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Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

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How do you get to what's real?Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback.These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leader How do you get to what's real?Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback.These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leadership and Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall show in this provocative, inspiring book, there are some big lies--distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking--running through our organizational lives. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration and ultimately result in a strange feeling of unreality that pervades our workplaces.But there are those who can get past the lies and discover what's real. These are freethinking leaders who recognize the power and beauty of our individual uniqueness, who know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom, and that evidence is more powerful than dogma. With engaging stories and incisive analysis, the authors reveal the essential truths that such freethinking leaders will recognize immediately: that it is the strength and cohesiveness of your team, not your company's culture, that matters most; that we need less focus on top-down planning and more on giving our people reliable, real-time intelligence; that rather than trying to align people's goals we should strive to align people's sense of purpose and meaning; that people don't want constant feedback, they want helpful attention. This is the real world of work.If you embrace each person's uniqueness and see this as key for all healthy organizations; if you reject dogma and engage with the real world; if you seek out emergent patterns and put your faith in evidence, not philosophy; if you thrill to the power of teams--if you do all of these, then you are a freethinking leader, and this book is for you.


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How do you get to what's real?Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback.These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leader How do you get to what's real?Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback.These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leadership and Team Intelligence head Ashley Goodall show in this provocative, inspiring book, there are some big lies--distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking--running through our organizational lives. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration and ultimately result in a strange feeling of unreality that pervades our workplaces.But there are those who can get past the lies and discover what's real. These are freethinking leaders who recognize the power and beauty of our individual uniqueness, who know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom, and that evidence is more powerful than dogma. With engaging stories and incisive analysis, the authors reveal the essential truths that such freethinking leaders will recognize immediately: that it is the strength and cohesiveness of your team, not your company's culture, that matters most; that we need less focus on top-down planning and more on giving our people reliable, real-time intelligence; that rather than trying to align people's goals we should strive to align people's sense of purpose and meaning; that people don't want constant feedback, they want helpful attention. This is the real world of work.If you embrace each person's uniqueness and see this as key for all healthy organizations; if you reject dogma and engage with the real world; if you seek out emergent patterns and put your faith in evidence, not philosophy; if you thrill to the power of teams--if you do all of these, then you are a freethinking leader, and this book is for you.

30 review for Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

  1. 4 out of 5

    Karren Hodgkins

    This book speaks to me on so many levels: as someone who worked in an International corporate environment for more than 15 years and as someone who has her own business and interacts with privately-owned businesses on a daily basis. These practices make so much sense to me and I encourage all to read this book, both leaders and followers. It’s a paradigm-shifting book that outlines exactly what we can do to improve our businesses’ performance and the lives of those who work there. Businesses who This book speaks to me on so many levels: as someone who worked in an International corporate environment for more than 15 years and as someone who has her own business and interacts with privately-owned businesses on a daily basis. These practices make so much sense to me and I encourage all to read this book, both leaders and followers. It’s a paradigm-shifting book that outlines exactly what we can do to improve our businesses’ performance and the lives of those who work there. Businesses who make these changes have just got to be the best places to work. They will be the ones that talented individuals will choose to work for. The book addresses generally accepted approaches within many companies and the authors heap up the evidence to contradict each of these, ie: they address the “Nine Lies”. Key outtakes for me: * It’s the team we are a part of, not the company we work for that matters. The role of the team leader is the most important role in any company. (So best we pay attention to the quality of our team leaders) * The people who use the information are in the best position to make sense of it, with smaller, integrated efforts, (which are adjusted as a result of the intelligence gathered) being the way to go. Regular check-ins with team members are essential to retaining (increasing) their engagement * We need to set our own goals for them to have any value, goals cannot be imposed on us by others. Shared meaning and purpose can be cascaded down to create alignment but we need a,“ detailed understanding of the purpose of our work and the values we should honour in deciding how to get it done.” Leaders need to expound the WHY, then the individuals can tussle with the WHAT * Excellent performance depends on our working with our strengths daily, not on our being well-rounded. It’s the single most powerful predictor of a team’s productivity. High performers leverage their strengths and work out how to increase the impact of what they do where they already have an ability * People need to know we genuinely care about them. “Positive attention... is thirty times more powerful than negative attention in creating high performance on a team.” “If you want your people to learn more, pay attention to what’s working for them right now, and then build on that.” * We are not able to objectively assess the performance of an individual by scoring them, or their overall potential. Rather we should look to understand how a team leader reacts to the team member; how he/she feels. * We need to discuss human growth and the careers our people aspire to, and how we can help them build those careers, we can’t’ ignore who they are and their needs * “Love-in-work matters most”, ie: finding love in what we do is really important and is a critical part of what makes each one of us unique. We then need to bring this strength to our team * A leader is only a leader if they have followers. “The only determinant of whether anyone is leading is whether anyone is following’” Followership can be measured, leadership can’t. I just loved these quotes: “A leader who embraces a world in which the weird uniqueness of each individual is seen not as a flaw to be ground down but as a mess worth engaging with, the raw material for all healthy, ethical, thriving organisations: a leader who rejects dogma and instead seeks out evidence….” “... leaders cannot be in the control business and must be in the intelligence, meaning and empowerment business---- the outcomes business.” I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will reference it going forward. It’s well written with many stories to help the reader understand the principles and with detailed research supporting the arguments. With many thanks to the authors, the publishers, Harvard Business Review Press. and NetGalley for my free copy to review

