Is there value in crisis for leaders and teams? When crisis occurs, we are often propelled above and beyond the call of duty. We see this behavior in the armed forces, police officers, firefighters and emergency personnel in hospitals or ambulances. Adrenaline kicks in and our behavior shifts to support the situation at hand.
Several years ago my mother suffered a respiratory attack while visiting Georgia to celebrate Easter. “Respiratory failure” is the medical term, but in the eyes of my sisters and my dad she stopped breathing. This was terribly frightening. The family quickly pulled together as a team, doing whatever was necessary to save Mom. My sister was called into action to use her nursing skills to perform CPR, essentially bringing Mom back to life. A crisis at hand, indeed.
In Patrick Lencioni’s book, “Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars,” he uses the crisis situation as an opportunity to support teamwork and leadership. While no organization wants to have crises all the time — except for those in trauma wards where they have little choice — there is the indirect benefit of teamwork. Patrick calls this the “rallying cry.” The leadership team comes together to focus on a critical issue or goal; bringing it to conclusion.
One client I worked with developed a rallying cry after missing financial expectations for several quarters. The rallying cry was “back to black”. It started with the leadership team as they looked at the initiatives they had at hand against the reality of their current state. They refined their initiatives into very specific objectives that supported getting back to black and eliminated those not directly related to the goal. The CEO then rallied the troops of this multi-national organization in a town hall medium and actually played the AC/DC song, “Back in Black”. The leadership team took on the changed behaviors, stayed focused on and committed to executing the objectives of the rallying cry. The approach worked — not only did the organization hit their numbers that quarter, they had growth in revenue for the next three quarters — as they continued to work the rallying cry method.
With the context of crisis and teamwork at hand, it is helpful to review Lencioni’s models and see what a rallying cry (or Thematic Goal to be more organizationally proper) might be for your organization. In my work as a consultant, the unintended outcome of silos between functions, politics in an organization, and resulting turf wars seem to be quite prevalent in the work place. The roles and responsibilities of an organization typically drive this behavior. However, the thematic goal method can support a change in an organization and how teams work together toward a common goal. It looks at how roles and responsibilities support one another versus differentiating or separating one another.
I highly recommend “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars” if you want to drive proactive crisis into your organization. The rallying cry model drives teamwork, leadership and results.