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on 9 May 1999
This book was sent directly to me from the Table Group. They had seen my other reviews and wanted my opinion on Lencioni's book.
As CEO of a company I can say that this book was better than most. Any CEO position comes with different responsibilites and this book isn't trying to give the reader a check list of items they should meet in order to be successful. Instead, this book gives the reader five different holes CEO often fall into. This is something that other books fail to address, it's also probably the main area most CEOs fail at.
The book was a little too easy and a little too short, but I enjoyed how the temptations were laid out and the fable story line worked for me. However, I would have liked to have seen more information on how to correct these temptations once a CEO knows that he/she has problems.
A little too short and little too easy, but better than most of the books out there. This is a book any CEO or any want-to-be CEO should read.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 13 July 2007
This is one in a series of "leadership fables" in which Patrick Lencioni shares his thoughts about the contemporary business world. His characters are fictitious human beings rather than anthropomorphic animals, such as a tortoise that wins a race against a hare or pigs that lead a revolution to overthrow a tyrant and seize control of his farm.

In his Introduction to this book, Lencioni observes that all chief executives who fail -- and most of them do at one time or another - make the same basic mistake: "Essentially what they are doing is putting the success of their organizations in jeopardy because they are unwilling to face - and overcome - the five temptations of a CEO." Briefly, here's the fictitious situation. Lencioni introduces Andrew O'Brien who is about to complete his first year as CEO of Trinity Systems, a position to which he was promoted after four years with the company. He is about to participate in the first board meeting in which he will be held accountable for the results of an entire fiscal year. "Those results, as he had grown accustomed to saying, were `unspectacular at best.'" He dreads the meeting. Almost immediately, it becomes obvious that Andrew's career is in serious jeopardy...and he knows it as he leaves the office shortly after midnight and takes a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) commuter train to return home.

What then happens allows Lencioni to dramatize for C-suite executives - and especially for CEOs - the importance of recognizing and then resisting the aforementioned temptations. Once aboard the train, Andrew meets and engages in a conversation with Charlie that continues when they are joined by the Bald Man, the Stylish Man, and the Tall Man. As a result of this extended conversation, Andrew has the business equivalent of a religious epiphany: he realizes why his leadership as CEO has been, until now, "unspectacular at best" and also realizes what needs to be accomplished during the board meeting the next morning.

Lencioni adds a nice dramatic touch when there is a brief encounter in the hallway after the board meeting. Andrew sees a maintenance man hanging a photograph, "wearing the same color shirt that Charlie wore the night before... Turning toward the end of the hallway, Andrew saw the old man turn the corner. He yelled `Sir?! Charlie?' The old man did not answer or reappear. Andrew sprinted to the end of the hall, turned the corner, and saw no one." The significance of this moment is best revealed within the narrative, as are the circumstances at Trinity Systems three years later, examined in the final chapter.

At least 8-10 years ago, Lencioni apparently made a conscious decision to address especially important business issues by creating a human context for each rather than merely offering answers to questions or prescribing solutions to problems. To me, this is one of the greatest benefits of a business narrative, in this instance of a leadership fable: Creating a series of real-world situations (albeit portrayed fictitiously) that readers can identify with emotionally as well as rationally. He is a brilliant business thinker but he also possesses the skills of a master raconteur as he introduces a cast of characters, develops conflicts between and among them, and then allows "rising action" to build to a climax that is also best revealed within the narrative. Unexpected plot developments engage the reader even more.

As is Lencioni's custom in each of the other volumes in the series of "leadership fables," he concludes with a section -- "The Model: A Summary of Why Executives Fail" (Pages 111-130) -- whose value-added benefits will help his reader to make effective application of the lessons learned from Andrew's experiences as he struggles with various temptations as well as with the consequences of his decisions...and non-decisions. The questions posed in the self-assessment section are especially well devised. Easy to ask, of course, but difficult to answer.

Those who share my high regard for this volume are urged to check out Patrick Lencioni's other "leadership fables" (especially The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive) as well as Ram Charan's Know-How, Adrian Slywotsky's The Upside, Michael Ray's The Highest Goal, David Maister's Practice What You Preach, Bill George's Authentic Leadership and his more recently published True North, James O'Toole's Creating the Good Life, and Michael Maccoby's Narcissistic Leaders.
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on 2 May 2013
I'm a consultant psychologist who specialises in developing leaders and leadership teams. In my work, I combine the lessons from "The Five Temptations of a CEO" with those in "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" - which is also a quick, easy and worthwhile read. It's basically the same model, told from different perspectives, and I present the temptations as the things a leader (or even team member) can be understandably tempted to do that are likely to stir up the dysfunctions in their team.

Without the Five Dysfunctions, you may be left with something far less useful as a tool for your own leadership. Turned on their head, the 5 Dysfunctions become the 5 Fundamentals for a high performing team. These make intuitive sense and they're fairly well-supported in the pre-existing literature - one example being "The Wisdom of Teams", which I believe pre-dates Lencioni's book and presents very similar concepts - albeit in a drier, more manual-like way.

