Now, Discover Your Strengths

( 69 )

Overview

Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents, by our teachers, by our managers, and by psychology's fascination with pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected.
Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of the national bestseller First, Break All the Rules, and Donald O. Clifton, ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$19.92
BN.com price
(Save 37%)$32.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (921) from $1.99   
  • New (19) from $2.68   
  • Used (902) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Unfortunately, most of us have little sense of our talents and strengths, much less the ability to build our lives around them. Instead, guided by our parents, by our teachers, by our managers, and by psychology's fascination with pathology, we become experts in our weaknesses and spend our lives trying to repair these flaws, while our strengths lie dormant and neglected.
Marcus Buckingham, coauthor of the national bestseller First, Break All the Rules, and Donald O. Clifton, Chair of the Gallup International Research & Education Center, have created a revolutionary program to help readers identify their talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy consistent, near-perfect performance. At the heart of the book is the Internet-based StrengthsFinder® Profile, the product of a 25-year, multimillion-dollar effort to identify the most prevalent human strengths. The program introduces 34 dominant "themes" with thousands of possible combinations, and reveals how they can best be translated into personal and career success. In developing this program, Gallup has conducted psychological profiles with more than two million individuals to help readers learn how to focus and perfect these themes.
So how does it work? This book contains a unique identification number that allows you access to the StrengthsFinder Profile on the Internet. This Web-based interview analyzes your instinctive reactions and immediately presents you with your five most powerful signature themes. Once you know which of the 34 themes — such as Achiever, Activator, Empathy, Futuristic, or Strategic — you lead with, the book will show you how to leverage them for powerful results at three levels: for your own development, for your success as a manager, and for the success of your organization.
With accessible and profound insights on how to turn talents into strengths, and with the immediate on-line feedback of StrengthsFinder at its core, Now, Discover Your Strengths is one of the most groundbreaking and useful business books ever written.

Please note that the code for the Online Strengths Finder Test is found on the inside of the dust jacket or in the sealed sleeve bound into the book just before the end paper.

With accessible and profound insights on how to turn talents into strengths, and with the immediate on-line feedback of StrengthsFinder at its core, Now, Discover Your Strengths is one of the most groundbreaking and useful business books ever written.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Chances are that if someone approached you and asked for an honest list of your weaknesses and failings, you'd be able to oblige them without too much difficulty. But could you describe your strengths as easily? As Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton point out, we've all been so programmed to identify, analyze, and overcome our faults that we've done relatively little to nurture our native talents, even though success is typically won by tapping into those talents and turning them into real-world strengths. Attacking the myth that "each person's greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness," the authors of this highly useful book maintain that the first priority for individuals as well as corporations must be to identify and then capitalize on the unique, enduring talents latent within each one of us.

Buckingham and Clifton begin with a look at the lives of a few famous people -- Bill Gates, Tiger Woods, Warren Buffett -- who've turned their inner passions and drives into successful careers. But they also share the stories of some more ordinary folks: Sherie, for example, loved the idea of being a doctor but found that she disliked being around seriously ill people. She ultimately became a dermatologist, thereby putting her talent for healing into action without trying to "correct" the feelings that would have made her less effective working as an oncologist or an emergency room physician. These personal stories lead the authors into a larger discussion of strength building, a skill they view as necessary to happiness and achievement at work.

Now, Discover Your Strengths is a thoughtful and persuasive book that will enrich the lives of many people by teaching them to focus on their unique potential rather than forcing themselves into jobs or roles that will probably alienate them from their own true abilities. (Sunil Sharma)

From the Publisher
Mike Morrison Dean, University of Toyota The code for managing has been broken and the secrets for success are here in this book! We know this from first-hand experience — with over 2,000 Gallup 'strengths' program graduates (and growing) — we will never look at our jobs, or our lives for that matter, the same way again. To achieve our greatest potential, this is by far the most important investment an individual or organization can make!

Martin E.P. Seligman Fox Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Director, Positive Psychology Network, Author of Learned Optimism The keystone of high achievement and happiness is exercising your strengths, not correcting your weaknesses. The first step is knowing which strengths you own, and this superb book gives you a powerful and accurate way to find out.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi C. S. and D. J. Davidson Professor of Psychology, Peter Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, Author of Flow Now, Discover Your Strengths, based on years of research by The Gallup Organization, is a refreshingly sensible and user-friendly way to assess your psychological assets and build on them a successful and satisfying life.

Ed Diener, Ph.D., Alumni Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois A brilliant book that will help readers to discover and capitalize on their specific strengths, as well as assist managers in supervising people with varying strengths.

Dr. Frank Schmidt Ralph L. Sheets Professor of Human Resources, Department of Management and Organization, College of Business, University of Iowa This book is built around a unique vision of the high-performing individual and the high-performing organization — and that vision is built on a recognition of individual differences and the unique strengths of each person. A truly important book.

Mike Pucci Vice President, Glaxo Wellcome Now, Discover Your Strengths is the logical, practical application of the theories uncovered in First, Break All The Rules. We have rewritten our management development curriculum as a result of this important and defining research in leadership.

Sheryl Sandberg
“This book has been instrumental in how we think about developing talent at Facebook.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743201148
  • Publisher: Free Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/2001
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Marcus Buckingham spent seventeen years at the Gallup Organization, where he conducted research into the world's best leaders, managers, and workplaces. The Gallup research later became the basis for the bestselling books First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Best Managers Do Differently (Simon & Schuster) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (Free Press), both coauthored by Buckingham. Buckingham has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, BusinessWeek and Fast Company. He now has his own company, providing strengths-based consulting, training, and e-learning. In 2007 Buckingham founded TMBC to create strengths-based management training solutions for organizations worldwide, and he spreads the strengths message in keynote addresses to over 250,000 people around the globe each year. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife Jane and children Jackson and Lilia. For more information visit: marcusbuckingham.com

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: The Strengths Revolution at Work

Guided by the belief that good is the opposite of bad, mankind has for centuries pursued its fixation with fault and failing. Doctors have studied disease in order to learn about health. Psychologists have investigated sadness in order to learn about joy. Therapists have looked into the causes of divorce in order to learn about happy marriage. And in schools and workplaces around the world, each one of us has been encouraged to identify, analyze, and correct our weaknesses in order to become strong.

This advice is well intended but misguided. Faults and failings deserve study, but they reveal little about strengths. Strengths have their own patterns.

To excel in your chosen field and to find lasting satisfaction in doing so, you will need to understand your unique patterns. You will need to become an expert at finding and describing and applying and practicing and refining your strengths. So as you read this book, shift your focus. Suspend whatever interest you may have in weakness and instead explore the intricate detail of your strengths. Take the StrengthsFinder Profile. Learn its language. Discover the source of your strengths.

If by the end of the book you have developed your expertise in what is right about you and your employees, this book will have served its purpose.

The Revolution

"What are the two assumptions on which great organizations must be built?"

We wrote this book to start a revolution, the strengths revolution. At the heart of this revolution is a simple decree: The great organization must not only accommodate the fact that each employee is different, it must capitalize on these differences. It must watch for clues to each employee's natural talents and then position and develop each employee so that his or her talents are transformed into bona fide strengths. By changing the way it selects, measures, develops, and channels the careers of its people, this revolutionary organization must build its entire enterprise around the strengths of each person.

And as it does, this revolutionary organization will be positioned to dramatically outperform its peers. In our latest metaanalysis The Gallup Organization asked this question of 198,000 employees working in 7,939 business units within 36 companies: At work do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? We then compared the responses to the performance of the business units and discovered the following: When employees answered "strongly agree" to this question, they were 50 percent more likely to work in business units with lower employee turnover, 38 percent more likely to work in more productive business units, and 44 percent more likely to work in business units with higher customer satisfaction scores. And over time those business units that increased the number of employees who strongly agreed saw comparable increases in productivity, customer loyalty, and employee retention. Whichever way you care to slice the data, the organization whose employees feel that their strengths are used every day is more powerful and more robust.

This is very good news for the organization that wants to be on the vanguard of the strengths revolution. Why? Because most organizations remain startlingly inefficient at capitalizing on the strengths of their people. In Gallup's total database we have asked the "opportunity to do what I do best" question of more than 1.7 million employees in 101 companies from 63 countries. What percentage do you think strongly agrees that they have an opportunity to do what they do best every day? What percentage truly feels that their strengths are in play?

Twenty percent. Globally, only 20 percent of employees working in the large organizations we surveyed feel that their strengths are in play every day. Most bizarre of all, the longer an employee stays with an organization and the higher he climbs the traditional career ladder, the less likely he is to strongly agree that he is playing to his strengths.

Alarming though it is to learn that most organizations operate at 20 percent capacity, this discovery actually represents a tremendous opportunity for great organizations. To spur high-margin growth and thereby increase their value, great organizations need only focus inward to find the wealth of unrealized capacity that resides in every single employee. Imagine the increase in productivity and profitability if they doubled this number and so had 40 percent of their employees strongly agreeing that they had a chance to use their strengths every day. Or how about tripling the number? Sixty percent of employees saying "strongly agree" isn't too aggressive a goal for the greatest organizations.

How can they achieve this? Well, to begin with they need to understand why eight out of ten employees feel somewhat miscast in their role. What can explain this widespread inability to position people — in particular senior people who have had the chance to search around for interesting roles — to play to their strengths?

The simplest explanation is that most organizations' basic assumptions about people are wrong. We know this because for the last thirty years Gallup has been conducting research into the best way to maximize a person's potential. At the heart of this research are our interviews with eighty thousand managers — most excellent, some average — in hundreds of organizations around the world. Here the focus was to discover what the world's best managers (whether in Bangalore or Bangor) had in common. We described our discoveries in detail in the book First, Break All the Rules, but the most significant finding was this: Most organizations are built on two flawed assumptions about people:

I. Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything.

2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness.

