Lencioni is founder and president of The Table Group, a management consulting firm specializing in executive team development and organizational health. As a consultant and keynote speaker, he has worked with thousands of senior executives in organizations ranging from Fortune 500s and high-tech start-ups to universities and nonprofits. He is the author of seven nationally recognized books, including the New York Times best-seller The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. Book Summary: Andrew was the CEO Trinity Systems, one of the youngest to reach the position in a span of just ten years.
Andrew’s ambitious nature is underscored by his fast track career growth. He still maintains a great rapport with all his subordinates. Andrew’s one year as a CEO has not been along the expected lines. The results are “at best, unspectacular”, and he is clueless as to what led to the present state of affairs. He is expected to account for the results in the board meeting with all his colleagues. He accepts that it is the lowest point of his tenure with the organization; he is worried as to what his next step is to be.
Lost in these thoughts, he runs into Charlie, an old janitor, in an empty train back on his way home. Andrew suddenly realizes that the seemingly innocuous conversation with the janitor has everything to do with the problems he is facing. Charlie accounts for all of Andrew’s problems as the five temptations of a CEO. The first problem is Andrew’s tendency to protect his career status. He lacked the vision for his company’s future growth and was complacent. Andrew’s continuous quest for success landed him the top job.
But having realised his ultimate dream he formed a notion that anything he does further will only bring him down or at best keep him there. So his focus shifted towards enjoying the fruits of his success, protect his ego rather than taking his company forward. The second issue was his desire to be popular at the expense of holding people accountable for their work. He expected people to be aware of their responsibilities and roles based on their experience. Moreover his desire to remain in the good books of others prevented him from conveying his expectations of them clearly.
If the same people did not meet his expectations, he balked. This behavioural inconsistency made him lose his credibility. The third temptation Andrew suffered from was his obsession for taking correct decisions to achieve certainty. This resulted in his unwillingness to make decisions with limited information. He failed to realise that it is impossible to make “correct” decisions in this world of imperfect information and uncertainty. He became comfortable with the ambiguity and blamed the failures on someone else.
The fourth problem which Andrew faced was the desire to maintain harmony among his subordinates. This made him avoid “productive ideological conflicts”, the passionate interchange of ideas. This led to mediocre decisions being made without having the full benefit of everyone’s ideas. The final temptation before Andrew was his desire for invulnerability. He mistakenly believed that he would lose his credibility if his own people challenged his ideas. This resulted in a mutual lack of trust between him and his subordinates.
Management Insights: According to Max Weber’s “Charismatic Leadership Theory”, a leader has to possess vision and articulation. Vision is an idealised goal that proposes a future better than the status-quo. Articulation is the ability to clarify the importance of the vision in terms that are understandable to others. Willingness to take on high personal risk and engaging in self-sacrifice to achieve the vision forms the core of his character. He should also perceive his subordinates’ abilities and respond to their needs and feelings.
As proposed in “Organizational Behaviour” mutual trust, defined as a positive expectation that another will not act opportunistically, is of utmost importance. “Knowledge based Trust” defined as trust based on behavioural predictability that comes from a history of interaction, is the most applicable one in the current context. According to “Myers-Briggs Type Indicator” (MBTI), leaders are generally categorised as those personalities who are ‘Judging’, able to take decisions without concrete information. Any kind of conflict, as seen by the traditional view like Andrew’s, is harmful and must be avoided.
But the recent school of thought, “the interactionist view of conflict”, believes that conflict is not only a positive force in a group, but that it is also an absolute necessity for a group to perform effectively. Communication Insights: Assertive communication, to make subordinates realize that they are accountable for their assigned responsibilities, is a prime requirement for a leader. The communication has to be clear, concrete yet courteous. Conflicts in the organizational perspective are essentially healthy and are critical to decision making. Conflict management requires effective communication skills primarily active listening.
The leader must be able to derive the most productive ideas out of the conflict and base his decisions on them. Effective team building requires building trustworthiness amongst the team members. A leader must possess strong verbal and non verbal communication skills. Verbal communication includes being persuasive, confident and encouraging. Non verbal communication of a leader must reflect energy and enthusiasm and must be congruent with his verbal communication. Conclusion: The book offered a deep insight into the common problems faced by leaders. It also suggested practical ways to overcome the problems.
It was good learning experience from all perspectives. Keywords: Self Learning, Management, Leadership, Motivation, Conflicts, Status, Popularity, Judging, Decision Making, Trust, Insight, Mistakes, Vulnerability, Credibility, Vision, Accountability, Information, Expectations, Harmony, Responsibility, Failure References: • Organizational Behavior, By Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge and Seema Sanghi. • The Two Faces of Transformational Leadership: Empowerment and Dependency, Journal of Applied Psychology, April 2003 by B. Kark, R. Gan, B. Shamir. • http://www. laynetworks. com/management-tutorials. html