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Cascading Must Start at the Top

Organizational Health

Q: I’m curious about best practices for cascading “The Advantage” throughout an entire organization—time spent on Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team, playbooks, etc.

 I’m also curious about how widespread the sharing of playbooks happens, including the personal information about strengths and areas for development.

A: This is a great, and involved, question.  Where to start?

Okay, the best way to cascade the concepts from The Advantage throughout an organization is to ensure that they are deeply utilized in the first two levels of management.  If the CEO and his or her team are living the concepts of organizational health, and they are insisting that their teams are doing the same, it will be almost impossible to prevent it from taking root throughout the organization.  Whenever I hear leaders complain that “middle management” isn’t doing what they’re supposed to, I almost always find that the executive team isn’t properly managing the next level below them. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is that rather than focusing on some systematic approach for rolling out the use of playbooks and thematic goals, it will be far more important to ensure that the people at the top two levels are really on board. Having said that, I certainly support the notion of purchasing a copy of The Advantage, and for that matter, all of my other books, for every single employee in the organization.  Just kidding.

When it comes to the five dysfunctions, I think that every level of a company can and will benefit from work in this area.  But again, what is most important is that leaders at the top are living the five behaviors themselves and that they are quick to address any dysfunctions when they see them surface.

As for sharing the contents of the playbook, I’m a believer that it is better to over-share than to under-share.  The fear leaders have of too many people having access to information is almost always outweighed by the benefits of transparency and trust. 

Finally, when it comes to personal information about strengths and weaknesses, it’s most important for leaders to share that information with the people who work directly for them.  Letting your direct reports know what you are good at and what you struggle with is like giving them a cheat sheet about how to be successful, and how to coach upward.

That’s a relatively long answer to a multi-faceted question.