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The One Thing You Need to Know: ...about Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,871 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
The principal author of the extraordinary bestsellers First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths offers a dramatically new way to understand the art of success.
Great managing, great leading, and career success -- Buckingham draws on a wealth of examples to reveal the single controlling insight that lies at the heart of each. Lose sight of this "one thing
Audio CD, Abridged, 3 pages
Published March 7th 2005 by Simon & Schuster Audio
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Matt Burgess
May 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The One Thing You Need to Know: …About Great Managing, Great Leading and Sustained Individual Success (2005), Marcus Buckingham

I think the title of Marcus Buckingham's bestseller should be changed. It would more appropriately be called the "90 Some Odd Things You Need to Know: …About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success" or "The 5 Things About Great Managing, 10 Things About Great Leading and 4.5 Things About Sustained Individual Success You Need to Know". The title of
Anthony Deluca
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The One Thing You Need To Know
By: Markus Buckijngham
Copyright 2005
Reviewed March 2008
Listened to Unabridged Audiobook

There is not really one thing you need to know that is the same for everyone. The book explores many ideas of what the one thing could be, and then in the end admits it would be impossible to think that there could be one thing that is right for everything and every situation. There certainly can be one thing that a particular person should focus on, but that would be different fo
Cathy Allen
Since I truly believe you should read this book, or at least the two-page summary of it I posted to my website at, the only thing I will tell you about the "one thing" is that it is actually three things: one for managing, one for leading, and one for success as an individual.

Buckingham has put the lid on the question of the difference between managing and leading. I suppose the debate will go on, but I am now clear in my own mind. Great managers are not necessarily g
Jul 27, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, it was recommended by a patron, so I didn't know what to expect.

Here is what I want to remember about this book:

A great manager transforms each employee's talents into performance. They create a state of mind in each employee such that the employee has a fully realistic assessment of the difficulty of the challenge ahead and at the same time, an unrealistically optimistic belief in their ability to overcome it.

Great leaders rally people to a better future. They discover what is unive
Jan 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Basics for managing: pick good people, set clear expectations, recognize excellence and praise it, and show you care for your people.
The one distinguishing factor for great managers:
Great managers play chess instead of checkers, they recognize the differences in people and play their people to their strengths (in checkers all the pieces have the same moves but chess the pieces have different capabilities).
Great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it.
A leader rallies his follower
Brian Kramp
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew I was going to like this book by Marcus Buckingham when right at the beginning he introduced the angle this book would take, which was to find the main “controlling insight” for a few very important areas of business. He defines a controlling insight as the best explanation, which has to apply across a wide range of situations, has to serve as a multiplier (elevating performance from good to great), and has to guide action. Actually, I also knew I was going to like this because I found an ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I received an autographed copy of this book in 2005 at an event the author was speaking at in Arizona. Just now getting around to reading it...


A must read for managers, leaders, or individual contributors.
Charles Golden
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to me by a supervisor as the best book on leadership he's read, ever... I wasn't disappointed. Great insights.
Omar Halabieh
Jan 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "So, these are our three criteria for identifying the controlling insight, the One Thing: it must apply across a wide range of situations, it must serve as the multiplying factor that elevates situations, it must serve as the the multiplying factor that elevates average to excellent and it must lead to more precise actions."

2- "Success come most readily to those who reject balance, who instead pursue strategies that are
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The One Thing You Need to Know:... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
Marcus Buckingham
Free Press

In each of his books, Buckingham heavily depends upon the wealth of research data that the Gallup Organization has accumulated over the years. In this volume, he introduces a self-audit mechanism which creates the StrengthsFinder profile, recently renamed the Clifton StrengthsFinder in memory of Dr. Donald O. Clifton to the chief architect of the items contained with
Barry Davis
Buckingham’s latest book discusses “great managing, great leading, and sustained individual success.” Salting his work with extraordinary examples from all walks of life, he begins the book by complaining about the movie “City Slickers” offering the “one thing” answer through Jack Palance’s character Curley, then never delivering. Inspired to find the answer, he focuses on the question from three different vantage points – Managers, Leaders and Individuals – before coming to the “solution.”
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The One Thing You Need to Know:... About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success
Sep 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: church, school
This was one of the textbooks for a class I took on management for ministry, and is part of an interesting trend where Church leaders, especially evangelicals, look outside of the church to professionals and corporate environments for examples of what good leadership and best practices are. Whether it's DISC profiles, or referencing Jack Welch, or various political figures, there's a trend in looking outside the walls of the Church for some of the best practices. As a general rule, I think that' ...more
Lech Kaniuk
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Asking Deep Thought (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), the one thing we need to know is... 42. You can't learn how to manage or lead through 1 book. But this is a really good book on the topic. I really like the arguments on why you shouldn't try to improve on your own, or your employees weaknesses. It's all about using the strengths best way possible and organizing your company or life in such a way your weaknesses (or employees) won't be a issue.
Uwe Hook
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insightful book about leadership, management and sustainable success. More for the advanced manager and not just beginners. Recommended. A few memorable quotes:

- (Talking about marriage) "Find the most generous explanation for each other's behavior and believe it."

- "The one thing all great managers know about great managing is this: Discover what is unique about each person and capitalize on it."

