Book review: The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, by Patrick Lencioni

This masterpiece from the business author Patrick Lencioni is one of six books that inspired EOS.

Anyone familiar with Patrick Lencioni’s work will know how popular his ideas are among business leaders.

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive is aimed at leaders with a studious nature and open to learning about business culture.  

The book is a fable which focuses on a leader’s crucial role in building a healthy organization – an essential element of business life and the linchpin of sustained success.

Readers are treated to a story of corporate intrigue. The frustrated head of one consulting firm faces a leadership challenge. It threatens to topple his company, career, and everything he holds true about leadership itself.

The fable helps Lencioni’s readers understand the simplicity and power of creating organizational health.

Here is our review of Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, with some of its key themes:
  1. The healthy company will triumph

Lencioni’s fable takes on a dramatic plot twist at one point for some of his secondary characters.

This raises a powerful question – in a healthy company, can things truly get so bad they are beyond fixing?

And can all the healthy elements of a company be negated when a saboteur takes their inside knowledge to a rival?

Lencioni demonstrates that good leadership can weather even the worst of storms if the company has been nurtured in a healthy way.

  1. Clarity is the key to company vision

No leader should underestimate the fundamental role of clarity.

If your people understand the company’s core values and can talk accurately and sharply about them, they will be far more efficient and effective decision-makers.

Having crystal-clear understanding of the fundamentals, and a passion for the company, provides people with the ability to swiftly make the right decision.

Thus, making a good choice becomes the final step in a thought process that occurs naturally.

  1. Focus and self-discipline work well together

Managers must be laser focused and extraordinarily self-disciplined.

Rich O’Connor, Lencioni’s “extraordinary executive”, wrote the Four Obsessions on a yellow sheet tacked to his bulletin board. This helped him keep them in mind at all times. The Four Obsessions are dedicated to building a healthy culture.

Many business leaders could write four different things to improve on a specific area, so long as self-discipline and focus are consistent.

  1. Reinvent meetings into a powerful asset

Lencioni reinforces the importance of meetings – a good one is never boring, and includes rigorous constructive debate among a dynamic and trusting group of team members.

When meetings demonstrate how well a great team functions, they can become a powerful way to drive a business forward.

  1. Political correctness can hold you back

In his Afterword, Lencioni explains why some values you need to focus on shouldn’t fall into the trap of being politically correct and trying to please everyone. A commitment to quality, teamwork, ethics and integrity should go without saying.

Emphasising these core values too often could suck the passion and excitement from your mission, failing to inspire your team.

Don’t be afraid to be edgy and stand up for the things you are passionate about.

Final thoughts

My review deliberately not revealed what the Four Obsessions are. Please read for yourself to learn the core lessons Lencioni has to teach.

This is a must-read for any business leaders looking to grow and develop, particularly if those implementing EOS.

Did our review of The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive inspire you?  Have you read it already? If so, what did you think?

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