Good companies make us healthier”“ but what is healthy?

2010 Update: I made the decision to bring Say “Alaka‘i” here to Talking Story in late May of 2010 when the Honolulu Advertiser, where the blog previously appeared, was merged with the Star Bulletin (Read more at Say “Alaka‘i” is Returning to the Mothership).

Therefore, the post appearing below is a copy of the one which had originally appeared there on December 2, 2008, so we will be able to reference it in the future when the original url it had been published on is no more…


Good companies make us healthier”“ but what is healthy?

I was able to fit in some relaxing reading time over the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend. How about you?

Rather than start a new book (all that turkey does make you sleepy), I pulled a couple of older ones off the shelf for quick reviews, choosing those which seemed to have the most post-it flags sticking out of them. Those cheerful, colorful stick-ems are a sure sign those books had given me some good stuff to think about before, and likely would do so again.

One of the books I chose to flip through was The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, written by Patrick Lencioni.

It is a book I highly recommend for your Alaka‘i Library, a leadership fable written in the story-telling style that Lencioni favors, and so a quick and easy read as well. Though not as savvy a title, it could also have been called The One Focus of a Healthy Organization with a Disciplined CEO: Culture, Culture, Culture, Culture.

By ‘culture’ I am referring to organizational culture, and what creates organizational culture? The combination of your management and leadership practices.

  • My review of this book in two words: Loved it.
  • My review of this book in six words: Wish every CEO would read it.
  • My review of this book in a dozen words: Bliss if every SLC client read it before I worked with them.

Maybe it was the whole feeling connected to Thanksgiving, and the fact that when we count our blessings we will often have “good health” topping our list, but whatever the reason, this was the quote in the book’s foreword which got me thinking about the fact that good companies make us healthier. There is no doubt that we feel better —we feel healthier —when we work in a place that is managed well and led well. So what exactly is it that makes that happen? What would ‘healthy management’ and ‘healthy leadership’ be where you work?

This was the quote:

“I believe that all successful organizations share two qualities: they are smart, and they are healthy. An organization demonstrates that it is smart by developing intelligent strategies, marketing plans, product features, and financial models that lead to competitive advantage over its rivals. It demonstrates that it is healthy by eliminating politics and confusion, which leads to higher morale, lower turnover, and higher productivity.”

“As important as both of these topics are, I have found that most leaders spend the majority of their time and energy making their organizations smarter, with relatively little effort directed toward making them healthier.”
—Patrick Lencioni

Lencioni presents what he feels makes an organization healthier in the rest of his book, but what would be on our best-health lists here in Hawai‘i?

As we’ve already spoken of here, we are in a time that businesses are changing. Our business practices are being reshaped to match the higher expectancy we have of them. They have to if they are to survive and then beyond pure survival, prosper and thrive.

We ask the smart business model questions pretty readily.
We ask the financial business planning questions very readily too (especially now).
But do we ask enough questions of each other in regard to what makes us healthy, and keeps us that way?

As anyone who is sick will tell you, if you don’t have your health, everything else is a moot point.

If your boss were to ask you, “What keeps you feeling healthy when you work here?” what would your answers be? Do you need to tell them?

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If you are interested in more about it, I have a more complete book review of The Four Obsessions here on Talking Story too, with commentary on how it complements Managing with Aloha:
Book Review: The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive