Now, Discover Your Strengths
||List Price: $27.00
Amazon.com Price: $18.90
- Media: Hardcover
Publisher: Free Press (January, 2001)
- Average Customer Review:
Based on 94 reviews.
Amazon.com Sales Rank: 73
Buy "First, Break All the Rules" and forget this book.
I read "First, Break All the Rules" and found its advice sound and useful. The key finding is that the best managers work hard to understand what their employees true *talents* are and then shape the job to allow the employee to perform to their maximum. It doesn't pay to focus on people's weaknesses; focus on their strengths. The message to the individual is the same, find your talent and grow it rather than spend all of your time on your weaknesses.
Unfortunately, "Now, Discover Your Strengths" makes the same point but without all the loads of useful management advice. "Discover" has you take a web based quiz to find your top 5 strengths. What if you have more than 5 strengths? Too bad, for you won't be told how you scored on the other strengths. Does "Discover" help you discover that you should focus on your artistic or writing talents? NO. Your talents in this book are "Deliberative" or "Woo" or "Context". Basically, if you want to get a take on the way you approach life and work, then this book may help you and tell you how to get your manager to treat you, but it won't find your *talents*. I fully recommend reading the first book and thinking hard about what you do well at and enjoy doing. Save your money and don't buy this book.
I see this book as an attempt by Gallup to position themselves as an integral part of the review process at major corporations and make money from every employee taking the quiz. This wouldn't be a bad thing for employees, but managers and you'd be better served by the first book by itself.
I found the quiz a bit confusing and marked an awful lot of the questions with "no preference". After reading the book, I wanted to take the quiz again (as the book implies you can), but Gallup *refuses* to allow you to take the quiz more than once. This means that your spouse or friend that you loan the book to won't be able to take the test until they fork over money for a new copy of the book. If you get a used or a returned copy, I hope the previous owner didn't take the test and then return the book!
Pretty Good Psych -- Some Insights on People Management
This book presents an interesting description of personality that describes 34 different types of strengths that a person may have. Based on measurement of these strengths (discussed below), it is possible to identify dominant strengths that help to determine personality. The focus of the book is on describing these strengths and then arguing that it is best for individuals and managers can best develop and build upon individuals' strengths. The book makes the interesting point that it is most effective trying to build on these strengths rather trying to identify and improve upon weaknesses.
A key to this book is an internet-based test that allows an individual to obtain a measurement of their top five strengths. To take this test, you log onto a specific website and type in the unique password that is printed in thte inside cover of the book. (This means you only take the test once -- your friends will need to buy the book to take the test!). The test is based on work that the Gallup Organization has done and has (according to the book) been been administered to 2 million people in a large number of different type of organizations.
Once on the site, you answer 180 questions in which you are asked to make a two-way choice as to what word better describes you, which action you would rather take, and so forth. It takes about 20-30 minutes in total to get through these, but once you do, a report is generated on screen (along with an with the same information) that lists your top five strengths and provides a description of what they are. Many of the strengths involve how you deal with people, how you process information, and how you see yourself in the world.
The book gives short descriptions of each strength and gives short (one-paragraph)write-ups from people who have the particular strength describing themselves. The book is meant to be a management tool, in that it talks about how to manage people with each of the strength in the book and make best use of these strengths.
I feel that the book is a better popular psychology book rather than a management book. Although the descriptions of strength seemed fairly clear, the discussion could have been better when it described how to manage people. It tended to be a list of "do this" without much discussion of why a manager might want to encourage an employee to do certain things or take on certain types of assignments. What the book really lacked was a description of the downside that certain strengths might bring (e.g., a person who is deliberative may seem to take a long time to do something). A better discussion of what the strengths really mean would have been helpful.
The book is well-written and taking the test is fun. Learning about one own attributes as measured by the test is helpful, both in personal and business life. It will make you think about yourself in a constructive and stimulating way. This in itself makes the book worth buying.
The book provides some good insight into how to manage individual types of people and help them develop on the job. I found it a bit weak on management from the standpoint of what an organization should do, in that it just seemed too general beyond saying figure out what everybody can do well and encourage them to do it. It may be, however, that some of this material is discussed in the book's (earlier) companion book ("First, Break All the Rules").
Strengths best focus for change
Strengths Best Focus for Change
The Gallup Organization (the pollsters) have been doing a systematic study of excellence for the last thirty years. They interviewed over two million people about their strengths and found that each person's talents are enduring and unique and each person's greatest room for growth is in the area of his or her greatest strength. Gallup's report, by Marcus Buckingham, author of "First, Break All the Rules" and Donald Clifton, is called "Now, Discover Your Strengths" (Free Press, 2001). When most people think of changing they focus on their deficits. This is usual to our culture, but not as helpful to our self-improvement as focusing on our strengths. The survey calls strengths the activities that we consistently do near perfectly, without much effort or thought. Strengths grow out of our talents, naturally recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be put to a productive use When these natural talents are combined with knowledge and skills, our performance is outstanding. Most people don't know where their real strengths are because they don't think that whatever comes easily to them is as important as what requires struggle. In fact, people often feel that "everybody can do that" when thinking about their talents. They don't realize how unique their own combination of talents, knowledge and skills can be. Others deliberately suppress their natural talent because of social pressures. We can change our level of knowledge and skills, but if the natural talent is not there we will never be great at what we are trying to learn. Learning to do what we have no talent for helps us go through the motions, but can never help us give a great performance. Talents are revealed by looking at what we yearn for, what we can learn most rapidly, and what positive activities bring us the greatest satisfaction. These areas are clues to our natural talents. "Now, Discover Your Strengths", guides the reader to a web site where a 30 minute questionnaire analyzes your instinctive reactions and tells you what your five most powerful talent themes are. This survey is an excellent way to clarify who you are and where you need to focus your energy. The book is aimed at business people but the web site test would be helpful to everyone from teens up. Unfortunately, the strengths profile is only available one time to one purchaser of each book, a policy that discriminates against library readers or people who want their whole family to read the book and take the test. This policy feels mean spirited. I guess the policy makers didn't have the talent of "fairness" or "inclusiveness". Nevertheless, the test results may be worth the price of the book.
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