Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive

The hardest part of moving is getting your rhythms back (for example, I update this blog once every few months whether it needs it or not...). I used to read a lot, but after moving I've found it quite difficult. I am looking forward to getting fully moved in to our home (all our stuff is there, but there are boxes everywhere) and being able to create a space to read again.

Last night I got a chance to read a book that a friend of mine handed me: The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive: A Leadership Fable. The book tells a story of two companies who are competitors in the same industry. It's an easy read, and a compelling one. The fable is designed to illustrate the four obsessions and how they make a company effective:

   - Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team
   - Create organizational clarity
   - Over-communicate organizational clarity
   - Reinforce organizational clarity through human systems

This book was a great read for several reasons. First, it kicked me in the butt a bit as a leader, reminding me that I need to focus on the important things, the big things. It's easy to get bogged down by the little stuff, the stuff that doesn't matter long term. For me, this motivated me to re-engage some of the organizational techniques I used after reading Making Ideas Happen. Without a clear strategy to remain focused, it is incredibly difficult to keep the right things at the top of the pile.

The most gratifying thing about reading this book is that the tasks I've devoted the most time to since arriving are building and maintaining a cohesive leadership team, and creating organizational clarity. It's reassuring to know that we are on the right track, and I'm looking forward to reaching the point where we can add points three and four to the mix...

I found the fable more interesting and enlightening than the "business book text" style sections afterwards that tried to unpack the fable. Quite frankly these chapters seemed unnecessary, and were probably suggested by an editor who doesn't get the idea of letting people think for themselves.

Still, a worthwhile read.


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