Tag Archives: decision making

Quick Review: The Five Temptations of a CEO

Thanks to Audible, Patrick Lencioni’s book The FIVE Temptations of a CEO was on sale last week for 50% so I think I got it for around $4 or so. It’s one of his shortest books and also the first of his well-known leadership fable books to my knowledge. The audio version was about an hour and a half. I listened to just about the whole thing while supervising my kids in the swimming pool on vacation one afternoon. Water was WAAAY too cold for me so I opted for some Lencioni instead.

This was maybe the most simple of all the books I’ve read from Lencioni. Simple story and five simple principles that have a significant and disproportionate impact on leadership and team success. It was a brief book, but it came at a good time for me as I’ve been stretched lately through having to lead at a higher level. It’s not just for CEO’s, but for anyone really leading a team and who is in a position to steward organizational mission, vision, and values.

The five temptations are essentially these:

  1. Status (protecting self over focusing on results)
  2. Popularity (wanting people to like you instead of holding them accountable and making the needed decisions)
  3. Certainty (wanting to avoid risk and failure)
  4. Harmony (wanting to avoid tension and uncomfortability in the team)
  5. Invulnerability  (Maintaining distance and avoiding authenticity)

Here’s his model in simple form as it’s covered on his website. You can download the model here in pdf form.

Much of these principles are unpacked in more detail in later books, especially The Five Dysfunctions and Getting Naked. So I don’t know if paying full price for this book is what you need to do. I would think a lot of it can be gleaned from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. But for the price, it was a great and simple overview of some key things. Of all the ones here, the temptation of certainty was the one that was most helpful for me right now. It’s the one least covered in other books I’ve read so maybe that’s where I found a lot of value here. But overall – it provided a great opportunity for self-assessment and to explore possible development and change moving forward.

It was a great hour and fifteen minutes – I listened at 1.25x speed 🙂

The website for the book is here.




Quick Review: Thinking Fast and Slow

This year I worked through Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman is a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and this is a book that has won all sorts of awards and was to put it mildly – a big deal in 2011 and 2012.  Books on decision making since have been influenced greatly by Kahneman’s work – including Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, which I reviewed a few weeks ago.

This book as mentioned focuses on decision making – especially the working of the mind in navigating facts and intuition. Kahneman demonstrates how the human decision-making system is, in fact, two systems. The first is a fast system that processes information quickly and intuits proper responses while the second system is slow. This system is deliberate and intentional to analyze all the data and memory involved to make a calculated decision.

Kahneman in this book is focused on where human beings make errors in judgment, offering ideas for how to guard against some of the very human mistakes we often made. The bulk of the book is unpacking these intuitive mistakes, assumptions about knowing and decisions that he calls heuristics.  The book is over 500 pages and is quite detailed with a lot of data so I cannot hope to offer a summary on all these, though I will highlight a few. But – if you are afraid of reading a 500-page book, I found this summary online that is detailed, but brief enough to give you a pretty thorough understanding of the book in a few pages.  Check out the pdf download of that summary here.

Some of the heuristics or intuitive fallacies Kahneman covers that I found of great interest were the narrative fallacy, the hindsight illusion, the planning fallacy, the optimistic bias, and the thinking narrowly bias.  These are incredibly helpful as it relates to leadership and macro level oversight.

There are so many ways in which false ideas creep into the minds of leaders and leadership times because of many of these fallacies and biases anchored in short-cut thinking. It’s imperative for leaders to think deeply so that plans and budgets are informed by more rational and wise thought processes. We need the short-cut thinking to survive in this world because otherwise we would be paralyzed.  But the value of the book is learning when it is important to slow down and how to be aware of potential ways we might be deceiving ourselves from the facts.

These things are incredibly important for Christian leaders and ministries where you have a spiritual dimension to how events and circumstances are interpreted.  Ministries and churches are just as vulnerable to these fallacies and in the case of a few – maybe even more vulnerable.  It’s important to develop leaders and teams that know when to slow down and when to check their assumptions for the sake of wise decision making.

This book is rich and detailed and it’s implications are far reaching. I thought a lot about baseball analytics in this as well, but really it is a book about human systems and decision making. If you want something to really expand your mind and challenge some of your thinking – I highly recommend Thinking, Fast and Slow.


The Fork in the Road

When was the last time you had a huge decision you needed to make where you felt like a lot was at stake either way?

That’s kind of where our family has been the last many months – trying to discern God’s will for us in this next season of our lives, leadership, and ministry. Do we continue to live, serve, and work in a different part of the world or do we return home to much that is familiar?

Last month my oldest daughter, in a moment of honest inquiry, asked me, “Dad – how do you know what the right decision is?”  She elaborated by asking, “What if we stay and I end up wishing we went home?  And what if we go home and I wished we had stayed?”


I loved the moment as a parent to connect with my daughter over what feels like a massive fork in the road with a lot at stake.  There was some anxiety, but really it was an honest wrestling over potential grieving and of the fear of making the wrong decision – of enduring feared consequences and facing loss.

But the reality is our daughter mirrored the question both my wife and I have been wrestling with for some time – how do we know? And what happens if end up wishing we had made a different decision?

We have plenty of perspective and training as it relates to making decisions or discovering God’s will, but when there’s a lot at stake there’s still the lingering pressure to “get it right.”

But the reality is we’ll never know the alternative universe in which we live a life as if we made a different decision.  Part of walking by faith is not just trusting in God for the best decision moving forward, but it’s trusting in God’s sovereignty and goodness in every step of the journey after the decision. There’s a freedom in that despite the gravity of the decision making and in this decision process of ours it’s that freedom and confidence we want our kids to experience and know.

We don’t yet know definitively what the Lord has for us, but as a family it’s been a formational journey together developing trust and confidence in a good and sovereign God.