the purpose of their job. Be prepared to manage more. However, overall, what is the difference between men and women, or races, or generations as leaders? I don’t see a big difference I really think we overplay the gender and age thing. I think when you know someone’s personality type and their personal experiences, you know someone. If you use that stuff too much, you miss the individuality of the person.
Discussion: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
Q: How can I get my team to open up to one another?
A: Lencioni often starts exercises with business teams as follows.
1. The team goes around the table and answers the following questions: Where did you grow up, how many kids, where did you fall in that order, and what was one of the most interesting experiences from growing up? This is a connector and playing-field leveler.
2. Then move on and use an objective tool, like a Myers Briggs. Do it fast, and apply it clearly. It gives you permission to “call out” someone’s tough behaviors.
P.s. Here is a free, back of the envelope Myers Briggs I had my students complete last semester.
Q: I don’t like to fight with people. How can I embrace constructive conflict?
A: It’s about conflict in the spirit of the right answer for the team. You should be able to say this to someone you trust: “I don’t agree with that at all. That stinks. Okay now let’s go get a beer.” Conflict without trust is politics. Think you’re being nice by not saying what you mean to that person in the meeting? This is the result, says Pat:
We’ve crushed her spirit by talking about her afterwards, but, at least we didn’t disagree with her in the meeting.
Discussion: Are you guilty of being too fearful to share your real ideas for improvement with someone? Why? What is getting in the way?
P.s. For women: We are notorious for avoiding conflict. Here is a communications exercise I had my students do in the Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership class at GW’s School of Business.
Lencioni points out that when people are completely truthful with one another, an amazing dynamic is created.
I have to be honest and say I was not thrilled when I heard Pat Lencioni was a speaker. I heard him speak years ago at an Entrepreneur’s Organization event in DC. My mind has completely changed. He was funny, smart, and highly creative. He really connected with the audience. This was an audience of 4,000 suits who hadn’t laughed or blinked for the first 2.5 hours of the conference. Every conference needs a Pat Lencioni. He delivered some great points that, from a women’s leadership view, can clearly be used in business and in life.
In retrospect, I realize that the Entrepreneur’s Organization venue was simply too small for Pat. Pat had literally no problem engaging an audience of 4,000 at Radio City Music Hall. As a female business owner, or any business owner, the lesson is this:
Book/speaker/consultant – isn’t this the east coast’s version of actress/waitress? If you want to be an expert or a speaker, Pat Lencioni is a great model to check out.
Stay tuned for more speaker highlights.
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