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Oct
07
2008
Teamwork is Still the Sign of a Great Leader Maranda Gibson

Business books, for business leaders (specifically CEOs) who are looking to solidify their team's effectiveness using insightfulness and teamwork, are available by the dozens. CEOs complain about the large number of business books they must slog through just to keep up. It's not just business leaders who read these books, however. A few years ago, NFL coaches and players began to wise up to the wisdom of business leadership books. There were things they could learn from these books too.

In 2005, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni, a consultant who writes books that teach valuable leadership lessons, became the "must read" book in the NFL, passed around to coach after coach, helping them to assess their team's effectiveness. The story, according to Publishers Weekly, is "the fable of a woman who, as CEO of a struggling Silicon Valley firm, took control of a dysfunctional executive committee and helped its members succeed as a team. Story time over, Lencioni offers explicit instructions for overcoming the human behavioral tendencies that he says corrupt teams (absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results). Succinct yet sympathetic, this guide will be a boon for those struggling with the inherent difficulties of leading a group."

Also in 2005, USAToday.com reported that "Lencioni says he is stunned his book is becoming a must-read for NFL head coaches. But its enthusiasts include:

  • San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan, whose wife, Kathy, read it first and gave it to him.
  • Oakland Raiders coach Norv Turner, who thinks his copy came by way of his brother-in-law, but he's not sure.
  • San Diego Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer, who was given the book by Rolf Benirschke, the third-most-accurate kicker in NFL history. Benirschke, now retired, has passed out about 60 copies around the league.
  • Miami Dolphins rookie coach Nick Saban, who read the book in preparation for his transition from the college game at Louisiana State.
  • Cleveland Browns coach Romeo Crennel, who has used it to coordinate his talent scouts, loners who must come together as a team to somehow narrow the 300 best college players down to a handful of draftees.
  • Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, who has distributed 20-plus copies to assistant coaches and players and keeps a four-color printout of the book's pyramid on his desk to remind him of the five dysfunctions that can cripple a team."
Since Lencioni's book, coaches and players have made it a habit to read other books on leadership and management success, including Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Jim Collins' Good to Great, Spencer Johnson's Who Moved My Cheese?, and many others.
Are there any leadership books you can think of that would translate well in the sports environment?

 

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