Book Review: First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham


Yesterday I finished  First, Break All The Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman from Gallup Organization. This is a good book that managers at different levels should read. This may turn out to be a bit heavy for entry level managers but may be not. The reason I mention it is because you have to know the conventional management rules (which entry level managers usually won’t know yet) before you try to break those. I found the book full of ideas.

The book starts with 12 characteristics of a strong workplace based on the employees answers of the following questions.

  1.  Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2.  Do I have the equipment and material I need to do my work right? 
  3.  At work, 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 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?
  7.  At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8.  Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my work is important?
  9.  Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
  10.  Do I have a best friend at work?
  11.  In the last six months, have I talked to someone about my progress?
  12.  This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

As a manager, our job is to make sure employees have a resounding yes as an answer to each of those above so that we can attract and retain top talents.

A key idea in this book is that the traditional leadership conventions underplay the role of managers. Great managers look inward, inside the company, into the individual, into the differences in style, goals, needs and motivations of each person. They then find the right way to release each person’s unique talents into great performance. By contrast, great leaders look outward. They look out of the company, into the future, and seek out alternative routes. They are visionaries, strategic thinkers, activators. The core activities of a manager and a leader are very different. If you want great managers, you must stop insisting that they be great leaders and let them concentrate on their talent, which is, managing.

Four wisdoms from great managers are extracted out as follows.

  1. Select for Talent: select the right person for the job
  2. Define the Right Outcomes: set appropriate expectations
  3. Focus on Strengths: motivate the person
  4. Find the Right Fit: develop the person

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