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Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World Hardcover – April 2, 2019
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From the Publisher
"Nine Lies About Work, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, the year's best management book, challenges the assumptions that underlie contemporary managerial practices, many of which date back to Drucker's day. In doing so, the book offers a glimpse of a new management paradigm that may prove to be better suited to the times." -- strategy+business magazine
Named one of "Our 10 favorite new books for people managers" by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Managers)
One of the Financial Times "Business Books of the Month"
Named a Bloomberg Businessweek pick
Named one of "14 business books everyone will be reading in 2019" by Business Insider
Named one of "10 Leadership Books to Watch for in 2019" by the Washington Post
Named one of "10 Business Books You Need to Read in 2019" by Inc. magazine
Named one of "The 19 New Leadership Books to Read in 2019" by Adam Grant on LinkedIn
"Nine Lies is utterly readable, often entertaining, and not just polite, but carefully reasoned and argued using some unusual real-world examples and even some from literature." - Human Resource Executive (hrexecutive.com)
"leads to some free thinking about the way we do our jobs and how we can approach what we do in a different way." -- Financial Times
"If a business book teaches me something new--and offers a fresh perspective on leadership--then I know it's a rare find in the category. Nine Lies About Work is just such a book. It's so thought provoking, I contacted the authors to speak with them directly." -- Forbes
"…should be on every boss's bookshelf." -- Management Today
"a stimulating, no-nonsense, research-based look at things you likely believe that aren't true – and how to apply the new findings." -- The Globe and Mail
"The act of work is human. Leading and following and working together is about human interaction and human relationships. The workplace, and the marketplace beyond it, is about emotions and attention and the desire to be seen. It is about trust and, yes, it is about love. I am always grateful to be reminded of that, to see it again clearly, to have it acknowledged. Nine Lies About Work is a great reminder, and a great guide." -- 800 CEO READ
"Give a copy of this book to everyone in your organization who's leading a team and make it essential reading." -- The Hamilton Spectator
"If you're looking for a refreshing read that challenges the conventional wisdom of the business world, this is a book for your shelf." -- TD magazine (Association for Talent Development)
"There is much we can learn about managing and leading our schools from its pages." -- Inside Higher Ed
Advance Praise for Nine Lies About Work:
In today's complex world, we instinctively seek simplicity. But in many cases, it's easier to lie to ourselves than it is to face the harsh reality--to see more of what want to see than how things really are. In Nine Lies About Work, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall shine a light on just how dangerous those lies can be, especially in the context of our careers. Combining engaging stories about the modern workplace with nuanced quantitative analysis, Nine Lies About Work debunks the myths that surround leadership, planning, and balance in the corporate world. Everyone who reads this book is sure to be a better employee, but more importantly, a better leader. -- Gen. Stan McChrystal (Ret’d), United States Army
About the Author
Marcus Buckingham is a global researcher and thought leader focused on unlocking people's strengths, increasing their performance, and pioneering the future of how people work. He is head of all people and performance research at the ADP Research Institute and the author of several bestselling books, including StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work (Harvard Business Review Press).
Ashley Goodall is Senior Vice President of Leadership and Team Intelligence at Cisco. Previously he was Director and Chief Learning Officer, Leader Development, at Deloitte. He is the coauthor, with Marcus Buckingham, of two Harvard Business Review cover stories, "Reinventing Performance Management," in April 2015 and "The Feedback Fallacy," in March/April 2019.
Change the world of work. Join the coalition: freethinkingleader.org
Author social media/website info:
Buckingham: MarcusBuckingham.com, @mwbuckingham
Goodall: linkedin.com/in/ashleygoodall/, @littleplatoons
- Item Weight : 1.15 pounds
- Hardcover : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1633696308
- ISBN-13 : 978-1633696303
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Publisher : Harvard Business Review Press (April 2, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #30,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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With regard to the book's title, they explain, "We could call these things 'misconceptions' or 'myths,' or even 'misunderstandings,' but because they are pushed at us so hard, almost as if they're used to steer us away from the world as it truly is, we'll call them 'lies.'" A freethinking leader "knows that the only way to make the world better tomorrow is to have the courage and wit to face up to how it really is today."