Presented so baldly, these two assumptions seem too simplistic to be commonly held, so let's play them out and see where they lead. If you want to test whether or not your organization is based on these assumptions, look for these characteristics:

  • Your organization spends more money on training people once they are hired than on selecting them properly in the first place.
  • Your organization focuses the performance of its employees by legislating work style. This means a heavy emphasis on work rules, policies, procedures, and "behavioral competencies."
  • Your organization spends most of its training time and money on trying to plug the gaps in employees' skills or competencies. It calls these gaps "areas of opportunity." Your individual development plan, if you have one, is built around your "areas of opportunity," your weaknesses.
  • Your organization promotes people based on the skills or experiences they have acquired. After all, if everyone can learn to be competent in almost anything, those who have learned the most must be the most valuable. Thus, by design, your organization gives the most prestige, the most respect, and the highest salaries to the most experienced well-rounded people.

par

Finding an organization that doesn't have these characteristics is more difficult than finding one that does. Most organizations take their employees' strengths for granted and focus on minimizing their weaknesses. They become expert in those areas where their employees struggle, delicately rename these "skill gaps" or "areas of opportunity," and then pack them off to training classes so that the weaknesses can be fixed. This approach is occasionally necessary: If an employee always alienates those around him, some sensitivity training can help; likewise, a remedial communication class can benefit an employee who happens to be smart but inarticulate. But this isn't development, it is damage control. And by itself damage control is a poor strategy for elevating either the employee or the organization to world-class performance.

As long as an organization operates under these assumptions, it will never capitalize on the strengths of each employee.

To break out of this weakness spiral and to launch the strengths revolution in your own organization, you must change your assumptions about people. Start with the right assumptions, and everything else that follows from them — how you select, measure, train, and develop your people — will be right. These are the two assumptions that guide the world's best managers:

I. Each person's talents are enduring and unique.

2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.

These two assumptions are the foundation for everything they do with and for their people. These two assumptions explain why great managers are careful to look for talent in every role, why they focus people's performances on outcomes rather than forcing them into a stylistic mold, why they disobey the Golden Rule and treat each employee differently, and why they spend the most time with their best people. In short, these two assumptions explain why the world's best managers break all the rules of conventional management wisdom.

Now, following the great managers' lead, it is time to change the rules. These two revolutionary assumptions must serve as the central tenets for a new way of working. They are the tenets for a new organization, a stronger organization, an organization designed to reveal and stretch the strengths of each employee.

Most organizations have a process for ensuring the efficient use of their practical resources. Six Sigma or ISO 9000 processes are commonplace. Likewise, most organizations have increasingly efficient processes for exploiting their financial resources. The recent fascination with metrics such as economic value added and return on capital bear testament to this. Few organizations, however, have developed a systematic process for the efficient use of their human resources. (They may experiment with individual development plans, 360-degree surveys, and competencies, but these experiments are mostly focused on fixing each employee's weaknesses rather than building his strengths.)

In this book we want to show you how to design a systematic strength-building process. Specifically, Chapter 7, "Building a Strengths-based Organization," can help. Here we describe what the optimum selection system looks like, which three outcomes all employees should have on their scorecard, how to reallocate those misguided training budgets, and, last, how to change the way you channel each employee's career.

If you are a manager and want to know how best to capitalize on the strengths of your individual direct reports, then Chapter 6, "Managing Strengths," will help. Here we identify virtually every ability or style you might find in your people and explain what you can do to maximize the strengths of each employee.

However, we don't start there. We start with you. What are your strengths? How can you capitalize on them? What are your most powerful combinations? Where do they take you? What one, two, or three things can you do better than ten thousand other people? These are the kinds of questions we will deal with in the first five chapters. After all, you can't lead a strengths revolution if you don't know how to find, name, and develop your own.

Two Million Interviews

"Whom did Gallup interview to learn about human strengths?"

Imagine what you might learn if you could interview two million people about their strengths. Imagine interviewing the world's best teachers and asking them how they keep children so interested in what might otherwise be dry subject matter. Imagine asking them how they build such trusting relationships with so many different children. Imagine asking them how they balance fun and discipline in the classroom. Imagine asking them about all the things they do that make them so very good at what they do.

And then imagine what you could learn if you did the same with the world's best doctors and salespeople and lawyers (yes, they can be found) and professional basketball players and stockbrokers and accountants and hotel housekeepers and leaders and soldiers and nurses and pastors and systems engineers and chief executives. Imagine all those questions and, more important, all those vivid answers.

Over the last thirty years The Gallup Organization has conducted a systematic study of excellence wherever we could find it. This wasn't some mammoth poll. Each of those interviews (a little over two million at the last count, of which the eighty thousand managers from First, Break All the Rules were a small part) consisted of open-ended questions like the ones mentioned above. We wanted to hear these excellent performers describe in their own words exactly what they were doing.

