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Patrick Lencioni, the noted American business author, speaker and coach, in his book, “The Five Temptations of a CEO: a Leadership Fable”, covered five temptations and how they lead CEOs to fail. To these, I would add a sixth.

In these difficult times, especially, they are lessons we can all be reminded of, along with how we should avoid these temptations and continue to lead successfully.

Temptation #1 – choosing status over results. Essentially, when the CEO is more interested in ensuring their reputation than the performance for which they’re appointed. As Lencioni points out, CEOs should be driven by their desire to achieve, rather than by their ego and simply being “a CEO.” It is often found in CEOs who surround themselves with “Yes-men” who feed their ego, and spend less time working on the business, with fairly predictable results. The company’s results should be the most important measure of your personal success.

Temptation #2 – choosing popularity over accountability. Generally a sign of weak leadership, and sometimes of the feeling of “it being lonely at the top,” CEOs here want to be popular with their team, rather than holding them accountable for their work and their commitments. Here, clarity of communication is key – by being clear on what people are expected to do, how they will be measured, and what the consequences of not meeting the expectations are, a CEO can ensure the results expected. Look to gain the long-term respect of your team, rather than their affection.

Temptation #3 – choosing certainty over action / clarity. This is the old “analysis paralysis” problem where the CEO is so concerned with ensuring all their decisions are correct, they try to ensure they have all the possible information before making one. Without taking action, being clear on what you’re trying to achieve, you can’t hold people accountable when results are not what is expected. It’s always better to move forward, then change direction as things evolve, than not to move at all.

Temptation #4 – choosing harmony over conflict. This builds on the previous two temptations and is where the CEO tries to avoid any form of conflict. Paradoxically, it often leads to poor decisions as you don’t canvas all ideas in case they lead to conflict. Furthermore, when you do make a decision it’s not always taken seriously as you don’t generally put pressure on people. Recognise that unpopular decisions are sometimes necessary for the health of the business, and do so with empathy, explaining your reasons.

Temptation #5 – choosing invulnerability over trust. Some CEOs fear that they will lose credibility if they allow ideas to be challenged. It’s really about trusting people and so having them trust you. If you are focused on the results, rather than your own ego, you will invite others to challenge your ideas, to give frank and open input. This will lead to better decision-making and results, and so to your team trusting you more.

Temptation #6 – choosing to remain over taking time out. This often ties back to a combination of the previous temptations, where CEOs feel they can never take time out of the business but need to be present all the time. Holidays are vital – they not only allow time to relax and recharge but bring a necessary distance to the business and often clarify your thinking. This is why you often come up with new ideas when out of the office and in a different environment – perhaps taking a shower or going for a run.

Taking a long break – at least 2 unbroken weeks, and preferably more – will really allow you to look at things with fresh eyes, will reduce your stress levels and will show your team you trust them to keep things going when you’re not there. Be sure your team know they can contact you, but ONLY in the event of a real emergency. After all, one of your responsibilities as CEO is succession planning, and giving people a chance to step up when you’re out of the way allows you to measure this.

Successful leaders put the business first, hold their team accountable, ensure action to keep moving ahead, even when this is sometimes unpopular, while inviting the team to challenge their assumptions and ideas, and take time out of the business to refresh themselves.


#BusinessFitness #Leadership #Excellence #Motivation #Temptations #Coach


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