We all know that there have been several major changes in the traditional workplace in recent years. Just as there are significant implications for individuals (Marcus Goldsmith suggests "What got you here won't get you there"), there are also significant implications for organizations, whatever their size and nature may be. Traditional assumptions need not be "lies" literally. Rather, they could be well-entrenched organizational habits, such as the chains that Warren Buffett characterizes as "too light to notice until they are too heavy to break." As indicated, Buckingham and Goodall focus on nine of them. They have much of great practical value to say about "how it really is today," devoting a separate chapter to each of the "lies."
This book ALSO has two especially valuable appendices. First, "The ADPRI's Global Study of Engagement" co-authored by Mary Hayes, Frances Chumney, Corinne Wright, and Buckingham who share the results of nineteen-country study that measured the relative levels of engagement in each country, "and to identify the conditions at work that are most likely to attract and keep talented employees." (See Pages 237-245) Next, "Seven Things We know For Sure at Cisco" co-authored Roxanne Bisby Davis and Goodall (247-260) in which they discuss the characteristics of Cisco's best teams as well as "the relationship between attention and performance, the relative importance of team and company in our experience of work, and much more." They focus on the seven highlights of what they have discovered so far.
The best business books are research-driven and that is certainly true of this one. Few of Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall's insights are head snappers. However, most of them repudiate assumptions about today's workplace culture that are either obsolete or flat-out wrong.
One of the greatest challenges that leaders now face is changing how they think about change. What got their organizations here won't even allow them to remain here, much less get to there, whatever and wherever "here" and "there" may be in today's global marketplace. There are no guarantees that how it really is now will remain true...and that's no lie.
I recall another person's negative review and how that person took aim at a chapter that, according to the reviewer, afforded Messi's success in soccer entirely to his left foot as if it was as disembodied appendage. So, I was forewarned and looked for that chapter, ready to see what inane idea was being presented. And, instead, I found the chapter on Messi incredibly relevant and interesting and realized that the reviewer had completely missed the point! It isn't that Messi's success is just due to his "foot". No, their point was that the common wisdom (the "Lie" if you will) that we should all be well-rounded was proven false by the fact that Lionel Messi is one of the best soccer players to hit the pitch precisely because he isn't "well rounded" -- his right foot skills lag significantly to his left. But, by focusing on his strengths and making them stronger -- that is why he is successful.
In another chapter they take aim at a commonly misunderstood study on the "wisdom of crowds" and to my great delight, not only show why that study is so often misapplied, but also included a calculation of the number of atoms in a typical Ox. Which, for those who care, I double-checked and I got almost the identical result, which when dealing with numbers on the order of 10^28 is quite amazing.
If you want to understand what makes Cisco a compelling place to work and grow, this is a great place to start.
Top reviews from other countries
Particular enjoyed the sections on leadership, talent (potential) and work-life balance.
We live in a world determined by the narrative that we read and tell ourselves.
A welcome reminder that not everything we know and believe is true.
1: People care for the Mission of the company and its Future…..The talk about company culture is good to convey some of the beliefs to outside world and helps attract the right fit among the potential employees. Once in, the most employee cares about is the team he works with- its shared values, practices and mutual trust. Author suggests taking team as unit of analysis for diagnosis, and interventions more often than is prevalent today. This would allow for greater insights and more nuanced intervention designs- which would off-course involve team leader at its core.
2. Best crafted plan rarely wins, as it is based on fleeting reality and general assumptions- and expects adherence by team members who know that realities are continually changing. Plans often dictate sequencing of activities and timings, resources allocation, and member roles, which bring in certain structure and predictability in the execution. To keep plans relevant, companies do undertake periodic revisions at regular intervals. Alternately, author talks about broad plans that are detailed on weekly basis and primarily driven by sharing of intelligence and data among all and relying on users’ ability to make sense of the data or new intelligence. Weekly check by team leader leads to 13% increase in team engagement while monthly check in decreases engagement!
