The Word Works

Reading Matter : Of Interest

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First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently.

Published By: John on 04/17/06
Categories: Of Interest Management

As anthropologist, adman and activist, John is often involved in discussions of leadership. That is why, when he was scanning his library a few days ago, a book that said, “Read me” was Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman (1999) First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently.

Now if this were just another couple of managment gurus pontificating, he would probably give it a pass. But what Buckingham and Coffman discuss is a research project conducted by the Gallup Organization, in which 105,000 employees of 2,500 companies, covering a wide span of industries, answered questions designed to find out what it is about managers who are able to achieve the leadership goals described above, building strong teams of happy, talented people who not only work well together but turn out to be far more productive as well.

The study began with lots of questions. What the Gallup researchers wanted to discover was which of these questions were most closely correlated with effective, productive leadership. As they analyzed their mountains of data, they focused in on twelve questions. After further research, they pared the list to six.

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?

Turn those questions around and they become a recipe for how to be a good leader.

1. Set clear goals.
2. Make sure that people have what they need to achieve them.
3. Create opportunities for people to use their talents, ideally every day.
4. Don’t be stingy with strokes. As the old proverb has it, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
5. Take the time to show people you care about them.
6. Keep asking yourself, not just “What can they do for us now?” but “What could they do with a little more training and encouragement?”

Think about it. If you had to score your leadership on each of these six measures, on a five number scale where 1 means “Lousy” and 5 means “Great” how well would you score?

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