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Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance [Paperback]

Marcus Buckingham
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 Dec 2010
Companies routinely claim that 'Our People Are Our Greatest Asset', but research data shows that in practice most people do not actually use their assets much at work. This books aims to change that. When employees learn how to truly apply their greatest strengths at work, they turbo-charge their career potential and everybody wins. Companies find that their employees are more productive, their teams are more effective, their organization is more innovative and, accordingly, their customers are more engaged. In FIRST, BREAK ALL THE RULES, Marcus Buckingham proved the link between engaged employees and more profitable bottom lines and highlighted great managers as the catalyst. In NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS he explained how to sort through your patterns of wishes, abilities, thoughts and feelings and, with the help of a web-based profile, identify your five most dominant talents. In GO, PUT YOUR STRENGTHS TO WORK he shows you how to take the crucial next step. How to seize control of your time at work and, in the face of a world that doesn't much care whether you are playing to your strengths, how to rewrite your job description under the nose of your boss.

Product details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; Pap/Psc Re edition (28 Dec 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743261682
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743261685
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.1 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,403,168 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marcus Buckingham is the co-author of the bestselling books First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths. He is a renowned speaker and regular guest on American television. He lives in Los Angeles but was born in England and is a graduate of Cambridge University.

Product Description

About the Author

Marcus Buckingham is the co-author of the best-selling books FIRST, BREAK ALL THE RULES and NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGTHS. He is a renowned speaker and regular guest on American television. He lives in Los Angeles but was born in England and is a graduate of Cambridge University.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stop feeding hay to a dead horse 7 Jun 2007
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Years ago, there was a series of television commercials that featured the "Kemper Cavalry." Each effectively communicated a message from Kemper Insurance that said, in effect, "We'll always be there when you need us most." Many people apparently believe that there is such an alternative to focus, preparation, hard work, personal accountability, patience, self-reliance, persistence, etc. For them, other alternatives include the Tooth Fairy, silver bullets, divine intervention, lotteries, and e-mails from widows, orphans, and attorneys who are émigrés from Africa.

I first became aware of Marcus Buckingham when I read First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999) in which he and co-author Curt Coffman draw upon 80,000 interviews conducted by Gallup during the past 25 years. They suggest "four keys" to becoming an excellent manager: Finding the right fit for employees by getting their strengths in proper alignment with the tasks for which they are responsible, focusing on those strengths, defining the right results and making the given expectations crystal clear to those involved, and finally, hiring for talent as well as for knowledge and skills rather than merely filling a vacant position according to a job description that may no longer be relevant. Good stuff.

In this volume, Buckingham quite correctly emphasizes (a) knowing what one's personal strengths are and then (b) leveraging them to achieve desirable results, whatever the nature and extent of those results may be. He is one of several past or current executives within The Gallup Organization who have written a number of articles and books, based on a wealth of research data. Several Web sites now offer access to much of this information, notably gallup.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to take charge of your work 3 Oct 2007
By Rolf Dobelli TOP 500 REVIEWER
Marcus Buckingham is passionate about helping you identify your unique strengths and unleash their power. As you read and work your way through the program in this book, you will become convinced that growing through your strengths is the ticket to your future happiness, effectiveness and success. He refutes the approach of improvement by fixing mistakes as a dead end that cannot help you discover how you can be exceptional. The book constantly refers you to its associated Web site for materials that will help you work through the exercises. Buckingham wants you to act rather than just read a theoretical tract. Nothing presented in this book will help you without action and implementation. However, if you take up the challenge, you will become empowered as you take charge of your work through your strengths. We recommend this book because it contains just a few simple ideas that could change your life.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
If you already have reorganized your life based on reading First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths, you don't need this book for yourself. But if you haven't helped your colleagues make the same adjustments, you'll find this book helpful. If you've made the needed shifts in both areas, you can skip Go Put Your Strengths to Work.

Based on Marcus Buckingham's latest survey, it seems like just as few people feel they should focus on improving their strengths as before he started to write about this subject. Writing books obviously only goes so far. This book attempts to help you change your habits.

Before going too far, let me remind (or share with you) that the Buckingham definition of a strength is something that makes you feel great while you do it. Because you have this positive reaction, you'll do this activity more often, get better at it, and stay energized by your work. For me, a strength is writing about how to create 2,000 percent solutions and helping the world make progress at 20 times the usual rate.