  2. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    I love how this book stretches our thinking and pushes us past the standard HR/Talent Development methods. I really, really love how it uses logic and research to point out the gaps in the existing approaches. But I'm bummed about how they overreact on the solution. They get caught up in their rhetoric and throw about the baby with the bathwater. Example, leadership is hard to define and many of our great leaders didn't have all the traits we would say a good leader has--so, they say, there must I love how this book stretches our thinking and pushes us past the standard HR/Talent Development methods. I really, really love how it uses logic and research to point out the gaps in the existing approaches. But I'm bummed about how they overreact on the solution. They get caught up in their rhetoric and throw about the baby with the bathwater. Example, leadership is hard to define and many of our great leaders didn't have all the traits we would say a good leader has--so, they say, there must not be any way to define leadership at all. So, read this book to stretch your thinking--and then ignore most of the recommendations they have for fixing the holes in the systems.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alysson

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ This is a great book and one of the best management books I’ve read in awhile. It definitely makes you think about the ‘lies’ of management versus the ‘truths.’ I won’t share the truths because I don’t want to spoil it BUT the lies we have been told to believe: 1.) People care what company they work for 2.) The best plan wins 3.) The best companies cascade goals 4.) The best people are well rounded 5.) People want feedback 6.) People can reliably rate other people 7.) People have potential 8 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ This is a great book and one of the best management books I’ve read in awhile. It definitely makes you think about the ‘lies’ of management versus the ‘truths.’ I won’t share the truths because I don’t want to spoil it BUT the lies we have been told to believe: 1.) People care what company they work for 2.) The best plan wins 3.) The best companies cascade goals 4.) The best people are well rounded 5.) People want feedback 6.) People can reliably rate other people 7.) People have potential 8.) Work life balance matters most 8.) Leadership is a thing #bookstagram #nineliesaboutwork

  4. 5 out of 5

    Eva

    Very interesting and data-backed takes on established company, leadership and work environment norms, made relatable by good story-telling. May need to read again.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Klien

    Best business book I've read during last couple of years. Makes you question a lot of the "absolute truths" about management.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ann

    This is another provocative and fascinating book from Marcus Buckingham. As always, he supports his findings with research, as well as interesting examples.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa K

    I love this book! I read a lot of business books, usually about one per month. I really enjoyed the fresh look at leading/following this book offered. I am grateful to have won it in a Goodreads giveaway and will be recommending it to my business book club.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Soundview Executive Book Summaries

