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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *