Saturday, April 23, 2011

"First, Break All the Rules" by Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman

I try to be judicious when I use the phrase: "This is a must read book," but in the case of "First, Break All the Rules," the phrase is justified. I became aware of this work when I heard my friend, Dr. Scott Snook of Harvard Business School, refer to the work in several of his lectures. The sub-title of the book tells all that a reader needs to know about its theme and value: "What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently." In recent years, there has emerged a spate of books talking about leadership development, but a dearth of worthwhile writing about the role of a manager in a successful enterprise. Buckingham and Coffman use Gallup Organization data to move the needle to a more balanced position.

Using meta-analysis of interviews with over 80,000 managers, the authors have distilled the essence of what differentiates a great manager from an average manager to six salient questions.

"The most powerful questions are those with a combination of the strongest links to the most business outcomes. Armed with this perspective, we now know that the following six are the most powerful questions:

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. Do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for my good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?"
(Pages 33-34)

As you think about this list, how do you stack up as a manager? How does your current supervisor rate? The authors follow up with the statement that a person's immediate supervisor is a more significant indicator of employee performance and retention than company-wide initiatives or culture.

This book does a terrific job of highlighting the major differences between what it means to be a leader and a manager:

"The most important difference between a great manager and a great leader is one of focus. Great managers look inward. They look inside the company, into each individual, into differences in style, goals, needs and motivation of each person. These differences are small, subtle, but great managers need to pay attention to them. These subtle differences guide them to the right way to release each person's unique talents and performance." (Page 63)

4 Keys to Success

The authors have reduced the art of great management down to 4 keys:
  1. Select for Talent
  2. Define the Right Outcomes
  3. Focus on Strengths
  4. Fit the Right fit
"Bear in mind that these Keys are not steps. They are not a structured series of actions intruding on your natural style. Rather, each Key is a simply a way of thinking, a new perspective on a familiar set of challenges. As we mentioned in the introduction, our purpose is to help you capitalize your style by showing you how great managers think, not to replace your style with a standardized version of theirs." (Page 213)

This book is useful to professionals who are currently operating in the role of a manager. It is also valuable to each woman or man who is in the midst of figuring out how to get the most out of the resource of their current manager - or to consider leaving to find a manager who "gets it."



1 comment:

Craig said...

I absolutely love this book. The Strengthsfinders 2.0 book & quiz accompanies this book nicely.