    You are a leader in your organization and the sum of the functions you perform is called leadership. The declarative nature of such a statement can often prompt heated debates between multiple constituents. Critics may dismiss leadership theory as dogma; humanists may advocate for the value of employee engagement over top-down control; and academics may deliver a lengthy treatise on whether leaders are born or made. In their new book Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Rea You are a leader in your organization and the sum of the functions you perform is called leadership. The declarative nature of such a statement can often prompt heated debates between multiple constituents. Critics may dismiss leadership theory as dogma; humanists may advocate for the value of employee engagement over top-down control; and academics may deliver a lengthy treatise on whether leaders are born or made. In their new book Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall take a far more pragmatic position. For them, the statement that: ‘Leadership is a Thing’ is a lie – one of nine lies, in fact, that cause distortion, frustration, and fundamentally wrong assumptions about running a business. Control and Uniformity For the authors, much of this distortion and frustration arises from a benign intent to “exert control and impose uniformity.” By prioritizing process over people, the system ensures a perceived commitment to equality and the naïve belief that any data collected from the operation of that system is representative of each participant in that system. Unfortunately, that systemic approach also undermines the growth potential of most organizations. Yes, you need systems to manage hundreds of thousands of employees, but that doesn’t mean that each of those employees should be managed the same. Six of the nine “lies” challenge the emphasis on control and uniformity directly by focusing on the needs of people. For example: Lie #1: People Care Which Company They Work For is presented as a lie because the statement assumes a broad commitment to a brand. There are some organizations where the commitment to a culture is very strong––Patagonia, Apple, Chick-fil-A, for example––but the deeper emotional connection resides with the team that you work with on a daily basis. Lie #4 The Best People Are Well-Rounded falls back on the persistence of uniformity as measured in competency models that drive generic job descriptions. Those competency models, the authors argue, are inherently flawed because they confuse states (as in state of mind) with traits that are inherent predispositions that drive “recurring patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.” In more blunt terms, “well-rounded people” are an excuse for not recognizing the individuality and potential of your people. In this context, ‘freethinking’ becomes less about thinking outside the box, and more about being brave enough to challenge the status quo and put your people above the process. Focus on the cohesion of your team over some vague concept of culture for the organization as a whole. Nine Lies About Work identifies nine ‘lies’ that deliberately undermine the growth potential of organizations. If you’re willing to become a freethinking leader, challenge accepted dogma, and disrupt the status quo by seeing these “lies” for what they are, your organization may be one of the very few to realize their full potential. Soundview subscribers get in-depth summaries of the key concepts in best-selling business books (like this one) delivered to them every month! Take your career to new heights by staying up-to-date with the trends and ideas affecting business leaders around the globe.

