Keeping Up with Patrick Lencioni at IHRSA

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One of the more entertaining keynote speakers at the IHRSA show in San Francisco was Patrick Lencioni, who presented "The Four Disciplines of a Healthy Organization."

Lencioni kept things moving, even when he often seemed interrupted by distractions, or more accurately, let distraction interrupt him. When a couple of people got up and began to leave early in the keynote, Lencioni said, "Don't watch them as they leave. That would be embarrassing."

The disciplines of a healthy organization, according to Lencioni, are 1) building and maintaining a cohesive leadership team, 2) creating organizational clarity, 3) over-communicating organizational clarity and 4) reinforcing organizational clarity through human systems. Lencioni displayed an inverted pyramid of the five dysfunctions of a team, starting with absence of trust at the bottom, then going up to fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. Overall, Lencioni said leaders have to have the courage to be more vulnerable and that conflict in a team is better if both parties aired their views rather than kept them to themselves. (You can read more details of Lencioni's presentation on his website.)

Anybody who writes a book entitled "Getting Naked" (A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears that Sabotage Client Loyalty) can certainly get your attention. And when he dropped a couple of sports references during his address, he certainly got my attention.

Regarding an absence of trust, Lencioni, in a not-so-subtle way, said that NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens is an example of someone who poisons a team. Another example of poor leadership, Lencioni said, is former Bulls star Scottie Pippen, who once refused to go into a game because coach Phil Jackson did not want him to take the game-winning shot. Lencioni ended his address by stating it would be easier for companies if more people acted the way Pippen did because "then they'd know who to fire."

The keynote address followed a tribute to three fitness industry legends who passed away earlier this year: Jack LaLanne, Dale Dibble and Tim Richards. That was followed by the presentation of the Julie Main Emerging Woman Leader Scholarship Award to Western Athletic Clubs trainer Jane Clark.

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