The more I read, the more I realize just how much there is to learn about business leadership. Contemplating how much information is out there is overwhelming, yet exciting. As entrepreneurs, we are on a continual learning journey. This month’s book pick is The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by
Patrick Lencioni. A noted title on Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System® must read list, it is spot on, boiling leadership into such a simple, actionable structure and thought process. Now, that doesn’t mean it is easy and doesn’t entail hard work for most of us, but it helps clarify where we fall short (at least it certainly did for me) and steps we can take to improve.
The book is a fable about two competing companies and each of the leaders. It describes how one of the executives focuses on four main disciplines, consistently outperforming his competitor, all while saving time for personal passions and strategic initiatives.
The Four Obsessions are outlined as follows by Lencioni, addressing how a “healthy” organization is created.
– Discipline One: Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team. The essence of this discipline is Trust. They keys are knowing one another’s unique strengths and weaknesses, openly engaging in constructive ideological conflict, holding one another accountable for behaviors and actions and committing to group decisions.
– Discipline Two: Create Organizational Clarity. The essence is agreeing on the fundamental concepts that drive a company’s mission, strategy, or values. The keys are knowing why the company exists, the values, the niche, who the competitors are, how you are unique, the plans and who is responsible for what.
– Discipline Three: Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity. The essence is aligning employees around organizational clarity by communication key messages. The keys are repetition, simplicity, multiple mediums and cascading messages.
– Discipline Four: Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems. The essence is clarity built into the fabric of the organization through processes and systems that drive human behavior. The keys are in hiring, managing performance, rewards and recognition and employee dismissal.
As I listened to Lencioni describe these four simple disciplines, it allowed for personal reflection. Have you ever had one of those sinking feelings where you feel “I can’t believe I haven’t done this,” I did. I highly recommended this book for any entrepreneur or business owner leading an established or growing organization. There are numerous action steps in making progress towards a healthy and high functioning organization, which I believe is the telltale sign of a great book.
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