Review: Nine Lies About Work

Review:  Nine Lies About Work:
A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World 

by Marcus Buckingham  and Ashley Goodall

Marcus Buckingham

Many of Buckingham’s earlier books have been best sellers:  First Break All the Rules, The Truth About You, and GO Put Your Strengths to Work.  He turns number crunching – from 1000s of participants – into practical down-to-earth applications.

Nine Lies:

In this book Buckingham summarizes 25,000 interviews and 25 years of research to debunk “nine lies” … nine myths that most of us buy into … about work.  Evaluations, for example, are notoriously unreliable.  He explains why, backs it up with research and gives some better alternatives.

Crucial Questions:

He also identifies eight crucial questions that define great leaders and great organizations.  He breaks those questions into two groups: “me” questions, and “we” questions.  In so doing he signals that teams are at least half of what makes a great organization.

We Questions:

Four questions focus on quality teams:

  • I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company
  • In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values
  • My teammates have my back
  • I have great confidence in my company’s future

Me Questions: 

Four questions focus on our individual connection to our work:

  • I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work
  • At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
  • I know I will be recognized for excellent work
  • In my work, I am always challenged to grow

Two Questions Matter Most: 

Then he drills down even further.  Two questions predict whether your best employees will stay, and contribute, for the long haul:

  • I have a chance to use my strengths every day at work
  • At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me

ONE Magic Bullet: 

And there IS one magic bullet.  The best leaders hold weekly strengths based check-ins about near term future work with every direct report.  He is brutally to the point:  If you can’t do that you are not leading. Meet every week he says.  Ask,  What are your priorities and how can I help?

52 Goal Sprints Per Year:

These 52 weekly meetings allow you to make 52 little goal based sprints.  That, he says, is far more effective than setting annual goals that are quickly forgotten.  Help unpack, incrementally, what each person does best, and how that contributes to the organizations goals and expectations.

Make the whole purpose of work to discover and do what you love. 

We each have unique, God given, talents.  We make great things happen when we unlock that potential in each person.  They enjoy their work, contribute more and we all achieve more.

  • Reviewed by Larry Nyland
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Larry Nyland – Leadership Coach and Consultant.
Seattle Schools superintendent 2014-2018

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