A Review of StandOut, A New Book by Marcus Buckingham

I first encountered Marcus Buckingham when I bought the book, Now, Discover Your Strengths and took the StrengthsFinder test. I found the premise revolutionary: the most effective method for motivating people is to build on their strengths rather than correcting their weaknesses.

We began using this assessment in our leadership training and staff development at Thomas Nelson. It was a major paradigm shift. It is much more empowering to focus on building people’s strengths rather than trying to improve their weaknesses.

Now Marcus has written StandOut: Find Your Edge, Win at Work, a book that builds on his previous work, and helps individuals and teams actually put their strengths to work.

The book is based on extensive research, statistical testing, and analysis of the world’s top performers. It also includes a unique access key to the the brand new “StandOut Strengths Assessment,” an online test that you can take in 20–25 minutes.

The StandOut assessment measures you on nine strength Roles and reveals your top two. These two roles are where you will make your greatest contribution. In other words, they are your edge—where you have a natural advantage over everyone else—and your multiplier—where you can exert the most productive leverage.

When you complete the test, you will receive a 20-page report with targeted advice for each of your two top strength roles. You will learn:

  • Phrases to describe your edge
  • How you can make an immediate impact
  • How to take your performance to the next level
  • What to watch out for

The test then combines the two roles and offers you additional advice on your unique combination:

  • Which careers fit your strength combination
  • How you can win as a leader
  • How you can win as a manager
  • How you can win in sales
  • How you can win in client service

After the chapter about the test, Marcus spends the rest of the book explaining each of the nine roles with a chapter on each:

  1. Advisor
  2. Connector
  3. Creator
  4. Equalizer
  5. Influencer
  6. Pioneer
  7. Provider
  8. Stimulator
  9. Teacher

(By the way, my first strength role was Equalizer; my second was Pioneer. These seemed to be polar opposites, but they explained some things in my personality which I have had difficulty reconciling in the past.)

Toward the end of the book, he lays out three principles for building your strengths for a lifetime.

As usual, Marcus does a great job striking the balance between theory and practice. He gives you just enough of the theory to understand the statistical validity of the testing instrument. Yet he does this without making your eyes glaze over. He also does a fabulous job of providing lots of real-world illustrations and personal anecdotes.

If you enjoy self-assessments, want to further exploit your strengths, and make your greatest contribution, this book is for you. If you lead a team, it would be well-worth the investment to read the book, take the test, and then discuss the results as a group. It will provide you with insights into how you can better tap the strengths of your team and recruit roles that aren’t currently represented.

I gave away 100 copies of StandOut to my readers. To qualify, they had to comment below. You can find the list of winners here.
How do you think this could help you and your team? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • Chad Jackson

    I have been looking for a book just like this! 

  • Cassielovespj

    My husband would love this book! I’ve seen Marcus in person, and enjoyed him greatly. My husband has just been promoted to Managing Partner of a restaurant, and is striving to help his employees find their strengths.

  • http://www.plumllc.com Bobbi

    This sounds like a tremendous book. I’ve been looking for something like this to share with my partners! Bobbi

  • Bobbi

    Your Twitter link: “Twitter a link to this post. You can do so automatically by clicking here.” does not work. Posted on my Twitter @BobbiPlum.

  • http://LiveIntentionally.org Paul Steinbrueck

    I heard Marcus speak a the Global Leadership Summit a few years ago and after that I bought StrenghthsFinder 2.0 and did the strengths assessment.  I found it extremely beneficial and since then I’ve done strengths assessments and training with my staff, the elder team at my church and my wife.  I’ve also blogged quite about about focusing on your strengths:

    Strenghts Finder 2.0 – Book Review – http://bit.ly/3b1pcHThings You Don’t Have Time NOT to Do: 7) Focus on Your Strengths – http://ow.ly/6wEjoHow Strengths Training Can Help You Develop an Extraordinary Team – http://bit.ly/gLmF4r
    This book sounds like another valuable step forward in understanding and living by ones strengths!

  • Bobbi

    We are looking for a book to discuss at our weekly meetings. We have been going through some of John Maxwell’s books. We are a group of Christian creative people. See our website: http://www.plumllc.com

  • http://twitter.com/TheChrisStasiuk Chris Stasiuk

    Thank you, Michael! Once again, your direction and insight prove invaluable. As a company, we also did the StrengthsFinders and I found it to be revolutionary and liberating! Instead of trying desperately to deal with my weaknesses, it empowered me to partner with others in the company with complimentary skills and strengths. I can’t wait to see Marcus’ next step!

  • http://twitter.com/TrinaKLee Trina Lee

    I am in the middle of a career transition and
    feel that Marcus’ new book would be a great input while I’m navigating my next
    steps.  After working for nine years as an executive director of an
    education nonprofit, I would love to better use my strengths of Input and
    Connection in my next job.  I also coordinate a singles ministry at my
    church and we are in a season of leadership transition. I want to grow in my
    ability to assist others in seeing how they can utilize their strengths for

  • http://twitter.com/jerburroughs Jeremy Burroughs

    My approach to work and the way I saw my skills totally changed after I took his strengthsfinder test. I started to realize that I could output higher quality work that would benefit my organization if I focused on my strengths rather than my weaknesses. His assessment and books have changed my approach to work and ministry. I would love to win this book, read it immediately and tell others. Thank you!

