Category Archives: book reviews

12 Questions — see if you are a winning corporation

One of the best books I have ever read is “First Break All the Rules” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, which made the New York Times best seller list for 93 weeks.

The book is a result of observations based on  Gallup organization interviews of over one million employees and 80,000 managers in leading organizations over a period of 25 years.   The result:  12 compelling strategies that the best managers and leaders use to create winning corporations that have sustainable success over a long period of time.

These twelve questions can be used as a baseline to assess your employees’  satisfaction in the business, to help you identify gaps in leadership, and to provide a roadmap to build a winning team.

Without giving away all of the book’s secrets, the first few questions, while seeming to be basic, really pinpoint classic flaws in many businesses:

1)  Do I [the employee] know what is expected of me at work?

2)  Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?

3)  At work, do I  have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?

The above questions lead managers to provide solutions that are not rocket science:

 – ensure clear job expectations

 – provide employees with the proper resources

 – slot the right people into the right job (capitalize on each employee’s strengths)

Have a read, use these 12 questions periodically in your business to survey your leadership progress… you’ll find great tools to build a winning corporation!

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Leading Quietly – guest post by Jim Estill

One of the books I read on the weekend was – Leading Quietly – An unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing by Joseph Badaracco.

The book is more about the subtitle “An unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing” than the title – “Leading Quietly”. It did make a valid point that often the best leaders are not the loud stars that the press talks about all the time. Often the best leaders are the quiet plodders that create value over a long period of time.

Much of the book talked about making decisions in uncertain circumstances. Much of leadership involves decision making. And most decisions are not clear. The mark of a good leader is one who is willing to make the decisions quickly. Good leaders know when enough information is enough (some people will not make decisions because they want more information even though the probability of that information changing the decision is negligible). As Badaracco says “the courage to prudently tackle tough situations”.

Good leaders do not balk at making decisions even though there is risk involved. Usually there is greater risk in not making the decision.
Much of good decision making is about identifying the problem and simplifying it. Einstein said “Everything should be as simple as possible and no simpler”.

One statement that rang true to me “leadership is hard work”. I guess I never really thought about it but at the time I was reading it, I was struggling with many issues and juggling many balls so it hit home. It also talked about tenacity. This is a trait that I try hard to have. When I do not get the answer I want, I try to figure other approaches to make the sale (and most things are sales even if they involve selling internally or selling someone in a negotiation).
Good book.
Posted by Jim Estill