Speaking of style, Lencioni has a tendency to bring his own religious views into his writing, which can leave some readers feeling overly preached to - this is compounded by the style in general, which is likely to appeal most to an American audience. That said, I kinda like it as an alternative to some of the really dull (but often informative) leadership books out there.

As a psychologist, I do have one professional reservation when using Lencioni's work - which I do often. The psychological evidence on team and leadership performance is more complex than Lencioni's underlying model suggests. For instance, Lencioni focuses on "vulnerability based trust" which appeals to many team building facilitators or "touchy feely" types, but is an overly simplistic perspective on trust. Trust is a critical factor, for sure, but I find many intelligent, task-driven teams need a fuller description of trust, based on the psychological research, to be convinced of the need for this fundamental in their team. Otherwise, they become distracted by the idea that they're going to need to share their deepest darkest fears with each other.

As I said in my review of the Five Dysfunctions: could Lencioni have addressed those nuances and still delivered a book that's as readable and lessons as memorable? Perhaps. But, frankly, the book's done rather well as it is: if it ain't broke, why fix it?
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on 6 November 1998
I was thrilled to pick up this management book that not only had excellent principles, but an intriguing and enthralling storyline that kept me interested all the way to the finish. Five Temptations of a CEO proves an easy read-but certainly not lessons easily tossed aside. These are principles I'll keep with me-regardless of what job or leadership position I may occupy.
The story begins with a struggling CEO, Andrew O'Brien, on the eve of a big, year-end board meeting. Strange occurrences lead Andrew to take the metro system home that evening-and it's on the train where he encounters Charlie, a custodial engineer with a wealth of advice.
Andrew learns from Charlie five temptations that every manager, CEO, teacher, parent or coach might face along their way to success. These are basic temptations that seem very simple-and really are simple. Charlie teaches him that its not in looking for solutions in technology, budget, financials and other usual suspects common to a CEO, but in the common, everyday wisdom that every leader must have.
And for those readers who don't appreciate a good story-or who are just used to the textbook style management books-the five temptations are listed in a summary and self-assessment section in the back. But I won't spoil the ending...
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on 25 April 2003
Every so often I will read a text book and it will highlight a failing or an observation in by business life that changes the way I operate... this is one of the rare times that I have enjoyed reading a 'story' and seen myself in the plot!
I’ve gone on to re-read this book a number of times to refresh myself.
I would recommend this book to any manager who feels that they are still learning from there mistakes (that’s everyone), as I would imagine that many managers would also see themselves (if they are open minded enough and honest) in one of the 5 temptations that Lencioni suggests straight away.
There were one or two temptations that were definite areas for me to explore in the way I handled people and situations, you may also see other's 'temptations' in the book that you recognise.
Because of the story like nature it's not a chore to read - no stuffy management text book - so a great accompaniment for a train or plane journey and I'm sure that it will help identify practical issues in your management.
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on 6 July 1999
Rising through the management structure, it's amazing how many of these traits I've run into along the way. Some previous mentors have even tried to advise that these traits are desirable for an up and comer. Fortunately, this book gives a more objective road map. Not only does it identify the potential pitfalls, it goes a good way towards suggesting the solutions.
It requires commitment, courage, and in the end, it means that being a CEO is not for everyone. I gave this book to all of my friends, too.
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on 5 August 2013
Overall this book is ok. The basic premise behind it is simple and effective - personally I like the narrative approach to explaining these sorts of concepts. Not a lot for your money though - a very quick read.

The large type is terrible so don't buy this book - I didn't realise how bad it would appear.

There is not a lot to the story, the team dysfunction narrative is more robust and meaningful.

The model itself is very useful and works hand in hand with that for team development
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on 23 November 1998
There are few books that I have come across that strike at the heart of the challenges of leading an organization better than The Five Temptations of a CEO. Given that the attention spans of organizational leaders are short, and the need to adopt a 21st century approach to leadership is critical, Patrick Lencioni has hit a home run in crafting a message that is engaging and to the point. Charlies of the world must find the collective voice to help leaders grow. Leaders must find the courage to listen.
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on 6 March 2001
Enter the twilight zone or the tales of the unexpected.this is the flavour of this book.yes it is a management book,and one for someone who has been in management for some time and who thinks they have little left to learn.set out like a story,this book helps you pinpoint bad habits,limitations,weaknesses, how ever you like to put it.this book makes you stand back and take another look. the refocus brings back the energy you had when you first started.good book.makes a change from the text books.
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on 27 June 2011
Another fable from Patrick Lencioni so if you like management 'how to' books, this isn't for you. However, if you like a model displayed in the format of a practical example, it's great. The book has a few key themes, which are illustrated in the story and discussed. Some may see this as tenuous, but I enjoyed the fable and took some simple, key messages from it.
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