The One Thing You Need to Know… – Marcus Buckingham (Part 4)

To those that actually read this blog, and were wondering when the next instalment in this book review series…it’s here! Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I’ve been very very busy and haven’t actually been able to dedicate much time to reading, let alone post blogs about reading!

Anyway, this is the last part to the summary and review of Buckingham’s book, and will be looking at strengths and weaknesses…

So what is your core strength? Walgreens (for those from the UK – Walgreens has a partnership with Boots) is the largest retailer store because it is the most convenient, not necessarily the cheapest. Microsoft has built its empire around its strength in partnering with large corporations, not its applications. Steve Jobs has been able to build a successful business by providing cool technology and making it easy to use. Buckingham believes that getting your strengths together and making your weaknesses irrelevant is by far the most effective. It determines where you should be spending money and where you shouldn’t. You don’t have to be right, you have to be clear and the followers will make it right. What is our core score. What gets measured gets managed. The core score determines how far you have come and where you need to go. Knowing what number of engaged employees you have is one of the most important scores. Best Buy utilised increasing the number of engaged employees which resulted in increased profitability. This brought clarity to his people and made employees more confident, resilient and creative. Sort through your scores and pick one that fits the people you are trying to sell to.

What actions can you take today? A leader must take action as action leads to success. Actions are clear and give direction where to focus. Clarity is vital to effective leadership. Discipline can be effective and you must take time to reflect and focus on success. Select heroes with great care as they can have a leadership role. The best leaders always practice. Effective leaders seek out newer and bigger audiences and give the same speech. Like Martin Luther King’s repetitious speech, “I have a dream…” Effective leaders don’t have to be brilliant or great speakers but they must be clear, they must show what actions must be met.

Sustained individual success… Only about 20 percent of employees manage to experience extraordinary success and over the years build on those successes. They are not worn down from their efforts and become more creative. An alarming few of us end up successful and still believe we aren’t as successful as others. Surrounding yourself around those 20 percenters can help you become more engaged in your career. Time is a resource and discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it. To sustain success in your life you must recognise weaknesses and remove them from your life. Sustained success depends on your ability to reflect on your strengths, not building them but sculpting them. It has nothing to do with age or sex and sometimes not even education. Hard work is necessary but it is not sufficient. Risk taking is an openness to experience, extraversion, how highly strung you are, agreeableness, how accommodating you are and consciousness and how reliable you are. Entrepreneurs may possess more extraversion than others, but these findings only refer to a specific type of career. All 20 percenters do not share the same sustained individual success.

Talents reveal a person’s capacity, not their success. Each person is driven by their own particular definition of success. Sustained success, however, means making the most possible impact over the longest period of time. Some value family over career, while others value success through impact or religion. Take your natural talents and apply them to be really good at something and targeting those talents to be better than others. And you must stay and get better at a talent. To survive you must be resilient, flexible, open to learning, confident and devoid of stress. The one thing must show you how to win and keep winning. Contenders to consider are to find the right tactics and employ them, find your flaws and fix them, and discover your strengths and cultivate them. Identify your weaknesses and find a way to fix them. Find as many skills as possible and the more successful you will be. Think about what caused your success and examine the role of your own behaviours. Investigate your past successes and you will find a pattern of your strengths. Build your power around your strengths.

Drastic career changes do happen occasionally. And it doesn’t take long to determine if the career change was the right decision. Sustained individual success will evolve with the right career change and define your unique talents. Discovering what you don’t like and stop doing it applies when you determine the right career. If you aren’t good at something you will fail at it repeatedly. And over time you will stop doing it. Sometimes you may need to do something you fail at, but don’t put much into this as it may only strengthen you for a short time. You will contribute the most when your role closely matches your strengths. Guard doing what you love to do and how you spend your time. The more effective you are at doing what you love to do the more successful you will be. How do you stop doing what you don’t like to do and stop doing it can be challenging.

Define a standard version of what you do well. All dislikes are not created equal and must be treated differently. Dislikes can be caused by an emotion – boredom, un-fulfilment, frustration or drained. Being in the wrong role can hide your strengths. Bill Gates’ geniusness was finding the right partners. Effective partnering can help with creating success. Tactics to prove the most effective are to quit the role, tweak the role, seek out the right partners or find an aspect of the role that brings you strengths. Keep mindful that the longer you put up with aspects of your work you don’t like, the less successful you will be. Stop doing them.

