Customer Review

130 of 132 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of quality, though some of it is recycled material, March 10, 2005
This review is from: The One Thing You Need to Know: ... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success (Hardcover)
Buckingham's book is very good overall; the practical anecdotes he provides of people actually DOING the "one thing" are compelling, and his style is entertaining, and yet no-nonsense.

In giving us "the one thing," Buckingham emphasizes the need for what he calls the "controlling insight" to provide a means not only for getting on to the field of play, but "how to win and keep winning the game."

Armed with this description, he unveils what, based on his considerable experience and research, he considers the controlling insight about great managing, great leading, and sustained individual success.

Here are the "one things" for each:

Managing: "Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it."

Leading: "Discover what is universal and capitalize on it."

Sustained individual success: "Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it."

Along the way, Buckingham provides some excellent points of focus, including a very important differentiation between managing and leading that too many of his contemporaries have overlooked: "When you want to manage, begin with the person. When you want to lead, begin with the picture of where you are headed."

Predictably though, much of the argument for each of the three controlling insights is predicated upon strengths theory, which Buckingham and Clifton popularized with "Now, Discover Your Strengths." In the management chapter, the anecdotes more or less focus on individuals who are able to identify the strengths of their people, and put them to the best possible use. In the sustained individual success chapter, he takes strengths theory a step further, advocating not only discovering your strengths and cultivating them, but eliminating, or managing, those areas in which you are weak as a primary (where "Now" made it more secondary) pursuit.

It is primarily for these chapters that I say some of the material is recycled. However, when you have the research to back up the claims, as Gallup (for whom Buckingham no longer works) certainly does with the StrengthsFinder instrument, you can hardly deviate from it very far.

Another way in which the material is somewhat recycled, though, is in its similarity to Collins' "Good to Great." Buckingham praises the work of Collins in some points, but takes minor swipes at it in others. This is a strange irony in the book, as Buckingham's arguments are very similar to those of Collins, just phrased differently. For example: Collins' "level 5 leadership" entails what he calls "The Stockdale Paradox"--a willingness to look at the brutal reality of the situation, but remain hopeful and determined that one will overcome it. Now, from Buckingham: "When I say leaders are optimistic I mean simply that nothing--not their mood, not the reasoned arguments of others, not the bleak conditions of the present--nothing can undermine their faith that things will get better."

Buckingham's slightly different definition of words like optimism (which could easily be defined as hope) and humility cause him to see Collins in a slightly different light, in spite of the fact that their findings are almost exactly the same. I found myself slightly disappointed by this, but I would recommend this book nevertheless, as it is an excellent compendium of insights overall from a man that few would dispute has become a global leader in these areas.

One humorous note: I'm fairly certain Buckingham has signed a two book deal with Free Press, so I'm anxiously awaiting the second book, especially as he has already given us "The One Thing You Need to Know." :-)
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 2, 2011 12:06:48 AM PDT
Your note at the end was good for a chuckle!
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