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Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  2,184 ratings  ·  282 reviews

How do you get to what's real?

Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback.

These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As strengths guru and bestselling author Marcus Buckingham and Cisco Leader

Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 2nd 2019 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Brian Kramp
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a well-written book by an author who has written some other great books. First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently is on my favorites list.

The following are my notes (words in [brackets] are supposed to have the strikeout effect, but there might be a rendering bug. They indicate common misconceptions):

1. People care which [company] team they work for. Because that's where work actually happens.
2. The best [plan] intelligence wins. Because the world m
Karren Hodgkins
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book speaks to me on so many levels: as someone who worked in an International corporate environment for more than 15 years and as someone who has her own business and interacts with privately-owned businesses on a daily basis. These practices make so much sense to me and I encourage all to read this book, both leaders and followers. It’s a paradigm-shifting book that outlines exactly what we can do to improve our businesses’ performance and the lives of those who work there. Businesses who ...more
Scott Wozniak
May 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I love how this book stretches our thinking and pushes us past the standard HR/Talent Development methods. I really, really love how it uses logic and research to point out the gaps in the existing approaches.

But I'm bummed about how they overreact on the solution. They get caught up in their rhetoric and throw about the baby with the bathwater.

Example, leadership is hard to define and many of our great leaders didn't have all the traits we would say a good leader has--so, they say, there must
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it

According to the book following are the nine of the most prevalent lies about work and the truth behind them:

1. Myth - Company culture impacts employee retention.

Research shows that employees actually care more about the teams they belong to than the companies they work at.

2. Myth - Planning is essential.

The world moves too fast for plans—a better strategy is to regularly provide teams with the best, most up-to-date information possible.

3. Myth - Goals stimulate better employee performances.


Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Where to start.

Reasons to avoid reading the book

1. Can be summarised in a page - serious readers wishing some take away please wait for book summaries to spout up in the net, read from there
2. Provides no new insight - its a mish mash of few professionals deciding on topics of interest and writing essays with sprinklers of weird real life analogies and examples
3. The book has a lot of built-in-distractions that deviate you from the flow. Sudden jargons will sprout to simply validate the origin o
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am a fan of Marcus Buckingham's work. I always have my teams do the strengthsfinder exercise so they are aware of what they love and can use those to go from good to great.
The book has 9 parts:
1. People join companies, but leave teams. The theory is that while people care for the company they join, what it stands for, culture, values etc. the biggest part of their experience is their team. Yeah, kinda true, but also true of managers. And depending on the role, multiple teams really.
2. Focus o
Greg Albrecht
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Worth reading if you want to be a good manager and avoid falling into the generalization trap.

I was not taken by the style. Not all the "lies" were truly eye-opening, but in general I love the battle against de-humanizing people.

I know we all believe that what is measured can be managed, but with people it is not as easy as organizations want it to be.

My favorite thought:
Forget about someone's potential (hard to assess, hard to measure), focus on the momentum (where they are, how they grow, wha
Sven Kirsimäe
Oct 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: at-audible, re-read
The book covers so many topics I've felt to be true in so many ways having a hard time explaining or fully describing in the past.

This book is for you if you believe that
- people care about 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
because none of this is true when taken from different p
Iulia Nare
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Felt like all my unspoken angst about people at work were given a voice:)
Enough strength in the voice too.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the new look at how to manage.

a mixture of quotes and [notes]:

8 Things that predict highest performing teams
1) I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company.
2) At work I clearly understand what is expected of me.
3) In my team I am surrounded by people who share my values
4) I have the chance to use my strengths every day at work
5) My teammates have my back
6) I know I will be recognized for excellent work
7) I have great confidence in my company's future
8) In my work I am always ch
The  Conch
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book may be called a research to find out the reason behind " Global worker engagement is weak, with less than 20 percent of workers reporting that they are fully engaged at work (The ADPRI’s Global Study of Engagement)".

The observation was "that “the technological advances and management strategies that worked to propel productivity in the past have been fully implemented and are no longer contributing to productivity. From: The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture, Harvard Business Review
Tõnu Vahtra
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Don't tell people what you value, show them; cascade meaning instead of goals; life balance is is finding love in what you do. You cannot create excellence by fixing the current problem.
Actually there is much more than five lies. There were definitely thought-provoking ideas in this book but it felt a bit unpolished. Maybe I was also unimpressed by the selection of real-life examples from organizations (Cisco was the most commonly used case study reference).

1. People care which team (NOT compan
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Saw Marcus Buckingham speak at a conference and loved his delivery and messaging on this book. Reading the book was the same experience. His different way of thinking about work and management through a different lens was refreshing. I definitely recommend this one for people to enjoy.
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such an interesting book! Would recommend to everyone and will definitely go back to read passages, inspiring!
Patrick Dugan
Jul 08, 2019 rated it did not like it
Bland. Wordy. Could have made 9 decent blogs or articles instead of one overlong piece of dreck.

