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The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable
     

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable

4.4 15
by Patrick M. Lencioni
 

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In this stunning follow-up to his best-selling book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni offers up another leadership fable that's every bit as compelling and illuminating as its predecessor. This time, Lencioni's focus is on a leader's crucial role in building a healthy organization--an often overlooked but essential element of business life that is the

Overview

In this stunning follow-up to his best-selling book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, Patrick Lencioni offers up another leadership fable that's every bit as compelling and illuminating as its predecessor. This time, Lencioni's focus is on a leader's crucial role in building a healthy organization--an often overlooked but essential element of business life that is the linchpin of sustained success. Readers are treated to a story of corporate intrigue as the frustrated head of one consulting firm faces a leadership challenge so great that it threatens to topple his company, his career, and everything he holds true about leadership itself. In the story's telling, Lencioni helps his readers understand the disarming simplicity and power of creating organizational health, and reveals four key disciplines that they can follow to achieve it.

Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Lencioni (a private consultant) presents a fable of leadership focusing on the leader's crucial role in building a healthy organization. With the story of a fictional CEO, Lencioni illustrates four key disciplines to leadership. These disciplines are: building and maintaining a cohesive leadership team, creating organizational clarity, over-communicating organizational clarity, and reinforce organizational clarity through human systems. The final chapter offers instructions on putting these principles into practice. No index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470918241
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
06/22/2010
Series:
J-B Lencioni Series , #37
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
194,569
File size:
1 MB

Read an Excerpt




Chapter One


THE RIVAL


* * *


Eighty million dollars in annual revenue should have made him happy. Or at least not bitter. But Vince Green, the founder and CEO of Greenwich Consulting, would not be satisfied until his company was recognized as the number one technical consulting firm in the Bay Area. And on particularly bad days, he joked that he would be truly happy only when his competitor, Telegraph Partners, was dead.


It wasn't that Telegraph was much larger than Greenwich. In fact, from time to time Greenwich rivaled Telegraph's quarterly revenue (although its profits never seemed to do so).


More than the financial war, it bothered Vince and his staff that Greenwich couldn't seem to win any of the less tangible battles. Telegraph was always regarded as a darling of the trade press. Industry analysts fawned over them. Telegraph's clients raved about their services and even stood by them during difficult times. Though Greenwich certainly garnered its share of new business, retaining clients felt like a constant struggle. On the other hand, life seemed too easy for Telegraph.


And if this bothered Vince, then the battle for employees enraged him. Telegraph didn't have to work as hard or spend as much money recruiting good people. To make matters worse, there seemed to be a small but steady stream of employees leaving Greenwich to join Telegraph, but rarely did traffic flow in the other direction. And in those few instances when employees actually did leave Telegraph for Greenwich pastures, they rarely stayed more than a year.


Perhaps the most subtle but frustrating aspect of the competitive relationship that kept Greenwich executives awake and angry at night was the fact that Telegraph's CEO, Rich O'Connor, rarely, if ever, acknowledged Greenwich. Not during press interviews, conference speeches, or client presentations. And when a Greenwich executive occasionally met Telegraph's chief executive during an industry event, almost without fail he seemed genuinely disinterested in Greenwich and unaware of what his largest and most direct competitor was doing.


All of this would have been less frustrating had Greenwich not invested so much time and money learning about its rival. From interviews with former Telegraph employees to minor acts of legal corporate espionage, Greenwich had amassed as much knowledge about its competitor as about any of its own clients.


Still, none of the surveillance yielded anything that Greenwich could put to use.


Until now.


RECONNAISSANCE


* * *

As part of his desire to understand the mystery of Telegraph's success, Vince Green occasionally invited business scholars to his staff meetings. Strategy experts, marketing professors, and finance gums had analyzed Telegraph's practices, paying particular attention to any areas where Telegraph and Greenwich differed.


Much to the dismay of Green and his team, these experts usually found little real difference between the rival firms' business strategies. Both companies recruited from the same schools; they paid their employees similar salaries (Greenwich actually paid slightly more); they invested roughly equal amounts of money in marketing; the financial models they used to run their businesses were remarkably similar; even the prices they charged clients and the services they offered were almost identical.


