The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

By Patrick Lencioni  A Book Report by Jeff Abbott


The book is written as a story to portray the management principles of the favored executive.  Some of the principles are clear in the story, but most are better explained by the text which followed.  This is a summary of the points making most sense to me and having the greatest impact:


Main Points


I.            Build and maintain a cohesive, trusting leadership team

a.    Resolve differences quickly – healthy organizations will have conflict.  Go right after it.  Failure to do so will kill cohesion.

b.    Allow energized/animated discussion

c.    Strong teams don’t waste energy arguing and pursuing disparate goals. They don’t spend time worrying and distrusting others

d.    They have buy-in

e.    Everyone gets his day in court, his input heard

f.     Do what ever it takes to guild one, make the investment

g.    Suggestions:

                                         i.    Myers-Briggs assessment for everyone;  publish results

                                        ii.    Read The Wisdom of Teams

                                       iii.    Read The Five Temptations of a CEO

                                      iv.    Do personal histories for all them members

h.   Have regularly scheduled communication meetings

i.     Group cohesion/emotional intelligence FAR more important than experience, knowledge, resumes of individual members

j.     Cohesiveness single most important indicator of future success

k.    Suggested exercise for BBL Groups:  5 questions

                                         i.    Are meetings compelling?  Are important issues covered?

                                        ii.    Do team members engage in unguarded debate?

                                       iii.    Do team members apologize if they get out of line?

                                      iv.    Do members understand one another?

                                        v.    Do members avoid gossiping?


II.         Create organizational clarity

a.    Get agreement on fundamentals of mission, strategy, values

b.    Clarify

                                         i.    Why we exist

                                        ii.    Which behaviors are fundamental

                                       iii.    What business are we in, exactly?

                                      iv.    Who are our competitors?

                                        v.    How unique is or company?

                                      vi.    What we plan to achieve

                                     vii.    Who is responsible for what actions?

c.    Human Resources are aligned with values

d.    Create employee autonomy (freedoms w/ boundaries)

e.    Stay nimble and communicate often

f.     Don’t be afraid of being wrong as a company

g.    Values are discovered more than crafted

h.   Set goals that create enthusiasm.  Metrics don’t create enthusiasm, goals do.

i.     Try having period themes such as “Return to Profitability”, or “$30MM in Q3”

j.     Devine who has to do what to meet the objective


III.       OVER Communicate the plan (It can’t be done!)

a.    Repetition – Risk redundancy (knowing some will object)

b.    Simplicity – Make sure everyone can state the important message(s)

c.    Multiple mediums – Get your message out verbally, in writing, in marketing materials, on video, in newsletters, on banners, on badges, on business cards

d.    Create cascading messages – make sure each level is doing a good job of getting the message out


IV.        Reinforce the message through

a.    Right hiring – (for values)

b.    Managing performance and reinforcing the message

c.    Managing rewards and recognitions by aligning with company culture/objectives

d.    Dismissals – Rid your company of wrong fitting employees



     There is nothing more important than creating a healthy organization. 


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