- "The great leader comes to a conclusion about his core customer, his organization's strength, its
Mar 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I bought this for my then highly successful, business-woman girlfriend, I decided to peruse the pages myself. Buckingham is the master of business books, and I've discovered that many of them grace the syllabi of classes in MBA programs at Harvard. Not that Harvard is the be-all-end-all of what's going to help someone or what a good "business self-help book" is, but I have to give them some credence. This book is part of a series, all of which is good, from the perspective of both a psy ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, career
Even though I knew there couldn't be one thing that was universal, I still felt a bit betrayed initially because the book does not identify one thing that is universally applicable. However, that would not have been realistic, and Buckingham knows that. He does say that there is one thing that is the core concept in a particular situation.

Early in the book he gave the example of marriage that stuck with me. The one thing in marriage is that the person, for example the man, feels that his wife i
Tuhina Neogi
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelously written by Marcus Buckingham, this books gives you an insight on true qualities of a manager and leader. It tells you about the 'One Thing' that can help you achieve what you want to do. But most importantly, it teaches you on how to be a 'twenty percenter' by helping you to find what you love to do to and sustain your success.
Weaved wonderfully with simple words and easy language, this book is meant to help you in the long run of your career. Those who aren't accustomed to non-ficti
Mike Koch
Nov 21, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: Dr. Chris Ruetzal
Excellent material. Very well structured and has all the new ideas and approaches for leadership and management. It defines both concepts with good examples and makes it easy to understand the difference between leadership and management.

Why 3 stars and not 5? The book was a little long winded for my taste. Admittedly, I was reading this book as an assignment in a business strategy class, and therefore, not of my own volition; that being said, perhaps reading this book felt like more of a homew
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like how honest Marcus Buckingham is. However, he's really ruined me as an employee. I want desperately to be able to work to my strengths and cut out what I don't like doing, but it appears every boss I have is not familiar with Strengths and Marcus Buckingham. I also feel that I've really cultivated myself as a manager using his techniques, so I'm glad I "met" him so early in my career. However, as a leader, my "vision" has really been squashed, and I get extremely frustrated with "leaders" ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I opened this book with considerable skepticism. Marcus Buckingham makes it look too easy. His books are bestsellers, his speaking fees are north of $40,000 per hour-long talk, and he's constantly on TV touting his wares. What's not to hate?

And yet, the book delivers. There really is a good argument for finding the one thing about managing, leading, and individual success that is more important than anything else. And by the end of the book you'll be persuaded that Buckingham has found each of
Krishna Kumar
May 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Filled with lots of interesting examples and stories, Marcus Buckingham talks about the most important thing that one needs to know about great managing, about great leadership and about sustained individual success. He talks about some interesting concepts such as the common fears of people, the different styles of learning and biological limitations on learning. The ideas expressed in the book are very simple and, on the surface, easy to follow. The only weakness of the book is that it doesn't ...more
Christian Buckley
Mar 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
A great follow up to Buckingham's 'First, Break All the Rules' and its primary theme of managing to people's strengths, this book discusses the continuum of great management, great leadership, and sustaining. I love the whole concept of "intentional imbalance" in the working lives of great leaders, how they are always looking back at their past work, identifying what went well, tweaking, repeating, stretching themselves. Going to blog on the topic over on
Mar 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book by Buckingham better than his first one. He is a good writer, and compared to other management books it's positively literary! Not boring. Check. Filled with practical suggestions. Check. Not new-age dreck. Check. No charts! Check. I like all those qualities and I learned some good tips on the importance of taking each individual's differences and learning what makes them tick and how to motivate them.
Shaeley Santiago
Focuses in on "the one thing" for managers, leaders, and individuals to attain success. The book ends with an argument for building your strengths by not doing the things that weaken you. Feeds right into Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance. #bookaday
Aug 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are lots of books, articles, and training courses on great management, leadership, and personal effectiveness. Buckingham narrows down to one thing each that you must do right:

1. Effective Managers - know their people, know their strengths
2. Effective Leaders - Be clear; to define the future in vivid terms
3. Effective People - Learn your strengths. Then discover what you don't like doing and stop doing it.
Jason Denison
Pretty good book. I found it humorous that Marcus used a lot companies as examples of success that are huge failures in today's market place and I didn't agree with everything, but overall I'm still a big fan of Marcus Buckingham and his goal to get people to focus on their strengths, the talents God gave them that they naturally are passionate about and good at and letting people do the things that your not good at, which hopefully is their passion in life.
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, management
I'm a big fan of his work with strengths...but this book seemed a little like it was written to make $$$, rather than providing additional insight. It touts 'the one thing' which is really along the lines of 'know thyself'. Still the book is a relatively easy read and does provide plenty of opportunity for thinking and self reflection. It's well worth reading...just isn't the rosetta stone for leadership & managent.
Edwin B
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In the arena of work life, Marcus says don't bother AT ALL on working on your weaknesses, work on your strengths instead. That's got more bang for the buck. The job of the manager is to capitalize on what their subordinate is uniquely talented at, and to put them to work in their area of strength. This is a bit distinct from (but complementary to) the job of the leader, who instead needs to provide a common and clear direction, and focus and mission for everyone.
Aug 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-improvement
If you are a manager/supervisor READ this book! Actually if you are a good manager you already have been reading up on leadership and management topics and this book is on your list. (Hint, hint, wink, wink) This book is clearly written, informative, and enjoyable. I think the book aims to motivate readers to act differently. The author provides concrete examples and specific lessons.
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In a world where efficiency and competency rule the workplace, where do personal strengths fit in?

It's a complex question, one that intrigued Cambridge-educated Marcus Buckingham so greatly, he set out to answer it by challenging years of social theory and utilizing his nearly two decades of research experience as a Sr. Researcher at Gallup Organization to break through the preconceptions about a
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