Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

I recently finished reading The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Leniconi. It’s a quick, compact, and actionable read that I’d recommend to anyone who serves on a Sr. Management Team.

There is no way for me to share everything I underlined, highlighted and the personal notes I wrote in the margins. So I shared my top 15 favorite quotes and ideas from the book that stuck with me.

1. “An organization demonstrates that it is smart by developing intelligent strategies, marketing plans, product features, and financial models that lead to competitive advantage over its rivals. It demonstrates that it is healthy by eliminating politics and confusion, which leads to higher morale, lower turnover, and higher productivity.”

2. “No one but the head of an organization can make it healthy.”

3. “Culture lives in the way things get done.”

4. “Politics is the result of unresolved issues at the highest level of an organization.”

5. “…blindness occurs because what executives believe are small disconnects between themselves and their peers actually look like major rifts to people deeper in the organization.”

6. “Quite simply, cohesiveness at the executive level is the single greatest indicator of future success that any organization can achieve.”

7.”Organizational clarity is not merely about choosing the right words to describe a company’s mission, strategy, or values; it is about agreeing on the fundamental concepts that drive it.”

8. “…fundamental values are not chosen from thin air based on the desires of executives; they are discovered within what already exists in an organization.”

9. “An organization that has achieved clarity has a sense of unity around everything it does. It aligns its resources, especially the human ones, around common concepts, values, definitions, goals, and strategies, thereby realizing the synergies that all great companies have.”

10. “The more complicated the message, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency.”

11. “Cascading Messages: Leaders communicate key messages to direct reports; the cycle repeats itself until the message is heard by all.”

12. “Employees in healthy organizations may joke, or sometimes even complain, about the volume and repetition of information that they receive. But they’ll be glad that they are not being kept in the dark about what is going on.”

13. “Even a company dedicated to over-communication cannot maintain organizational clarity through communication alone. It needs to build a sense of that clarity into the fabric of the organization through process and systems that drive human behavior. The challenge lies in doing this without creating unnecessary bureaucracy.”

14. “Regardless of the temptations to dive into more heady and strategically attractive issues, extraordinary executives keep themselves focused on their organization’s health.”

15. “There is no substitute for discipline. No amount of intellectual prowess or personal charisma can make up for an inability to identify a few simple things and stick with them over time.”

The Four Obsessions:

#1 Build and Maintain a Cohesive Leadership Team

#2 Create Organizational Clarity

#3 Over Communicate Organizational Clarity

#4 Reinforce Organizational Clarity through Human Systems


Posted in Leadership

One Response to “Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive”

  1. Adam April 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    Lencioni books are amazing, reading The Advantage and Death By Meeting now

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