Just before I left for Boston, Marcus Buckingham’s latest book The One Thing You Need to Know arrived in my mailbox. I’m a fan of Buckingham; I enjoyed his Now, Discover Your Strengths Book. I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while. His premise: you don’t need to master all the details of life once you’ve mastered the core. He applies this to three areas: managing people, leading organizations, and succeeding at an individual level. By success, he means sustained success: “making the greatest possible impact over the longest period of time.” I like his attempt to get at the core of these three areas. This is a welcome change from a lot of books out there on these same topics – master these ten things, follow these twenty-one laws, you’ll be a leader. Here are some of his conclusions:
Great manager – Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it. The acid test: Do people work harder for you than for anybody else? Great leader – Rally people to a better future. The opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist. Optimism is more important than the right vision. Great leaders are clear. Followers fear change, and the antidote is clarity. Top performer – Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it. Those who sustain individual success spend their time doing work that energizes them. It’s not easy, but eradicate from life anything that leaves you feeling drained.
I found myself less cynical than usual as I read this book. It didn’t come off as being trite or shallow. A lot of his conclusions make sense. I learned some new things about myself along the way. It’s not that I agree with everything that he says. I have to think a lot more about his ideas on leadership, for instance. Fast Company was less than enthusiastic (although they gave him a cover story last month). Other press has been more positive. Personally, I liked it. Sometimes a good book doesn’t give you good answers as much as it gets you to ask good questions. This is such a book.