Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know

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Marcus Buckingham, The One Thing You Need to Know…About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success. Free Press, 2005.

Referenced in: Strengths-Based Leadership

LifeandLeadership.com Summary

This is a sequel to Buckingham and Coffman’s popular volume, First, Break all the Rules, which recounts his research through Gallup that revealed great managers help people discover and optimize their strengths. This can be quite valuable to overall ministry leadership effectiveness, to strengthening ministry teams, and to motivating congregational volunteers.

In this text, Buckingham suggests that for three areas – managing, leading and overall success – there is a “controlling insight” (i.e. one thing) that if grasped begins the path for exponential growth. Here are the three:

  • Managing: “Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it.”
  • Leading: “Discover what is universal and capitalize on it.”
  • Sustained individual success: “Discover what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.”

This is one of several volumes in the Strengths-Based genre, many of which are featured in the Ministry Resource Guide on that subject. This model goes back to Gallup research that discovered a set of 34 dominant themes indicating people’s unique talents and strengths. These were arranged into a profile that helps people discover where they are among the 34 themes, Strengths Finder 2.0. This newer volume gives a better explanation of the 34 themes, but this text, alongside  others such as Strengths-Based Leadership, provide a more thorough guide into how the strengths-based understanding improves one’s life and work.

There are a number of related StrengthsFinder titles one may find useful. See the list in the Ministry Resource Guide. Since each includes a code for you to take the online version of the profile, it is very important to get a NEW copy, else someone may have already activated the code.

From the Publisher

Following the success of the landmark bestsellers First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham offers a dramatically new way to understand the art of success.

With over 1.6 million copies of First, Break All the Rules (co-authored with Curt Coffman) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (co-authored with Donald O. Clifton) in print, Cambridge-educated Buckingham is considered one of the most respected business authorities on the subject of management and leadership in the world. With The One Thing You Need to Know, he gives readers an invaluable course in outstanding achievement — a guide to capturing the essence of the three most fundamental areas of professional activity.

Great managing, leading, and career success — Buckingham draws on a wealth of applicable examples to reveal that a controlling insight lies at the heart of the three. Lose sight of this “one thing” and even the best efforts will be diminished or compromised. Readers will be eager to discover the surprisingly different answers to each of these rich and complex subjects. Each could be explained endlessly to detail their many facets, but Buckingham’s great gift is his ability to cut through the mass of often-conflicting agendas and zero in on what matters most, without ever oversimplifying. As he observes, success comes to those who remain mindful of the core insight, understand all of its ramifications, and orient their decisions around it. Buckingham backs his arguments with authoritative research from a wide variety of sources, including his own research data and in-depth interviews with individuals at every level of an organization, from CEO’s to hotel maids and stockboys. In every way a groundbreaking book, The One Thing You Need to Know offers crucial performance and career lessons for business people at all career stages.

Editorial Reviews

“The One Thing You Need to Know is actually a modest title. It contains many things you need to know. Marcus Buckingham is flat out the most original, provocative writer there is on the subjects of leadership and management. He comes to his theories the old-fashioned way: by truly getting to know the people and the workplaces he writes about. He also happens to be a wonderful writer and a joy to read.” — Tony Schwartz, coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement; president, The Energy Project

“Buckingham is a superb writer and speaker who can make complex ideas crystal clear, cut through to the core insight, and reveal its crucial importance. He has been an inspiration to all of us at Lexus.” — Denny Clements, group vice president and general manager, Lexus U.S.

“As I read The One Thing You Need to Know, for the first time I had the urge to compare someone — Marcus Buckingham — to Peter Drucker. Buckingham performs the most magical of acts: He speaks with surpassing common sense, yet reaches profoundly uncommon conclusions. This is a wise — and radical — book; a true gem worth savoring.”— Tom Peters

“Given the tremendous complexities of today’s business environment and consumer expectations, Marcus Buckingham is able to deliver a clear path of understanding to the simple truths at the heart of managing and leading. The ‘one thing’ I find invaluable about this book is its unique, challenging examples about how to stay laser focused on operational excellence.” — Robert L. Nardelli, chairman, president, and CEO, The Home Depot, Inc.

“Marcus Buckingham has a keen sense of what it takes to excel, and he backs his insights with an impressive body of in-depth interviews and research. This is an important book for anybody who aspires to effective leadership, managing, or any kind of enduring individual achievement.” — Richard M. Kovacevich, chairman, president, and CEO, Wells Fargo and Company

“As a social science researcher and an esteemed business consultant, Marcus Buckingham (First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths) has spent considerable time studying the big picture. This wide-angle approach led him to an unexpectedly narrow conclusion: There is a core concept to even the most complex topic. What he has discovered in The One Thing You Need to Know is that single “controlling insights” exist for a whole range of situations, and when properly applied, can encourage exponential improvement and lead to precise action and results. In applying this concept to managing, leading, and individual performance he has pinpointed the single element necessary for achieving success in each of these three key positions. Buckingham acknowledges the subtleties of the topic and his goal is “not to make these subjects simpler, merely clearer.” And what could be clearer than one thing? The challenge lies in filtering out the nonessential matters and distinguishing “between what is merely important and what is imperative” in order to produce the greatest and most far-reaching effects. In offering advice on how to do this he also details the three things you need to learn about a person to manage them effectively, explains why a lack of balance is a good thing, shows how to identify your own strengths and weaknesses, and discusses which personality traits all great leaders must possess.

Clearly written, informative, and enjoyable, the book aims to motivate readers to act—not just think—differently by providing concrete examples and specific lessons. And it need not be confined to the office—the concepts outlined in these pages can help people feel more fulfilled and productive in all aspects of life.” —Shawn Carkonen, Amazon.com

About the Author

Marcus Buckingham graduated from Cambridge University in 1987, with a master’s degree in Social and Political Science. During his 17 years with The Gallup Organization, Buckingham helped lead research into the world’s best leaders, managers, and workplaces. He drew on this research and used it as the basis for two bestselling books: First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Best Managers Do Differently and Now, Discover Your Strengths, of which he was both the writer and principal author.

A subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, and Fast Company, Buckingham, now an independent consultant, author, and speaker, is considered one of the world’s leading authority’s on employee productivity and the practices of leading and managing. He is a member of the Secretary of State Advisory Committee on Leadership and Management. He lives with his wife and two children in Los Angeles.

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