Author: Pat LencioniJossey-Bass
A Wiley Imprint www.josseybass.com
As a fellow leader, I give this book 4/5 stars.
The Five Temptations of a CEO is easy to read and comprehend. Fellow readers will relate to all or at least a few of the temptations that make this book so impactful.
Written in a fable format, The Five Temptations makes for an interesting read and provides practical examples for easier comprehension. Pat shares the story of Andrew, a CEO who has a board meeting the next day and has to report business results that are less than favorable.
As luck would have it, Andrews meets an older man on the subway who provides wise instructions with an overarching theme - people make business complicated because they are afraid to look at the simple issues.
The introduction makes the point that CEO's talk about the complexities of the job, and when faced with failure, will point to what Pat calls symptoms, like strategic errors, marketing inadequacies, competitive threats, and technology failures. Pat says these are only symptoms, the real reason they fail is they succumb to one or more of the five temptations.
These temptations can be poison.
So here they are:
Temptation #1: Choosing status over results
Temptation #2: Choosing popularity over accountability
Temptation #3: Choosing certainty over clarity
Temptation #4: Choosing harmony over conflict
Temptation #5: Choosing invulnerability over trust
Leaders may be more interested in protecting their career status than making sure the company achieves results. Do not be so proud of the title, rather as CEO; be proud of the things that the organization is accomplishing. Great CEO's focus on the need to accomplish something; that is what drives them, not their ego.
Focusing on status and career above focus on company results can lead to complacency.
Make results the most important measure of success.
Leaders are often more interested in being popular with direct reports than holding them accountable. The result is the failure to have frank discussions around performance and expectations.
Friendships with direct reports make it challenging to have discussions when they are not meeting the expectations. Leaders will fire someone, a difficult decision, but they find it hard or neglect to give constructive or negative feedback.
Work for respect, not affection. Do not view reports as a support group but as employees who must deliver on commitments.
Leaders want to ensure that their decisions are correct. Therefore they can be slow making decisions that need making. Alternatively, they are afraid to make decisions without all the information for fear of being wrong. If a CEO is not comfortable being wrong, then they won't make tough decisions with limited information. CEO's cannot move forward in the face of uncertainty if they are not willing to make mistakes. Often they do not want to put ideas out there where ideas will get challenged. They focus on the need for precision and correctness, which leads to postponing decisions and which leads to unclear deliverables.
Leaders learn more when they take decisive action rather than waiting for the perfect amount of information. It is the job of the CEO to risk being wrong.
Leaders often have a desire for harmony. Yet harmony may be cancer to decision making. Leaders need the full benefit of everyone's ideas.
CEO's can believe that employees should agree and get along rather than disagree with one another. Harmony restricts productive and passionate debate around opinions that individuals may have strong views and feelings.
Without this conflict, decisions are often sub-optimal.
When leaders have all the available information, they can be more confident in their decisions.
Tolerate discord. Encourage people to air their differences.
Before direct reports trust the leader, the leader has to trust them. Desire vulnerability. Are you willing to admit when you are wrong? Willing to share your weaknesses? People who trust one another are not worried about holding back their opinions, shortcomings or their struggles. The key is to embrace the self-examination that reveals the temptations and keeps them in the open where they are addressable.
It is a messy, constant, and uncomfortable process but one that great leaders accept.
Actively encourage reports to challenge ideas. Trust them with your reputation and ego. They will respond with trust and honesty, and be more willing to be vulnerable with their peers.
Ready to overcome some temptations and get started on your 2020 strategy? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.