Leadership reflections – Part I – Gallup publications

8/9/2009 2:45 PM
Leadership – Introduction
For many years I’ve paid attention to issues of leadership development. I have some posts which are specific to Child Welfare and Social Work, but these I will post on a different web site I am developing. The posts I have here at Sonomabuzz are for a broader audience. I hope that they will suggest resources that will improve your organization.

Leadership part I – The Gallup materials.

The following summary of books developed by Gallup represent to me a series of data based meta research that informs both individual and group performance.

For myself, I used “First, Break All the Rules” when I organized and supervised the Family Court Evaluations Unit in Riverside County. I used it to develop the recruitment questions and to shape how I conducted business. I still have a strong strengths focus.

The strengths profile I got from “Now, Develop Your Strengths” (see below) informed both my personal and professional life. For example, I had lots of books, some half read. I realized that the “learner” element of my strengths was why I was so comfortable keeping all those books around. Similarly, the “achiever” strength helped me to understand that when I am upset I often work it out by becoming busy and getting things done, despite a foul mood. Finally, this also helped me be a better parent because I came to understand that our children have different strengths than mine; I can’t force my strengths onto them. One day one of our sons said to me, “Dad, if you’ll just stop bugging us about getting things done NOW, we’ll get to it.” And you know he was right.

My profile =

M A X I M I Z E R: People strong in the Maximizer theme focus on strengths as a way to stimulate personal and group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.

S T R A T E G I C: People strong in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

I N P U T: People strong in the Input theme have a craving to know more. Often they like to collect and archive all kinds of information.

L E A R N E R: People strong in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.

A C H I E V E R: People strong in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.

The premise of all these works is that by paying more attention to strengths and complementary strengths then greater success is achieved.  Each of the other books has lessons I can recommend.

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Gallup Stengthbuilder’s Bibliography

Prepared by Gerry La Londe-Berg although both the Gallup Web site and Amazon.com were quoted or utilized.

I read all these books as they came out. I have come to think that if more people and organizations had a working knowledge of this research it could prove very helpful.

Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
Strengths Based Leadership
Gallup Press, NY, December 2009
(based on Gallup’s description of this book. I would read this first, if you are new to this since it gives access to all the previous works. Ironically, the second book I’d recommend is the first in the series, First, Break All the Rules.)

Strengths Based Leadership, is the next logical step in the strengths dialogue. The book reveals three key findings about leadership; offers readers access to a leadership version of the StrengthsFinder program to help them lead with their top five strengths; and gives the reader on-line access to a variety of Strengthfinders’ tools and previous materials.

The Myth of the Well-Rounded Leader – One of the most startling conclusions of Gallup’s research is that there is no one strength that all good leaders possess. What’s more, the most effective leaders are not well-rounded at all, but instead are acutely aware of their talents and use them to their best advantage. The late Donald O. Clifton, the Father of Strengths Psychology, was asked a few months before his death in 2003 what he considered to be the greatest discovery in more than 30 years of leadership research. Clifton responded, “A leader needs to know his strengths as a carpenter knows his tools, or as a physician knows the instruments at her disposal. What great leaders have in common is that each truly knows his or her strengths — and can call on the right strength at the right time. This explains why there is no definitive list of characteristics that describes all leaders.”

Gallup found:
• The most effective leaders are always investing in strengths. In the workplace, when an organization’s leadership fails to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of an employee being engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when an organization’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%). When leaders focus on and invest in their employees’ strengths, the odds of each person being engaged goes up eightfold.
• The most effective leaders surround themselves with the right people and then maximize their team. While the best leaders are not well-rounded, the best teams are.
• The most effective leaders understand their followers’ needs. Followers were able to describe exactly what they need from a leader with remarkable clarity: trust, compassion, stability, and hope.
• While the findings don’t reveal a universal skill set for leaders, they do point to four domains of leadership strength:
• executing,
• influencing,
• relationship building, and
• strategic thinking.
• While the leader himself need not exhibit all of these skills, he should build his team so that all four domains are represented. The most effective leaders remain true to who they are, are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and surround themselves with the right people to maximize their teams.

Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman
First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently
Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 1999

At first I called this, “My new all time favorite.” I’d read this first. Very practical and applicable

Amazon.com Review = Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman expose the fallacies of standard management thinking in First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently. In seven chapters, the two consultants for the Gallup Organization debunk some dearly held notions about management, such as “treat people as you like to be treated”; “people are capable of almost anything”; and “a manager’s role is diminishing in today’s economy.” “Great managers are revolutionaries,” the authors write. “This book will take you inside the minds of these managers to explain why they have toppled conventional wisdom and reveal the new truths they have forged in its place.”
The authors have culled their observations from more than 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. Quoting leaders such as basketball coach Phil Jackson, Buckingham and Coffman outline “four keys” to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees, focusing on strengths of employees, defining the right results, and selecting staff for talent–not just knowledge and skills. First, Break All the Rules offers specific techniques for helping people perform better on the job. For instance, the authors show ways to structure a trial period for a new worker and how to create a pay plan that rewards people for their expertise instead of how fast they climb the company ladder. “The point is to focus people toward performance,” they write. “The manager is, and should be, totally responsible for this.” Written in plain English and well organized, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. –Dan Ring

Marcus Buckingham & Clifton Donald
Now, Discover Your Strengths
The Free Press, New York, NY, 2001

Amazon.com Best of 2001
Effectively managing personnel–as well as one’s own behavior–is an extraordinarily complex task that, not surprisingly, has been the subject of countless books touting what each claims is the true path to success. That said, Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton’s Now, Discover Your Strengths does indeed propose a unique approach: focusing on enhancing people’s strengths rather than eliminating their weaknesses. Following up on the coauthors’ popular previous book, First, Break All the Rules, it fully describes 34 positive personality themes the two have formulated (such as Achiever, Developer, Learner, and Maximizer) and explains how to build a “strengths-based organization” by capitalizing on the fact that such traits are already present among those within it.

