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Each installment of ReadSmartly is inspired by a top‐selling business
book. Our goal is to capture only the most important and compelling
ideas in each book and convey them to you as concisely as possible.
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This installment is based on Marcus
Buckingham and Curt Coffman's First,
Break All The Rules: What The Worlds
Greatest Managers Do Differently.
The greatest managers in the world
appear to have little in common.
They differ in age, race and sex. They
employ vastly different management
styles and focus on different goals.
However, despite their differences,
great managers share one trait in
common: they don't hesitate to break
almost every rule held sacred by
Marcus Buckingham is a researcher, speaker
and business consultant.
Curt Coffman is an MBA and Executive Fellow
at the Daniels School of Business and
consultant to Fortune 100 companies.
I. The Myths
Let's begin with the management myths we all grew up with. These
myths are based on conventional wisdom, while the truth is based on
MYTH: Management is less important than leadership.
TRUTH: Superior management is what leads to superior employee
MYTH: Management is the stepping stone to leadership.
TRUTH: Great leaders and great managers are very different.
MYTH: Hire individuals based on their experience, determination and
TRUTH: Hire individuals based on their strengths and talents.
MYTH: Setting expectations is about clearly defining the next steps.
TRUTH: Setting expectations is about defining the right outcomes.
MYTH: Fixing your weaknesses is the key to success.
TRUTH: Tapping your strengths is the key to success.
MYTH: Treat others as you would treat yourself.
TRUTH: Treat others according to their individual needs.
MYTH: Spend time with struggling team members to help them improve.
TRUTH: Invest all of your time in your most productive team members.
MYTH: Don't focus on individual performance, focus on how the team
TRUTH: Individual excellence and specialization is what great teams are
MYTH: Evaluate employee performance annually and focus on areas they
TRUTH: Evaluate employee performance every quarter and focus on
each individual's strengths and how to leverage them.
MYTH: Don’t get too close to your employees. It only creates problems.
TRUTH: Managers need to know their employees and understand their
strengths and personal lives.
MYTH: With enough training and willpower, you can help a poorly
performing employees do significantly better.
TRUTH: Either terminate poorly performing employees or find a role
that matches their strengths.
II. What Matters
Pay, benefits, swanky offices, working conditions and even charismatic
leaders don't matter all that much when it comes to job satisfaction and
performance. What makes all the difference is the person's immediate
If you want to know if a manager is doing a good job, just ask his/her
direct reports to rank the following statements on a scale of 1 to 5,
where a one is "strongly disagree" and a five is "strongly agree":
1) I know what's expected of me on the job each day.
2) I have all the necessary equipment and materials to do my job.
3) I feel I'm given the opportunity to do my very best.
4) In the past week, my work has been recognized.
5) I feel my supervisor truly cares about me as a human being.
6) I feel encouraged on the job and see myself developing.
7) I feel my opinions make a difference and I'm heard in the company.
8) I believe in the company's mission and feel my job matters.
9) My coworkers are doing great work and care as much as I do.
10) I have developed good friends on the job and feel comfortable.
11) Someone talks to me about my performance every quarter.
12) I feel I'm getting ample opportunities to grow and learn on the job.
III. Great Managers
Great managers score 4s and 5s on the above questions.
• They also excel at picking talent and understanding their strengths
• They never compromise by hiring subpar employees, no matter how
persuasive the candidate.
• They're able to match a person's talents with the proper roles in the
• They know how to define the right outcomes for their staff.
• They let employees do their own thing in their own way.
• They focus on the employee's strengths and make best use of them.