So to conclude… Managing, leading and sustained individual success. Find success and satisfaction. The more you perfect your skills the more effectively you will turn talents into performance. Common needs are for security, authority and respect. The leader must have clarity. Sustained success depends on your ability to remove those activities or people that pull you off your strengths path. But it is your responsibility to make the course corrections to sustain your best contributions. The more skilled you are the more successful you will be. Remove the irritants from your life and engage in the world in a balanced life. It takes insight and discipline and courage to succeed.

Let me know what you thought of the summary? As I really like this book and it’s messages, I might do another post and give it a personal review of why I liked what Buckingham had to say! Let me know if you’d be interested in that, otherwise I’ll just start a summary of the next book… 🙂

The One Thing You Need to Know… – Marcus Buckingham (Part 3)

This part of the review is going to be summarising how great leadership comes from the way in which leaders utilise their team/subordinates.

According to Buckingham, a manager must know a person’s strengths and weaknesses, their triggers and unique style of learning.  Make employees feel the tasks they are assigned to are challenging.  People have a hidden confidence level and employees’ strengths and weaknesses must be addressed.  It is a manager’s position to figure out why an employee is struggling and if it is caused by lack of skills or knowledge rather than lack of talent.  An employee who is struggling should be provided with training in the skills they lack and then a determination should be made to see if the performance has improved.  If it hasn’t improved, no training is going to fix this.  Or it may be beneficial to assign a partner with this employee to see if that works or reassign roles to find an employee’s strengths.  However, a manager should try to resist addressing an employee’s weakness. Prescribe that employee’s strengths with new responsibilities and challenge them to put these strengths to work.

Triggers.  Buckingham details how employees respond well to recognition.  The best way to praise an employee is through his peers or directly from his manager.  Others appreciate recognition from customers.  The best way to teach a doer is to throw them into a project and let them figure things out for themselves.  Real success will come from an achiever who appreciates the challenge.  To manage an employee effectively, you must know their strengths and weaknesses, triggers and unique styles of learning.

So to really hone in on what has been discussed above, the one thing you need to know about great leading, is to discover what is unique about each person and capitalise on it.  This point reminded me of a similar piece of advice my mentor Josh gave me recently: he said “you wouldn’t give 5 different businessmen, 5 of the exact same suit and expect them to be happy with it…you need to tailor the suit to each of the businessman’s sizings and preferences”. What he was getting at is that you can’t use the same leadership style on all your employees and expect to have great results, instead you need to tailor it to suit the personalities/skills/triggers etc. of each individual. As I’m using his advice here, I suppose it’s only fair I give his new website a shoutout… so, if like me you’re from the South Coast… and if you are ever looking for quality financial advice but don’t know who to trust, then check his website out at They’ll do all the work for you!

Moving on… Buckingham believes that people have many fears – fear of death and the need for security, fear of the outsider and the need for community, fear of the future and the need for clarity, fear of chaos and the need for authority or fear of insignificance and the need for respect.  A good leader must know the needs of his employee to rally them to a better future.  Fear of the future – turning fear into confidence requires being clear as to where they are headed.  Clarity is the antidote to anxiety.  To keep your followers challenged and engaged you must provide them with a wide enough space to invent, experiment and create.

In the next part of the book summary/review… I’ll be detailing Buckingham’s views on what are the personal strengths and actions which make leaders successful. Catch you then!

The One Thing You Need to Know… – Marcus Buckingham (Part 2)

In part 1 of the review of Buckingham’s book, I’d supplied a narrative of what the text had taught me on the subject of ‘what is a great leader’. In part 2, following the order of the book and subsequently my learning, I will detail Buckingham’s thoughts on whether great leaders are born, or are they made?

A leader is born with an optimistic disposition.  If not, no amount of optimistic training will change that.  To lead effectively, a person must be rationally optimistic.  It is not learnable, either you have it or you don’t.  There is a vital distinction between the role of a manager and of a leader.  When you want to manage, begin with a person.  When you want to lead, begin with a picture of where you’re headed.

The one thing you need to know about great managing.  There are four skills to learn about not failing as a manager:  select good people to hire who already possess the talents desired, define clear expectations, praise and provide recognition for good work, and show care for the people.  Employees who receive praise and have been shown care are less likely to miss work, less likely to have accidents on the job, less likely to steal, less likely to quit and will advocate for the company.  Bonding is what we do and when we bond we can feel more secure and more willing to take risks and support each other.  Good managers want their employees to succeed.  To manage effectively you must genuinely care about the welfare of your people.  Don’t fake it as fake caring is worse than no caring.  Doing these four basic things well as a manager, you will be less likely to fail.

