Oconee Regional Library

The Five Temptations of a CEO

A review by Leard R. Daughety

January 18, 2003

Public libraries offer a wide variety of services to the community that they serve. Most of these services center around providing usable information to their patrons. The idea for this column comes from my desire to inform you, the owners and users of the Laurens County Library, about the resources that are available, especially books. All of us have read at least one book we liked that would never be included on any "Best Seller" list. With a few exceptions, the books that I will be writing about will fall into that "Non-Best Seller" category. In this space, you will also find lists of Fiction, Non-fiction, and Children's books that have been selected by myself and other members of the Library Staff. Recognizing that not everyone is a reader or book lover, from time to time I will mention non-literary services that the reader might find useful in the Library as well.

For my first book, I chose a title that is not one that I would normally read, for two reasons. First, the book's contents only measure a half-inch in depth. My wife delighted in teasing me because the books that I usually read are at least 2 inches thick. The second reason is that I am not much on management books since they rarely provide realistic examples of how to change.

A former supervisor suggested that I read The Five Temptations of a CEO, a Leadership Fable. The author is Patrick Lencioni, head of a San Francisco Bay Area management consulting firm. As the subtitle indicates, the author uses a fictionalized setting and characters to convey his message.

On the eve of his one-year anniversary as CEO of Trinity Systems, Andrew O'Brien is more than a little on edge as he contemplates his presentation at tomorrow's board meeting, especially since the company has not fared as well as expected, to say the least. On his train ride home, Andrew meets an older man named Charlie who appears to be the janitor on the train. Sensing that Andrew has a lot on his mind, Charlie begins asking him a series of questions that quickly reveal Charlie's true management background and prove quite surprising.

"What was the best day of your career?" is the first question he poses. Andrew, like many of us, thinks of a personal achievement instead of one that marked a highpoint in our own organization's history. Charlie points out that this is the "first temptation" of a leader-being more interested in promoting our own status rather than making sure our employer achieves success.

Another temptation that Charlie addresses is the need to have constant harmony within the workplace at the cost of sacrificing healthy conflict that produces ideas, which can lead to growth.

Of the Five Temptations, my favorite appears when Andrew is asked if he can trust his employees with his career. Being burned by someone is usually never fatal although it may certainly feel like it at the time. Trusting and being vulnerable with people that you don't know is a scary thing for anyone, especially when your job could be at stake. The decision to share our ideas and thoughts ultimately depends on the realization that success is most often achieved with the assistance of other people.

To find out what the other two temptations are and how Andrew fared at his board meeting, come by the Library and check it out.

I would never have read Five Temptations of a CEO strictly based on the title. I think if the author had used Manager or Leader in the place of CEO, the book would have broader appeal. The author includes a relatively large AfterWord which diminishes the intrigue of the novel's ending and also leaves the lingering taste of a typical management book when you are finished. In spite of these flaws, it is one of the few books I keep in my office so that I can flip through it and remind myself to try and avoid the Five Temptations.

LIbrary's Choice (No particular order)

Children: Quiltmaker's Gift, by Jeff Brumbeau; You are Special, by Max Lucado; Poky Little Puppy, by J. Lowery; A Dog of My Own, by Lisa McCourt; Rechenka's Eggs, by Patricia Polacco; The Great Brain, by John D. Fitzgerald; The Moffats, by Eleanor Estes; Home on Stoney Creek, by Wanda Luttrell; Runaway's Revenge by Dave & Neta Jackson; Secrets on 26th Street, by Elizabeth M. Jones

Fiction: Five Temptations of a CEO, by Patrick Lencioni; Irish Eyes, by Patricia Sprinkle; Turbulence, by John Nance; Milk Glass Moon, by Adriana Trigiani; Across Open Ground, by Heather Parkinson; Serenity Bay, by Bette Nordberg; Tapestries, by Kien Nguyen; Dive from Clausen's Pier, by Ann Packer; Song of Daniel, by Philip Williams

 Nonfiction: Voyage to Mars, by Laurence Bergreen; Cardiovascular Cure, by John Cooke & Judith Zimmer; Wide as the Waters:  The Story of the English Bible, by Benson Bobrick; Heroes of History, by Will Durant; Only Son:  A Memoir, by John Johnston; Life Lessons, by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler; Take on the Street:  What Wall Street & Corporate America Don't Want You To Know, by Arthur Levitt; Dark Midnight When I Rise!, by Andrew Ward; Mr. Speaker:  The Story of Tom Murphy, by Richard Hyatt; Andrew Wyeth:  The Helga Pictures, by John Wilmerding

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