Want to be a CEO? Read “The Motive” Today!

The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities, a book published by Patrick Lencioni in 2020, is a must-read for all CEO’s, senior leaders, and people who aspire to positions of leadership.

“Many people have wanted to be a CEO for their entire careers,” says Maren Perry, founder and president of Arden Coaching. “But why do you want it? Is it the money? The prestige? The power? Or is it the responsibility and the opportunity to build great organizations and help people be more effective?” 

In this book, Lencioni doesn’t talk about how to be a leader, he talks about why you want to be a leader in the first place. He discusses the mindset needed to become an effective leader for the people you lead — he also offers the possibility that, going through this process, perhaps you’ll realize that you shouldn’t be a leader at all! The story begins with a fable — the story of two CEO’s discussing the very different ways they lead their organizations and why. Then, Lencioni outlines the essential take-aways from his story. It’s a brief, easy, but powerful read.

“We work hard to put ourselves in a good position and take advantage of opportunities,” says Perry. “Then, one day, we are promoted to a senior level position or become a CEO. We feel we’ve earned it. But we haven’t thought through why we are really doing it or what doing it well requires. As an executive coach, I see this scenario often.”

The book resonates for executive coaches like Perry and her clients because it captures critical aspects of leading an organization — it is a fundamentally different job — it’s not what you did before. And that’s why what motivates you to want to be a CEO or senior leader is absolutely crucial.

Are You a Responsibility-Centered Leader?

True leadership comes from motivation that Lencioni calls responsibility-centered. “This is more like what you may have seen called servant-based leadership,” says Perry. “You are doing a job that no one else at your organization can do. You are doing it to take on the responsibility of making your organization stronger and more successful. What drives you is to help your employees become the best versions of themselves possible and build a thriving business.”

What Lencioni refers to as reward-centered leadership is a false leadership. Reward-centered leaders are individuals who are motivated by money, power, status, and ego. Their leadership is more about them than it is about those they lead. Lencioni writes, “I believe it’s long past time that we, as individuals and as a society, reestablished the standard that leadership can never be about the leader more than the led.” 

According to Perry, “People take this path of reward-centered leadership, but it is a dead-end. It’s not true leadership and since it never values those below, it will never maximize the organization’s possibilities.”

The Job of CEO is Different than Your Old Job

It may sound obvious, but the fundamental essence of the job is different than whatever you did to get there. Many ignore this basic fact. You may have risen to CEO because you are a talented engineer, or project manager, or marketer. But you are not an engineer anymore — you are the CEO. There is a distinct job description for CEO and a set of responsibilities that only you can do. “You need to recognize that,” says Perry, “And, as basic as it sounds, you need to make sure you like the job!”

Lencioni identifies five areas of responsibility that a CEO cannot delegate, including having difficult conversations, communicating constantly to employees, and managing employees. Responsibility-centered CEOs embrace these duties. Reward-centered CEOs do not — picking and choosing what they will do, and abdicating the others.

The book encourages readers to honestly assess themselves, which is exactly what an executive coach wants you to do. For more, read Arden Coaching’s “What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Training?

Give The Motive a read. Are you ready to be a responsibility-centered leader? Are you going to be happy with your CEO job description and the responsibilities that come with it? It’s up to you to choose. If the answer is yes, an executive coach coach can help you get there faster, but you are on your way!

To learn more about your motive, and developing genuine leadership skills, contact the executive coaches at Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.