What does “healthy” look like?

Oct 3, 2019 | 0 comments

It never occurred to me as a kid that I could play one parent off of the other. It never occurred to me because I knew it would never, ever, ever, ever in a million years work. Though normally flawed, my parents functioned as a unit who shared power and responsibilities.

It didn’t matter if I asked my dad or my mom if I could go to a friend’s house, they both responded the same. “It’s okay with me but check with your dad/mom and if he/she says no, then no.”

The one time they majorly disagreed, they did so privately and I only found out after the fact. (In case you’re curious, I wanted my ears double pierced and my dad was opposed because it would likely lead to me becoming a drug addict. This was the 80s and the “punk” look was big. And I will say many punk people did drugs. Dad and I compromised: I would not put safety pins in my ears—I guess a gateway behavior of drug users—which was easy to agree to because, um, gross.)

In “The Advantage,” Lencioni says that any organization (and I would argue, team, family, even a sub-ministry of your work) needs to have two pieces for success: smarts and health.

Too many organizations, families, or teams focus on the “smart” part—do we have the knowledge to accomplish our goal? Thinking that smarts is enough. While it is true, you cannot start something with well-meaning people who don’t have the knowledge or skills. If that’s all you have going for you, you will have problems. 

What is smarts?

To flesh out a tiny bit of what he’s saying, under “Smart” Lencioni listed: strategy, marketing, finance, and technology.

For your team or individuals on your team, “Smart” might include

  • technology — the ability to communicate with people around the world and do life-tasks (i.e. banking)
  • marketing —the ability to communicate with supporters effectively
  • finance—a budget and ability to be fiscally responsible
  • strategy—why does your team exist? What are you trying to accomplish or influence?

Stop. Take a moment to think through your personal “smarts” and your team smarts. On a scale of 1 to 10, how smart are you when it comes to technology, marketing, finances, and strategy? If you had to pick on to improve on, which would you choose?

What is healthy?

Under “Healthy,” Lencioni listed: minimal politics, minimal confusion, high morale, high productivity, and low turnover.

I can see on a micro-scale that my parents modeled health.

Minimal politics? Check! No way could my sisters or I play one of our parents off of the other.

Minimal confusion? Check. We were clear on what was expected of us and what would happen if we didn’t for example, leave a phone message (lose phone privileges).

High morale? We had our normal ups and downs and faced health, job, and church crises, but as a family, we were united, had annual rhythms that rooted us as a family, and had fun.

High productivity? In the sense that we all did what we needed to do, yes. We were provided for, had clean clothes, a strong sense of home, healthy meals, and got to school and activities on time, and we kids were successful (enough) in school. (I’m not really sure how you measure productivity for a family.)

Low turnover? Thank the Lord, yes.

As you think through a group you are currently involved in—could be your organization, team, division at work, or family—how are you fairing when it comes to

—Minimal politics

—Minimal confusion

—High morale

—High productivity

—Low turnover

I’ll be honest and say that I have seen all five of these areas distract and derail folks on the field.

Politics distracts—oh the time given to politics in unhealthy situations.

Confusion discourages—if you show up at the wrong time, two of you do the same thing and no one does the other thing needed (maddening!), or you don’t know what is expected of you. Discouraging.

Low morale deflates—when you feel that what you do or don’t do won’t change a darn thing.

Under-productivity dejects—you were created with a desire to have skin in the game, so if it seems that nothing is happening when it “should” be (we are not talking the normal ups and downs of hard soil) your spirit is dejected.

Turnover depresses—because every time someone leaves and especially when it was avoidable, they take a part of you with them.

I have been in team situations that were painfully unhealthy and delightfully healthy. If you are in a relatively unhealthy situation, choose one area and think about how you could move towards greater health in that area. If you are in a healthy situation, how could you pay it forward towards greater health in your city, ministry, or organization?


It is tempting to think that if either your organization, team, or family is smart and has all the right hardware pieces, you will be successful. However, truly successful systmes are also healthy.

One thing you can do today is to invest in the health of your team by watching the workshop Ennegram For Team Growth. You will receive an overview of the 9 types and walk away with 18 ideas for stronger team relations. You will bring greater understanding and skills to your team.

Photo by Guilherme Cunha on Unsplash

Amy Young

Life enthusiast. Author. Sports lover. Jesus follower. Supporting cross-cultural work.

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