When you're leading an organization, where do your loyalties lie? Is it with the team of individuals who report to you, those relying on your guidance and direction? Or is it with those you report to, aligning with a higher-level vision for the success of the entire organization? 

Traditionally, many executives and leaders have intuitively aligned themselves with their direct reports. Loyalty, trust, and collaboration within one's immediate team are the natural focus. However, a more contemporary approach is gaining traction, introduced by well-known author and business consultant Patrick Lencioni. He challenges this conventional thinking by putting forward a powerful concept: the "First Team."

The First Team Concept

Lencioni's First Team thinking urges leaders to prioritize their peer or executive team as their primary team, rather than their direct reports. This shift has several compelling attributes:

1. Alignment at the Top - By treating their peer team as their primary team, leaders can ensure that the organization's leadership is aligned and working towards the same goals. This fosters a more cohesive strategy.

2. Unified Decision Making - Making decisions with peers at the executive or managerial level ensures that decisions are made in the best interest of the entire organization, rather than a specific department or division.

3. Eliminating Silos - When leaders prioritize their peer team, it helps break down silos within the organization, encouraging cross-department collaboration and communication.

4. Modeling Behavior - Leaders who work well with their peer team set an example for the rest of the organization. They demonstrate the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and putting organizational goals ahead of individual or departmental ones.

5. Preventing Conflicts: - By aligning priorities with their peer team, leaders are less likely to pursue conflicting goals or strategies, thus minimizing the potential for internal conflict.

6. Facilitating Change and Growth - A unified leadership team is better positioned to guide the organization through change, adapt to new challenges, and foster growth.

How Does It Look in Practice?

First Team thinking manifests itself in various ways within an organization:

Regular Communication - Leaders who embrace First Team meet regularly with their peers to discuss and align on organizational strategies.

Shared Goals - Rather than focusing solely on departmental targets, leaders commit to common organizational objectives.

Cross-Department Collaboration - Leaders actively engage with peers from different departments, fostering an environment of cooperation and shared purpose.

In rethinking where our loyalties lie as leaders, we shift from the conventional focus on our direct reports to a broader, more strategic alignment with our peer team. It's a shift that not only challenges long-standing assumptions but opens doors to organizational growth and collaboration.

So where do you find your allegiance? 

Have you considered the power of aligning with your peer team? 

What barriers might exist in your organization that keeps the conventional model in place, and how might they be overcome?

In adopting the First Team approach, as proposed by Patrick Lencioni, we are positioning ourselves to create a culture that puts the entire organization's success at the forefront. This alignment can lead to more aligned decision-making, the reduction of silos, and a stronger, more adaptable organization.

Imagine a company where collaboration and shared purpose are not just words but the very fabric of its culture. That's the promise of the First Team model. It's not just a shift in thinking; it's a leap toward a more connected, efficient, and successful business.

About the Author

I use my 20+ years of entrepreneurial experience and training to coach businesses on scaling up rapidly using Verne Harnish's Scaling Up framework. By doing so, my clients are more efficient and profitable, giving them the ability to make bigger impacts in the world.

I deeply believe entrepreneurs are the best equipped to be the vehicle for meaningful change, and in the decade ahead, we'll see a substantial shift in how business is done. We'll move to a model where company purpose, impact, curiosity, and team health will be differentiators in overall business success. As Simon Sinek has pointed out, the finite games are the legacy of the past; we're moving to an infinite game.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}