mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

Manager Reads - First, Break All the Rules

Companies want everyone to follow the rules but in today’s Manager Reads episode are we throwing that out the window? Even with a spicy title like First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently written by the Gallup Press the answer is no, you’re not going to read anything that will get you fired.

Who recommended the book? A good friend at Facebook recommended this book. According to him the principles in this book map closely to Facebook’s people management philosophy.

Judge the book by its cover, font, page quality? First, Break All the Rules has a bright, glossy cover featuring the late Don Clifton who expanded Gallup’s roll from public-opinion polls into management consulting. The title is front and center with decreasing font as you work your way through the title. It would’ve been hilarious for them to decrease the font each line and made it look like the Star Wars opening crawl. Potential memery aside, I like the cover - it’s simple even with all the seemingly obligatory marketing leadership books have to slap on their covers. Inside the book are nice, thick pages and a light serif font with generous leading rouses a feeling of openness.

Thoughts on the book and the big take-aways? First, Break All the Rules covers two main systems: the Q12 and the Four Keys.

The Q12 are twelve questions you ask people at your company. It reads a lot like questions you see on an engagement survey. If you can get more people to respond with a “I strongly agree” to these questions you will have higher productivity, retention, and all-around success. Questions cover a variety of areas like knowing what is expected of you at work, friendship, and career growth / opportunities at work. Great managers work to get more and more of their team to strongly agree to these twelve questions.

The second system are the Four Keys: select for talent, define the right outcomes, focus on strengths, find the right fit. These are the four things great managers do to turn someone’s talent into performance. This section covers the differences between skills and knowledge which can be taught and talent which cannot; talent are the recurring thoughts and behaviors we have when faced with situations. Great managers identify the unique talents in each person and then position people so they can leverage their talents to the maximum.

Both systems are useful for managers looking to build high-performing teams. I found the Q12 much more exciting because I love, love, love checklists and the Q12 reads like a checklist a manager should continually be walking through.

Favorite quote from the book? “Make very few promises to your people, and keep them all.”

Elevator pitch for suggesting (or not suggesting) the book? Absolutely read it! The Q12 is a fantastic checklist of things to keep top-of-mind as you aim to build a happy and productive team. Reviewing past feedback I’ve received, a large majority comes from getting people to “agree” or “strongly agree” with the Q12. The Four Keys provide a great mental model for how to align people on your team towards success.

Notes in Evernote? There’s a lot of great knowledge in this one that’s worth checking out but if you want a sneak peek check out my notes on 🐘.

Most of the world’s wisdom is written down in its best books. Manager Reads is a series covering books on management and leadership, focusing on books that can improve your own leadership with the wisdom of others. Enjoyed this post and want to see more? Check out more at Manager Reads.