In one of Chuck Martin's previous works, Tough Management, he recommends "seven winning ways to make tough decisions easier, deliver the numbers, and grow the business in good times and bad." None of the "ways" is a head-snapper, nor does Martin make any such claim. The substantial value of this book is derived, rather, from responses by more than 2,000 senior executives and managers in 50 countries who participated in a survey conducted by NFI Research, Martin's firm. They completed a brief survey segment every two weeks over a period of 24 months. That is a key point because, over time both circumstances and respondents' reactions to them change. The final survey results thus have much greater credibility. Martin operates a global idea exchange and research engine with a network base of more than 2,000 senior executives and managers from more than 1,000 companies in more than 50 countries, including half of the Fortune 500. His observations and recommendations are thus based on an abundance of real-world data that he and his NFI associates continue to accumulate and then evaluate with meticulous care.
In this volume, which he co-authored with Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, Martin develops in much greater depth many of the core concepts introduced in his previous books. For example, insights concerning how both individuals and collaborative teams can achieve and then sustain superior performance by leveraging their strengths (i.e. talents, skills, temperament, and experience) when completing tasks for which those strengths are most appropriate. In this volume, the authors assert that there are certain brain functions starting at birth "and they are "`hardwired'" into every individual. Brain researchers have found that these skills are fully developed by the time you become an adult. These skills are called `Executive Skills' because they help you execute tasks." OK but so what?
As the authors then explain, our strongest skills will continue to be our strongest skills and our weakest will continue to be our weakest -- and are not significantly changeable - as we become adults. "The opportunity is how to deal with [strengths and weaknesses], and this book provides a framework for you to do that." They identify and then rigorously examines twelve executive skills that range from self-restraint to stress tolerance. Mastery of these skills by those who comprise the workforce within a given organization (regardless of its size or nature) will enable it to derive substantial improvement of its productivity, quality, employee recruitment, employee retention, training, teamwork, competitive edge, reduction of stress, meetings, operational execution, and information management.
Martin, Dawson, and Guare agree with countless others that organizations must measure only what is most important, and they should do so with consistency. Hence the value of diagnostic tools such as the "Executive Skills Profile" that he provides in Appendix B. It enables each of those who read this book to tap into their greatest Executive Skills strengths and then leverage them when completing whatever tasks to which they have been assigned. At this point, it is important to keep in mind that one of the greatest challenges for supervisors is to make certain that they are locating those for whom they are directly responsible in proper alignment with tasks appropriate to their given strengths. Organizations that sustain such alignment are "hardwired for success" because their people - as individuals and as members of a team - are themselves "hardwired for success."
In my opinion, this is Chuck Martin's most valuable book, thus far, and another brilliant achievement. He and his co-authors, Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, invite those who wish to obtain updates and/or share their own comments to visit [...]
Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out Martin's other books. I also recommend Bill George's Authentic Leadership and True North, Michael Ray's The Highest Goal, Ram Charan's Know-How, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman's First, Break All the Rules and Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton's Now, Discover Your Strengths, Buckingham's The One Thing You Need to Know and Go Put Your Strengths to Work, and Success Built to Last co-authored by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, and Mark Thompson.