  9. 4 out of 5

    George Slade

    A Well Needed and Refreshing Paradigm Shift In Management Theory I really needed to read this book and absorb its message. It's very relatable, as a manager/leader who has had issues buying into a lot of concepts and approaches that are shoved down our throats at every seminar and in every book written about the subject. I think the main idea of the book, if you had to summarize, would be that we need to stop treating our teammates as mini projects inherently flawed and in desperate need of our co A Well Needed and Refreshing Paradigm Shift In Management Theory I really needed to read this book and absorb its message. It's very relatable, as a manager/leader who has had issues buying into a lot of concepts and approaches that are shoved down our throats at every seminar and in every book written about the subject. I think the main idea of the book, if you had to summarize, would be that we need to stop treating our teammates as mini projects inherently flawed and in desperate need of our corrective action, but rather that we should see where each team member can really lean in and contribute the most high level output to the team and thus the company. I don't expect to be able to immediately implement follow up ideas and steps to align my real work and surrounding teams with the ideas put forth in the book; however, I do plan to work on incremental steps towards doing things outlined in the book as better approaches. Change is often resisted, especially too much in too short of a time. Here's a summary of each lie: 1. People Care What Company They Work For (Truth - People care what teams they work for.) 2. The Best Plan Wins (Truth - The Best Intelligence Wins) 3. The Best Companies Cascade Goals (Truth - People will not be encouraged to attain goals set forth by others. Measuring goal attainment throughout the year isn't a valid approach, as goal attainment is binary, either goals or met or they are not.) 4. The Best People Are Well Rounded (Truth - High performers are typically really good at a particular thing and should not strive for high performance in all areas.) 5. People Want Feedback (Truth - We learn most in our comfort zones. It's where we are most creative and insightful.) - I found this one to be the most substantial lie outlined the book, just slightly more crucial than #4. 6. People Can Reliably Rate Other People 7. People Have Potential (Truth - People can have momentum, which can vary over time, but the concept of potential, a binary statement, is harmful and misleading.) 8. Work Life Balance Matters Most (Truth - Loving at least part of your work matters most.) 9. Leadership is a Thing (GASP!) - (Truth - Followership is a thing, and no two leaders create it the same way.) What am I going to do differently because of this book? I will attempt to focus more on building on my team's momentum and celebrating areas of strength and success, instead of looking for opportune moments for coaching and only giving feedback on shortcomings. Even though one could derive many changes to implement, I think in the spirit of not going with too many too quickly, this one is the biggest one that will make the most impact. Pareto would be proud. It's a well paced book, and since it's divided into chapters for each lie, then if you just can't buy into what you're reading, skip ahead to the next lie. For me, I saw validity in all of the theories, even some of the example companies, Chic Fil A / Facebook, may not be the best examples people will get behind. If you want the ideas of the book, but just can't sit down and read through it, checkout the HBR Idea Casts episodes from the past few months. Several of them are offshoots of the principles in the book. I guess that's good marketing!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    There are several things I can use to describe my experience with this book. One of which is thought-provoking. This book as the name implies, is fearless in exposing the so-called lies that perpetuate amongst most organizations these days. This book is also a paradigm-shifting. It changes the way you see the most basic management practices we have today. One of my favorites is the view that the best companies don’t cascade goals; they cascade meaning. The best part here is that in every lies th There are several things I can use to describe my experience with this book. One of which is thought-provoking. This book as the name implies, is fearless in exposing the so-called lies that perpetuate amongst most organizations these days. This book is also a paradigm-shifting. It changes the way you see the most basic management practices we have today. One of my favorites is the view that the best companies don’t cascade goals; they cascade meaning. The best part here is that in every lies the authors exposed, they back up their claim with data and solid arguments. Off course, not every one will be convinced as I have some reservations as well. What is commendable is that they were able to weave the right strings of reasoning to make a good case for their views. I encourage every one to read this book. I strongly inclined to recommend these ideas to followers of today; some of whom will be leaders in the future.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

    This is a much talked about book that is being released on April 2. It is well written, especially for a business book and does a nice job of interspersing tidbits of history, literature and sports to reinforce a concept or provide context and even offers some humor along the way. It is definitely a worthwhile read. Beware the authors are definitely cynical of many common processes. I don’t agree with all of their assumptions or conclusions but I came away with plenty to digest and explore. I st This is a much talked about book that is being released on April 2. It is well written, especially for a business book and does a nice job of interspersing tidbits of history, literature and sports to reinforce a concept or provide context and even offers some humor along the way. It is definitely a worthwhile read. Beware the authors are definitely cynical of many common processes. I don’t agree with all of their assumptions or conclusions but I came away with plenty to digest and explore. I struggled with my rating because at times I thought the authors went on way too long; I understood the point 40% of the way into their explanation and illuminating stories. However, the key points are definitely ones that all leadership teams and HR orgs should explore. Thank you to #NetGalley and #HBRPress for providing me with an early release of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    Unlike many business books, Nine Lies is not mostly fluff, vague, and is counter-intuitive for many. It is well written, not repetitive, but still a little longer than it needs to be. This book goes over 9 myths that many managers believe and deconstructs them in the hope that those who have not critically thought about said topics will do so and hopefully end such negative management practices. If you have ever worked under these practices then you might know the flaws but many do not. The best Unlike many business books, Nine Lies is not mostly fluff, vague, and is counter-intuitive for many. It is well written, not repetitive, but still a little longer than it needs to be. This book goes over 9 myths that many managers believe and deconstructs them in the hope that those who have not critically thought about said topics will do so and hopefully end such negative management practices. If you have ever worked under these practices then you might know the flaws but many do not. The best takeaway of this book is to always question/be skeptical of every management practice you hear about/learn. This book would best suit those who are learning management styles, or know about these styles but think they are unequivocally true and have positive effects. [I got an ARC via NetGalley.com]

