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:
(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.