The Five Temptations of Teachers
Written by Jim Knight.
September 22, 2010

I recently read Patrick Lencioni’s executive fable, The Five Temptations of a CEO.  According to Lencioni, “All leaders struggle because … they are susceptible to one or more of five temptations:”

  • Choosing status over results
  • Choosing popularity over accountability
  • Choosing certainty over clarity
  • Choosing harmony over productive conflict
  • Choosing invulnerability over trust

“The key to success,” according to Lencioni, “is not to avoid the susceptibility to the five temptations… The key is to embrace the self-examination that reveals the temptations and to keep them in the open where they can be addressed.”

The question that came to my mind as I read Lencioni’s wise and entertaining book was: “What are the five temptations of teachers?”  What temptations should teachers keep in mind as they reflect on their teaching practices?

Over the next five posts, I’ll do my best to offer my answers to that question.  I hope too that you’ll share your ideas about your answers to the question as well.

Lencioni, again, writes about the challenge of reflecting on our practices and resisting temptations: “Like so much of life, it is a messy, constant, and unavoidable process, but one that great leaders welcome.”  Let the messiness begin!


  1. Brandon

    As a teacher, I wonder where “choosing thoroughness over convenience” might fit here?

    Jim, as I said before, I really appreciate your blog. Have you got your copy of Frank Smith’s “Book of Learning and Forgetting” yet? I’m in the middle of Daniel Pink’s “Drive” right now – which, as you may know, is about motivation. His message is very timely considering current education trends.

  2. Jim Knight

    Hi Brandon, I now have the book, but haven’t read it yet. I’m currently reading Wounded By School, but Frank Smith is next on my list. I think you are right about Drive too.


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