Contrast this with something you do very well, but hate doing! For me, that's doing tax returns. I'm great at it, but I feel drained by the experience.

Most people don't work on their strengths because they believe certain myths (I would call them misconception stalls):

1. Your personality changes with age.

2. You will grow most in your areas of greatest weakness.

3. A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.

Mr. Buckingham argues persuasively that the opposite is true in each case.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 8 Dec 2009
This book is a must read for coaches working on Talent Development and/or Strenghts Coaching !!!
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  90 reviews
180 of 188 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Succeed 11 Mar 2007
By Jason E. Bradfield - Published on Amazon.com
Reading this book should be a priority for any professional who wants to be more successful on the job.

The first part of the book lays out the evidence for why "playing to your strengths" instead of improving your weak points is the way to succeed. I am familiar with the author's other work and that of Martin Seligman which says essentially the same thing. I thought I had removed any lingering notions about prioritizing improving weaknesses over improving strengths. I was wrong. Reading this book and thinking deeply about my beliefs and experiences showed me that the ideal of the "well-rounded" person is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche and a book like this is desparately needed to help both employees and managers understand what really drives success.

The only reason I gave this book four stars instead of five is because it could have been easily 70 pages shorter. There is an aburd amount of repitition; several stories could be cut out and put on the website instead. There is a story about someone named Heidi threaded throughout the book. I guess it is meant to make us understand the real-world application of the concepts. It didn't work for me. I found the exercises a much better way of making this book applicable. Exceptionally eye-opening are the questions the author asks you regarding the following three myths:

Myth 1: As you grow, your personality changes

Myth 2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness

Myth 3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team

The last myth is especially powerful. By showing you how these myths are false the book prepares your mind to accept and understand the evidence showing that playing to your strengths is crucial to success.

Buckingham presents a very clear and easy-to-understand method for discovering what your strengths actually are. It is not necessarily easy to do but this book does make it easy to understand. Once you have a better idea of your strengths you can start devoting more time to work that is suited to your strengths. Of course, how do you do that when your boss or work environment may not be initially supportive. Fortunately, the book covers this implementation in some detail and is very realistic about it.

If you are familiar with "Now, Discover Your Strengths" it is important to realize that the results from the personality test associated with that book are NOT your strengths, but rather personality traits that are only one component of your strengths. These traits change little if at all over your lifetime, whereas your strengths actually change because they are dependent on your skills and knowledge as well as your personality. Read the book to find out more about how these concepts interrelate and how devoting more time to your strengths AND less time to your weaknesses has been shown to improve your work performance.

The research Buckingham discusses can be applied to one's personal life as well; however, the book does not really touch on that. I am suspecting that this might be the subject of a future book. If so, I eagerly anticipate its release and will buy it as soon as it comes out.

To summarize, Buckingham offers solid evidence showing that shifting your time to tasks that are suited to your strengths is a key component of professional success. In addition, the book provides you with a very realistic way to identify your strengths. To top it off, there is even an extensive description of how to actually get your co-workers and management to support your efforts at focusing on your strengths. This is not pie-in-the-sky theorizing. There are actionable steps here ready to be used by anyone who is looking to achieve outstanding professional performance.

Also, each book has a code that allows you to access the website, so if you are considering buying make sure you buy it new.
98 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent addition to the series 16 Mar 2007
By Tom Carpenter - Published on Amazon.com
I must say that I have been a big fan of Marcus Buckingham's work starting with First, Break All the Rules. It has been refreshing to read his works due to their research-based nature. I love to read experiential writings, but I also need the "why" behind the "what". This is what the books from Buckingham have provided. This book, Go, Put Your Strengths to Work, continutes the journey of strengths development. You will learn how to develop and put your strengths to work as well as those in your team.

I think step 6, Build Strong Habits, is of the utmost importance. I read a lot of books and can easily forget the valuable lessons I learn if I don't turn them into life habits instead of momentary thoughts. Ultimately, Buckingham gives you five tasks to schedule in your calendar:

-Daily - Quickly look over your strengths and weakness statements

-Weekly - Complete a strong week plan

-Quarterly - Review your strengths-based accomplishments with your manager

-6 Months - Analyze the changes in your strengths

-Yearly - Retake the SET survey

These actions, when scheduled and performed, will help solidify the benefit you get from the strengths model of advancement.

