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The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable Hardcover – September 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

Allegories and parables have long been effective ways to impart serious bits of knowledge and wisdom without getting too pedantic, and business readers seem increasingly receptive to sensible management theory that employs this lively age-old literary technique. Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive, a "leadership fable" by Patrick Lencioni, continues the trend with a solid prescription for organizational health--aiming for less politics, lower turnover, more productivity, and higher morale. Presented as a fictional tale of two technical consultants and their competing companies, the story is structured in a fashion that recalls his previous book (The Five Temptations of a CEO, whose main character and firm are even slipped into this narrative). Lencioni uses this hypothetical setting to show how his concepts might look and work in the real world. In this case, his "four disciplines at the heart of making any organization world class" are revealed and explained through the philosophy and behavior of Rich O'Connor of Telegraph Partners. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team, create organizational clarity, communicate organizational clarity, and reinforce organizational clarity through human systems. Through his tale of Telegraph and its rival Greenwich Consulting, Lencioni illustrates how these principles can be beneficially employed--and how an organization can be stymied when they're missing. The story moves quickly and is followed by a comprehensive analytical summary, which includes self-assessment tools and suggestions for putting the ideas into practice. --Howard Rothman

From Booklist

This fictional tale by a screenwriter and head of a consulting firm that specializes in organizational development is billed not as a novel but as a "leadership fable." Just like Lencioni's earlier The Five Temptations of a CEO (1998), this new "fable" serves as a vehicle to illustrate the author's philosophy of management. The story is short and simple, but its lesson is large. Organizations must not only be smart; they must be healthy. For one thing, healthy companies can make themselves smarter, but unhealthy organizations squander intellectual advantage through infighting and cross-purposes. To drive home his moral, Lencioni follows his story with a discussion that explicitly sets down his four "actionable steps," or disciplines, that are the hallmark of a healthy organization--build a leadership team, create organizational clarity, communicate that clarity, and then reinforce it through human systems. Lencioni offers concrete examples of steps to take to establish these disciplines and suggests ways to assess whether they have been effective. David Rouse
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0787954039
  • ISBN-13: 978-0787954031
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a firm dedicated to helping leaders improve their organizations' health since 1997. His principles have been embraced by leaders around the world and adopted by organizations of virtually every kind including multinational corporations, entrepreneurial ventures, professional sports teams, the military, nonprofits, schools, and churches.

Lencioni is the author of ten business books with over three million copies sold worldwide. His work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and USA Today.

Prior to founding The Table Group, Lencioni served on the executive team at Sybase, Inc. He started his career at Bain & Company and later worked at Oracle Corporation.

Lencioni lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and their four sons.

To learn more about Patrick and The Table Group, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Gilbert P. Brady on October 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Patrick Lencioni has once again presented a concise, compelling, simple, and wise look at the role of a leader in an organization. 5 temptations of a CEO, a title I felt should have been 5 temptations of any manager, was a much needed look at the insecurities that hit once we are in charge. The trouble I had with that book, and the author deserves no blame for this, is that the individuals who truly needed it would probably not recognize their areas for improvement.
Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive answers that need. I am sure that all executives, all of us, feel extraordinary. We will pick this book up expecting a pat on the back for a job well done. Instead, this book challenges the role of the leader and presents 4 disciplines that should be at the Heart of any World Class organization. In fable format, which is far less threatening, and much more enjoyable to read, Lencioni shares the 4 simple disciplines of healthy organizations- 4.Reinforcing Clarity through Human Systems- 3.Overcommunicate Organizational Clarity- 2. Create Organizational Clarity- 1.Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team
It is impossible to read this book and not learn from the past experiences that one has as a leader. It also reminds the reader that it is at the very top that an organization derives it's health. Without leadership committed to health, the organization will never find it.
For all the leaders out there, buy this book, open your mind and read it. You may have to face some tough truths, but the individuals who work for you, will thank you for it.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Max More on January 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first three-quarters of this book consists of a fictional account of a technology consulting company run by CEO Rich O'Connor. O'Connor runs his company according to four disciplines which together powerfully maintain the health of the organization's culture. The four disciplines are: Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team; Create Organizational Clarity; Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity; and Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems. While none of this will appear astoundingly new, the message is important and often not implemented. The fictional portrayal is followed by a more detailed analysis of the four disciplines. Most readers will find this a quick and enjoyable read that should ignite productive thinking about healthy organizations. Without a sound corporate culture even the smartest strategies and business models will not work optimally. Definitely worth reading.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Roger E. Herman on November 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is Lencioni's second leadership fable. Weaving a story around a set of principles can be an effective teaching technique, and Lencioni is skillful in the art of moral-based storytelling.
The first 136 pages of the book are consumed in telling the story of a CEO who discovered an effective way to lead his organization. The basis of the approach is a set of four disciplines, which are not revealed to the reader until the problem scenario has been established. This sequencing is valuable, since it forces the reader to come to grips with the real-life experiences of the characters of the story. The plot is intriguing.
The engaging tale holds the reader's attention strongly enough that there is minimal temptation to read ahead to see if the butler did it. The lure of the story holds your attention. The realistic scenes and dialog give an "edge" to the story; you forget you're reading a business book. It's not difficult at all to relate to each of the characters, even to the extent, perhaps, of identifying some of the characters with colleagues at work in your own organization. But there are surprises, so don't think you can second-guess this book.
The story told, the author changes hats on page 137 to slide into the role of consultant and teacher. He explains the four disciplines through a narrative style that I'd liken to a friend sitting across the table from you. But then the questions start. Lots of questions . . . and answers. This effective consulting style comes naturally: Lencioni is president of a consulting firm in the San Francisco area.
I recommend this book for CEOs, company owners, and consultants who serve them. You'll learn some interesting principles and how to convey them, but you'll also learn from the experience of reading the fable.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By political idiot on May 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book offers executives and business owners guidance on how to design and maintain an effective and efficient organization. The author decided to apply a fable format, similar to the business classic "The Goal," to drive the ideas home. The fable dramatizes two competing firms where one owner has incorrectly identified his competitive advantage. The fable is based on a clueless HR executive's experience and description of what he thinks is a dysfunctional team at one firm as he attempts to wiggle his way into a job at the competing firm.

For some this may be an effective method. For others like me you will have no need for the fable. While the fable format worked very well in "The Goal" it seems superfluous here. For those of you that have been in business for a while you will already know all too well the elements and characteristics of a functional and dysfunctional team highlighted in the fable. Furthermore, you know that some effective elements and structure exist --after all, why did you pick up this book? Even though it is a quick and easy read, for those with little time or care to delve into the fable, I recommend that you just skip right to the section (p 139 - p 180) called "Putting The Disciplines Into Practice: A Summary And Self Assessment." This pamphlet-sized section is the information you are after and it does offer some nice insight and clarity to building an effective and efficient team. Much of the information will be ideas or concepts that you have heard before, maybe many times, through coworkers, b-school, management seminars, etc. However, the author is correct in identifying the lack of true implementation, clarity, and consistency in most organizations.
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