The four obsession of a extraordinary executive

"I believe that all successful organizations share two qualities: they are smart, and they are healthy."

"I believe that all successful organizations share two qualities: they are smart, and they are healthy. 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."

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive is a book by Martin Lencioni and comes in the same series as "The 5 dysfunctions of a team" and "The 5 temptations of a CEO".

The book is about two founders who are the same age, went to the same university and are in the same industry. While both companies are doing ok, one is doing predominantly better than the other. The company which does better has a CEO who always carries a piece of paper around which he uses as his guidance in building the company. On this piece of paper, he has written down four disciplines he is following to run his company and make it successful:

  1. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team
  2. Create organizational clarity
  3. Over-communicate organizational clarity
  4. Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems

Discipline 1: Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team

The main idea here is to have a leadership teams that trusts each other and does not participate in politics and silo-building. It is important that the leadership team knows each other strength and weaknesses, engages in constructive and healthy conflict, holds each other accountable and is committing to group decisions.

One way to achieve this is by using MBTIs or sharing personal histories with each other.

To see if your team is good at this, ask yourself the following questions:
· Are your meeting compelling and interesting?
· Are important issues discussed during meetings?
· Does the team have unguarded debates and does your team honestly confront one another?
· Do team members apologize if they get out of line?
· Do team members understand each other?
· Do team members avoid gossiping about each other?

Discipline 2: Create organizational clarity

The base for organizational clarity is that everyone agrees on the fundamental concepts that drive the companies mission, strategy and values. It is import that everyone understands:
· Why does the company exist?
· Which behavioral values are fundamental?
· What business is the company in and who are the competitors?
· What makes the business unique?
· What are the plans to be achieved?
· Who is responsible for what?

To see if your team is good in this discipline, answer the following questions:
· Why does our organization exist?
· What is the difference our organization makes to the world?
· What business are we in and what are our competitors?
· How does our approach differ from our competitors?
· What are our goals? For this month? This quarter? This year?
· Who has to do what to achieve our goals?

Discipline 3: Over-communicate organizational clarity

To be a healthy organization key messages should be communicated through:
· Repetition: Repeat.That.Message. If you cannot hear it anymore, other will start to listen.
· Simplicity: Use simple language and a simple message. The more complicated the message is, the more potential for confusion and inconsistency.
· Multiple mediums: Use multiple mediums. Different people have different preferences on how to get information (e.g. listener vs. reader)
· Cascading messaging: In addition communicate key messages to your direct reports. Your direct reports do the same...

To see if you are strong in this ask your employees the same questions as for discipline 2. Then ask them how their jobs affect each of the areas covered in the questions.

Discipline 4: Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems

Built clarity into your organization through processes and systems that drive human behavior. This should be done without creating additional and unnecessary bureaucracy. Ensure that consistency in:
· Hiring
· Managing performance
· Rewards and recognition
· Employee dismissal

To see if you are good in this discipline answer the following questions:
· Is there a process for interviewing candidates?
· Are we doing debriefing sessions after the interviews?
· Are we asking consistent behavioral interview questions that in each interview?
· Are we spending time evaluating employees behaviors against the organizational values and goals?
· Do managers and employees willingly participate in the system?
· Do we have a consistent process in evaluation promotions against the organizational values?
· Do we have a consistent criteria for letting employees go?
· Are employees  ever let go because they do not fit/are a poor fit with the organizational values?

To me personally this was a very interesting book to read and I honestly saw a lot of potential for me to improve in lot of areas.

What is your opinion? Do you agree with the concepts of the book?