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Absolutely fantastic This book his so close to home the entire way through. It's one of the few books I am tempted to buy a ton of copies of and just have them to my senior management to read. While it's good the entire way through, the final lie if the book -- regarding leadership -- was worth buying this book for in itself. The ONLY reason I'm giving it 4 and not 5 stars is the writing style... which unfortunately reminded me of my own style. I found it a little too casual with a lot of interven Absolutely fantastic This book his so close to home the entire way through. It's one of the few books I am tempted to buy a ton of copies of and just have them to my senior management to read. While it's good the entire way through, the final lie if the book -- regarding leadership -- was worth buying this book for in itself. The ONLY reason I'm giving it 4 and not 5 stars is the writing style... which unfortunately reminded me of my own style. I found it a little too casual with a lot of interventions mid-sentence, a lot of run on sentences, and just odd sentence structures throughout. Highly recommend this book for anyone in the corporate world... At all levels.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Renato Willi

    Thaís os a great book for all those interested in "people Management" or talent, or leadership (I don’t know how to call it anymore... Many things we thought we knew are lies, as the authors show through data - including that leadership is a thing. I absolutely recomend it, and I think (and hope) this book leads to new better practices to provide a better experience for people in their companies and their careers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Magda Krakowiak

    Well written and though provoking book which I would recommend not only to people interested in management per se, but also those struggling with finding meaning in work and aching for fulfillment. The writing style is really entertaining. Authors use clever analogies and let ideas flow throughout the book. Many lessons can be drawn from it for teammates, people involved in talent development, team building and team management. I highly enjoyed it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joel Salazar

    ... And some lies about the lies. I don't know if the author pretends not to know that some of the frameworks/methodologies/tools/disciplines already mention the negative scenarios that might arise when implementing them and provide tools to avoid them in order to fit his narrative or if he is genuinely ignorant of those topics. However, the few golden nuggets make this book worth it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Didn’t agree with all the ideas. They definitely cherry picked their examples (like many books in this genre do), and took some of the concepts too far. And yet I liked it-it made me think and discuss with others. Some different viewpoints that are worth considering (and some that are pretty standard just dressed up as contrarian). First half of the book was stronger than second half.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Parham Doustdar

    The fact that this is such a heavily researched book, as opposed to repackaging an already feel-good message and selling it already puts the book above a 3. However, this book gave me, a starting team lead, something to lean on, and an incredible amount of data to back it up. I'll be coming back to this book repeatedly, to do right by my team.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristi Erickson

    If you’re sick to death of performance mgmt and leadership competency models this book is for you!! It is excellent reading for anyone in the human capital or talent management space. Frankly, I think it’s a great read for everyone! I hope to be able to implement some of these ideas.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    4.5. Yes, the "Lies" verbiage, and the phrasing of them, is inflammatory. Eh, so what? Even if one doesn't agree with all (or any) of the viewpoints, they are still fantastic fodder for discussion. Think outside the lines awhile.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Scott Martorano

    Simply outstanding. This book throws many universally accepted management facts on their head. A must read.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tim Dugan

    Good Insightful Problematic Need to review to write more

  23. 5 out of 5

    John Mannion

    One of best books I've read in a long time about people, organisations and management ...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Biogeek

    Excellent! and worth thinking about

  25. 4 out of 5

    John Randall

    Good principles but could have made the point in half the length and kept interest up. Without saying it they have captured key elements of the Agile method and Intent Based Leadership.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Gian Luca

    It is interesting approach at desmistyfing all the academic parameters and put them into a practical world.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ankit Agrawal

    Very interesting read and very nice insights, everyone in software or any company should read this.

  28. 5 out of 5

    enyanyo

    Insightful book on misconceptions about work and suggestions for how to remedy them. Read this especially if you’re in a position to make changes within your organisation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Julianne

    A few interesting and innovative insights but when you boil it down it’s just another business book. The first few chapters or lies hold more interesting anecdotes/arguments than the last several.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Harding Young

    Rethink everything.

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