In all these different professions we found a tremendous diversity of knowledge, skill, and talent. But as you might suspect, we soon began to detect patterns. We kept looking and listening, and gradually we extracted from this wealth of testimony thirty-four patterns, or "themes," as we have called them. These thirty-four are the most prevalent themes of human talent. Our research tells us that these thirty-four, in their many combinations, can do the best job of explaining the broadest possible range of excellent performance.

These thirty-four do not capture every single human idiosyncrasy — individuals are too infinitely varied for that kind of claim. So think of these thirty-four as akin to the eighty-eight keys on a piano. The eighty-eight keys cannot play every single note that can possibly be played, but in their many combinations they can capture everything from classic Mozart to classic Madonna. The same applies to these thirty-four themes. Used with insight and understanding they can help capture the unique themes playing in each person's life.

To be most helpful we offer you a way to measure yourself on these thirty-four themes. We ask you to pause after reading Chapter 3 and take a profile called StrengthsFinder that is available on the Internet. It will immediately reveal your five dominant themes of talent, your signature themes. These signature themes are your most powerful sources of strength. If you want to learn about the themes of your employees or family or friends, you can read Chapter 4 and learn about each of the thirty-four. But initially our main focus is you. By identifying and refining these signature themes you will be in the best possible position to play out your own strengths to the fullest.

As you study these five themes and consider ways to apply what you have learned, keep this thought in mind: The real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn't have enough strengths, it's that we fail to use the ones we have. Benjamin Franklin called wasted strengths "sundials in the shade." As you can see, the impetus of this book is that too many organizations, too many teams, and too many individuals unknowingly hide their "sundials in the shade."

We want this book and your experiences while reading it to cast a light and thereby put your strengths to work.

Copyright © 2001 by The Gallup Organization

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Strengths Revolution at Work
The Revolution 5
Two Million Interviews 11
I. The Anatomy of a Strength
Chapter 1. Strong Lives
The Investor, the Director, the Skin Doctor, and the Editor 19
Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, and Cole Porter 25
Three Revolutionary Tools 28
Chapter 2. Strength Building
Is He Always This Good? 39
Knowledge and Skills 41
Talent 48
II. Discover the Source of Your Strengths
Chapter 3. StrengthsFinder
The Traces of Talent 67
The StrengthsFinder Profile 76
Chapter 4. The Thirty-four Themes of StrengthsFinder
Achiever 83
Activator 84
Adaptability 85
Analytical 86
Arranger 87
Belief 88
Command 89
Communication 90
Competition 91
Connectedness 92
Context 93
Deliberative 94
Developer 95
Discipline 96
Empathy 97
Fairness 98
Focus 99
Futuristic 100
Harmony 101
Ideation 102
Inclusiveness 103
Individualization 104
Input 105
Intellection 106
Learner 107
Maximizer 108
Positivity 109
Relator 110
Responsibility 111
Restorative 112
Self-assurance 113
Significance 114
Strategic 115
Woo 116
III. Put Strengths to Work
Chapter 5. The Questions You're Asking
Are there any obstacles to building my strengths? 121
Why should I focus on my signature themes? 131
Is there any significance to the order of my signature themes? 134
Not all of the phrases in the theme description apply to me. Why? 136
Why am I different from other people with whom I share some of the same themes? 137
Are any of the themes "opposites"? 139
Can I develop new themes if I don't like the ones I have? 141
Will I become too narrow if I focus on my signature themes? 144
How can I manage around my weaknesses? 148
Can my themes reveal whether I am in the right career? 160
Chapter 6. Managing Strengths
"Fidel," Sam Mendes, and Phil Jackson 171
One By One 176
Chapter 7. Building a Strengths-based Organization
The Full Story 213
The Practical Guide 218
Appendix
A Technical Report on StrengthsFinder 247
Read More Show Less

Introduction

Introduction: The Strengths Revolution at Work

Guided by the belief that good is the opposite of bad, mankind has for centuries pursued its fixation with fault and failing. Doctors have studied disease in order to learn about health. Psychologists have investigated sadness in order to learn about joy. Therapists have looked into the causes of divorce in order to learn about happy marriage. And in schools and workplaces around the world, each one of us has been encouraged to identify, analyze, and correct our weaknesses in order to become strong.

This advice is well intended but misguided. Faults and failings deserve study, but they reveal little about strengths. Strengths have their own patterns.

To excel in your chosen field and to find lasting satisfaction in doing so, you will need to understand your unique patterns. You will need to become an expert at finding and describing and applying and practicing and refining your strengths. So as you read this book, shift your focus. Suspend whatever interest you may have in weakness and instead explore the intricate detail of your strengths. Take the StrengthsFinder Profile. Learn its language. Discover the source of your strengths.

If by the end of the book you have developed your expertise in what is right about you and your employees, this book will have served its purpose.


The Revolution

"What are the two assumptions on which great organizations must be built?"

We wrote this book to start a revolution, the strengths revolution. At the heart of this revolution is a simple decree: The great organization must not only accommodate the fact that each employee is different, it must capitalize on these differences. It must watch for clues to each employee's natural talents and then position and develop each employee so that his or her talents are transformed into bona fide strengths. By changing the way it selects, measures, develops, and channels the careers of its people, this revolutionary organization must build its entire enterprise around the strengths of each person.