To succeed as a manager requires an entirely different skill.  Great managers discover what is unique about each person and capitalise on it.  The most effective way to invest your time is to identify exactly how each employee is different and figure out how to incorporate each of these into your plan of action.  Great management is not about transformation, it’s about release and constantly tweaking the world so the unique contribution and style of each employee can be given free rein.  The success of a manager will depend almost entirely on the skill of doing so.  Capitalising on each employee’s uniqueness makes them more accountable to demonstrate their best.  It also builds a better sense of team and everyone is relied upon.  And as a manager, you accelerate these feelings to each employee.

That’s all for this one… in part 3 I’ll go deeper into how Buckingham believes great leaders can understand those that they lead better.

The One Thing You Need to Know… About Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success – Marcus Buckingham (Part 1)

This is a review summary of The One Thing You Need to Know… About Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success book written by Marcus Buckingham.  Buckingham is a British-American New York Times best selling author, researcher, motivational speaker and business consultant.  He is best known for what he calls strengths, not only discovering your strengths and cultivating them but to thrive you must discover what you don’t like and stop doing it.  Buckingham’s book offers a new way to understand the art of success and further offers essential performance and career lessons for business people at any career stage.  He writes that success comes to those who remain mindful of the core insight, understand its ramifications and originate decisions around it.

Many speakers are unsure how effective their speeches are.  People want to get down to the heart of the matter and get to the core.  This book is focused on three roles as manager, leader and individual performer, which are the most critical to achieving something significant in your life to sustain and expand achievements.  What is the one thing to know about great managing – to get the best performance from people you must be able to execute a number of different roles very well.  What is the one thing to know about great leading – it requires being achievement oriented.  What is the one thing to know about individual sustained success – the key is being able to filter all the possibilities and fasten onto those few that allow a person to express the best of oneself.  Insights that are most useful are the ones that help a person know which of their actions will have the most far reaching influence in virtually every situation.  A controlling insight must guide action and point to precise things that can be done more efficiently.  Three criteria for identifying controlling insights are:  it must apply across a wide range of situations, serve as the multiplying factor that elevates average to excellent, and it must lead to more precise actions.

We live in a world of excess access which we can find whatever, whenever we want.  This instant access can be overwhelming.  It requires us to focus and to be able to focus well is to be able to filter well.  We must learn to excel at filtering the world and distinguishing between what is important and what is imperative.

Sustained organisational success.  Everyone is fascinated by leadership.  Leadership is the secret source that leads to innovation and initiative.  The conventional wisdom is that every employee should be a leader.  Reference to “level five” leaders are those who work hard to achieve a goal more quietly than others.  And not everyone is a leader nor can they play a leader as leadership requires natural talents.

How do roles of managers and leaders differ.  All great managers excel at turning one person’s talent into performance to achieve a company’s goal.  The starting point is finding each employee’s talent and making them more productive.  A manager’s primary goal is to make the employee believe in their success.  A great manager knows they have no choice and to do their job they must start with an employee’s feeling and their success is paramount.  Most managers have a coaching talent and will figure out how to make an employee succeed.  Each new victory will provide the fuel needed to continue coaching.  On the flip side, if you don’t possess a coaching instinct, these roles will not seem common.  Buckingham admits he is not a natural coach – he is a focused person and likes to work on one assignment to the next and get things done.  People seem to always be in a work-in-progress and he couldn’t see the improvements nor did they register.  Excellence in managing wasn’t for Buckingham even though he consults about it and admits he was not a good manager.

Great leaders show initiative, creativity, courage and integrity.  An effective leader may also be competitive, achievement oriented and a good coach, but these are not the characters that make an effective leader.  A leader is restless for change, impatient for progress and dissatisfied with the status quo.  A leader is never satisfied with the present because in their head they can see a better future.  Leadership propels a person forward like a superintendent, a sports coach or a minister that possess talents to coach others to success and optimism and things can get better.  Nothing will undermine their faith that things will get better.  The best leaders are clear on addressing challenges and focusing ahead.  However, many of the most effective leaders are quite reserved.

Part 2 will follow in the next few days! 🙂