Archive for November, 2006

How Healthy Is Your Organization?

November 28, 2006


A healthy organization feels good when others hit their goals. When I visit an organization, I ask for the names of a couple of the more successful directors. The indicators could be service, quality, finance, people, or any particular indicator.

When I meet with a large group, I make a point to recognize and compliment the successful directors on their specific results. I notice in a healthy organization everybody claps and is excited for the person recognized. If it’s unhealthy, the audience will half-heartedly applaud if the boss is clapping, but they possibly are thinking, “Well, let me tell you what I did better than that person. Or let that person try to run my department.” I always point out to the audience that healthy organizations feel good about the success of others.

Once in Detroit, I had a manager stand up because she really had great outcomes in patient satisfaction. During the break, two other leaders came up to me to let me know that she ran the Mother-Baby Department, and they thought it was easier to achieve high patient satisfaction in that area. It’s not about explaining away success. It’s about how we can learn from those who are succeeding.

Another indicator of an organization’s health is whether the leaders are willing to learn from each other. I was at a large company with several entities spread out across the United States. At a regional meeting I asked the regional manager if any particular location really performed well. Without hesitation, he named the organization and the leader who had the best results in the region. He also noted that this leader had gotten great outcomes consistently for several years.

When I spoke that morning I shared the leader’s results, I asked people from the audience if they were aware of the leader with these outstanding results. Everyone shook their heads, “Yes.” Then I asked her, in the last two years, how many people in this room have contacted you to ask you to ask how to do it or to benchmark? She said none.

Let me put this in perspective.  This was a private company, and most of the leaders had stock in the company.  If all leaders in the company get better results not only would it help the organization but also personally impact each leader financially. 

In the years that I’ve traveled across the country, I’ve noticed that often leaders find it difficult benchmarking internally.  They are more comfortable traveling to another organization when the answer may be right around the corner or up one floor.

In healthy organizations, leaders strive to be the best they can be, but they also relish in the success of others. We have to learn to share our successes and be willing to ask others what’s working and why. We don’t want to compare ourselves out because we’re all a little bit different. We want to relate ourselves in, which means we can all find something that they’re doing that can transfer to our own areas.

Good performers transfer tools, techniques, and teachings to their own area. Poor performers figure out why it won’t work for them. We don’t have to individually reinvent the wheel everyday. Instead seek out what’s going right so we can emulate it, copy it, and learn from it and, ultimately, share it with others. After all, we’re all in this together.


  1. Does your organization share results so it is evident who the more successful leaders are?
    1. If yes, can you share how your organization accomplishes this?
  2. Does your organization have a system in place which identifies and standardizes best practices and shares them throughout the organization?

Please add your comments to this blog and share with our readers your experiences and comments on the questions below.  We can all benefit from each other’s experiences.