Book Review: The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham

Book Review: The One Thing You Need to Know by Marcus Buckingham

In this book, Marcus discusses the theme of leveraging your strengths and gives business students, entrepreneurs, and business professionals a fundamental course in outstanding achievement that captures the essence of great managing, great leading, and career success. The exploration of the “One Thing” exposes counterintuitive, but pivotal, differences, between great managing and great leadership and offers practical insights for acting on them effectively.

Part I: The One Thing You Need to Know About Sustained Organizational Success

Buckingham agrees with the premise that great organizations require great leaders, but stipulates that the importance of the role varies according to the challenges being faced. Although his experience more or less conforms to that of Warren Bennis (a great author on leadership) who says, “Leadership accounts for, at the very least, 15 percent of the success of any organization,” his research contradicts pretty much everything else.

  1. He does not believe that leadership and management are interchangeable
  2. He contends that it is inaccurate to say that everyone, regardless of his or her place in the organization, must be a leader
  3. He believes one’s performance as a leader or manager can be improved through practice, experience, and training, but if core talents are lacking, it will be impossible to excel consistently in either role
  4. He believes the most effective leaders are not self-effacing and humble – quite the contrary. “A powerful ego, defined as the need to take grand claims, is one of their most defining characteristics.”

Important Note: The chief responsibility of a great manager is not to enforce quality, ensure customer service, set standards, or to build high-performance teams.

Four Skills Important to not Fail as a Manager

  1. Great managers know what talents they seek and know it is imperative to select people who possess these requisite endowments.
  2. Defining clear expectations is the second basic skill of good management.
  3. The third skill concerns praise and recognition.
  4. Great managers show the care for their people by bonding with others deliberately and explicitly.

Key Point: “Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.” Individuals are dissimilar in how they think, build relationships, and learn; and they are unique in how altruistic they are, how patient, how much of an expert they need to be, how prepared they need to feel, what drives the, what challenges them, and what their goals are.

Styles of Learning:

  • Analyzing – understand tasks by taking them apart, examining their elements, and reconstructing them piece by piece.
  • Doing – learn by being thrown into the middle of a new situation and tell them to wing it.
  • Watching – learn a great deal, but only when they are given the chance to see the total performance.

Part II: The One Thing You Need to Know About Sustained Individual Success

Only twenty percent of the working world report that they are in a role where they have a chance to do what they do best on a daily basis.

Key Point: “discover what you do not like doing and stop doing it.”

The secret to sustained success lies in knowing what engages one’s strengths, what does not, and having the self-discipline to reject the latter. Although it is possible to experience some achievement when employed in non-strength-engaging activities, the activities are usually depleting, draining, frustrating, or boring. Thus, sustained success is lessa bout what to accumulate and more about what to edit.

The longer individuals put up with aspects of their work thy do not like, the less successful they will be.

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