And as it does, this revolutionary organization will be positioned to dramatically outperform its peers. In our latest metaanalysis The Gallup Organization asked this question of 198,000 employees working in 7,939 business units within 36 companies: At work do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day? We then compared the responses to the performance of the business units and discovered the following: When employees answered "strongly agree" to this question, they were 50 percent more likely to work in business units with lower employee turnover, 38 percent more likely to work in more productive business units, and 44 percent more likely to work in business units with higher customer satisfaction scores. And over time those business units that increased the number of employees who strongly agreed saw comparable increases in productivity, customer loyalty, and employee retention. Whichever way you care to slice the data, the organization whose employees feel that their strengths are used every day is more powerful and more robust.

This is very good news for the organization that wants to be on the vanguard of the strengths revolution. Why? Because most organizations remain startlingly inefficient at capitalizing on the strengths of their people. In Gallup's total database we have asked the "opportunity to do what I do best" question of more than 1.7 million employees in 101 companies from 63 countries. What percentage do you think strongly agrees that they have an opportunity to do what they do best every day? What percentage truly feels that their strengths are in play?

Twenty percent. Globally, only 20 percent of employees working in the large organizations we surveyed feel that their strengths are in play every day. Most bizarre of all, the longer an employee stays with an organization and the higher he climbs the traditional career ladder, the less likely he is to strongly agree that he is playing to his strengths.

Alarming though it is to learn that most organizations operate at 20 percent capacity, this discovery actually represents a tremendous opportunity for great organizations. To spur high-margin growth and thereby increase their value, great organizations need only focus inward to find the wealth of unrealized capacity that resides in every single employee. Imagine the increase in productivity and profitability if they doubled this number and so had 40 percent of their employees strongly agreeing that they had a chance to use their strengths every day. Or how about tripling the number? Sixty percent of employees saying "strongly agree" isn't too aggressive a goal for the greatest organizations.

How can they achieve this? Well, to begin with they need to understand why eight out of ten employees feel somewhat miscast in their role. What can explain this widespread inability to position people — in particular senior people who have had the chance to search around for interesting roles — to play to their strengths?

The simplest explanation is that most organizations' basic assumptions about people are wrong. We know this because for the last thirty years Gallup has been conducting research into the best way to maximize a person's potential. At the heart of this research are our interviews with eighty thousand managers — most excellent, some average — in hundreds of organizations around the world. Here the focus was to discover what the world's best managers (whether in Bangalore or Bangor) had in common. We described our discoveries in detail in the book First, Break All the Rules, but the most significant finding was this: Most organizations are built on two flawed assumptions about people:

I. Each person can learn to be competent in almost anything.

2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in his or her areas of greatest weakness.

Presented so baldly, these two assumptions seem too simplistic to be commonly held, so let's play them out and see where they lead. If you want to test whether or not your organization is based on these assumptions, look for these characteristics:

  • Your organization spends more money on training people once they are hired than on selecting them properly in the first place.
  • Your organization focuses the performance of its employees by legislating work style. This means a heavy emphasis on work rules, policies, procedures, and "behavioral competencies."
  • Your organization spends most of its training time and money on trying to plug the gaps in employees' skills or competencies. It calls these gaps "areas of opportunity." Your individual development plan, if you have one, is built around your "areas of opportunity," your weaknesses.
  • Your organization promotes people based on the skills or experiences they have acquired. After all, if everyone can learn to be competent in almost anything, those who have learned the most must be the most valuable. Thus, by design, your organization gives the most prestige, the most respect, and the highest salaries to the most experienced well-rounded people.

Finding an organization that doesn't have these characteristics is more difficult than finding one that does. Most organizations take their employees' strengths for granted and focus on minimizing their weaknesses. They become expert in those areas where their employees struggle, delicately rename these "skill gaps" or "areas of opportunity," and then pack them off to training classes so that the weaknesses can be fixed. This approach is occasionally necessary: If an employee always alienates those around him, some sensitivity training can help; likewise, a remedial communication class can benefit an employee who happens to be smart but inarticulate. But this isn't development, it is damage control. And by itself damage control is a poor strategy for elevating either the employee or the organization to world-class performance.

As long as an organization operates under these assumptions, it will never capitalize on the strengths of each employee.

To break out of this weakness spiral and to launch the strengths revolution in your own organization, you must change your assumptions about people. Start with the right assumptions, and everything else that follows from them — how you select, measure, train, and develop your people — will be right. These are the two assumptions that guide the world's best managers:

I. Each person's talents are enduring and unique.

2. Each person's greatest room for growth is in the areas of his or her greatest strength.

These two assumptions are the foundation for everything they do with and for their people. These two assumptions explain why great managers are careful to look for talent in every role, why they focus people's performances on outcomes rather than forcing them into a stylistic mold, why they disobey the Golden Rule and treat each employee differently, and why they spend the most time with their best people. In short, these two assumptions explain why the world's best managers break all the rules of conventional management wisdom.

