Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Summary: "StandOut" by Marcus Buckingham

I've been a fan of Marcus' work since his original breakthrough book, "First, Break All The Rules." His core message of the importance of casting people in the proper roles has stuck with me.

Where Marcus' previous books focused on the role of managers, StandOut focuses on your individual career, and better understanding yourself and your strengths.

I got my copy of StandOut from Daniel Pink's podcast, for which I am very grateful.

StandOut is an assessment tool that evaluates which of the following "Strengths Roles" are the best fit with your natural abilities:

1) Advisor
You are a practical, concrete thinkier who is at your most powerful when reacting to and solving other people's problems

2) Connector
You are a catalyst. Your power lies in your craving to bring two people or ideas together to make something bigger and better than it is now.

3) Creator
You make sense of the world--pulling it apart, seeing a better configuration, and creating it.

4) Equalizer
You are a levelheaded person whose power comes from keeping the world in balance, ethically and practically.

5) Influencer
You engage people directly and persuade them to act. Your power is your persuasion.

6) Pioneer
You see the world as a friendly place where around every corner good things will happen. Your power comes from your optimism in the face of uncertainty.

7) Provider
You sense other people's feelings, and you feel compelled to recognize those feelings, give them a voice, and act on them.

8) Stimulator
You are the host of other people's emotions. You feel responsible for them, for turning them around, for elevating them.

9) Teacher
You are thrilled by the potential you see in each person. Your power comes from learning how to unleash it.

For more details on these roles, you can find a complete summary on my Book Outlines Wiki.

When I took the StandOut assessment, I assumed that my top roles would be Advisor and Connector, since they reflect my daily activities as a mentor and investor. Yet when I got the results, here was the order of roles:

TOP 2
1) Equalizer
2) Teacher

REMAINDER
3) Advisor
4) Connector
5) Pioneer
6) Provider
7) Creator
8) Influencer
9) Stimulator

My self-awareness wasn't totally off; Advisor and Connector were two of my top four roles. But upon further reflection, the results made more sense. Advisor and Connector describe my profession; Equalizer and Teacher describe my daily activities.

As an advisor to first-time entrepreneurs, I've often been told that I add tremendous value by reassuring people and teaching them about how things work. In my various companies, I've often served as the "glue" that helps various departments work together. And the few people who have ever seen me angry know that the one thing that is likely to set me off is the perception of unfairness.

Indeed, the summary of this combination's value describes me to a "T": "You bring order to the messiness of our growth and development."

As an Equalizer, the key question is, "What is the right thing to do?", a phrase that can often be heard issuing from my lips. As a Teacher, the key question is, "What can he learn from this?"

My comparative advantage is as a performance coach:
"People who come to you for advice will not only get forthright, practical guidance, they will also get a system to track their progress. You love to keep score. And while this logical, disciplined approach creates security and certainty with others, you temper it with a heartfelt belief in them and what they can achieve. Your goal is to create self-reliance in others. You don't want them to have to keep coming to you. You train them, empowering them to create their own internal measures and motivators. And then, you stand proudly on the sidelines and watch them deliver."
Just to prove the validity of the test, I gave my other copy of the book to David Weekly. His Top 2 roles, predictably enough, were Creator and Pioneer.

There are any number of books that promise to show you the pathway to success. But few deliver so personalized a map, or back it up with as much actual research. StandOut is a great value for anyone who is trying to understand their strengths and how to shape their career.

1 comment:

Akshay said...

Funny, when I read the post, I tried to guess which roles would describe you best and I picked Advisor & Connector as well :-)