  • http://twitter.com/johnnydye John Dye

    I work with a team of young leaders 25-35 of age in a thrid world country where finding a carrier for life that they can live on is difficult.  people end up settling for minimum wage jobs.   I think this book would benefit my team if we could find their strengths and guide in these life changing decisions.   

  • http://twitter.com/garedog919 Gary Morland

    I think it could help us to realize Jesus gave us strengths so we’d use them, and weaknesses so we’ d depend on him and LET SOMEBODY ELSE do something. We need help to know the difference.

  • http://twitter.com/steveblumer Steve Blumer

    these things are always fun and interesting. figuring out who you are and how others on your team are helps determine how the team can work better if at all.  It brings to light why things might not have been working. always looking for a way to understand how I work.

  • http://twitter.com/Joe2355 Pastor Joe Bell

    I have some people who need help finding gifts, while others just need to be encouraged in identified areas. This middle of the road guid & test might be just the tipping point for their growth to the next level!

  • Hikeoflife

    I am at a point in my leadership development that the material contained in this book could be a valuable resource.

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  • Kevinbarthelette

    I reqlly think this could be great tool in helping people find thirty place at work, church, and other organizations.

  • Craig

    Awesome! Loved Now Discover Your Strengths and The One Thing You Need to Know… Trombone Player Wanted was revolutionary. Can’t wait to read Standout!

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Just as you describe the impact Marcus had on you and your organization, I experienced something similar years ago when a client suggested “Read First, Break All the Rules…then you will know how I tick”.  (“First” is the predecessor to “Now, Discover Your Strengths)

    Well, I picked up a copy of the book that day.  At a glance, I discovered that the book suggests that the Golden Rule is flawed, and I thought “Oh boy, I’m not sure this is someone I want to do business with after all!”  

    Reading further, I learned that the book’s premise is that PEOPLE ARE WIRED DIFFERENTLY, and that treating them as YOU wish to be treated is not nearly as effective as treating them the way THEY want to be treated.  It was a paradigm shift that led to a career shift!

    I’ve been on the path of studying peak performance, organizational psychology, and high performing organizations ever since!  Look forward to reading this latest book in the series. 

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    look forward to the next! Thx for share

  • http://brandonweldy.wordpress.com Brandon Weldy

    Hi! I was curious about receiving “Stand Out.” I am very excited to get it and I was just checking about when it should be coming. I have never won so I was not sure how long it was supposed to take. Just wondering because like I said I am very excited about reading this book! 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Brandon, please email tricia at michaelhyatt dot com and let her check for you. You should have received it by now.

  • Mark Demos

    I love the Strengths approach.  We are training students, teachers, counselors, administrators and business leaders using many of the Gallup SF and sttrengths profiles.  I amm looking forward to seeing thee new Strengths profiles Buckingham is using to take this work further.

  • Manipatchat

    I think this book will offer guidance to numerous youth who often feel lost in pursue of a career driven by glamour and money rather than the one utilising their true potential. It can also help to decide what I am capable of and where I need others support.

  • Babybanks23

    This book has been a huge paradigm shift for me as well. I was absolutely amazed at the results and it explains so much!  I would love to take this to the National PTA convention and teach PTA presidents and school leaders to use this approach in their PTAs and school administration.  Is there any way to do that?  Do you need permission from the author to promote his work?

    • Mark Demos

      I am working with a major school district in Dallas (Seattle and LA as well)and doing just that.  We also have a curriculum for teens and college students, ISS, OSS and juvenile offenders.  Wee are training teachers, administrators, counselors and others using the Strengths books and other curriculum I have writtten.  wwwmylifescene.com  look at Education

  • Rob Sorbo

    I finally got around to checking this book out. I haven’t read much of it yet, but I did take the test and studied my results. I thought I was going to be Adviser/Pioneer, but instead got Stimulator/Pioneer (Adviser was my #3, so I was close). 

    I really can see how Stimulator is true in my marriage (my wife went through a really hard time and I had to be a strong encourager), but I don’t really see how it plays out in my work life.

  • Teverton23

    I bought the book.  Where is my key to take the test?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Not sure. It should be somewhere in the book itself. If not, take it back.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=185108868 Ricky Grabow

    Hi there! Unfortunitly, i purchased a used book, not knowing i would need an access key! Just wondering if anyone would be wiling to share their access key so I can use the online tool! It would be greatly appreciated! Thanks

    • http://bdentzy.com/ Bryan Entzminger

      Those access codes only work once.

  • Gail Ferguson

    We thought this would be wonderful to give to some of our key employees at our Annual Business Conference, so we purchased 40 of the books. We were not able to  take the strengths assessment because to our surprise the key was missing from a great deal of the books and they wouldn’t let us return them because we purchased them in advance and only had so many days to return them. I wouldn’t think that would apply to “defective” books, but apparently it does.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Did you try to contact someone at Thomas Nelson or just the retailer you bought them from? I can’t imagine Thomas Nelson not making this right. Let me know how I can help. Thanks.

  • Becky

    I manage a non-profit and have used strengths finder 2.0 to help board members understand how to use their strengths to enjoy board service more. We are also able to find our weaknesses and our blind spots. After reading this I may decide to have executive board do standout as well. I am a pioneer connector.

  • Janjarboe

    Great book! I learned about it at the Chick FilA Leadercast event.

  • undurr

    As a manager I need to know the strengths of each of my staff. I am looking forward to Standout as a way to simplify staffs’ strengths and then put them to work.

  • ASF

    I’m an equalizer/pioneer too. Makes perfect sense to me.