LenFour1 02-3-39


A Leadership Fable


Patrick Lencioni

Jossey Bass, 2000, 181 pp.


A book in the tradition of The Five Temptations of a CEO (1998), Lencioni tells a short, interesting (fictional) story to illustrate his themes.Lencioni is a speaker and the president of Table Groups, a management consulting firm.After the tale, there is a brief application section.


The four ďobsessions,Ē areas where the CEO spent the bulk of his efforts, are

  1. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team.
    1. Care for one another.
    2. Donít hold back.Be open, honest, direct.
  2. Establish clear identity, direction, strategy, objectives, roles, and responsibilities.
    1. Know them inside and out.
    2. Refer to them continually for decisions.
    3. Hire against company values.
  3. Over communicate organizational clarity, i.e., the identity and direction,
    1. Way, way over do it.
    2. The whole leadership team does it consistently.
    3. Repeat it in all communications.
    4. Constantly refer to it.
    5. Donít let it degrade to slogans and marketing gimmicks.
  4. Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems.
    1. Interview candidates against the values and qualities.
    2. Do quarterly management reviews with four questions:

                                                    i.     What did you accomplish?

                                                   ii.     What will you accomplish next?

                                                  iii.     How can you improve?

                                                 iv.     Are you embracing the values?


In sum,

†††††† Be cohesive

†††††† Be clear

†††††† Over communicate

†††††† Reinforce


For performance reviews, every manager must spend 90 minutes in a room with each employee.They take it seriously.


The competitive advantage any company can have, but which is usually ignored, is organizational health.It requires a lot of time and attention from executives.


Health means less politics and confusion, greater morale and productivity, less turnover, and lower recruiting costs.


The four human systems to institutionalize an organizationís sense of clarity are

  1. hiring
  2. managing performance
  3. rewards and recognition
  4. employee dismissal.


Look for qualities in job candidates that match the values of the company.Use psychological testing and well-designed questions.


Performance management is about communication and alignment.In the management reviews, include only essential information.Performance evaluation dialogue is not quarterly but daily and ongoing.



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