The Often Unseen Barrier to Growth

No company can outgrow its leadership team.  I’ve never seen one, and pretty sure I never will.  The leadership team is the ceiling of growth.   

But it’s more than the right people, right seats.  As Pat Lencioni, in his book The Advantage, states, “Organizational health is the last untapped competitive advantage out there, and it’s more important that all the others ever were.  It is simple, reliable, and virtually free.”   

Organizational health starts at the top, with the leadership team.  As the leadership team goes, so goes the company. 

In an age where everyone has instant access to the best thinking and practices around strategy, technology, marketing, and finance, it’s almost impossible to sustain a competitive advantage based on intellectual ideas alone.  While you need stay on top of these practices, as differentiators, they are no longer anything close to what they once were.   

Organizational health starts with the leadership team that behaves in a functional, cohesive way.  They need to have clarity around core purpose, core values, strategy, priorities, metrics, and accountability. They must eliminate any gaps that may exist between them, so that people one, two, or three levels removed from senior management have complete clarity about what they should do to make the organization successful. Additionally, their ability to predict and delegate are critical factors to successfully scaling up the company.   

And nowhere is this more important than in a family business, where three interdependent and overlapping groups comprise the family business system: family, business and ownership. As a result of this overlap, there are seven interest groups present, each with its own legitimate perspectives, biases, goals and dynamics. The long-term success of family business systems depends on the functioning and mutual support of each of these groups.   

In fact, while different perspectives or biases affect the family business, the barrier to growth begins to build with the family business’ inability to embrace differences in a healthy manner. That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree on everything – quite the contrary.  

An organizationally healthy family business recognizes:   

1) we are individuals with our own thoughts and beliefs  

2) no one owns the truth 

It’s the ability to align around a common set of core values, a shared purpose, and a compelling vision for the future that creates the foundation for organizational health within a family business.  

You hear me reference books all the time.  That’s because successful people read.   

• President Harry S. Truman once stated, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”.   

• Mark Cuban famously shared that his 3-hour a day reading habit was THE one thing he would not give up when he got married. 

• Warren Buffett talks about reading 5 to 6 hours per day. “That's how knowledge works," he recently toldan investment class at Columbia University.
"It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will." 

I highly recommend you read Lencioni’s book The Advantage and begin to incorporate his practical concepts in your family business.   

“The smartest organization in the world, the one that has mastered strategy and finance and marketing and technology, will eventually fail if it is unhealthy.” – Pat Lencioni 

No company can outgrow its leadership team, and the foundation of the leadership team is its team health.   

So, how healthy is your leadership team?  

Tools & Trainings:  

Watch Pat Lencioni ‘s video on Organizational Team Health: 

Watch my video about using the Player Grid 

Download the Player Grid* 

*Note this does not take the place of an employee evaluation. The Player Grid is a very insightful tool into your current hiring process and the current organizational health of your team. While using this tool ask yourself, “who would I enthusiastically rehire today?” 
Tom Garrity is managing partner at Compass Point Consulting, based in Bethlehem, PA, a business consulting firm specializing in family-owned companies, primarily in the manufacturing, construction & professional service industries. Compass Point provides hands-on consulting & coaching to help businesses close performance gaps; give owners practical, actionable tools that drive growth; deliver training to develop leaders and position the business for successful ownership transition - all on their terms.
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