Confounded by the lack of insight gained from these high-priced analysts, Green reluctantly agreed to have a local organizational development professor and consultant compare the cultures of the two companies. On the day that she came to present her findings at the weekly executive staff meeting, Green was in no mood to listen to psychobabble about the importance of employee picnics and holiday parties. He would be pleasantly surprised.


The consultant immediately grabbed the attention of everyone seated around the conference table: "Based on the information available and the research I've done, there is so little in common between Greenwich and Telegraph that making a comparison is extremely difficult."


Amazed by the apparent ridiculousness of the remark, Green was on the verge of bringing the presentation to an early halt. But before he could do so, she continued: "Something about Telegraph's culture is remarkable, like none I've ever seen. Their ability to attract clients and employees, to retain clients and employees, and even to maintain a loyal base of former clients and employees is really very impressive."


The Greenwich team was caught between two strong emotions: a sense of relief at having finally discovered even a kernel of insight that might help them understand Telegraph, and a wave of disappointment that their competitor had recruited yet another admiring fan.


Green was too driven to let jealousy override his desire to understand his competitor. "So what exactly are they doing?" Although the consultant could not ascertain the core reasons for the cultural discrepancy, she spent the next hour simply describing various aspects of Telegraph's culture. "Apparently, there is almost no politics, very little voluntary turnover, and relatively few lawsuits brought by disgruntled employees. Even most of the former employees I spoke to raved about the firm's culture."


The executive team listened closely, asked questions, and scribbled notes like college students the day before a final exam.


The consultant eventually concluded her remarks: "Essentially they have an organization that is so sound, so"—she struggled for the right word—"so healthy that it makes them immune to most threats. This, more than anything else they're doing, seems to be driving their success financially, strategically, and competitively. I wish I knew exactly how they did it."


Vince spoke for the first time in an hour. "So do I." Standing now, he waved and forced a smile to say thank you to the consultant and left the room immediately.


No one could have known that he already had an idea.


Now where did I put that phone number?

Meet the Author

Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Temptations of a CEO, is also the president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay Area management consulting firm that specializes in organizational and executive development. In addition to his writing and consulting, Pat is a sought-after speaker on topics related to leadership and management. He lives with his wife Laura, and their twin boys, Matthew and Connor, in the Bay Area.

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The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We have applied this to our office and have begun to see the changes. I have read all but one book by Lencioni and love the story lines. I would recommend this to any size office.
andrew67 More than 1 year ago
The "Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive" is a fast read and will provided valuable insight to anyone looking to make a change in their own personal life and leadership style. The conflict that exists among the characters exists in all organizations today. Patrick Lenicioni does a great job of teaching the reader how to lead and move an organization forward. A must read for any leader or executive.
mattmoog More than 1 year ago
This is an easy read and should be read over and over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is Lencioni's second leadership fable. Weaving a story around a set of principles can be an effective teaching technique, and Lencioni is skillful in the art of moral-based storytelling. The first 136 pages of the book are consumed in telling the story of a CEO who discovered an effective way to lead his organization. The basis of the approach is a set of four disciplines, which are not revealed to the reader until the problem scenario has been established. This sequencing is valuable, since it forces the reader to come to grips with the real-life experiences of the characters of the story. The plot is intriguing. The engaging tale holds the reader's attention strongly enough that there is minimal temptation to read ahead to see if the butler did it. The lure of the story holds your attention. The realistic scenes and dialog give an 'edge' to the story; you forget you're reading a business book. It's not difficult at all to relate to each of the characters, even to the extent, perhaps, of identifying some of the characters with colleagues at work in your own organization. But there are surprises, so don't think you can second-guess this book. The story told, the author changes hats on page 137 to slide into the role of consultant and teacher. He explains the four disciplines through a narrative style that I'd liken to a friend sitting across the table from you. But then the questions start. Lots of questions . . . and answers. This effective consulting style comes naturally: Lencioni is president of a consulting firm in the San Francisco area. I recommend this book for CEOs, company owners, and consultants who serve them. You'll learn some interesting principles and how to convey them, but you'll also learn from the experience of reading the fable. Those who want to improve their communication of leadership concepts will benefit from the way Lencioni wove his story. Short book, big lessons. No, I didn't tell you the what the four disciplines are. I don't want to spoil it for you. Give into the temptation: read this book.
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