Does a good job of pointing out the overabundance of similar dreck. Mistakes itself for not adding dreck to the dreck pile.
Enzo Chavez
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
Informative start but lacks the research and imperical data towards the end.
Which, ironically enough, was the books greatest strength found in the first few chapters.
Bryan Taylor
Aug 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the different perspective. Being in a leadership role, this book has given me some different perspectives. Here is a short nutshell if you don’t want to read it the book:

Lie #1: People care which Company they work for. While people might care which company they join, they don’t care which company they work for. Once they’re there, they care which team they’re on. How an individual interacts with immediate colleagues – trumps company and uniform culture every time. (which would confirm
Alison Jones
Reading this book you start to feel as I imagine those standing in the crowd next to the child who pointed out that the Emperor was in fact starkers might have felt; a mix of realization, relief, and embarrassment at having gone along with the charade for so long.

Most of us buy unthinkingly into the competencies frameworks, the 360-degree feedback, the importance of company culture and the 90-day plan. It's so woven into our understanding of how organisations work that we see them as necessary,
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
It’s a good reference to focus on helping build a great team. And great teams being the best way to have fully engaged and productive employees.

The 8 survey questions form the basis of the content of the book. The 4 We questions that relate to belonging to a team and 4 Me questions that relate to our individualistic need to stand out or to be spiky in the books lingo. The combination of the dual needs of belonging to a team or a village or community as well as the need to stand out and be recog
Joseph Hoehne
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I get like this book really tackled multiple aspects of my day-to-day life at work. If you work in a team or are a leader of a team, I’d recommend this book.

I wouldn’t consider it life-changing so 4 stars.

Here are my raw highlights - at least the ones I felt I should stop what I was doing and write them down.

Lie 4
Focus on your strengths. What strengths do you have to give you an unfair advantage over your competitors? Managers need to focus on outcomes and put their direct reports on what out
Jack Maguire
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Any one of the chapters in this work could be it's own mind-blowing book. The author takes everything you think you know about work culture, organizational excellence, performance reviews, potential, meetings, workplace engagement, and leadership and uses current research done for international corporations to show that a vast amount of what you think you know about working at a company is wrong.

A lot of the ideas will feel intuitive after you read this book (and you should), but are completely
May 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing

This is a great book and one of the best management books I’ve read in awhile. It definitely makes you think about the ‘lies’ of management versus the ‘truths.’ I won’t share the truths because I don’t want to spoil it BUT the lies we have been told to believe:

1.) People care what company they work for
2.) The best plan wins
3.) The best companies cascade goals
4.) The best people are well rounded
5.) People want feedback
6.) People can reliably rate other people
7.) People have potent
Dwayne A Milley
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I bought this audiobook before the pandemic, and when my commute began to resume, I began to listen. The content resonated with me so much that I also downloaded the e-book (both on the Kobo platform) so I could more easily go back and reference some of the material.

In the last chapter, the authors use an illustration in the life and work of Martin Luther King Jr, which i listened to this morning. Given the news yesterday regarding Breonna Taylor’s murderer, the illustration was deeper and even
Jan 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this book 3.5 stars. It's more for the novice manager/worker who haven't read any of the management books already available. It lacks substance and any new insights, which is apparent when sports examples were used to illustrate a point rather than a work example. It's also as if content was added to fill in the book. I don't think Lie #9 (leadership is a thing) is something that people think is true -- set of leadership qualities that can measured and used to identify the right leader. ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
On the whole, a good read.

The chapter I know I'll be ruminating on for a long time is about rating people. I've long thought that employee reviews are bullshit, and this chapter lays out WHY they're bullshit, and how we can fix them. I know there's no chance in hell my organization will move to rating in the way this book suggests, but I'm hoping to at least change how *I* do it.

Anyway, I do recommend this for people who like reading management books.
Andrew Ning
Jun 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Didn’t agree with all the ideas. They definitely cherry picked their examples (like many books in this genre do), and took some of the concepts too far. And yet I liked it-it made me think and discuss with others. Some different viewpoints that are worth considering (and some that are pretty standard just dressed up as contrarian). First half of the book was stronger than second half.
Cathy Sites
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Had to read this for work. I enjoyed the "devil's advocate" view of many of the standard leadership rules. Ultimately, we can, and should, communicate what we value - and stay true to ourselves. Nothing fancy needed. ...more
Phillip Klien
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Best business book I've read during last couple of years. Makes you question a lot of the "absolute truths" about management. ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting and data-backed takes on established company, leadership and work environment norms, made relatable by good story-telling. May need to read again.
Avraam Mavridis
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best people are spiky, because uniqueness is a feature, not a bug.
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Ebooks costing more than hard copies. 1 1 Jan 27, 2020 07:41PM  
Leadership Book Club: Nine Lies About Work Discussion 1 2 Oct 02, 2019 09:24AM  

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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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74 likes · 11 comments
“Whereas cascaded goals are a control mechanism, cascaded meaning is a release mechanism. It brings to life the context within which everyone works, but it leaves the locus of control—for choosing, deciding, prioritizing, goal setting—where it truly resides, and where understanding of the world and the ability to do something about it intersect: with the team member.” 1 likes
“As a leader, you are trying to unlock the judgment, the choices, the insight, and the creativity of your people. But, as we’ve seen in the last two chapters, the way we go about this doesn’t make much sense. We cloister information in our planning systems, and we cascade directives in our goal-setting systems. Instead, we should unlock information through intelligence systems, and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories. We should let our people know what’s going on in the world, and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to make a contribution. They will invariably make better and more authentic decisions than those derived from any planning system that cascades goals from on high.” 0 likes
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