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The Five Temptations of a CEO

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The Five Temptations of a CEO

A Leadership Fable


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

So you finally got the CEO title. Congratulations. The easy part is over.

Editorial Rating



Why do CEOs fail? According to Patrick Lencioni, they fall prey to common temptations that distract them from their only true responsibility: producing results. The temptations, like the tendency to focus on career status over corporate performance, boil down to very human weaknesses. You won’t necessarily learn any real success secrets here, but the reminder to keep these dangerous propensities in mind and under control will be valuable to all executives. This book has gotten rave reviews for its powerful simplicity and vivid prose, but we think the slim volume would have been more effective if it were made even slimmer by cutting out the fable that frames the CEO advice. But nevertheless, getAbstract recommends this book as fast and easy reading for CEOs or, likelier, for those still climbing the corporate ladder.


Andy and the Wise Janitor

As the fable begins, Andrew O’Brien is working late at his office in San Francisco. He is worried because he has a board meeting the next day, the first anniversary of his promotion to CEO. He frets because he is being held accountable for the complete fiscal year’s results, which have not been particularly good.

Then, as he looks out of his window at the Bay Bridge around midnight, he dreams that the bridge is closed, so he has to take a commuter train to his home in Walnut Creek. When he gets aboard, the train looks completely empty. But then he meets Charlie, who describes himself as a janitor whose father was the CEO of a company. Charlie explains that his father thought running a company was simple regardless of the type of company. He draws Andrew into a conversation about the five temptations of a CEO. Initially, Andrew hesitates, wondering who this person is to be giving him advice, but gradually Andrew finds himself willing to listen.

Charlie begins by emphasizing that being a CEO should be conceptually simple. However, if the CEO is failing, it is often because he has fallen prey to one or more of the five major temptations...

About the Author

Patrick Lencioni is president of The Table Group, a San Francisco Bay Area management consulting firm. Besides working as an executive coach and consultant, he has written a number of screenplays. He previously held key positions at Sybase and Oracle, and began his career at Bain & Company. He has worked with hundreds of executive teams and CEOs.

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