Tony DeMeo

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni

Every head coach is in essence the executive of his program so Patrick Lencioni’s book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive can be extremely helpful to any head coach or to any aspiring head coach.

I reviewed one other book by Patrick Lencioni earlier & I found it to be extremely helpful and easy to read. The Five Dysfunctions of Team focused on team building and the development of a team that works. Again, I would highly recommend this book to anyone involved in team building.

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive   is written in parable stylewhich makes it an entertaining read. Lencioni has a nice way of telling a good story that delivers a powerful message.

In this book, Lencioni follows the careers of two executives and points out why one of them has developed such a healthy organization. One of Lencioni’s principle is that only the CEO can make the organization healthy and that is his main responsibility. He also states that “if everything is important than nothing is” so a key principle is to know what is important and focus on that.

The successful executive interviewed all candidates before they were hired. He wanted people that were “humble, hungry, and smart” – the humble part was interesting because being part of a successful organization requires you to put your ego on a shelf. He also had every new employee go through an intensive orientation program so the newcomer would understand the culture of the organization. He also rigidly stuck to his four critical disciplines. These four disciplines were the four disciplines that made this executive extraordinary.

Lencioni covers “The Four Disciplines” in detail and this was my favorite part of the book. The Four Disciplines were:

  1. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team. Your leadership team must trust each other to argue effectively. Disagreements are part of the decision-making process.
  2. Create Organizational Clarity. Eliminate any confusion about your organizations identity, its direction, strategy, objectives, roles and responsibilities. When everyone is on the same page, decisions are easy. Identify company’s values and mission. Always talk values until they are ingrained in everyone. I was part of four college turnaround situations and this step was the critical part of our success. To go forward you must get everyone pulling in the same direction.
  3. Overcommunicate the identity and direction. To communicate clearly takes repetition, like beating a dead horse. The exec always talks about identity and direction at every meeting. He repeats it in every email and memo.
  4. Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems. The Exec’s system was: Be cohesive, be clear, over-communicate and reinforce. Basically the CEO’s main job is to create the culture and then preserve it. This is reinforced by a system of evaluation and rewards. This is a principle every coach knows – reward the behavior you want. When you reward the behavior you want, you get the culture you want.

This is an outstanding book and one that you will read more than once. It’s a fast read but it is jam packed with great ideas that are transferable to any business or organization. I strongly recommend The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive   to all coaches or anyone that is trying to build a healthy organization.