Patrick Lencioni — Sources of Inspiration & Direction


Last week my father (Bert Decker) had lunch with Patrick Lencioni, President of The Table Group and author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Death By a Meeting and other books.

My father knew I was a fan of Patrick‚Äôs books and principles, so before he left for lunch he asked if I had any questions for Patrick. I quickly came up with a few. Unexpectedly, Patrick honored me by emailing me his answers. These are too good not to share with you…

How do you uncover or spot management principles for your books?

Observations, observation, observation. I am not a scientific researcher, in the classic sense of the word. I just observe the behaviors and trends around me, and try to make sense of them in a way that others can grasp. My first book, The Five Temptations of a CEO, was based on my observations of a handful of leaders I worked with, and a theory that I came up with. I didn’t plan to write a book about it until one of my clients said “you should write a book about it”. After giving it some thought, I decided to write a fiction story that my clients would actually want to read to the end. And after contemplating taking it to Kinkos to make copies to distribute to clients, a publisher saw it, and decided to buy it. And it became an accidental best-seller.

I had the opportunity to meet Jim Collins recently, and during a conversation I confessed that my methods of research were far less rigorous or data driven than his. He explained that Peter Drucker’s work is all based on field research, like mine, and if readers resonate with the concepts, then they are as valid as anything else. Whew! I was glad to hear that.

Where are things headed – historic management principles vs. future?

My initial reaction is to say that leaders are going to get back to basics, but that may be a self-serving answer. My tendency is to reduce the complexity of theory so that people can actually implement concepts in the real world. I think that most people are not only intelligent enough to succeed, but most often, too intelligent for their own good. Perhaps the future will be less about intellectual insight and decision science, and more about implementation science.

Okay, now that I’ve considered this a llittle bit more, I would say that I see a growing trend toward understanding the spiritual/Christian influence on leadership. So many of the leading thinkers on organizational theory and leadership are Christians. And I don’t think this is an accident. I recently had the wonderful opportunity to meet Ken Blanchard, and he explained how much of leadership thinking is rooted in the teachings and actions of Christ. As a believer, I certainly see and believe this to be true. It seems that more and more people are coming to this conclusion too. I hope that continues.

Finally, I hope the future will call on leaders to be more direct about people and problems within their organizations. Companies that cannot face their issues and deal with behavioral problems will probably pay a larger and larger price for it in an increasingly competitive world, and hopefully, this will place a greater premium on honesty and clarity. There is still so much opportunity for improved effectiveness in organizations if politics and disingenuity (is that a word?) can be reduced.

What are the books and people you read?

I am not an avid reader. That is probably due to my schedule, which is currently overwhelmed by work, three little boys, and my wife. So I don’t have a lot of reading time. However, I would say that Jim Collins is at the top of my list of business authors. Nothing new there. I also love Ken Blanchard’s “Servant Leadership” book. What else? Who else? I read bits and pieces of other books, but because I don’t want to cloud my own thinking, and more importantly, because I have so little time, I don’t do a lot of reading. With the exception of The Bible, Dr. Seuss, and The Purpose-Driven Life. There is a young Catholic author named Matthew Kelly who I like a lot too.

Where do you go for inspiration?

In a physical sense, the trail and the shower. The trail is where I run, and the shower is where I think. Frankly, they’re probably the only places where I am alone. I do my best thinking, however, when I am in a room as a passive observer. In other words, when other people are talking and I’m required to be silent, usually that’s when my mind starts to work best. I do my writing at a local hotel, The Lafayette Park Hotel, because I get too easily distracted at home and at the office. And it allows me to go home for dinner and to put the kids to bed.

Thank you Patrick!

2 Responses

  1. Deckers and Books

    I linked to Sam at Decker Marketing the other day. Sam was nice enough to send us another link that he thought our biz book readers would be interested in. Sam’s father Burt had lunch with Patrick Lencioni (Death by…

  2. Deckers and Books

    I linked to Sam at Decker Marketing the other day. Sam was nice enough to send us another link that he thought our biz book readers would be interested in. Sam’s father Burt had lunch with Patrick Lencioni (Death by…

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