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Overview: Patrick Lencioni – 4 Pillars Of High Performing Cultures

Global thought leader on how to lift trust, teamwork, and talent in your team

We all want to lead a high-performing team. But, from a standing start, how do we achieve that?

Global thought leader on healthy cultures Patrick Lencioni shows a high performing culture is built on 4 essential pillars.

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The 4 pillars are:

  1. The 4 Disciplines Model of organisational health — how to align your organisation to maximise growth. 
  2. The 5 Essential Behaviours for building a cohesive and high-performing team. 
  3. The Ideal Team Player framework for identifying, hiring and developing team players. 
  4. The 6 Types of Geniuses — identify your areas of working genius that allow you to thrive.

In this article we give a quick overview of each of the 4 pillars.

Pillar One: The Four Disciplines Model

If you create the right envrionment "success is almost impossible to prevent" claims Lencioni.

It all comes down to 4 disciplines:

Discipline 1: Build a cohesive leadership team. This requires selflessness and shared sacrifices from team members. Most of a leadership team’s objectives should be collective ones. Required behaviours are set out in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (which we'll get to in a moment).

Discipline 2: Create clarity. There is no room for misalignment of objectives. The leaders at the top must be in lockstep with each other around a few very specific things.

•                  Why do we exist?

•                  How do we behave?

•                  What do we do?

•                  How will we succeed?

•                  What is important, right now?

•                  Who must do what?

Discipline 3: Overcommunicate clarity. Overcommunicate to employees the agreed-upon answers to these questions; 7 times is not too many. Get clear on the main points and explain them in person to your employees.  

Discipline 4: Reinforce clarity. Embed the 6 critical questions above into the fabric of the organisation by recruiting to those values, and recognising team efforts to live those values.

Pillar Two: The 5 Essential Behaviours

There are 5 key behaviours that leaders need to counter 5 team no-nos.

The no-nos are set out in Patrick Lencioni’s business book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a timeless favourite of the bestseller lists, including New York Times, Business Week, Wall Street Journal and USA Today. 

According to Lencioni, what destroys teams are:

•                  Absence of trust—concealing weaknesses and mistakes from each other.

•                  Fear of conflict—avoiding conflict, thus creating a vacuum filled by back-channel politics.

•                  Lack of commitment—revisiting discussions again and again. 

•                  Avoidance of accountability—encouraging mediocrity which creates resentment.

•                  Inattention to results—focusing on personal success, status, and ego before team success.

pat in crowd

It's up to a leader to counter these dysfunctions.

Essential behaviours are:

•                  Demonstrating vulnerability, which includes “losing face” in front of your team.

•                  Demonstrating restraint when your team engages in healthy conflict.

•                  Pushing the group for adherence to deadlines that the team has set.

•                  Encouraging a culture of accountability within the team.

•                  Setting the tone for a focus on results.

Patrick says teams can overcome the natural tendencies that make trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and a focus on results so elusive.

Pillar Three: The Ideal Team Player

Of course your high performing team will need great team players.

But what makes an ideal team player?

Patrick Lencioni’s research, set out in his bestselling business book The Ideal Team Player, shows it’s a combination of 3 virtues.

3 virtues of an Ideal Team Player

·         Humble – they share credit and celebrate the team’s collective win.

·         Hungry – they are motivated and diligent. They go above and beyond.

·         Smart – they are emotionally intelligent and exercise great judgement.

An ideal team player must have all 3 attributes.

Having only 1 or 2 of these characteristics makes you less than ideal.

These less-than-ideal players include:

The lovable slacker: Humble and smart but not hungry, this player does the minimum.

The skilful politician: Hungry and smart but not humble. This player looks for the personal benefit.

You get the picture!

Pillar Four: The6 Types of Working Geniuses

Patrick Lencioni says doing tasks in our “areas of working genius” brings us joy and energy.

Discovering which types of work come naturally and easily to us (and which don't) offers many benefits to a team.

The Table Group's new diagnostic tool shows there are 6 areas of "working genius."

They are:

·         The genius of wonder – the natural gift of pondering the greater potential and opportunity in any given situation.

·         The genius of invention – the natural gift of creating original and novel ideas and solutions.

·         The genius of discernment – the natural gift of intuitively and instinctively evaluation ideas and situations.

·         The genius of galvanizing – the natural gift of rallying, inspiring and organizing others to take action.

·         The genius of enablement – the natural gift of providing encouragement and assistance for an idea or project.

·         The genius of tenacity – the natural gift of pushing projects or tasks to completion to achieve results.

In essence, a healthy working culture is essential for us feel valued.

But our happiness may also depend on whether we’re doing things we’re naturally good at.


To be a successful company you first have to be a healthy one.

And the health of any company's culture relies upon an openness and focus on the 3Ts traits of trust, teamwork, and talent.

Above it all, though, it relies upon good leadership.

As Patrick Lencioni likes to say:

"The single biggest factor determining whether an organisation is going to get healthier - or not- is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the person in charge."

About Patrick Lencioni

Global thought leader Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group. He is the author of 11 best-selling books with nearly 7 million copies sold. His classic The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, remains a fixture on national best-seller lists. His most recent book, The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities, was released in 2020. He is also the host of the popular business podcast, At The Table with Patrick Lencioni. Pat’s latest model, The Six Types of Working Genius, is designed to help people find joy and energy in their work. Patrick will be Growth Faculty's global headliner for April 2022: Patrick Lencioni - Building High Performing Teams

*This blog was edited and updated on 22 March 2022.

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