Everything changed during an arrow emerging leaders program intensive...
I was lying down on the ground with my eyes closed during a session where we had space for contemplation. As I pondered everything I was doing in my life, I had no idea that in the next 10 minutes I would have a life-changing revelation that I'll never forget.
The previous 18 months had been a journey of discovery as a leader at a fast growing nonprofit in Australia. But like many leaders, I looked at the competent and passionate people I was leading and wondered why it was so hard to make progress?
I felt like we were trying to do many non-essential things rather than a few significant things and that, if I was honest, we weren't making a significant impact compared to our dreams and potential. I realised I needed a fresh vision, a better understanding of how our core behaviours were being outworked, and a healthy and functional leadership team. It was at this point that I came across Patrick Lencioni’s book ‘The Five Dysfunctions of a Team’.
I read it in one night.
Then I got hold of his book ‘The Advantage’ and spent a month absorbing it, re-reading it and then studying my notes again. In short, all of the things I was grappling with were wrapped up in confusion and a lack of alignment. As I read Lencioni’s principles of organisational health, I learned the key to a great organisation. Bad, average and even good organisations are riddled with confusion and a lack of alignment. But great organisations have:
So there I was in Melbourne at the leadership intensive. I was six months into implementing Lencioni's principles of organisational health and I was loving every minute of it. We were building a cohesive leadership team and we finally had clarity around the vision, core behaviours, strategic anchors and priorities! All of a sudden though, as I lay there, I saw my life 30 years down the track.
There were two paths.
Up to that point I thought my role was to lead great organisations or to be part of great organisations. To be up front in prominent leadership roles in larger and larger organisations. That was one path.
But for the first time, I saw another. It occurred to me that my greatest strength was actually to get beside leaders and help them build great organisations. To choose behind the scenes over prominence. The role of trainer and advisor over point leader. Somewhere in my heart I knew the burden would be lighter, the wins sweeter and the overall impact—greater. So I decided then and there to pursue a life of helping other leaders to build great organisations.
What is a great organisation? A great organisation provides its clients, customers or congregation with a product, service or experience that exceeds their expectations. It also provides its employees or volunteers with an opportunity to fulfil their individual purpose and reach their potential. A great organisation is led by a point leader and leadership team who know and live out the vision, core behaviours and strategic anchors of the organisation and are courageous enough to embrace short term pain in exchange for long term progress.
Great organisations are few and far between.
Fast forward one year from the leadership intensive and I was at a crossroads. What had started as a seed of an idea in my heart had now grown into something that was fully formed. I had taken the time and used the tools at my disposal to answer the six questions of clarity for my own organisation.
My vision and passion was now more clearly articulated as a vision to invest in leaders to see their organisations become everything they can be. I decided to step out and pioneer Clarity. Ever since that decision, I have had the privilege to help leaders build leadership capacity in their organisations through leadership coaching, board and executive team offsites, customer and employee surveys and workshops/keynotes for conferences and staff teams.
When it comes to building great organisations, it's like forming a healthy team. As Patrick Lencioni says:
"It is both possible and remarkably simple. But it is painfully difficult."
I am determined to help leaders through the painfully difficult process to get to the other side:
A great organisation.