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Showing 1-10 of 36 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 78 reviews
on June 1, 2013
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "So, these are our three criteria for identifying the controlling insight, the One Thing: it must apply across a wide range of situations, it must serve as the multiplying factor that elevates situations, it must serve as the the multiplying factor that elevates average to excellent and it must lead to more precise actions."

2- "Success come most readily to those who reject balance, who instead pursue strategies that are intentionally imbalanced...this kind of lopsided focus actually increases capacity and fuels your resilience."

3- "The challenge: to figure out the best way to transform these talents (of employees) into performance. This is the job of the great manager."

4- "Great leaders rally people to a better future. And the two key words in this definition are "better future.""

5- "If the core talent of great managers is an instinct to coach others toward success, then optimism and ego are the talents underpinning all great leadership."

6- "The key thing about leading is not only that you envision a better future, but also that you believe, in every fiber of your being, that you are the one to make this future come true. You are the one to assume the responsibility for transforming the present into something better."

7- "Great managers play chess...Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it."

8- "The Three Levers..What are the three things you need to know about a person in order to manage him or her effectively? Strength and Weakness...Triggers...Style of Learning."

9- "So, while great managers discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it, great leaders do the inverse. The One Thing every great leader knows he must do is: Discover what is universal and capitalize on it."

10- "A leader must not be clear on all points, and that one of the areas in which he should allow significant ambiguity is in the strategies and tactics selected by his employees."

11- "Any one of the these disciplines, when practiced with rigor, will help you increase your effectiveness as a leader. 1) Take Time to Reflect 2) Select Your Heroes with Great Care 3) Practice."

12- "What they (leaders) must be is clear. Above all else, they must never forget the truth of all the human universals - our need for security, for community, for clarity, for authority, and for respect - our need for clarity, when met, is the most likely to engender in us confidence, persistence, resilience, and creativity."

13- "...the One Thing we all need to know to sustain our success: Discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it."

14- "Great enthusiasm and success occur in the land of the familiar and similar. The more similar a new challenge is to one of your existing areas of mastery, the more likely you are to learn quickly, to persevere, to set high goals and to achieve them."
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on May 21, 2016
Pros
- Thought provoking. 
- He makes a distinction between managers and leaders. He challenges the classic thinking of "everybody is a leader” or “management is leadership” and makes convincing arguments about the difference in roles of managers and leaders.
- Great managers have to turn talent into performance. That means recognizing talent and finding the right opportunities. Not unique though
- Generally on point on the qualities desired for great management. Hiring - talks about behavioral techniques in assessing people, Set clear expectations - SMART goals, Praise and Recognition - Praise often and suit to the recipients needs. Care for people - Duh!. He augments that with utilizing unique strengths of people and tailoring management time and quality to match that. All good. He ignores succession planning and institutionalization of processes/practice though which I think is a key aspect of management too. 
- Agree with his belief that great managers should focus on strengths and less on weaknesses. Challenge your people. 
- His advice on the steps to deal with developing employees that are struggling is sound. Impart training, pair up with a partner or offer structural help. If all fails, rearrange the employees working world? Ok so may be a different job opportunity might work but he fails to mention that sometimes the employee just isn’t a good fit. good managers should know when it’s not good practice to continue a relationship. 
- Practical advice on recognizing triggers of employees. One has to be careful though of too much specialized handling or you risk team cohesion at times
- Good breakdown on different learning styles of employees and good managers begin able to recognize and adjust
- I really liked his set of questions for identifying the three levers in future and current employees (strengths, trigger, learning)
- Great example of leadership with Rudy Giuliani’s speech snippet in the aftermath of 911. “I don’t know what the final number will be, but it will be more than we can bear.”
- Learning about the fascinating catalogue “human universals” by Donald Brown. He picks the top 5  (need for security, community, clarity, authority and respect) and how it is central to leadership to understand their interplay. Cool concept. Clarity wins!
- Lucid explanation of the key concepts around great leadership. Who do we serve? Core strengths? Core score? Leaders understand when there is a need to introduce good behaviors and pursue that with rigor.
- Great distillation of leadership discipline. Reflection, choosing heroes carefully, practice are all great ideas and generally held in great esteem in leadership practice. 

Cons
Explains the controlling insight for happy marriages to be the ones where partners are overly generous about each others qualities. it all boils down to perception and mind game. Obviously he is only shining the light on a existing body of research, there was little offered to convince of the model at play. It’s clever advice but isn’t actionable by the vast majority 😃

Don’t agree with his assertion that “success doesn’t come to those” that aspire to well-roundedness, breadth and balance. I agree that prioritization is important. I agree that some items need disproportionate attention than others but as a manager one needs to have a certain “jack of all trades” skills. Leadership is the attitude that sits on top of those skills.

He is right on pushing back on the utopian vision of “everybody can be a leader”. I think though that setting that sort of expectation for the entire org allows a common operating framework and allows for leadership to emerge naturally. IMO leadership is a matter of attitude - it’s not title or position. It’s not always that leadership is all about crisis. It can happen at a microcosmic level for e.g. when an engineer pushes back on short term thinking on a technical design and ensures the “right thing” gets done. 

Example of the walgreen store clerk who blew away everyone with her amazing sales performance for a great management example? How is stoking someones ego a good management principle? What happens when she leaves? Great management should also be about institutionalization - right? 

