Last week I attended Code Climate’s Engineering Leadership Summit. The content overwhelmingly focused on the “team” of people you manage, rather than your “team” of other managers and leadership.

From “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni:

The only way for a leader to establish this collective mentality on a team is by ensuring that all members place a higher priority on the team they’re a member of than the team they lead in their departments. A good way to go about this is simply to ask them which team is their first priority. I’ve found that many well-intentioned executives will admit that in spite of their commitment to the team that they’re a member of, the team they lead is their first priority. They’ll point out that they hired their direct reports, they sit near them and spend more time with them every day, and they enjoy being the leader of that team. Moreover, they feel a sense of loyalty to the people they manage, and feel that those people want and need their protection.

This is absolutely natural, common, and understandable. And dangerous.

When members of a leadership team feel a stronger sense of commitment and loyalty to the team they lead than the one they’re a member of, then the team they’re a member of becomes like the U.S. Congress or the United Nations: it’s just a place where people come together to lobby for their constituents. Teams that lead healthy organizations reject this model and come to terms with the difficult but critical requirement that executives must put the needs of the higher team ahead of the needs of their departments. That is the only way that good decisions can be made about how best to serve the entire organization and maximize its performance.

The advantage that can be achieved by shifting a team’s priorities from individual to collective ones, and thus demonstrating a true commitment to team number one, is undeniable.