The One Thing You Need to Know

Quick … what’s the single key difference between checkers and chess? Both have two players, alternating moves, the same board and both need advanced strategic thinking … now if you are already saying, “Hey I know, it’s obvious,” then, according to Marcus Buckingham, author of The One Thing You Need to Know, you have an innate gift that would propel you naturally into highly effective management. In typical Buckingham style, he hacks away all the surrounding stuff to bore down to that one thing that is at the heart of a great manager, leader or sustained individual success. Fast reading, filled with stories and backed with the credibility of Gallup Organization research, this book convincingly unearths a core principle at the heart of each of these three fundamental arenas of effective organizational administration.

So what’s the answer? I hate to tell you because the book is so rich in substance that giving only the conclusions seems to short-change the author’s giftedness. But since this is a book review, here it is … in chess the pieces have different moves! The great managers of today know one thing … “How to Discover What is Unique About Each Person and Capitalize on It.” Building organizations around the unique strengths and giftedness of each individual is the best manager’s greatest tool.

Want to get to the core of leadership? The one thing a leader must do is the opposite of what a manager must do … “Discover What Is Universal and Capitalize on It.” Anthropologists have concluded that all cultures have five human universals. Unfairly distilling them into a list they would be: the need for security, for clarity, for authority and for respect. The leader’s job must in some way lean into each of these organizational needs. However, at the heart of it, the one thing a leader must address is the need for clarity above all else. Understanding how this fleshes out through asking the question “who do we serve?” is worth the price of the whole book on its own.

Want to understand how to have sustained “success?” Success here is defined as making the greatest possible impact over the longest period of time. Then you must be a 20 per center! A what? According to Gallop research, only 20 per cent of people report that they are in a role where they have a chance to do what they do best every day. Are you a 20 per center? If not, the one thing you need to know is simply “Discover What You Don’t Like Doing and Stop Doing It.” Yikes! I love that answer and I hate that answer all at the same time. It’s too simple on the surface and too difficult to accomplish! But the author doesn’t leave you wondering; he deals directly with the common contenders for getting at the answer and, not surprisingly, concludes that understanding your natural strengths is the ONE thing that will allow you to actually become a 20 per center.



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