Now, following the great managers' lead, it is time to change the rules. These two revolutionary assumptions must serve as the central tenets for a new way of working. They are the tenets for a new organization, a stronger organization, an organization designed to reveal and stretch the strengths of each employee.

Most organizations have a process for ensuring the efficient use of their practical resources. Six Sigma or ISO 9000 processes are commonplace. Likewise, most organizations have increasingly efficient processes for exploiting their financial resources. The recent fascination with metrics such as economic value added and return on capital bear testament to this. Few organizations, however, have developed a systematic process for the efficient use of their human resources. (They may experiment with individual development plans, 360-degree surveys, and competencies, but these experiments are mostly focused on fixing each employee's weaknesses rather than building his strengths.)

In this book we want to show you how to design a systematic strength-building process. Specifically, Chapter 7, "Building a Strengths-based Organization," can help. Here we describe what the optimum selection system looks like, which three outcomes all employees should have on their scorecard, how to reallocate those misguided training budgets, and, last, how to change the way you channel each employee's career.

If you are a manager and want to know how best to capitalize on the strengths of your individual direct reports, then Chapter 6, "Managing Strengths," will help. Here we identify virtually every ability or style you might find in your people and explain what you can do to maximize the strengths of each employee.

However, we don't start there. We start with you. What are your strengths? How can you capitalize on them? What are your most powerful combinations? Where do they take you? What one, two, or three things can you do better than ten thousand other people? These are the kinds of questions we will deal with in the first five chapters. After all, you can't lead a strengths revolution if you don't know how to find, name, and develop your own.


Two Million Interviews

"Whom did Gallup interview to learn about human strengths?"

Imagine what you might learn if you could interview two million people about their strengths. Imagine interviewing the world's best teachers and asking them how they keep children so interested in what might otherwise be dry subject matter. Imagine asking them how they build such trusting relationships with so many different children. Imagine asking them how they balance fun and discipline in the classroom. Imagine asking them about all the things they do that make them so very good at what they do.

And then imagine what you could learn if you did the same with the world's best doctors and salespeople and lawyers (yes, they can be found) and professional basketball players and stockbrokers and accountants and hotel housekeepers and leaders and soldiers and nurses and pastors and systems engineers and chief executives. Imagine all those questions and, more important, all those vivid answers.

Over the last thirty years The Gallup Organization has conducted a systematic study of excellence wherever we could find it. This wasn't some mammoth poll. Each of those interviews (a little over two million at the last count, of which the eighty thousand managers from First, Break All the Rules were a small part) consisted of open-ended questions like the ones mentioned above. We wanted to hear these excellent performers describe in their own words exactly what they were doing.

In all these different professions we found a tremendous diversity of knowledge, skill, and talent. But as you might suspect, we soon began to detect patterns. We kept looking and listening, and gradually we extracted from this wealth of testimony thirty-four patterns, or "themes," as we have called them. These thirty-four are the most prevalent themes of human talent. Our research tells us that these thirty-four, in their many combinations, can do the best job of explaining the broadest possible range of excellent performance.

These thirty-four do not capture every single human idiosyncrasy — individuals are too infinitely varied for that kind of claim. So think of these thirty-four as akin to the eighty-eight keys on a piano. The eighty-eight keys cannot play every single note that can possibly be played, but in their many combinations they can capture everything from classic Mozart to classic Madonna. The same applies to these thirty-four themes. Used with insight and understanding they can help capture the unique themes playing in each person's life.

To be most helpful we offer you a way to measure yourself on these thirty-four themes. We ask you to pause after reading Chapter 3 and take a profile called StrengthsFinder that is available on the Internet. It will immediately reveal your five dominant themes of talent, your signature themes. These signature themes are your most powerful sources of strength. If you want to learn about the themes of your employees or family or friends, you can read Chapter 4 and learn about each of the thirty-four. But initially our main focus is you. By identifying and refining these signature themes you will be in the best possible position to play out your own strengths to the fullest.

As you study these five themes and consider ways to apply what you have learned, keep this thought in mind: The real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn't have enough strengths, it's that we fail to use the ones we have. Benjamin Franklin called wasted strengths "sundials in the shade." As you can see, the impetus of this book is that too many organizations, too many teams, and too many individuals unknowingly hide their "sundials in the shade."

We want this book and your experiences while reading it to cast a light and thereby put your strengths to work.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 69 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(29)

4 Star

(22)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(5)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    A point well taken, but...

    The idea of the book is to help you find your talents, build your strengths, which will in turn, improve your performance. <BR/><BR/>Building your strengths is indeed somthing that is often overlooked, as most of the time we seek to improve our weaknesses- that's a point well taken- and a good reason to buy the book. However two more things also need to be mentioned. First, why can't we work on building both our strengths AND our weaknesses? In other words, why do we have to necessarily pick just one? I feel that many weaknesses can be improved upon. <BR/><BR/>Secondly, discovering your talents and doing what you're good at may not necessarily improve your performance. Why? Because there are lots of things we're good at, but still hate to do nonetheless. For instance, I'm really good at cleaning houses and debating, but I don't like to really do either one. People really perform well when its something that they know how to do AND when there's something meaningful/important in it for them. Anyway, just some food for thought. Readers may also be interested in The Sixty-Second Motivator.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2002

    Good premise but little substance

    The premise of the book is refreshing & rings true. However, after the 2nd read I realized that there is very little guidance given once you "discover your strengths." The treatment and description of the 34 possible themes is somewhat shallow. How do we apply these? Unfortunately that question is not adequately addressed. The book is of little use as a management tool unless you have your entire staff take the survey - which can only be accomplished by purchasing the book for each person. I find it disappointing that I was only allowed to take the survey once, & then only shown the top 5 themes. Am I to take these 5 themes on blind faith, without validating the results again in 6 months or a year? I find that somewhat disturbing, particlularly since the survey lacks any convincing documentation of its validity. I am forced to conclude that the book is primarily a marketing scam. Do we really need a survey to discover our talents? If I had it to do over again, I would buy the premise, but not the book!

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    I bought this book new to take the online test. cut the paper ou

    I bought this book new to take the online test. cut the paper out of the book as instructed and opened sealed paper to find out the code inside wasn't valid. Very, very disappointed big waste of money!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Encouraging

    Now, Discover Your Strengths is empowering, but get Finding Heroes by Larry Dillon it will help you not just find the best people for your business, but its thoughtful and reaches you on both personal and professional levels. I recommend both books, but you'll find a hero in Dillon's book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2008

    Do not buy used if you want to take the online test!!

    I bought this book used. I was very excited to take the online test only to discover that each book has a code to excess the online test that is only valid for one user. I guess someone who bought this book used could still get something good out it if they wanted to guess their theme. But even after I guessed my theme I was left feeling unsatisfied. This book is very vague and in my opinion a waist of money.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2006

    Better than most 'Score Your Aptitude' books

    This book is in the same vein as many of the 'score your aptitude' line of career self-help. Most of what you will find out about your strengths you probably already know. What This book does that most others don't is to provide more concrete help in identifying the ATTRIBUTES of the roles and jobs that will fit to your strengths, instead of suggesting particular jobs or careers. In fact some of the annecdotal examples in the book demonstrate how the same Strength can be leveraged in divergent careers and roles. By far the most valuable part of this book for me was the section on 'how to build a Strengths Based Organization'. In it, each of the 'strengths' is enumerated, and a recommendation is given on how to best engage, motivate and manage someone with that strength. The value in this was to provide a language with which to communicate to MY manager what I would like to get from my job and my company. Essentially by reversing the 'how to build' section, you can more easily arrive at a common language of what value you bring to your manager, and how s/he can keep you interested, engaged and committed to your tasks even if the overall job you are in isn't the perfect fit for your strengths.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2004

    Some great humanistic ideas. Online Q's to in-the-box

    Author presents some great ideas, although excludes God, or any spiritual forces from any influence in who you are, or the decisions you make. Still, Christians should be able to gain value in some of the helpful ideas. Focusing on our weaknesses is the devils interest. Focusing on our strengths (God being one of them notably not mentioned in the book) is our responsability. Online questions don't let you answer a valid response. For example: a person who can excite others can often also calm them down. Saying you are neutral isn't applicable to the question. Others should also be able to purchase the online component, if they want to read the book. (They're not all going to buy the book, but they would pay for the test)

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2003

    You'll wonder how you got along without this book.

    I'm a personal and professional development coach, and this book is my Bible. It's that good. I've seen clients make dramatic and successful changes in their lives as a result of the informaion in this book. The theory -- that we don't know our strengths, or know them all too well and have been conditioned to consider them weaknesses -- holds true. I was even surprised myself when I took the assessment (code is in book). When you take the assessment, you'll receive back your top 5 signature themes, and these are 34 new terms coined by the authors such as Focus, Activator, Deliberative, Empathy, Relator and Strategic. The book, geared toward management, gives you a description of each strength, and then tells you how to "manage" each type. This of course applies to your social life as well as your work life. When you build your life around your strengths, you can achieve consistent near-excellence most of the time without a drain on your energy. Give it a try! Then give it to your manager and your spouse. You'll benefit greatly.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2001

