Where Do Your Business Loyalties Reside?

George Morris
3 min readAug 15, 2023

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 key 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.

Putting it 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.

When we re-examine our loyalties, we shift from the conventional focus from 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? If not, are you able to experiment with this concept?

What barriers may exist in your organization that keep conventional models in place, and how might they be overcome?

With Lencioni’s First Team approach, we are positioning ourselves to create a culture that puts the entire organization’s success at the forefront. This focus can lead to more aligned decision-making, the reduction of silos, and a stronger, more adaptable organization; overall better performance! 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.

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George Morris

Lifelong entrepreneur and business coach, single father of two. Looking for ways society can level-up to meet the modern global challenges. https://gmorris.com