Getting Naked is the provocatively titled leadership book from Patrick Lencioni, the author that brought us The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. The book sells itself as a ‘business fable’, and certainly sticks to that aim. ‘Getting Naked: A Business Fable‘ is told like a story. The ‘fable’ is medium-length tale narrated by a fictional partner of a management consulting firm in the USA called Jack Bauer. I found the length to be long enough to get ‘into’ the experience, but short enough that I didn’t feel the key messages were being laboriously repeated in every chapter.
The story begins as the arrogant yet insecure Jack is chosen to oversee the acquisition of a competitor with whom he openly holds a grudge. The competitor appeared so lazy, uncommited and blasé that their offices were referred to as ‘the playground’. None of this however angered Jack more than the discovery that this ‘childlike’ company had higher margins than his!
The book follows Jack as he reluctantly immerses himself in the culture of the other firm, and learns that big business can be done in a very different way, very successfully.
The theory of the book centres around vulnerability. In response to critical clients and demanding customers, most businesses set out to prove their competence and interlectual superiority. Patrick persuasively highlights that this is shockingly, the complete opposite of what leaders should be doing. He argues that his consulting firm, Table Group successfully won, wooed and retained clients extremely well due to the transparency and vulnerability he presented to them.
Patrick Lencioni writes with authority and makes some very excellent points. In my opinion, half were genuinely inspired, and half were the kind of behaviour we all know we should be doing, and therefore would benefit from being reminded of anyway! The book is most relevant to those who serve clients as a member of a professional services firm or similar, however I believe that the culture described in the book would be beneficial in any customer-facing organisation. The author neatly summarises the key message in the final chapters which adds further clarity and a surprising amount of detail.
If you’re looking for an outline of a fascinating culture that modern leaders should aspire to, I believe that you should treat themselves to this fable and see which practical tips you can apply from within its pages.