A road sign saying tough decisions ahead

HEALTHY vs SMART – SIX KEY QUESTIONS

Are you getting 100% of what you want from your business? The key to that – for any owner, any team, any company – is your ability to confront and make the difficult decisions we all face.

Some of those decisions involve the “smart” part of running a business – strategy, business plans, budgets, investment choices, and so on. We tend to be pretty good at these because they’re objective – often quantifiable. They’re also what we’re taught to be good at when we learn how to run businesses.

The much tougher decisions, and the ones that really determine whether you get what you want, involve the “healthy” part of running a business – culture, alignment, accountability and, most difficult of all, people. If you sometimes struggle with those issues, it just makes you normal.

Most of us struggle with them because they can’t be quantified and often involve letting go of something – or someone – familiar, safe and comfortable. These decisions require us to do things that we’ve been socialized NOT to do, especially telling people things we think they don’t want to hear. To make this even harder, few of us are ever taught how to be good at the “healthy” part of running a business.

“Healthy” means having a strong culture and vision that get people engaged and aligned. It means being great at accountability, so you can count on work getting done without having to micromanage it. It means being truly open and honest with one another, holding nothing back, so that difficult issues are addressed, not avoided, and so that difficult decisions are made, allowing the company to move forward.In his most recent book, The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni says that if you had to choose one or the other, healthy or smart, you should choose healthy for one simple reason. Healthy will help you become smart, but smart won’t make you healthy.

So the next time you take a clarity break – a chance to get your head outside the business so that you can think about it objectively – try asking yourself these questions:

  • How strong are our culture and vision?
  • Do they attract and engage the kinds of people we want?
  • If I asked my people – all of them – to describe our culture and vision, how many different answers would I get?
  • Are our lines of accountability crystal clear? When an issue arises, do we all know immediately who owns it?
  • Are my people willing to come into a meeting having NOT done the things they told their teammates they would do by that date or is that simply unthinkable to them?
  • How open and honest are our conversations? What do we hold back?

In the answers to these questions, you will find the places where your team, and therefore your business, is less healthy than it could be. These are the most important issues you face, the ones that are keeping you from getting what you want. The good news is that they can be solved (yes, we can help with that – it’s a process, not a mystery). Solving them will set you on your way. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can accelerate into the future you dream of.

Written by Dan Wallace on February 6, 2014

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