For leadership to unite behind a vision, there must be something personal in it for everyone.

Truth in 2020

I’d take a bullet for you.

That’s what members of the Secret Service’s presidential detail are thinking every moment they’re with their proctectee – POTUS.

No matter their feelings about the person elected to the highest office in the land, they protect the President. They ensure the stability of the Executive branch. That is their uniting mission. They know exactly why they do what they do.

And as a result, all Americans are better off for it.

No conflicts of interest

As leaders of our own businesses, what can we learn from the stellar focus displayed by the men and women who protect the President?

The answer likely is expressed by Patrick Lencioni’s fifth law of team health – attention to results.

Applied to the leadership team, it refers to fidelity – by all members of the team – to the company’s mission and team’s decisions made in pursuit of that mission.  Members rely on each other to execute their roles to the best of their abilities, without distraction.

Sometimes decisions made by the leadership team are in direct conflict with the personal or professional objectives of a given member. Or decisions may negatively affect members of the team they manage – and may want to protect.

However, the most important role they play is as a member of the leadership team (aka Team 1), not the team they manage (aka Team 2). They’re accountable to act in accord, even when in conflict with their own self-interest.

Such is their cross to bear. They might need to take one for the team. And it’s going to hurt. Sometimes it’ll hurt a lot.

Yet it’s got to be done, for the good of all.

Your personal truth

If you were faced with having to take one for the team, why would you do it?

Motives, of course, are personal.

Business owners have multiple reasons to sacrifice for the good of the business. They may want to grow the value of the business for an eventual sale. Or they may wish to leave a legacy for the next generation. Or they may simply wish to maximize their income. Whatever the motivation, it is their personal truth.

But what about the rest of the leadership team, especially those without significant equity in the business? What is their personal truth?

True, if a company has implemented EOS® the right way, each leader participated in the creation of the company vision. So, the answer to their ‘why’ is at least partly represented. In all likelihood though, the company mission helps guide team decision making, but it doesn’t really answer the question of why someone would take a bullet for the team.

The answer is more personal than that. Every member of the leadership team has their own personal truth for making sacrifices. And to ensure fidelity to the mission and longevity of the leadership team, it’s incumbent upon the entire team to understand and as much as possible, support the personal motivations of each individual leader.

Trust and alignment

At some point in the journey to becoming your best as a leadership team, each leader should allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to share their personal truth. Sure, its uncomfortable. Sharing something that personal usually is. How else though is the team supposed to understand and appreciate why you make the sacrifices you do?

Making motivations transparent establishes a high bond of trust. It eliminates uncertainly about why a colleague does what they do. It eliminates resentment, because everyone understands the seriousness of their commitment. And everyone has something personal to gain. Personal to lose.

It creates motivational alignment. And as a result, unity in each’s fidelity to the company mission and leadership team decisions.

Thoughts to Consider

  1. Is the entire leadership team always committed to the mission and decisions made by Team 1? Here are a few thoughts about building motivational unity:
    • Consider engaging in a trust exercise and ask everyone to share why they do what they do – beyond the paycheck.
    • Ensure that critical information about the company, and any major personal distractions are shared with the leadership team in the appropriate open forum – like a Level 10 meeting.
  2. If one isn’t already established, consider a compensation plan just for the leadership team that more formalizes the team’s financial interest in executing team decisions.

Talk with us about a incorporating a leadership team trust exercise as part of your annual planning process. Or ask about facilitating a full Five Dysfunctions of a Team workshop to establish a more healthy and unified team.

About Grow Exceptional

Grow Exceptional works with leadership teams to help get their businesses “unstuck” by implementing and teaching the widely adopted Entrepreneurial Operating System process (EOS®).