Most of us would agree that our health is important to us, and we would do whatever we could to identify and try and treat any illness that fell upon us.

What about the health of the organizations we are leading?  Are we as adept at spotting the symptoms of illness and disease that plague them and doing whatever we can to rid ourselves of them?

Do you treat the diseases running rampant in your organization that prevent maximum productivity and results?

As someone who has worked with organizations and the people in them to help maximize their effectiveness for the past 25 years, I have observed the following five ailments over and over again.  They are not hard to spot but if left untreated wreak havoc on employee engagement, trust, and overall team productivity.

1.    Robot Syndrome

Robot Syndrome is an ailment that occurs as a result of lack of real human connection among the members of an organization.  The tone of interaction is scripted and rehearsed, and transparency is no-where to be found.  Political protocol reigns supreme, and only the prescribed and approved terminology and way of speaking is deemed “appropriate”.  Presentations and discussions have an uninspiring and drone-like tone, with alternative voices silenced with disapproval and career-destroying consequences.  Engagement and diversity are merely buzzwords, as real engagement and inclusion of different perspectives are squashed by the robotic climate.  The cord of connection that connects people to engage in and be a part of something bigger is clearly unplugged.  People are not connected to a live, common, and inspirational energy source.

2.    In No-One We Trust Toxicity

This second ailment creeps in as a result of the Robot Syndrome.  When there is a robotic tone established without genuine human connection and life force, the organization’s members don’t trust its leaders or what they hear.  The lack of authenticity in communication leads to a toxicity in the air and an environment of hidden agendas, behind the scenes maneuvering, and backdoor behaviors.  People don’t say what they really think, as they don’t feel safe to do so.  The lack of transparency creates a culture of fear and “lying low” rather than proactive action and problem-solving dialog.

3.    Yes-itis

Have you ever observed an organizational climate where everyone says “yes” to the boss and does whatever the boss says, whether they agree with it or not?  Where the risk of disagreeing or expressing an alternate viewpoint even in a non-threatening, productive manner is so career damaging that people refrain from doing it completely?  An environment where people are so afraid of the boss’ reaction or disapproval that they dare not risk telling him/her the truth?  The classic fable “The Emperor Has No Clothes” illustrates this ailment perfectly.  The emperor was parading butt naked in the middle of the town and no-one but a young child had the courage to tell him the stark truth–that he was indeed parading around with no clothes on.

4.    Blame Disorder

Do you have an organizational climate where no-one admits to making a mistake?  Where placing blame on others for problems is the way of handling them?  Where finger-pointing rather than problem solving is the norm?  In organizations with Robot Syndrome, In No-One We Trust Toxicity, and Yes-itis running rampant, is there no wonder that a lack of accountability, and thus the ailment of Blame Disorder, easily invades the system?

5.    Energy Breakdown

With lack of focus on the human factor, we begin to look at the human beings and ourselves in our organizations as robots that have unlimited energy and are not living organisms.  Living organisms are made of energy that gets depleted and needs to be continuously refreshed and renewed in order to thrive and produce.  Living organisms need proper nutrition, rest, sleep, activity, and interaction to replenish the life force that keeps them alive and flourishing.  Energy Breakdown occurs after prolonged neglect of the replenishing of this vital force.  When working longer and longer is rewarded and expected, energy renewal happens only when forced by a total breakdown and collapse.

Do you recognize any or all of these ailments in your organizations?  If you do—what is your prescription?  How have you been trying to treat them?

Do you create an environment where people feel connected and included?

Are you authentic and transparent without a hidden agenda?

Do you empower people to bring their best every day without micromanaging them?

Do you set clear expectations and hold people accountable for results?

Do you expect and make space and time for energy renewal so that you and the people in your organization can bring their best to what they do?

After witnessing these ailments ravaging organizations over the years and talking to thousands of people about their real experiences of them, I have come to see first-hand that the treatment of these ailments is not that complicated.  As the leader of an organization, you have the treatment and cure at your fingertips.  You can choose to create an environment of connection, authenticity, trust & empowerment, accountability, and high energy based on the leadership behaviors you model and promote every day.

You set the climate for health.

You can eradicate the diseases that plague your organization.  You already have the cure.

You ARE the Cure.


As always, feel free to drop me a note or leave a comment with your experience.  I love hearing all the rich thoughts and experiences you share.


You can read more about these ailments and get tip-sheets on each one in my book “The Cure” –a practical field guide to identifying and eradicating them: