First, Break All the Rules – 5 Stars!

First, Break All the Rules

What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently

by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

Five Stars!


This is the first book listed in Tom McFerson’s latest list of books recommended by veterinary professionals, “24 Books to Change Your Life” in the June 2013 issue of Veterinary Economics.  This is the list that inspired me to start reviewing books again.  I counted the books I have reviewed after being inspired by this list in June – eleven.  And NONE of them were officially from this list.  Made to Stick is on the list, but I was already reading it at the recommendation of Mike Falconer.  It’s not that I can’t focus, it’s just…I like to read.  Anyways, I am now to book number one of The List.

As you know, I only review books I absolutely love.  Who wants to read a book someone says is “ok” or worse?  Besides, that is mean, and I am nice.

So…First, Break All the Rules, recommended by Dr. Jean Maixner in the article “24 Books to Change Your Life” written by Tom McFerson.  I loved it!  Five stars!

The authors interpreted survey results from 80,000 (!) managers and one million (!!!) workers interviewed by Gallup to develop this book.  Their conclusion:  Great managers break all the rules – they manage in a way completely differently than normal – average – just ok – managers.

Great managers select for talent over skill and experience, clearly communicate what outcome they need and allow team members to achieve that outcome however they do best, they focus on strengths instead of trying to improve weaknesses and they find the best fit – not necessarily the highest career ladder rung – for every team member.

I LOVE the everyone-is-doing-THIS-so-let’s-do-THAT spirit of the book.  I love the upbeat, you-can-win-and-here’s-how undercurrent of the book.

Do you know what I love MOST of all??  I love that the concept I have been mulling over for several months is so clearly articulated here – Every person is who they are, and we should be celebrating strengths, not trying to fix weaknesses.  

I say celebrating strengths is nice, and trying to fix people’s weaknesses is mean, but the authors, in a much more practical manner, and in a much better explained way, say that celebrating strengths is productive and leads to the best work by those being managed, and trying to fix people’s weaknesses is not one bit helpful, nor is it possible.

You know how sometimes it is good to read something you already believe?  That book was that for me, but instead of just my hunch I may be right about the strength/weakness concept, the authors presented a very clearly laid out, well explained book backed by TWENTY YEARS of research by Gallup itself.

Much more is covered in the book, and I enjoyed reading all of it.  The book is written for managers managing, and though that is Not Me, as always, I love a different perspective than that I would have if I were only basing my life on my own life experiences.

You will enjoy this book.  You will be challenged by its concepts.  You will find all sorts of things to apply to your own life even if you are not a manager managing or even a team member being managed.  I would love to hear what you think.

Thank you to Tom McFerson for The List, and thank you to Dr. Jean Maixner for the recommendation of First, Break All the Rules.

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“There’s only one thing that I know how to do well,

and I’ve often been told that you only can do what you know how to do well,

and that’s be you,

be what you’re like,

be like yourself.  

And so I’m having a wonderful time, but I’d rather be whistling in the dark.” 

from “Whistling in the Dark” by They Might Be Giants

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2 Responses to “First, Break All the Rules – 5 Stars!”

  1. This is one of my all-time favorite management books!

  2. I can see why Brenda! I really liked it!

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