The five temptations of a CEO: why chief executives fail

I recently posted a series of blogs exploring the seven deadly sins of a CEO. In this follow-up piece I’ll be listing some common traps that can ensnare hard-driven executives, as set out by Patrick Lencioni in his 1998 book The five temptations of a CEO: A leadership fable.

Temptation 1: Choosing status over results

  • Leadership is about producing results, not about looking good.
  • The best leaders live to win.
  • They don’t become hostages to their egos.

Temptation 2: Choosing popularity over accountability

  • Good leaders have skills that correct behaviour that does not produce the desired results.
  • Management should be objective rather than subjective.
  • Leaders should work for long-term respect, not affection.

Temptation 3: Choosing certainty over clarity

  • Leaders create clarity when they are decisive.
  • Employees need clarity.
  • Leaders cannot be right all the time.
  • The cost of not taking the risk of being wrong is paralysis.

Temptation 4: Choosing harmony over productive conflict

  • Poor leaders promote consensus when they should be mining and encouraging more conflict.
  • Leaders should encourage “passionate discourse around ideas”.
  • Once a decision is made, however, the team must all back it.

Temptation 5: Choosing invulnerability over trust

  • Leaders often mistakenly believe that they lose their credibility if their people feel too comfortable challenging their ideas.
  • Leaders must make themselves vulnerable, show weakness, admit mistakes, and celebrate other people’s strengths.

Have you ever had to fight against any of the temptations described above? For more tips on avoiding these and other leadership traps, email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.