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.

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