Over time your arteries harden and accumulate plaque. You and I know this is true, thanks to Leonardo da Vinci performing the first autopsy and enlightening us all way back in the day. Today, however, Coronary heart disease is still the most common form of cardiovascular disease and can result in a heart attack and sudden death. We now know much more than we did back in da Vinci’s day, yet we still struggle keeping our arteries open and clean. Fact.

Your system is a lot like the arteries in your body, they’ve got to be maintained to stay clean. Over time your team figures out where they can come clean with truth and where they can’t. So, they often congregate outside an easy, free flowing leaders office. They’ve got something holding them back and need to get it out. They tell the safe leader their trouble and now he/she has been triangulated (Thank you, Friedman). Now, the open, safe leader is holding the tension and must decide what to pass on to the head/heart and what to hold. Instead of creating a direct artery to the source of the struggle, this system has created a work around that adds a tax of time and distrust. Eventually this kind of system burns out the nice leader and ends up with more and more attacks from the heart/head. Not good.

If your arteries are accumulating plague, a good doc is going to prescribe a change in diet, exercise, distress reduction, and restorative sleep at a minimum. A good doc doesn’t jump to drastic measures like stints, open heart surgery, or dope you up with cholesterol meds unless they’ve tried this first. The same is true for plaque in your work/family system. Most of you can get cleaned up by doing a couple simple, not easy steps.

1. Create a safe environment that values truth over false harmony. See rants on false harmony for more details. Humans are afraid of leaders shooting the messenger so they remain blocked and think it’s the best way around until they explode. The BTL leader creates margin to slow down and be “unproductive” with the team. Do you?

2. Teach your leaders to add a question to their arsenal (especially those leaders who the team feels is an open lane for them to unload on). Teach your leaders (and yourself) to ask this when you sense someone is about to triangulate you – Hey, I hear you, but before we go any further, have you told Richard what you’re about to tell me? If the answer is yes (this will be rare, btw), ask them to tell you more and get to the root. This will be ezpz. If the answer is no, ask them if they would allow you to get the other person on the phone or bring them in the office so they can hear it directly from the source. If they agree, help them get to the root and root it out. If they don’t agree, then you can push the tension to them, decide to hear them out and then push the tension back to them, or hear them out and decide to own their tension. Over time and through adversity you will wisely get out of most triangles.

Your system is healthiest when the arteries of communication are open between peers, people in power, and those under another’s authority. These systems bathe in truth in love. Problems don’t sit long and accumulate plaque because the blood is flowing freely, so to speak. Your job, leader, is to build this kind of culture in your systems. High flowing cultures are safe, vulnerable, and bought into the purpose (why we’re here) and vision (where we’re going). You know this. Are you building an open, flowing system between you and your teams? Are you coming clean and making your leaders do the same? Are you allowing you and your leaders to be triangulated? Are you pushing tension to it’s proper owner? Slow down and look in the mirror, leader. You have some cleaning to do. I mean come on man, you wouldn’t ignore plaque in your arteries.

Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…

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