Saturday, Mar 27 2010 12:00 PM

Q&A with Patrick Lencioni, bestselling author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team'

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    Patrick Lencioni

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI, Californian staff writer

Keeping things simple has worked out pretty well for Bakersfield native Patrick Lencioni.

Now a best-selling author and president and founder of management consulting firm The Table Group, Inc., Lencioni will hold a business and leadership training workshop at The Doubletree Hotel at 3100 Camino Del Rio Court on April 19. Cost is $75 per person, and the event begins with a continental breakfast and registration at 9 a.m., continuing with the workshop from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., and ending with book sales and signings from 11 a.m. to noon.

The event, presented by the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, will focus on building greater trust among teams and attaining a competitive advantage.

To register online, e-mail, or call 327-4421.

Lencioni, a Bakersfield native who now lives in Alamo, Calif., recently answered a few questions regarding the upcoming event.

Name: Patrick Lencioni

Age: 44

Question: Your topic for the upcoming workshop is "Creating a Culture of Teamwork and Employee Engagement." Why did you select that theme?

Answer: I've written a number of books. One of them, "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," has been on the Wall Street Journal bestseller list for several years and sold 1.5 million copies. Another book, "The Three Signs of a Miserable Job," is about how managers and employees can turn a job into something fulfilling and meaningful. I thought those topics would be of interest in Bakersfield.

Q: What are the most important points contained in those books?

A: The principles are about the critical importance of building trust among people and teaching them to engage in conflict in a positive way and hold one another accountable for getting better. My books are very practical. They have practical lessons that people can go out and apply right away. It's tangible information they can act on.

Q: Is your message for workplace teams and businesses, or other kinds of teams too?

A: When I wrote it I had an inkling it might be applicable to other areas, but I thought it would be mostly used by businesses. Since then I've started working with any organization you can imagine, including churches, the military and sports teams.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise in your career?

A: That people respond so well to someone who's willing to make things clear and simple. I'm not a rocket scientist and I try to simplify the things I see. People respond to simplicity and practicality.

Q: What's the most common question you get from businesses?

A: One of the things people say is "Is this stuff for real?" The impact on the bottom line, while difficult to measure, is huge. What we do is help organizations become healthier. Southwest Airlines, who we work with, is a fabulous company because of their culture. They hire people with the most incredible attitudes. It's not about finance, strategy or marketing, it starts with building a strong executive team and a strong culture.

Q: What factors make the biggest difference in workplace productivity?

A: It's having a very short list, two or three core values a company is not willing to violate for anything. That attracts employees who like those values and repels people who don't. It creates clarity in the minds of customers as well. When you have that clarity it makes things that much more simple.

Q: What's most satisfying about the work you do?

A: I think it's just seeing people improve their organizations and the lives of their employees. I think of my dad. I always wanted to fix his work situation because he deserved to be happy.

Q: Did you expect your books to sell like they have, and how has this success changed your life?

A: I never thought they would sell like this. I contemplated taking the first one to Kinko's and just making copies for clients. We've been blessed. It's increased my faith in God because it made me realize success is fleeting and temporary and I need to appreciate the things in life that matter most. I'm more grounded in my faith and my family.

Q: What else do you want people in Bakersfield to know about you?

A: I think that my upbringing in Bakersfield, with my family and faith, I think my humble upbringing has had a lot to do with my success. A lack of pretension and a desire to make things simple has helped me. I got a lot of that growing up in Bakersfield. It's not that people in Bakersfield aren't smart, it's just that they aren't pretentious.

Q: What places will you stop at while you're in town?

A: I always go to Woolgrowers. It's an institution. The owner is a friend of the family. That's an amazing organization right there. Probably I'll go there, see my cousins at Garces and spend time with my mom.

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