When I first read Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable (Jossey-Bass, 2000), twelve years ago, I knew I had discovered a superb resource for teaching leadership and organizational change. With his fictional story introduction and his clear and concise four part model, I had discovered a tool that both for-profit and non-profits executives could use as they sought to improve their organizations. This new book was user friendly and instantly became one of the required readings in our From Vision to Action Leadership Training.
Now, when I recommend this book to someone, I always explain that the book represents a framework for all of his subsequent writings. At the heart of the The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive are four key disciplines. They are to build and maintain a cohesive leadership team, create organizational clarity, over-communicate organizational clarity, and reinforce organizational clarity through human systems.
For example, when he wrote the very popular book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Jossey-Bass, 2002), Lencioni was building on the first of his four disciplines, namely the building of a cohesive leadership team. Once people grasp this perspective, they eagerly read Lencioni’s work and can quickly embrace his core concepts. The key from my vantage point is that they need to have read The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive first.
Nevertheless, over the years, I have been wondering when Lencioni would return to this core framework and further expand on it. To my delightful surprise, I am pleased to report that he has finally done this! Earlier this week, his latest book, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (Jossey-Bass, 2012) was published and it is excellent. I have been reading it each evening this week, and find myself underlining many parts of it. He not only picks up the core concepts from The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive but expands on them with many fresh insights.
In The Advantage, he does not use fictional characters and plot situations to bring his key ideas to life. Instead, he delivers precise and meaningful explanations based on his experience with executives and their organizations. I particularly enjoyed his section on the role and importance of core values in creating organizational clarity. In this new book, he finally integrated his earlier article called “Make Your Values Mean Something,” Harvard Business Review (July 2002) and then expanded upon it with a new graphic and a better explanation about the differences between what are core values, aspirational values, accidental values, and permission-to-play values. In short, The Advantage is a comprehensive and practical guide with great content.
While I wish this book was one of the recommended pre-readings for our upcoming Spring 2012 From Vision to Action Executive Roundtable on April 12-13 in Des Moines, I know the book will become a best-seller soon and a hot topic of discussion in many organizations during the coming 90-120 days as more and more people read it.
So, run, don’t walk, to your nearest independent book store and get yourself a copy. I highly recommend this book and know you will find it to be a powerful resource for you and your organization.
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257