I think there are some better books on improving your efficiency, effectiveness and abilities, but for those who read a few books a year or a decade, I would read the Buckingham series and of course this one is in that group. Placed in with the other books, I give this one five stars. All alone, I feel there will be a lot of gaps for those who haven't read Now, Discover Your Strengths.

Enjoy reading, Tom Carpenter - SYSEDCO
78 of 82 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Follow-up book, much overlap with earlier books 30 Sep 2007
By Anurag Gupta - Published on Amazon.com
Marcus Buckingham discusses six steps to identifying and putting your strengths to work:

1. Convince yourself that exercising your strengths is more fun and productive that spending your time shoring up your weaknesses.

2. Identify specific activities that exercise your strengths. For example, mine include
a. Determine true value
b. Learn and apply new and useful skills, knowledge
c. Creative problem solving

3. Build your job towards your strengths.

4. Stop / reduce time spent shoring up your weaknesses

5. Build a strong team by enabling each member to exercise their strengths towards delivering business value

6. Make a habit of ensuring that each person's activities around you are aligned with their strengths (including yourself :-)

The book could have been much shorter - the concept was repeated multiple times. More specifics on step 3 would also have been more useful.
46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars GO do your homework on real effectiveness 14 Feb 2009
By Robert Kaiser - Published on Amazon.com
I saw Buckingham on Oprah. Handsome, charismatic guy, dressed smart, lounging on the couch and cavalierly telling everyone to "Forget fixing weaknesses. Do what feels good, what makes you happy. Maximize your strengths." This is the message of the GO book, only the book includes detailed instructions and a daily agenda for living this credo. It's an easy sell, sure. And perfect for the Millennial, everyone-gets-a-trophy generation. But it is also irresponsible to promote this point of view without telling the rest of the story.

Buckingham was speaking with the "authority of science," citing Gallup OPINION research. But he should do his homework. The break-set research done at the Center for Creative Leadership in the 1980s clearly showed that executives get fired when their "strengths become weaknesses" through overuse and misapplication. For instance, when Gallup StrengthsFinder Command themes become micro-management; or when StrengthsFinder Self-assurance themes comes across as arrogance. More isn't always better. In fact, there are even perils of accentuating the positive. But nowhere in this best-selling book does the author acknowledge this reality, not even as a footnote.

There is a lot more than Gallup research on the matter. For instance, the February 2009 Harvard Business Review has an article on p. 100 entitled "Stop Overdoing Your Strengths." The authors provide case after case of executives going overboard with their natural inclinations and talents, driving their companies down with them. They also show clear data that this is an endemic problem: most executives overdo their strengths, but the majority lack self-awareness about it. Furthermore, strengths overused are powerfully correlated with employee DISengagement and soft business results.

Perhaps those who aspire to leadership should hit the books, rather than get drive-by advice from a master of self-promotion. Just ask derailed leaders like Eliot Spitzer, Chuck Prince, Richard Fuld, or Stan O'Neal how smart it is to flex your strengths and ignore your weaknesses.
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of the lot so far 8 July 2007
By Walter H. Bock - Published on Amazon.com
Marcus Buckingham has written several books that deal with the same issues in essentially the same way. What's he's got to say is good and it's based on research. The books are all well written. But there's not a lot that's new in any one of them.

If you haven't read any of Buckingham's strengths books, read this one. The idea of identifying your strengths and building on them is a good one. You are likely to have a more successful and satisfying life if you follow it. And this book is the best one so far to help you do that.

If you have read any of Buckingham's books on strengths, there are two things that make this book the best of the pack even if most of the book will seem familiar. They may make it worth buying for you.

First, this book has examples of using strengths to put teams together. This is the big content addition and it's a good one. If you want to learn how to use people's strengths when they're part of a team you're responsible for, this is the book for you.

And, Buckingham finally did something in this book that I've wanted him to do. Previously I had trouble applying the idea of building on strength, because I found that I had things that I do well but didn't like to do. They seemed to meet the common definition of "strengths" and people told me I was good at them. But just the prospect of spending time doing them made me tired.

In this book, Buckingham tells us how to identify a strength to build on. You identify things that 1) you're good at and 2) give you energy when you do them. Other people can help you identify what you're good at. You are the judge of whether an activity gives you energy or not.

Bottom line: if you want to read a book about how to identify your strengths and the strengths of your team or if you haven't read any of Buckingham's books on the subject before, pick up a copy of this book. On the other hand, if you're read his earlier books and you don't need the specific content points I've mentioned, give it a pass.
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