3 Basic assumption behind emphasis on top-down cascading of goals, is that the deficit in performance is on account of misaligned efforts and actions by the team. Is it really so? Goals are seldom able to influence performance, although they help predict performance at aggregate level! Associated with the goal exercise is the calendar based tracking and evaluation system- which has some obvious limitations. Author professes the need to align meaning, purpose, mission across the organization hierarchy and teams instead of only goals for enhancing the engagement level among teams.
4 While competencies framework aims to create well-rounded managers and templated leaders, the excellence comes from people who have spiked personalities with clearly supreme abilities and associated idiosyncrasies. High performers understand their unique and distinct skills and cultivate these skills intelligently. If leaders are in outcome providing business, should find ways to exploit team members’ uniqueness and not make each to focus on personal deficits. Competencies profiling at team levels may be a better option.
5. Ability to provide negative feedback is an important skill and that employees finally gain from such candid feedback- goes the prevailing corporate wisdom. Neurologically speaking, we are more comfortable in learning in areas, where we are already good. People gain lot more, if they are interrupted when they deliver their best, help them analyze their own flow and push them to extend that state in other new and adjacent areas. Do not confuse social media behavior of the millennium as need for feedback for improvement, it is for attention and positive reinforcement.
6 Rating others objectively on abstract parameters like business acumen, suffers from various limitations including raters own bias, limited data availability and often lack of shared meeting of the term being evaluated. Decisions based on such flawed assessments about someones’ potential are questionable. And if the errors are more systemic, then averaging assessments of multiple raters won’t help. Author suggest that to make the data about people more reliable, valid and variable, questions needs to be reframed in a way that managers respond basis their experience and intend then overall raring the person. Instead of asking how collaborative person is, ask how comfortable team feels when he is the part of the team! How often you ask a team member for suggestion instead of rating member on his innovation competency!
7 Is potential a trait in a person with which one is born or a state, which is an outcome of what he has learnt and experienced before? And if potential is linked to learning and performing, then each has its own areas where he can be better at and none of us can rewire our brain to be excel at everything. As value maximization machines, organizations need to extract maximum potential from all then only from those in labeled Hi-Po. Authors suggest that instead of potential, we should look at individual momentum, which included his inherent strength as mass, and learnt skills and experiences as velocity (with defined direction) which allows individual to herald with certain momentum in one directions than another. This allows for constructive dialogue around selecting appropriate career paths that capitalizes on the current momentum of an individual.
8 Work is inherently bad and you get compensated for indulging in work and that compensation help you live life…is the prevailing assumption behind the work-life balance dialogue. Not all work is boring and not everyone finds excitement in the work in a particular way. Everyone may love some dimension of his work, that component needs to be consciously enhanced and interspersed, so that everyone can get to spend time in love with work. Instead of get work done through people, get people discover self through work!
9 Leadership is best described in terms of felt experience of followers on their ability to be collective and individual best, when associated with a particular leader. Leading isn’t a set of characteristics but a series of experiences seen through the eyes of followers.. Leaders are not followed for they have no faults or gaps but they have something unique and deep that we value. And as followers, we are fairly forgiving to the flaws of a leader, so long as he brings confidence and certainty to us on the dent of unique and personal mastery.
Authors, through this provocative book tried to bring forth the flaws in our ways of thinking and managing people growth and performance challenges at workplace, by labelling them a lies. They have also provided alternate truism against each lie, and to some extent also shared ways to manage basis the alternate trues.
At the core, author wants organizations to: give more recognition to individual uniqueness then template-driven predefined clustering of employees; use teams as unit of analysis and intervention more often than individuals and organization; introduce life in work; and stop developing perfect leaders.
Sane advice, worth remembering, always!