The Five Temptations of a CEO

The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable
by Patrick Lencioni

This leadership fable incorporates dream-like elements of the supernatural to make its point about effective governance. Some of the players in the fable may be imaginary, but the advice is very real and very relevant, as is true in all Lencioni books.

All people are fallible; there are no “perfect” people. Therefore we are all subject to one or more temptations — and their consequences — at any given time. The CEO can be tempted to believe that it’s about status, personal achievement, prestige, or power rather than about the ability to produce results from him/herself and others. The CEO, like all of us, like to be liked and are hesitant to jeopardize good relationships, even when frank communication can benefit others and the organization.

We like to stick with the familiar and the certain, even when this means failing to set ambitious, clear goals for ourselves and others. We like harmony in our lives, even though conflict and even disagreement are often necessary to breakthrough communication and progress. And no one like to be vulnerable.

The remedy for avoiding the five temptations is not simply to avoid the five temptations; that’s impossible in and of itself. The real key is much more difficult than that. It lies in the ability to honestly assess one’s own performance and that of the people and things over which we have responsibility. For the leader and CEO, success also requires being seen to be assessing and working toward success.

Like most of Lencioni’s books, The Five Temptations of a CEO is easy to read and easy to carry. I found myself reading a few pages at a time and pausing to think, even though the fable itself is interesting enough to keep the pages turning.