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The Advantage  

Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business  



by Patrick Lencioni, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, Calif., 2012, 240 pp. with index, $27.95 hardcover

School leaders carry the primary responsibility for creating organizational health, but overwhelming complexity makes the path to a healthy school system difficult. Patrick Lencioni, founder and president of management consulting firm The Table Group, identifies straightforward strategies that every leader can apply to create healthier and more successful schools.

In The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, Lencioni effectively translates his business experience into four leadership disciplines essential for an effective school system: build cohesive leadership teams, create clarity, communicate clarity and reinforce clarity.

The author punctuates his guidance with short, effective examples that reinforce how to apply his concepts in various organizational settings. For example, Lencioni says creating leadership teams helps to develop trust. He then identifies actions and ways for leaders to build trust and to use it to master conflict.

“When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable,” he writes. Cohesive teams also rely upon developing personal commitment to the mission. Cohesive team members hold each other accountable and focus on results.

The Advantage contains specific strategies to help leaders clarify why their organizations exist. It amplifies those strategies by including guidance for how people, beginning with leaders, will be expected to behave and how to reinforce that expected behavior to accomplish results.

Ultimately, Lencioni notes that “the person in charge … is crucial to the success for any effort to build a healthy organization.” Effective school leaders know they carry the burden of this responsibility. They will be reminded of this and encouraged by reading The Advantage.

Reviewed by Brian L. Benzel, vice president for finance and administration, Whitworth University, Spokane, Wash.


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