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Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance Paperback – December 28, 2010
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Buckingham, an authority on workplace issues, provides a road map for managers to learn for themselves and then teach their employees how to approach their work by emphasizing their strengths rather than weaknesses. He offers a six-step plan for six weeks of reading and habit-forming action for discerning strengths, along with optional tools to enhance the process such as online questions for measuring strengths and downloaded films (two of which are free). The steps of his plan are belief that the best way to compete is capitalizing on your strengths, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, volunteering your strengths at work, lessening the impact of your weaknesses on your team, effectively communicating the value of your strengths while limiting work utilizing weaknesses, and building habits and pushing activities that play to strength. Although everyone will not agree with all the elements of Buckingham's approach, he offers valuable insight into maximizing employees' strengths rather than the more common focus on weaknesses and failure. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Digital edition.
About the Author
Marcus Buckingham spent seventeen years at the Gallup Organization, where he conducted research into the world's best leaders, managers, and workplaces. The Gallup research later became the basis for the bestselling books First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Best Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (Free Press), both coauthored by Buckingham. Buckingham has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek and Fast Company. He now has his own company, providing strengths-based consulting, training, and e-learning. In 2007 Buckingham founded TMBC to create strengths-based management training solutions for organizations worldwide, and he spreads the strengths message in keynote addresses to over 250,000 people around the globe each year. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jane and children Jackson and Lilia. For more information visit: marcusbuckingham.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The first part of the book lays out the evidence for why "playing to your strengths" instead of improving your weak points is the way to succeed. I am familiar with the author's other work and that of Martin Seligman which says essentially the same thing. I thought I had removed any lingering notions about prioritizing improving weaknesses over improving strengths. I was wrong. Reading this book and thinking deeply about my beliefs and experiences showed me that the ideal of the "well-rounded" person is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche and a book like this is desparately needed to help both employees and managers understand what really drives success.
The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is because it could have been easily 70 pages shorter. There is an aburd amount of repitition; several stories could be cut out and put on the website instead. There is a story about someone named Heidi threaded throughout the book. I guess it is meant to make us understand the real-world application of the concepts. It didn't work for me. I found the exercises a much better way of making this book applicable. Exceptionally eye-opening are the questions the author asks you regarding the following three myths:
Myth 1: As you grow, your personality changes
Myth 2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness
Myth 3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team
The last myth is especially powerful. By showing you how these myths are false the book prepares your mind to accept and understand the evidence showing that playing to your strengths is crucial to success.
Buckingham presents a very clear and easy-to-understand method for discovering what your strengths actually are. It is not necessarily easy to do but this book does make it easy to understand. Once you have a better idea of your strengths you can start devoting more time to work that is suited to your strengths. Of course, how do you do that when your boss or work environment may not be initially supportive. Fortunately, the book covers this implementation in some detail and is very realistic about it.
If you are familiar with "Now, Discover Your Strengths" it is important to realize that the results from the personality test associated with that book are NOT your strengths, but rather personality traits that are only one component of your strengths. These traits change little if at all over your lifetime, whereas your strengths actually change because they are dependent on your skills and knowledge as well as your personality. Read the book to find out more about how these concepts interrelate and how devoting more time to your strengths AND less time to your weaknesses has been shown to improve your work performance.
The research Buckingham discusses can be applied to one's personal life as well; however, the book does not really touch on that. I am suspecting that this might be the subject of a future book. If so, I eagerly anticipate its release and will buy it as soon as it comes out.
To summarize, Buckingham offers solid evidence showing that shifting your time to tasks that are suited to your strengths is a key component of professional success. In addition, the book provides you with a very realistic way to identify your strengths. To top it off, there is even an extensive description of how to actually get your co-workers and management to support your efforts at focusing on your strengths. This is not pie-in-the-sky theorizing. There are actionable steps here ready to be used by anyone who is looking to achieve outstanding professional performance.
Also, each book has a code that allows you to access the website, so if you are considering buying make sure you buy it new.
I think step 6, Build Strong Habits, is of the utmost importance. I read a lot of books and can easily forget the valuable lessons I learn if I don't turn them into life habits instead of momentary thoughts. Ultimately, Buckingham gives you five tasks to schedule in your calendar:
-Daily - Quickly look over your strengths and weakness statements
-Weekly - Complete a strong week plan
-Quarterly - Review your strengths-based accomplishments with your manager
-6 Months - Analyze the changes in your strengths
-Yearly - Retake the SET survey
These actions, when scheduled and performed, will help solidify the benefit you get from the strengths model of advancement.
I think there are some better books on improving your efficiency, effectiveness and abilities, but for those who read a few books a year or a decade, I would read the Buckingham series and of course this one is in that group. Placed in with the other books, I give this one five stars. All alone, I feel there will be a lot of gaps for those who haven't read Now, Discover Your Strengths.
Enjoy reading, Tom Carpenter - SYSEDCO
1. Convince yourself that exercising your strengths is more fun and productive that spending your time shoring up your weaknesses.
2. Identify specific activities that exercise your strengths. For example, mine include
a. Determine true value
b. Learn and apply new and useful skills, knowledge
c. Creative problem solving
3. Build your job towards your strengths.
4. Stop / reduce time spent shoring up your weaknesses
5. Build a strong team by enabling each member to exercise their strengths towards delivering business value
6. Make a habit of ensuring that each person's activities around you are aligned with their strengths (including yourself :-)
The book could have been much shorter - the concept was repeated multiple times. More specifics on step 3 would also have been more useful.
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