Put Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage Into Practice: Running Effective Team Meetings

6 min read
Oct 19, 2023 8:32:06 AM

Team meetings are critical to team clarity and success. But learning how to effectively run a team meeting for the results you want can be frustrating.

Patrick Lencioni, renowned author and leadership guru, has outlined the principles of successful team meetings in his book, 'The Advantage.'

If you’re looking to apply the principles from The Advantage into your team meetings, we’re going to walk you through the process step-by-step. 

We even have a free team meeting template so you can remember and apply the process easily.

Before we dive into the meeting itself, let’s lay the foundation.

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Step 1 - Set your thematic goal

A thematic goal is the overriding number one objective of your entire company. As Lencioni says in The Advantage, “Every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.”

That’s where the thematic goal comes into play.

The thematic goal can also be known as a “Rallying Cry,” because you are rallying your organization around a singular focus. This goal should be determined by executives and cascaded all the way down the org chart to help everyone align on the most important thing.

Thematic goals typically stay in place for about 3-6 months, so keep that timeframe in mind as you’re setting your foundation.

How does this tie into meetings? Every successful team meeting should center around topics related to your thematic goal. This goal serves as the guiding light for the entire meeting, ensuring that everyone is aligned and focused on the same objective.

Note: Thematic goals are not your organization’s mission. They’re the means to achieving the mission in a certain season. Whether that’s ramping up revenue, improving the customer experience, or building systems within your organization, your thematic goal will touch every department.

Step 2- Determine your defining objectives and standard operating objectives

Once you know where your organization is headed, it’s time to break down how you’ll achieve your thematic goal. 

What is a Defining Objective?

Defining objectives are the general categories of activity required to achieve the thematic goal. Typically 4-6 objectives provide enough scope without becoming distracted by peripheral priorities.

Let’s use the example from The Advantage. If your thematic goal is rebuilding credibility within the business, then your defining objectives might be: 
  1. Deliver on current commitments
  2. Identify strategic initiatives
  3. Eliminate intradepartmental silos
  4. Improve communication with stakeholders

What is a Standard Operating Objective?

Standard operating objectives, on the other hand, are the tasks and priorities that might not necessarily relate to the thematic goal, but are necessary to keep your company running. Essentially, these are the components that, “Keep the lights on.”

For example, a company might have the following standard operating objectives: 

  1. System reliability
  2. Network security
  3. Business unit satisfaction
  4. On-time project delivery
  5. Staff morale
Now that we have a solid foundation for what we’re trying to achieve, it’s time to rally the troops for what Lencioni calls The Weekly Tactical Meeting, aka your team meeting. To help you visualize the steps, here’s what a Weekly Tactical Meeting looks like inside Leadr:
TGX Team Meeting (3)

Step 3 - Get the meeting on the calendar and stick to it 

Consistency is key when it comes to team meetings. As you can tell by the label weekly tactical meeting, holding this space once a week is ideal to ensure everyone has clarity and alignment.

Tip: Choose a meeting time based on when most of your team feels energized. Send out a survey to determine whether Monday afternoons, Friday mornings, or somewhere in between is most effective for the most amount of people.

Step 4 - Set the meeting agenda

Creating a well-structured meeting agenda is essential for keeping the discussion on track and maximizing productivity. Here's how you can structure your agenda:
  • Start with your Rally Cry & Lightning Round

The meeting agenda should start with the rally cry so everyone is focused on your organization's objective from the get-go. 

Have each team member share or jot down what they’re working on related to the Thematic Goal. This helps hold everyone accountable to the goal and drives the agenda for the meeting. 
  • Stay aligned by using a shared agenda

Encourage team members to add their topics and priorities to the agenda ahead of time. This is especially important for internal processors who appreciate time to think and plan ahead of time to bring their best work inside the meeting. 
  • Break up the meeting by objectives

This helps ensure every topic put on the agenda is relevant to your department’s Defining Objectives and Standard Operating Objectives.

Defining Objectives and Standard Operating Objectives should be updated before or at the beginning of the meeting with a red/yellow/green indicator (Green = on track, Yellow = running behind, Red = stuck or road blocked). 

Objectives that are green shouldn’t take up any or much time in the meeting since you’re on track. Yellow and red objectives should be the topics of conversation so you can unblock any priorities that are stuck.
  • Prioritize time Management

Review the Defining Objectives first and then the Standard Operating Objectives. If any of them take longer than 3 minutes to discuss, set those topics in the strategic parking lot bucket. 

The parking lot should be a visible place on your shared agenda. That way, at the end of the meeting, all follow up action items are in one spot.
  • End with parking lot review

At the end of the meeting, review the parking lot bucket and set any additional strategic meetings for each topic to give dedicated focus time for each one.

Step 5 - Implement The Working Genius

Take the genius of Patrick Lencioni a step further by implementing The Working Genius into your meetings in two ways:

1. Use the WIDGET Framework for each agenda item. To maintain focus and clarity during the meeting, ensure that each agenda item is labeled with a clear goal using the WIDGET framework. 
Patrick Lencioni WIDGET Framework
This helps everyone understand the purpose and desired outcome of each discussion point. Is the purpose of each agenda item to WID (wonder, ideate, and discern) or are they actionable GET (galvanization, enablement, and tenacity) items?

Weekly Tactical Meeting Agenda
2. Understand the Working Genius of each team member. Understanding the unique Working Genius of each team member is crucial for effective communication during the meeting. Recognize and leverage each person's strengths to enhance collaboration, speed up decision-making, and reduce misunderstandings.

Working Genius Profile
Within the The Leadr Advantage, we map out your team’s Working Genius for you to make it that much easier to connect and collaborate.

Working Genius Team Map

Step 6 - End of Meeting Discipline

Allow 10 minutes at the end of the meeting to answer:
  • What did we decide?
  • Who will do what?
  • What do we need to cascade? Who needs to know?
  • What won't we share?
For alignment and accountability, it’s important to review the decisions made and assign responsibility for follow-up actions. (hint: this should probably be someone with an enablement or tenacity genius).

If you use the “parking lot” method mentioned above, you should have all of your action items and future meetings in one spot, making this a smooth process.

By following these six steps, you can transform your team meetings into highly productive and focused sessions that align with Patrick Lencioni's principles from 'The Advantage.' This framework is effective for leadership team meetings down to individual contributor alignment sessions.

Make the Weekly Tactical Meeting even easier by taking it digital. With the Leadr Advantage, you can reinforce clarity, lead effective meetings, keep your teams Working Genius front and center, and more. Let us show you how it works.

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