Book Report – Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni

Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive is a succinct and insightful book. The author Patrick Lencioni explains the Four Disciplines in a story-like form which helps to visualize and comprehend the basics and benefits. Each discipline is essential for the foundation of a healthy organization, not meant to stand alone, but to create a whole system for a successful business.

Discipline One: Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team

Building a cohesive leadership team is the most critical of the four disciplines. This stage is difficult because it is abstract and it requires significant interpersonal binding from an executive leader and the executive team. Every time a manager ignores small disconnections between him/her and the team, it generates gaps and unresolved issues that create an environment full of exhaustion and distrust. These issues are the major causes for good and efficient employees to move to less dysfunctional organizations.

Succeeding in creating a cohesive team will guarantee that issues get resolved and the team trusts each other, becoming a more efficient work force and reaching understanding with ease. Rarely employees leave this kind of organization.

Discipline Two: Create Organization Clarity

The beginning of the concept of organization clarity relies on the agreement of the fundamentals that will drive the organization and the ability to stay with them without exception. Once organization clarity is achieved, it provides an undeniable sense of focus and efficiency. This also offers employees with a collective vocabulary and a set of expectations that will guide them through day to day decision making and problem solving with minimal management advice. Above all, organizational clarity facilitates and empowers employees with a strong sense of confidence.

Most organizations misunderstand this phase with setting metrics. Metrics do not inspire enthusiasm and they do not support behaviors. It is not setting a goal; it is to develop an organization mentality where all decisions made lead the organization to meet its goals.

Discipline Three: Over-Communicate Organizational Clarity

Executive teams must communicate the organization clarity to all employees. Companies that effectively over communicate with employees of all levels, provide them with a strong sense of purpose and direction. Please note that all aspects of communication should be clear and concise. Even executives often leave meetings with different interpretation of issues and or decisions. The key is to take 5 extra minutes at the end of each meeting and decide what needs to be communicated to all employees. Virtually all executive meetings end with at least one decision that must be transferred to all employees. The challenge here is to achieve the over-communication of the organizational clarity without unnecessary bureaucracy.

Discipline Four: Reinforce Organizational Clarity Through Human Systems

Healthy organizations look for candidates that share similar values. Interviews are focused on behavioral questions, and on the candidate’s ability to fit within the company’s culture. Organizations must avoid relying on résumé information and technical skills, which alone, are weak indicators of future success. This discipline helps organizations avoid costly hiring mistakes that can potentially take months and even years to correct. The proper use of human systems gives a sense of direction and maintains organizational identity even during periods of changes.

To succeed, every organization has a duty to develop a human system structure accurate to what is required for it to function. No more and no less.

To conclude, healthy organizations must keep present that there is nothing more important than making and keeping a healthy and strong structure and there is no substitute for discipline.

NOTE: Oliver Law Firm has a reading program and an office library full of many great books. Our mission is to inspire, train, and mentor our work family to improve ourselves and client services.

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