‘A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World’. I love that word, freethinking. Surprisingly rare now days, isn’t it? Whether it’s at work, school, university or even in your community – we are often just swept up with what others are thinking and saying, or by the way we’ve always done things, instead of questioning things for ourselves. As I read this book, I was struck by how many examples there were of scenarios which I’d questioned, as they just don’t feel right, aren’t adding value, or they make me feel anxious as a Leader. I didn’t do anything to change them, because I didn’t know what alternative to propose. Supported by robust research, the authors of this book will argue for new ways of engaging people, using methods that certainly seem to make a lot more sense to me, and they feel good. They are intuitive. I could actually get excited about a talent review process if we did it the way it’s suggested in the book.
Marcus Buckingham has written many books which advocate for creating a new way of work; one in which we harness our strengths, instead of focusing on our weaknesses. He’s argued for challenging the status quo, and he does so using research data. His mission appears to be to help Leaders improve engagement in the workplace. In this book he co-authors with Ashley Goodall who works in a huge corporate, Cisco. Together, they have created a powerful Leadership guide which I’d argue has relevance in any sector, big or small. And that’s because we’ve all been drawn into very similar processes and methodologies when it comes to our people strategies; what we believe to be true of business and the people in them.
Here is a glimpse of the lies that this book challenges:
- People care which company they work for
- The best plan wins
- The best companies cascade goals
- The best people are well-rounded
- People need feedback
- People can reliably rate other people
- People have potential
- Work-life balance matters most
- Leadership is a thing
(Quoted from the book.)
‘These aren’t lies’, you say. Really? Are you sure? How about you read the book and then get back to me. The point is, you may not agree with everything that the latest research lays out in this book – and that would be excellent by the way, because it means you’re thinking for yourself. I encourage you to give it a read, and think about it. Think about how you feel in your organisation, and if you have engagement survey results – please review the results and consider how changing some of this might help to improve them. Then think about whether it might be worth starting to shift how things are done, ever so slightly. It may just be worth it in the long run.
Could this instead be the truth about work?
- People care which team they’re on (because that’s where work actually happens)
- The best intelligence wins (because the world moves to fast for plans)
- The best companies cascade meaning (because people want to know what they all share)
- The best people are spiky (because uniqueness is a feature, not a bug)
- People need attention (because we all want to be seen for who we are at our best)
- People can reliably rate their own experience (because that’s all we have)
- People have momentum (because we all move through the world differently)
- Love-in-work matters most (because that’s what work is really for)
- We follow spikes (because spikes bring us certainty)
Quoted from the book.
Photo taken by Alison.