Author leads execs out of temptation

Author leads execs out of temptation

Several of the temptations apply specifically to government executives, Lencioni said. The first temptation-putting one's ego above the results you're trying to achieve-is particularly common in government, he said.
amaxwell@govexec.com

Frustrated that your staff can't seem to achieve the results you're looking for? Wondering why your new multi-million-dollar computer system hasn't re-energized your employees?

Well, you just might need to take a look at yourself, according to Patrick Lencioni, author of the new management book The Five Temptations of a CEO.

"Executives like to study the technical or the specific aspects of the job, like strategy, marketing, and technology when the real answer, the real solution, only comes from their own behaviors. It's about personal discipline and behaviors," Lencioni said in an interview with GovExec.com.

"Five Temptations" is anything but a typical, tedious 350-page management manual that ends up gathering dust on a bookshelf. The book reads like a best-selling novel, while driving home key business strategies the author contends make the difference between success and failure as a leader.

"I wanted a book that a busy executive could really read and digest," Lencioni said. "I think people have this idea that if you write a good management book it has to weigh 10 pounds and cost $50, but this book is just a nice story with a good model."

Lencioni, president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay Area management consulting firm, writes of a young, ambitious and overwhelmed Andrew O'Brien, who, while walking to the subway, agonizes over his year-end review with the company's board of directors.

While contemplating his "unspectacular performance" Andrew happens upon Charlie, a ghost-like spiritual guide who takes him through the five temptations of a CEO:

  • The desire to protect the status of your career
  • The desire to be popular
  • The need to make "correct" decisions
  • The desire for harmony
  • The need for invulnerability

"I believe that the results orientation is applicable in government; however, especially in bureaucracies it's not quite as cut and dried and that leaves a lot more room for people to make decisions based on ego," Lencioni said.

In addition to keeping their egos in check, Lencioni said, executives must also hold employees accountable, be willing to make decisions in the face of uncertainty and encourage productive ideological conflict.

Lencioni contends that one read of "Five Temptations" will simplify any executive's leadership role. "It will give them the relief that they need," he said. "The book will provide them with the basic lessons that are common to all leaders. It's gonna cut through all of the fat."

The book also contains a self-assessment section designed to help executives pinpoint their most career-threatening temptation.

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