    good ideas, poor execution

    I'm happy a book makes it so high on the bestseller list explaining to people that they are better off focusing on strengths (both for themselves, as for the organizations they work for). At jobEQ.com, we have been 'educating' our customers to do the same, and as the authors of this book acknowledge, only 25 to 40% of persons will grasp that notion immediately. I also appreciate that the authors explain how a manager can use the knowledge of these strengths (or themes) to manage their staff better. If the authors would write a second edition, there are some things that I would recommend them to address. My first remark is linked to the writing style: this book is written in an 'imperative' form: it contains a lot of sentences with 'you need to do this', 'you should do that', ... This style tends to put of people, risking that they miss the message. Secondly, they have WRONG, OUTDATED notion of the brain: contrary to what people used to say 5 to 10 years ago, the good news of recent research is that brain cells that die off ARE replaced (even if you get older) and you remain capable of forming new connections between brain cells (maybe unless you get a disease, such as Parkinson, ...). Thirdly: the book does not really address what kind of job would be good for you. Finally some feedback about the test: don't take it BEFORE you read chapter 3 in the book - at least then you will understand how they built it. Still, I have my doubts about the way it is built. Using the amount of interviews as a 'proof of credibility' didn't impress me: Often for scientific purposes, it doesn't matter much if you did 5.000 or a million interviews - all that matters is that you can validate the test. Also, I know that most people probably have MORE than 5 strengths, which is just an ARBITRARY number Gallup chose. Given the importance they address to these 5 strengths, just imagine what opportunities you will miss by ignoring these other strengths. I would rather prefer to get a FULL picture, getting all my strengths and weaknesses, and having this information ordered from strongest to weakest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2001

    Know thyself...

    The book launches on an ambitious effort to counter the modern mindset of immersing ourselves with seminars and books to learn skills that we don't naturally possess. Buckingham and Clifton's premise is that you have developed-skills and learned abilities which may allow you to execute basic functions with focused effort and subsequent energy drain. However, they propose your strengths and energies are best served by capitalizing on your talents... the recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied (e.g. inquisitive, competitive, harmony, connectedness, etc...). They espouse that talents are those things you can see yourself doing repeatedly, happily and successfully. To allow the reader to effectively find their talents, the authors introduce a new 'dictionary' of terminology that takes the time to explain and illustrate each talent thoroughly. The book goes into physiological, psychological and emotional detail to help you drill down and analyze yourself at a new level to assess what you are really passionate about. Even if you already know the answer to these questions, it's a good exercise to reawaken your spirit and revitalize your ambition.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2014

    I bought the NOOK Book version of this with the expectation of i

    I bought the NOOK Book version of this with the expectation of it including the online code. To my surprise, and contrary to what it says in the overview of the book, the code was not included. Needles to say, I am very disappointed . Please be warned that you may have an issue receiving the code with the NOOK Book version. Not sure if this was a human error, or not, but this will be returned. Good Luck!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Changed My Life!

    This book literally changed my life and the way I began to raise my children! The premise that we are innately born with certain strengths isn't new (Myers-Briggs is one such test) but this book goes a step further. It allows you to take a test online with a code printed inside the book that gives you your top 5 strengths in accurate detail.

    The fact that we are always trying to work on our weaknesses to make them stronger doesn't make sense. It is better for us to use our God-given strengths, because when we do, we are happier and more fulfilled. Work won't feel like work if you do this!

    It helped me notice my children's strengths and encourage them to further those. This can be done at any age! Additionally, I put my top 5 strengths (condensed, not detailed) onto my resume. I cannot tell you how many times a prospective employer has appreciated this addition to my professional portfolio.

    This is a purchase you won't regret!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2009

    Fabulous!!!

    Insightful and gives great info on own personal strengths. Would recommend buying the Strengths 2.0 version instead of this older version.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Exactly What I Needed!

    An eye opener if there ever was one! Not only does it help you to become a better manager and leader but better understand your own professional and personal strengths. Definitely a must read for anyone open to maximizing their strengths on a daily basis.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    A good foundation for employee development/career planning

    A good foundation for employee development/career planning

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 27, 2009

    Our strengths are key

    Our strengths are key to our performance and Buckingham illustrates this point very well. I would also recommend Full Throttle by Dr. Gregg Steinberg for more information on how to use your strengths.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Insightful and thought provoking.

    In a world of "me too" self help books this one dares to say work on what works and don't worry so much about what does not work. This process requires an honest assessment of ones strengths as the results can be easily manipulated to pander to one's preconceived notions of self.

    It requires computer access and constant cross-checking one's results. I highly recommend this book for those looking to really hone in on strengths and wanting to make them stronger. This is not for those wanting to fix weaknesses.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2008

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read

    I didn't realize all the different strengths that I had till I read this book. By getting in touch with my strengths and who I am the impact on my professional life has been a great one. I would reccomend this book to everyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Look in the Mirror

    As a corporate human resources director, I often work on developing the latent talents and skills of various managers. Years ago, I taught a class where I had each participant to look into a hand-held mirror and ask the question, "Would you want to work for this person?" <BR/><BR/>This book takes this exercise to a completely different level. To discover your own inner strengths (and weakness) ensures that you will become the very best manager possible. As a fan of First, Break All the Rules, I was very satisfied that this follow-up was as timely and useful as the first book. I highly recommend you purchase a copy of this book for yourself and for all of your managers. Michael L. Gooch, SPHR

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2007

    Great online resource as well

    This book comes with an online questionnaire which helps you to find your main strengths. It is great. I suggest reading it with Optimal Thinking: How To be Your Best Self to make the most of your strengths and any situation.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 70 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)