Customer Reviews: The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable
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on October 23, 2000
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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on January 31, 2001
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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on May 8, 2006
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.

Ideas are easy, implementation is very hard, and sustaining an effective organization is accomplished by few. All too often executives place themselves above a certain task or participation in a certain level of interview. How often have you been with a VP and he or she will take a call or check email during a meeting, or interrupt someone trying to make a point because they are impatient or think they know where something is leading, or offer cross messages by doing something not consistent with the organization's values, or assume everyone knows the company values, or well there are million examples. The results can be very damaging to an organization. And that is the point of this book. The higher the executive the more important the need for the basics: clarity, trust, focus, consistency, and communication. In the end this is a recommendable book.
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on November 8, 2001
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. Those who want to improve their communication of leadership concepts will benefit from the way Lencioni wove his story.
Short book, big lessons.
No, I didn't tell you the what the four disciplines are. I don't want to spoil it for you. Give into the temptation: read this book.
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on January 6, 2003
A simple yet intriguing story that had me hooked from the beginning. As I read with eagerness and anticipation the plights of Rich O'Conner and Vince Green I awaited to discover the "Four Obsessions". Lencioni is a fabulous and effective story teller. He uses story to help the reader experience the emotions of the scenario. This is powerful because all too often leadership books focus on communicating with the head in isolation. Lencioni beautifully captures both the head and heart of the reader. I felt the anguish and aspirations experienced by the two main characters, while at the same time found myself in my head, problem solving, working out what I thought the issues were.
To my dismay, the revealing of the "Four Obsessions": 1. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team; 2. Create organizational clarity; 3. Over-communicate organizational clarity; 4. Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems, fell short of expectations. Simply yet profound, truth often falls short of our expectations because we expect deeply profound and complicated answers to issues of relational concern.
I believe this is an excellent tool to begin conversations of organizational health and wellbeing with leaders that may not be readily open to this. I would recommend it to leaders at any level of an organization who are struggling with problems and are unaware the true nature of there issue begins with relationships.
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on June 23, 2006
Easy to read, well written, a page turner. It also contains a few profound thoughts--namely the four disciplines:

1) Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team

2) Create Organizational Clarity

3) Over-Communicate Organization Clarity

4) Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems.

The fable does a great job illustrating the meaning and application of these four disciplines. Unfortunately it stops at that. There is no appendix referencing facts, studies or collaborative evidence proving that these four obsessions really work as illustrated. (Other research based material I've read does back it up) Not including a "hardcore" chapter in this volume definitely lowers the quality of the book. But, overall I still found it an excellent book, well worth my time.
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on December 14, 2000
This book is a very quick read that still manages to hit you between the eyes with a one-two punch of horror (oh my gosh, we do that all the time!) and hope. I don't know how he does it, but Mr. Lencioni has a knack for storytelling that makes it look he's been bugging your hallways, staff meetings and off-sites.
The good news is that he articulates a straight forward (and not touchy-feely) prescription for a better-functioning organization. Like other great business books, the points seem obvious only in retrospect... few companies, I submit, actually engage in these key practices and waste a lot of time because of their failure to do so.
The day after reading it, I went through it again, writing a (long) list of actions that we're now taking in order to become a healthy -- as opposed to merely smart -- organization. If we had adopted it earlier, I think we would have blown away our goals, improved our retention, and kept everyone a lot happier.
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on June 18, 2016
Four obsessions are really four things that you really need to focus on. They sound so simple and innocuous but when you think through it they are powerful and not necessarily easy to do. So many things can come in your way that might make you think they are too simple and can;t make a difference and that will derail you. The challenge is to become obsessive enough about them and ensure they take root and spread in the organisation. Looking forward to ginning this new obsession!
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on March 21, 2016
One of my favorite leadership books is Patrick Lencioni's The Five Dysfunctions of a Team because the parable format is highly suitable to demonstrating the concepts that prevent teams from becoming cohesive and the actions to increase cohesiveness really make a business impact. This book is a welcome addition to Lencioni's library on leadership and I took quite a bit away from it. I give it 4 stars only because the parable portion of the book wasn't nearly as compelling as that of the aforementioned TFDOAT. Very quick read and very actionable insights here. Check it out!
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on April 27, 2016
I am a major fan of all of Lencioni's work. I think to truly learn from Lencioni one has to read several of his books and absorb the content more holistically.....this is one the group that is easy to understand, strikingly insightful, totally inspiring. I loved it.
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