Most original and potentially most revealing, however, is a Web-based interactive component that allows readers to complete a questionnaire developed by the Gallup Organization and instantly discover their own top-five inborn talents. This device provides a personalized window into the authors’ management philosophy which, coupled with subsequent advice, places their suggestions into the kind of practical context that’s missing from most similar tomes. “You can’t lead a strengths revolution if you don’t know how to find, name and develop your own,” write Buckingham and Clifton. Their book encourages such introspection while providing knowledgeable guidance for applying its lessons. –Howard Rothman

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

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.

Buckingham, Marcus
Go Put Your Strengths to Work – 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance
Free Press, NY, 2007

How can you actually apply your strengths for maximum success at work?
Research data show that most people do not come close to making full use of their assets at work — in fact, only 17 percent of the workforce believe they use all of their strengths on the job. Go Put Your Strengths to Work aims to change that through a six-step, six-week experience that will reveal the hidden dimensions of your strengths. Buckingham shows you how to seize control of your assets and rewrite your job description under the nose of your boss. You will learn:
• Why your strengths aren’t “what you are good at” and your weaknesses aren’t “what you are bad at.”
• How to use the four telltale signs to identify your strengths.
• The simple steps you can take each week to push your time at work toward those activities that strengthen you and away from those that don’t.
• How to talk to your boss and your colleagues about your strengths without sounding like you’re bragging and about your weaknesses without sounding like you’re whining.
• The fifteen-minute weekly ritual that will keep you on your strengths path your entire career.

With structured exercises that will become part of your regular workweek and proven tactics from people who have successfully applied the book’s lessons, Go Put Your Strengths to Work will arm you with a radically different approach to your work life. As part of the book’s program you’ll take an online Strengths Engagement Track, a focused and powerful gauge that has proven to be the best way to measure the level of engagement of your strengths or your team’s strengths. You can also download the first two segments of the renowned companion film series Trombone Player Wanted.
Go Put Your Strengths to Work will open up exciting uncharted territory for you and your organization. Join the strengths movement and thrive.

Fleming, John H. & Jim Asplund
Human Sigma – Managing the Employee-Customer Encounter
Gallup Press, NY, October 2007

Six Sigma changed the face of manufacturing quality, creating excellence by reducing variance in finished goods, revolutionizing businesses, and boosting profits. Now, Human Sigma is poised to do the same for sales and service organizations.
This book offers an innovative, research-based approach to one of the toughest challenges facing business today: how to drive success by effectively managing the moments where employees interact with customers. Based on research spanning 10 million employees and 10 million customers around the globe, the Human Sigma approach combines a proven method for assessing the health of the employee-customer encounter with a disciplined process for improving it.
Human Sigma is based on five new rules to bring excellence to the way employees engage and interact with customers:
RULE #1: E Pluribus Unum. Employee and customer experiences must be managed together – not as separate entities.
RULE #2: Feelings Are Facts. Emotions drive and shape the employee-customer encounter.
RULE #3: Think Globally, Measure and Act Locally. The employee-customer encounter must be measured and managed at the local level.
RULE #4: There Is One Number You Need to Know. Employee and customer engagement interact to drive enhanced financial performance. And this interaction can be quantified and summarized with a single performance metric.
RULE #5: If You Pray for Potatoes, You Better Grab a Hoe. This means that good intentions alone do not constitute a plan of action.

Sustainable improvement in the employee-customer encounter requires disciplined local action coupled with a companywide commitment to changing how employees are recruited, positioned in roles, rewarded and recognized, and importantly, how they are managed.

Tom Rath
StrengthsFinder 2.0
Gallup Press, NY, February 2007

To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment, StrengthsFinder, in the 2001 management book Now, Discover Your Strengths. The book spent more than five years on the bestseller lists and ignited a global conversation, while StrengthsFinder helped millions to discover their Top 5 talents.
In StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment, language of 34 themes, and much more. Loaded with hundreds of strategies for applying your strengths, this new book and accompanying website will change the way you look at yourself – and the world around you – forever.
In my opinion the text of Now, Discover Your Strengths was more helpful to me, although the research model of this book was based on a higher number of responses.

Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.
HOW FULL IS YOUR BUCKET?: Positive Strategies for Work and Life
Gallup Press, NY, Fall 2004

Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket, How Full Is Your Bucket? shows how even the smallest interactions we have with others every day profoundly affect our relationships, productivity, health, and longevity.

Rodd Wagner & James K. Harter
12: The Elements of Great Managing
Gallup Press, NY, December 2006

The long-awaited sequel to the 1999 runaway bestseller First, Break All the Rules. Grounded in Gallup’s 10 million employee and manager interviews spanning 114 countries, 12 follows great managers as they harness employee engagement to turn around a failing call center, save a struggling hotel, improve patient care in a hospital, maintain production through power outages, and successfully face a host of other challenges in settings around the world.

Authors Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter weave the latest Gallup insights with recent discoveries in the fields of neuroscience, game theory, psychology, sociology, and economics. Written for managers and employees of companies large and small, 12 explains what every company needs to know about creating and sustaining employee engagement.