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Patrick Lencioni on Leadership

Nov 13, 20082 mins
IT Leadership

A leadership and management guru offers points security should emphasize in uncertain times. (Part of the What Happens Next security predictions series.)

Consultant and author Patrick Lencioni first spoke with CSO in our early days, answering leadership questions from John Hartmann, then CSO of Cardinal Health. Leadership lessons are often evergreen – but which principles would he emphasize for 2009, with the US economy in chaos?

As always, Lencioni’s thoughts are clear and to the point.

CSO: What principles of leadership (and management) become even more important given the current economic situation?

Patrick Lencioni: I think that more than ever, leaders and managers need to be very clear about their goals and expectations for their organizations and communicate often with their employees. I’d even say they should “over-communicate” if they have to. I tell my clients that employees need to hear messages up to seven times before they really absorb them. In this environment over-communication is more critical than ever. Leaders also need to make sure employees understand how their jobs matter to the organization and how to measure their own success.

As for our personal lives, the current financial situation reminds us that now is a great time to hunker down and focus on what matters most to you. Take some time to sit down with your spouse and discuss short and long-term goals, financial and otherwise.

Security is often characterized as a reactive profession. While there will always be a requirement to respond to unexpected events, what strategies or personal characteristics might security leaders develop to emphasize foresight?

In my book Silos, Politics and Turf Wars, I talk about the importance of having a rallying cry, or thematic goal.

In emergency situations, thematic goals become obvious. For example, when a patient in critical condition comes into an emergency room, the goal (to save them) is clear. Or when a building is on fire, the goal (to put the fire out and save people) is clear.

When there isn’t a current emergency, it is helpful for the leader to determine a proactive goal for his or her entire staff to rally around.

Patrick Lencioni is President of The Table Group and author of such books as The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable and Death by Meeting.