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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (20 Jun. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416502661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416502661
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon 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 Organisation 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. 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 organised, this book tells you exactly how to improve as a supervisor. --Dan Ring --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"As the authors put it, "a great deal of the value of a company lies between the ears of its employees." The key to success is growing that value by listening to and understanding what lies in their hearts -- Mssrs. Buckingham and Coffman have found a direct way to measure and make that critical connection. At Carlson Companies, their skills are helping us become the truly caring company that will succeed in the marketplace of the future."-Marilyn Carlson Nelson President and CEO, Carlson Companies --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Perkins on 4 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wish I could remember how I first came to hear of this book. I would love to thank the person or journalist who recommended it.
My paperback copy, now around two years old, is covered in highlighter pen, plastered in post-it notes and is referred to again and again. My boss bought copies for everyone in our office on my recommendation and I've recommended it to dozens of managers that I've worked with and coached.
It just makes sense. First there's Gallup's research pedigree (in this case more than a million interviews over twenty five years), then there's the concept: if you want to know how the world's greatest managers get exceptional performance from their people, don't ask the managers - ask the people.
From all this research, Gallup have distilled the essence of great management (arguably, great leadership) into 12 questions. If your employees can answer positively to all 12 questions, then you will have built a great place to work and will undoubtedly have highly motivated, highly productive people.
What makes this such a great book (in addition to the above) is the writing style. It's not dry research findings, it's fascinating snippets of conversations, analogies, humour and a compelling argument.
This turns conventional management wisdom on its head in a very refreshing way. It also says 'there's no standard for Great Manager that you have to try to be. Anyone can do it if they get these fundamental building blocks in place' (the 12 questions).
If you buy this book, I would also highly recommend the follow up 'Now, Discover Your Strengths' to gain further insights into how you can tap more of your own potential and more of those around you at work.
If you manage people, or aspire to, you must read 'First, break All The Rules'.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Carol on 19 April 2006
Format: Paperback
Given how many business management books there are, it is refreshing to see a research-based attempt to link specific aspects of management theory to company performance.

As a manager, I found this book to be helpful in backing up some things that made intuitive sense and in challenging some basic assumptions I had. It's a very positive way of thinking about how you bring out the strengths of the individuals on a team.

No book has the answers. This one has some thought-provoking findings that I've used to improve the way I manage.
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Peter Leerskov on 7 Mar. 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is provocative and it challenges conventional wisdom in people management.
Gallup's thorough research presented in this book reveal the "Four Keys of Great Managers" that should unlock the potential of each and every employee (the "... not" statements represent conventional wisdom according to the authors)
1. When selecting someone, they select for talent ... not simply experience, intelligence, or determination.
2. When setting expectations, they define the right outcomes ... not the right steps.
3. When motivating someone, they focus on strengths ... not on weaknesses.
4. When developing someone, they find him the right fit ... not simply the next rung on the ladder
So great managers don't believe that a person can achieve anything he sets his mind to. They don't try to help a person overcome his weaknesses (instead they devise a support system. Find a complementary partner. Or find an alternative role). They consistently disregard the golden rule - i.e. treat people as you would like to be treated - instead they acknowledge that each employee is unique and thus would demand different things of you, the manager! And they even play favourites (i.e. spend the most time with your best people).
Many of us know by experience that it is hard to manage others well. Continually, you have to balance the competing interests of the employee, the customer, the company, and even yourself. You attend too much to one, and you invariably upset the others.
This book cannot make the manager's role easier. But it certainly provides you with some brilliant insights into effective people management. The book's Four Keys should be inspiring for any people manager, even if you do not accept all of their findings.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
It's fact-filled and timely, yet it doesn't get to the heart of why leaders are successful. It's a great complementary book to your library, but I suggest getting a more practical book that may help you at work. I suggest a book I also ordered from Amazon and I have ordered copies for Everyone in my department. Check out "The Leader's Guide: 15 Essential Skills."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Feb. 2000
Format: Hardcover
The Gallup Organization is renowned for its political polls however this book is not about polls. It is about strong workplaces and the managers who build them. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, leaders of the Gallup Organization, share their insightful research on what the world's greatest managers do differently.
Drawing on data collected from interviewing over a million employees and eighty thousand managers in the last 25 years, this book has strong evidence to back up its claims. Packed with annotated examples of real manager's stories, it sets out many of the principles that managers and companies should follow.
Unlike so many books on management theory, this one is not full of weighty words and complicated concepts. 'First Break all the Rules' is refreshingly simple in its language and in its approach. It focuses on the strengths of human nature and on ways to make the most of these strengths in the workplace. While it never claims to give managers all the answers, it does lay out simple and practical ways in which managers can gain a perspective on what they do, on why they are doing it and on ways to do it better.
'Great managers make it all seem so simple. Just select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, and then, as each person grows, encourage him or her to find the right fit...It sounds almost inevitable. We know, just as you do, that it isn't.'
A thoroughly enjoyable read, this book is accessible and exceptionally readable.
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