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January 2020

5 Omissions of Reward Centred Leaders

Take a moment to think about what you have responsibility for? What are the things that you must do? My list includes; putting the bins out; walking the dog (when it’s wet and cold outside); mowing the lawn (having remembered we have a dog first!); emptying or loading the dishwasher (properly); cleaning out the fish tank; hanging the laundry on the maiden (properly), doing the weekly online food shop… and that’s just Monday!

Imagine what would happen if you decided to stop doing the things on your list? Would someone be forced to step into the role you’ve vacated? Would you resort to ‘paying’ your children to do it as part of their chores (for pocket money or allowance)? Would it be left undone? And what would the impact on others be? Is it positive and character building, or is it negative and punitive?

This month we’re returning to Lencioni’s work on ‘The Motive’ and thinking about his 5 Omissions of Reward-Centred Leaders. It should be noted, this list isn’t exhaustive. Similarly, if you avoid these traps, it doesn’t automatically follow that your leadership style is Responsibility-Centred. These 5 traits are common within Reward-Centred Leaders, hence the reason for their inclusion.

1: Developing the Leadership Team

Arguably the best leadership teams have a shared vision and ethos which leads to a common purpose and goal. This means rather than creating a team of sycophants, (look at how that’s worked out in America), a leader needs those who are prepared to stand up and argue for the collective good rather than individual betterment. This isn’t always comfortable and easy, but a good leader should be stepping into these situations, not stepping out. The outcome is that a good leader can develop their team to improve (and maybe even improve to such a point they can take on the overall leadership role themselves)! which in turn helps the organisation improves, which is ultimately a win/win.

2: Managing Subordinates (and making them manage theirs)

Straight off the bat, the phrase subordinate is awful! A synonym for subordinate is Minion and I’m pretty sure none of those we work with are small yellow creature’s hell bent on helping us take over the world!!

This criticism aside, a Reward-Centred leader will traditionally take one of two approaches – overly bureaucratic and structured, or entirely hands off – ‘I trust my team, so I don’t need to micromanage them’. In both cases, despite years of these approaches being accepted, according to Lencioni, neither now qualify as ‘managing’! ‘Management is the act of aligning people’s actions, behaviours and attitudes with the needs of the organisation and ensuring that little problems don’t become big ones’ (Lencioni). As leaders, we should always be looking to put the right people with the right skill set into the right roles within organisations, but to be truly effective, we must also ensure our team are focused on working in the right areas. In doing this, we highlight effective management to our team, who can then take this learning and apply it to those they manage.

3: Having Difficult and Uncomfortable Conversations

Let’s be honest – nobody really enjoys having difficult and challenging conversations with people? The ones where you have to challenge someone about their attitude or approach, their lack of engagement, failure to deliver or because they need to be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.

These conversations are uncomfortable by their very nature and as such, can be really hard to have and easy to avoid. Regardless of your leadership style, these conversations are part and parcel of being a leader. The difference between leadership style is motivation and a willingness to engage. Reward-Centred leaders tend to delay responding, think more about the organisational bottom line or is this person impacting me directly, rather than the wider context. Alternatively, Responsibility-Centred leaders address issues earlier, preventing small problems escalating. They ask first, ‘how can I help this person?’, because they know that in helping that person to grow and/or change (or indeed leave) the organisation will collectively benefit.

Ultimately not having these difficult and uncomfortable conversations is more about us, than them. We do not avoid them because we’re afraid to hurt other’s feelings (we can speak truth kindly), but rather because we want to avoid how it makes us feel If nothing else, this highlights that our motivation is wrong.

4: Running Great Team Meetings

One of the unintended consequences of COVID-19 is the increase in video conferencing. Sunday services and prayer meetings, working remotely, connecting with friends and family… all can now be done from the comfort of our sofas and armchairs. And yet, they can feel interminable! Hour after hour of staring at a screen, whilst gradually losing concentration (and the will to live!) When people are together, they are much better able to read the room and those who are present. That being said, being together doesn’t guarantee a great meeting!

There are three things that Reward-Centred leaders do with regards team meetings. Firstly, they accept the status quo. They look at meetings as they’ve always been and therefore conduct them as they have always been. These meetings often don’t benefit anyone. People begin to resent them, and their value is lost. Team members quickly disengage or seek to avoid them. The result can be the stagnation of the organisation.

The second area is accepting that these meetings must be held. Unfortunately there can be an unintended consequence to this. Due to the lack of engagement and interest in a bad meeting, team members can find themselves agreeing to something, or with someone simply to ensure the meeting finishes. This means

good and better ideas can be lost, and bad decisions are made.

A Reward-Centred leaders third issue around meetings is accepting bad meetings. Any time people meet, they should be a purpose and goal. What are you hoping to achieve, decide or understand because of the meeting? If it’s simply information sharing, then there is limited value. That information can be shared in other, more effective ways and the opportunities to be strategic, creative or build relationships is lost.

In contrast, the Responsibility-Centred leader ensures that organisational ethos and goals are front and centre of agendas, people attending are fully briefed beforehand and everyone is aware of the goal that is to be achieved. This means meetings go from slow and tepid, to dynamic and effective… and therefore become something people want to be part of and engage with.

5: Communicating Constantly and Repetitively to Employees

I’ve heard it said there are two types of CEO. One who have their eyes and fingers in every aspect of their organisation, and who know everything about everything, and there are those who have a wider knowledge, but allow their team to deliver their expertise whilst the CEO maintains a focus on empowering their team, holds them accountable and manages them effectively. Lencioni goes one step further. He adds that “The CEO’s main role is about communicating constantly and repetitively!

At east to west, we choose to repetitively communicate our ethos. We constant ask and reflect on ‘how is Community, Compassion, Devotion, Selflessness, Integrity and Fun outworked in all we are doing?’ Ant has the ultimate responsibility to ensure that this ethos is constantly and consistently being shared with both our team and our supporters, whether through reflections of across our communications and social media platforms or implicitly through our shared actions, stories and ways we engage with others. You may even have heard it mentioned in wePRAY once or twice!!

It is in keeping east to west’s ethos front and centre for our team, and by their engagement with it, that they are able to apply it and outwork it in their settings.


This isn’t a catch all list of Reward-Centred CEO’s do or don’t do! They are simply the situations and responsibilities that leaders avoid all too often when they don’t see it as their role to do the things that no one else can! When we see and understand this, and take ownership of it, we begin to become more effective and therefore more useful as leaders.


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