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"Be exceedingly human" - 9 tips for leaders in lockdown from Pat Lencioni

Great Ideas: The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team author talks about his new book The Motive


Bestselling author Pat Lencioni (pictured) says he wrote The Motive for leaders who might be leading for the wrong reason.


"I spoke at a leadership conference last year, and the theme was essentially 'Everybody's a leader! You all have influence!'," he remembers. 


"I opened by saying, "I think we need less leaders in society, not more," because there's a lot of people leading for the wrong reason."


Pat says he figured this out when working with a "bunch of CEOs" who pushed back on his advice. 


It was advice explaining how they had to do uncomfortable and tedious things, like difficult conversations.


"Some of them would be like, 'I don't want to do those things.' I thought, 'Why wouldn't you want to do those things if you're a leader?' I realised their motive, their meaning, their drive for being a leader in the first place was off. When your motive is off, everything else doesn't make sense," he told us. 


In a nutshell, they wanted rewards but not responsibility.


Pat says the current crisis is a good test to spot those whose motivation is “off”.


In a livestream interview from his home in the U.S. this week, he shows how to be a responsibility-focused leader during lockdown. 


  • Focus on your circle of influence. Right now those are the people who work for you;


  • Be exceedingly human;


  • This is not a time for increased professionalism. Share the dogs and the kids;


  • Be persistent. Do not hesitate to bother your people at home. This is a time that people want to be contacted;


  • Don’t think "Well, they're at home and I don't want to bother them with their family." This is a time to constantly communicate;


  • Be creative. Find new ways to connect with your people;


  • This is not a time for efficiency. It's a time for effectiveness. We have to linger on these video calls with our colleagues;


  • Be willing to have really uncomfortable conversations, but be vulnerable first;


  • It's time to get real with one another. Leaders just need to have more real conversations.



Pat says the recent disruptive events may see some leaders say 'Well, I don't want to do this.'


He says that's a good thing. They will have revealed their true motivation. 


But responsibility-motivated leaders will embrace the uncomfortable things and tedious things.


Pat admits they're not the kind of things that make somebody say, "Gosh, one day, I want to be a CEO." 


These include: 


  • Having really uncomfortable conversations with their employees or vendors or customers or their direct reports. 


"So many of the clients I've worked with are like, 'I don't want to do that. That's really uncomfortable for me.' I'm like, 'But if you don't do it, nobody else will'." 


  • Repeating themselves in communication. 


"They're like, 'Listen, I said it once people. Get it. I'm bored with that message'. They think that their job is to entertain themselves and to give presentations that they feel like giving, and the best leaders are constantly repeating themselves. It's like a parent. You've got to do it all the time."


  • Running great meetings. 


"A lot of leaders are like, 'I hate meetings. I want to have less of them, and the ones I do go to, I'm going to get out of him what I want and I'm going to leave.' That's just a terrible thing."


  • Spending time building a leadership team. 


"You can't delegate any of this stuff that I'm saying. It's not something that you delegate or abdicate. Building, really taking an interest in the interpersonal dynamics of your leadership team."


  • Managing, literally people managing, your direct reports. 


This is "knowing what they're working on, coaching them, helping them identify obstacles and clearing them."


Pat says these 5 things, one or more of them, will have many leaders saying, 'I wanted to be a CEO so I could stop doing those things.'


"Yet, if they do that, people really suffer," he explained to The Growth Faculty. "I had a lot of people read this book and say, 'Wow, half of those things I hate doing, so I started advocating them. I have to change my motive or I have to stop being the leader'." 

Want to learn more from Pat Lencioni? Members can access the complete interview by logging into The Growth Faculty - On Demand.

If you'd like to increase your professional development why not consider becoming a member of The Growth Faculty? One membership, unlimited access to 30 live virtual Time For Transformation masterclasses and the best live virtual events - PLUS year-round leadership content On Demand with videos, podcasts and book summaries. Join a community of knowledge seekers who are inspired by the best. Access $4350+ value for just $398 AUD. See who's up next.




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