Conflict is a Spectrum: Why Organizational Health Matters

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There are so many factors that play into an idea becoming a business and a business becoming successful. Dedicated people, innovation and careful execution to name a few. But perhaps the single ingredient, the secret sauce to the very best companies, is Organizational Health. A company can overcome being unhealthy, but this is a case of succeeding despite their culture not because of it. It’s been said often that execution eats strategy’s lunch, but culture tops them both. Having a culture happens whether you like it or not. The trick is to have a culture where organizational health is well and thriving.

What then does it mean to have a healthy organization? Patrick Lencioni describes a healthy organization as one that possesses these characteristics:

  1. Minimal Politics
  2. Minimal Confusion
  3. High Morale
  4. High Productivity
  5. Low Turnover

Organizations that aren’t healthy and led by behaviorally unified leaders wind up creating “workgroups” as opposed to real ”teams”. Workgroups function like a golf team – each player plays their own round and then they all add up their score. Whereas teams function like a basketball team where there’s true interaction with each other.

Image Credit: Patrick Lencioni, ”The Advantage”

Possibly the most important outcome of having organizational health is that you can have healthy conflict. I’ve written before about collaboration being needed for innovation to occur but for collaboration to happen successfully, everyone has to feel like they can have honest conversations with each other. Not faking it but also not holding back an opinion to keep peace. Not mean-spirited discussions but challenging each other’s ideas and being able to let their own idea go when a better alternative is presented. Conflict is a spectrum with unhealthy states existing at the ends – like so many things in life the sweet spot is in the middle. More to come on how leaders can influence this type of ecosystem but I’ll close with quote:

“The culture of an organization [is often] defined by the worst behavior its [leadership] allows” – Steve Gruenert

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