Members of a leadership team can gain a general sense of their organization’s health and, more important, identify specific opportunities for improvement by completing the following checklist.

Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team

  • The leadership team is small enough (three to ten people) to be effective.
  • Members of the team trust one another and can be genuinely vulnerable with each other.
  • Team members regularly engage in productive, unfiltered conflict around important issues.
  • The team leaves meetings with clear-cut, active, and specific agreements around decisions.
  • Team members hold one another accountable to commitments and behaviors.
  • Members of the leadership team are focused on team number one. They put the collective priorities and needs of the larger organization ahead of their own departments.

Discipline 2: Create Clarity

  • Members of the leadership team know, agree on, and are passionate about the reason that the organization exists.
  • The leadership team has clarified and embraced a small, specific set of behavioral values.
  • Leaders are clear and aligned around a strategy that helps them define success and differentiate from competitors.
  • The leadership team has a clear, current goal around which they rally. They feel a collective sense of ownership for that goal.
  • Members of the leadership team understand one another’s roles and responsibilities. They are comfortable asking questions about one another’s work.
  • The elements of the organization’s clarity are concisely summarized and regularly referenced and reviewed by the leadership team.

Discipline 3: Overcommunicate Clarity

  • The leadership team has clearly communicated the six aspects of clarity to all employees.
  • Team members regularly remind the people in their departments about those aspects of clarity.
  • The team leaves meetings with clear and specific agreements about what to communicate to their employees, and they cascade those messages quickly after meetings.
  • Employees are able to accurately articulate the organization’s reason for existence, values, strategic anchors, and goals.

Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity

  • The organization has a simple way to ensure that new hires are carefully selected based on the company’s values.
  • New people are brought into the organization by thoroughly teaching them about the six elements of clarity.
  • Managers throughout the organization have a simple, consistent, and nonbureaucratic system for setting goals and reviewing progress with employees. That system is customized around the elements of clarity.
  • Employees who don’t fit the values are managed out of the organization. Poor performers who do fit the values are given the coaching and assistance they need to succeed.
  • Compensation and reward systems are built around the values and goals of the organization.


  • Tactical and strategic discussions are addressed in separate meetings.
  • During tactical staff meetings, agendas are set only after the team has reviewed its progress against goals. Noncritical administrative topics are easily discarded.
  • During topical meetings, enough time is allocated to major issues to allow for clarification, debate, and resolution.
  • The team meets quarterly away from the office to review what is happening in the industry, in the organization, and on the team.