Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

Obsession 1 – Obsession 2 – Obsession 3 – Obsession 4

According to Patrick Lencioni, there are four underlying factors that would make any organization healthy.  Often, they are overlooked by executives.  However, they are essential elements of business life that lead to sustained success as he describes in his book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.

Way back when, the Beatles sang a song, “Do You Want To Know A Secret?”, using it as a means to communicate the message to a girl one of them loved, “I love you.”  Well, it is my obsession to see you succeed in leadership and management.  Do you want to know a secret?  In these daily posts recommending book length resources, it is understandable if it seems to be a bit overwhelming or something beyond one’s grasp.  However, I will let you in on a personal secret that has worked for me.  In these fables of Patrick Lencioni, they are so easy and enjoyable to consume I listen to them via audio sources, much as listening to the radio or television programing.  Then, I grab the kernels of the principles he expounds and make them part of my leadership and management.  Also, if you use your digital calendar, google, outlook, etc., to schedule them one each week or each month, it is amazing how much you can add to your working internal and external leadership structure model.  I am challenging you to start with any one of these fables by Patrick Lencioni.  If you do, you will likely consume the rest of what he has written.  While he has written many books, besides these I have already recommended, there are only two more I am wanting to recommend to you at this time.

Gloria Lombardi does a great job of summarizing the book The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.  It is included below for your benefit.  If you think you have read the book because you have the nuts and bolts below, you haven’t.  Remember, creating an ability to recall information is more about building structure around it than filling one’s mind with data.  Raw data of wholesome information without supporting structure or regular usage tends to be forgotten.  Do yourself a favor and enjoy the fable that goes with the principles.  It will help you build structure to remember these four principles.  Or, make them such a routine of your day to day function in your role of leadership and management that the structure is built in practice.

What are The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive described in the book?


Building a cohesive leadership team is critical to enabling the other three disciplines. It requires considerable interpersonal commitment from an executive team and its leader. The essence of a cohesive leadership team is TRUST. This is marked by the absence of politics, unnecessary anxiety and wasted energy.

According to the author, the most important activity for building trust is getting to know one another at a level that few groups of people ever achieve. It is important that team members get comfortable letting their colleagues see them for who they are.

For cohesive teams, meetings are vital. They are forums for asking difficult questions, challenging one another’s ideas, and arriving at decisions that everyone agrees to support and adhere to, in the best interest of the company. Cohesive teams fight about issues, not personalities and have the capacity of moving on to the next issue without residual feelings. No one should leave the meeting with unspoken resentment.


An organization that has organizational clarity possesses a SENSE OF UNITY around everything it does. The result is focus and efficiency. Behaviorally, it requires an executive team to demonstrate commitment and courage. Employees in these organizations have great levels of autonomy, they know what their boundaries are and when they need guidance from management before taking action. The ability to make decisions by themselves creates an environment of empowerment.

One of the best ways to achieve clarity, Lencioni says, is to answer six questions pertaining to the organization:

  • Why does the organization exist and what differences does it make in the world?

  • What behavioral values are irreplaceable and fundamental?

  • What business are we in?

  • How does our approach differ from that of our competition?

  • What are our goals this month, this quarter, this year, next year, five years from now?

  • Who has to do what for us to achieve our goals this month, this quarter, this year, next year, five years from now?

Key to achieving organizational clarity is focus on the essence of each questions, since all of them are important and carry their own challenges. Without those answers confusions and hesitation invade an organization.


Once the executive team has achieved clarity, it must communicate that clarity to employees. In healthy organizations, Lencioni elucidates, employees are not being kept in the dark about what is going on.

According to the author, effective communication requires repetition in order to take hold in an organization and simple messages – what employees want from their leaders is clear uncomplicated messages about where the organization is going and how they can contribute to getting there. Finally, since employees have preferences about the way they receive information, it is important the use of multiple mediums to convey messages to them.


Any company, Lencioni says, has to build the sense of clarity into the fabric of their organization throughout processes and systems that drive human behavior. The challenge, the author elucidates, is to do it without creating unnecessary bureaucracy.

When an organization adopts human systems properly it maintains its identity and sense of direction – even during time of change. It ensures that employees are hired, managed, rewarded, recognized and even being moved out of the company, for reasons that are consistent with its organizational clarity.

Why is it so critical for leaders to address The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive?

“Because”, elucidates Lencioni, “there is nothing more important than making an organization healthy to make it successful over time. Regardless of the temptations to occupy themselves with other issues extraordinary executives keep focused on their organization’s health”. The results are less politics and confusion, higher employee engagement, higher morale, higher productivity, lower turnover, and lower costs.

I do hope you will enjoy The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive.  One might reasonably ask, “If this series of posts are about leadership, why is he recommending these administrative management tools?”  Remember, please, not every leader is a manager, but every manager, whether CEO, middle manager, or frontline supervisor, is a leader.  Also, it is phenomenal how often a leader is called to be a manager, even when their primary calling may be elsewhere.  The only questions is whether that manager or leader will be vibrant leader.

Trust the Holy Spirit to direct you as you FOCUS ON JESUS AND FOLLOW HIS PLAN, for indeed, WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER.  God bless you.

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