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First, Break All the Rules:
What the Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently

by Marcus Buckingham
   and Curt Coffman
Simon & Schuster, 1999, 271pp.

The beauty of this book lies in its underlying message that people need to be in jobs where their talent is allowed to sparkle. In research based on interviews with over 80,000 managers in all types of organizations -from small ones to Fortune 500 companies, the authors suggest that great managers have one thing in common: they break conventional rules. In so doing, these managers are excellent coaches for talented employees, and turn that talent into stellar performance.

The authors challenge conventional thinking by saying, essentially, that (1) we all have weaknesses that cannot be overcome, no matter how much training we get; (2) hanging in there with amazing willpower does not necessarily lead to achievement; (3) all people should not be treated the same; and (4) good managers put their energy into those people who have the talent to be most efficient and productive.

The book defines what great managers do, and provides examples that highlight the four keys for being a great manager. While thought provoking, the book is also practical - the last chapter contains insights on the right questions to ask when hiring, how to be a conscious manager, and how companies and organizations can create a climate where great managers flourish. An appendix explains the tools used in the research and gives more data on what the research provided. Especially useful to any manager are the "twelve questions" that help to define a workplace where talent naturally emerges.

From a coaching standpoint, managers can learn a lot from this book. If you accept the idea that talent is key, you will work differently with your employees than you do today. You will learn powerful distinctions and know when you have offered enough training, support, and encouragement to employees. This book will provoke new ways of seeing and thinking.

For coaches, this book supports the notion of helping clients find their genius and bringing this genius forward. It's about capitalizing on what a person does well. As coaches, we delight in a book that courageously asserts some of the principles that we believe in deeply. We've known all along that work and joy should be linked, and this book hits that nail on the head.








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