His definition of leadership as “great leaders rally people to a better future” is somewhat myopic. Leadership is multi faceted? The “how” matters as much as “what”. I  propose an alternate slightly modified definition “Great leaders consistently rally people to a better future against all odds and enable people to learn from failures” Even at this I find this somewhat limited. But I agree that “clarity” is super important to leadership and perhaps an anchoring quality but without being able to back that up with solid execution is going to make the leader ineffective.

Humility is not a required attribute of leadership? There is conflation of ego, self assurance etc. in the text where he describes this attribute and frankly I think this was more management consulting than anything else.
 
His advice for managing super sized egos of prima donnas is to play up the challenge in front of the employee. “No one has ever pulled this off before” like emphasis is not a sustainable management quality that will work in the long term. 

The three twenty per centers in his example don’t represent the world. He acknowledges that and it is true. it only shines a light on a slice of success.
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VINE VOICEon July 3, 2011
Marcus Buckingham is a National Treasure! His writing is clear, concise and laser focused. In a way that differentiates him from the than many writers who pontificate about leadership, he presents a clear picture of the differences between effective management and excellent leadership. In a nutshell, he sees management as inwardly focused on getting the best performance in the present from the current team; he sees leadership as outwardly focused on the future of the entire enterprise.

He offers the most compelling description of what makes an outstanding coach or manager - teasing maximum performance out of those he or she is charged to motivate:

"In short, the state of mind you should try to create is one where he has a fully realistic assessment of the difficulty of the challenge ahead of him, and at the same time, an unrealistically optimistic belief in his ability to overcome it. The more skilled you are at creating this state of mind in each of your people, the more effective a manager you will be." (Pages 106-7)

I have heard my friend, Dr. Scott Snook of Harvard Business School, use this quotation to great effect in explaining the remarkable success of Coach K in the twin case studies that Snook teaches about the contrasting coaching styles of Coach K and Bobby Knight. IT seems counter-intuitive that a great coach or manager combines hyper-realism with hyper-optimism, but Buckingham and Snook both make an ironclad case that this is, in fact, true in the realms of business, athletics and warfare.

As he wraps up his argument in this powerful book, Buckingham offers a pithy summary of the contrast between managers and leaders:

"To excel as a manager you must never forget that each of your direct reports is unique and that your chief responsibility is not to eradicate this uniqueness, but rather to arrange roles, responsibilities, and expectations so that you can capitalize upon it. The more you perfect this skill, the more effectively you will turn talents into performance.

To excel as a leader requires the opposite skill. You must become adept at calling upon those needs we all share. Our common needs include the need for security, for community, for authority, and for respect, but for you, the leader, the most powerful universal need is our need for clarity. To transform our fear of the unknown into confidence in the future, you must discipline yourself to describe our joint future vividly and precisely. As your skill at this grows, so will our confidence in you." (Page 284)

These examples of Buckingham's insight offer the tip of the iceberg in terms of the wisdom and common sense that he offers in this book. It provides practical guidance to anyone who aspire to manage well and to lead with integrity.
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VINE VOICEon November 24, 2011
Marcus Buckingham is better known for his work on Strengths-based success, but this is an excellent book that any manager or leader should read.

One of the key concepts I really liked is about the differences between managers and leaders.

Managers are all about PEOPLE. Their job is to align team strengths with the needs of the organization, to care for people, to show them he or she has their career in mind, to give them direction and resources and to cover their back.

Leaders are all about VISION. They have an ability to visualize a better future so clearly and they are so passionate about it, they can't help but do everything they can to make that future a reality. Their vision and passion make people follow them independently of their position in the org.

A Great Manager is a catalyst that turns people's talent into performance that is aligned with company goals. A great manager demonstrates he or she sincerely cares about the team, making employees believe their success is the manager's primary goal. Great managers get satisfaction from the small improvements in growth they see in the people they manage.

Great Leaders rally people to a better future. Great leaders are restless for change, impatient for progress and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo. The possibility of a better future burns them and propels them. Great leaders see the future so vividly they have no choice but to do everything in their power to make this future real. Great leaders are curious, bold and confident, and they have a great sense of optimism - therefore great leaders are not made, they are born.
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on June 6, 2017
Easy read with common sense approach
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on August 14, 2017
I thought the book had great advice on how to become a better manager/leader/individual performer. I thought that examples of people in these roles could have been more effective. I found more value in his point of view on the subjects as opposed to the examples he provided to highlight his points.
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on July 17, 2011
Buckingham has written a number of works in recent years to convince the reader that rather than shoring up your weaknesses one should identify strengths (Now Discover Your Strenghts) and put them to work (Go). I remained unconvinced until I read this book. Do you have natural talent to be a manager? If so, you are good at developing the potential of the people who work for you. Leadership? You bring clarity to competing ideas and an uncertain future. Are you someone who is adept at developing yourself and your own strengths? Then you are someone who doesn't give in to pressure to do things and tasks that you don't love doing.

Buckingham writes with compassion and empathy. His strength is helping people who have gotten sidetracked into roles they don't want to fulfill and aren't liking anyway back on the right road. Highly recommended.
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on April 10, 2017
Great Product!
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on March 13, 2017
Very good book with a fresh perspective concerning leading, managing, and sustaining success. Recommend to anyone seeking clarification concerning their individual strengths and developmental needs.
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on November 10, 2016
Fantastic for managers early in their careers, as well as for mature managers who want to improve their effectiveness. I agree with most of the concepts presented.
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