The Learning Leader Show With Ryan Hawk

Episode #305: Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall – A Leader’s Guide To The Real World (Break All The Rules)

Full show notes can be found at

Marcus Buckingham holds a master’s degree in social and political science from Cambridge University and is a member of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Leadership and Management.  He’s the author of the international best-seller, First, Break All The Rules.

Ashley Goodall is the co-author, with Marcus Buckingham, of Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World.  He is an executive, leadership expert, and author, and has spent his career exploring large organizations from the inside.

Notes from this talk:

  • Sustaining excellence:
    • Optimism — An innate predisposition that things will get better
    • Individualization — Ability to attract great talent.  Knowing that each person has something unique to bring
  • “You follow somebody if they give you confidence in the future.”
    • “The world will be better if I hitch my wagon to you.”
  • Great managers/leaders =
    • They know how to surround themselves with the right people — “If you want a great party, invite great people.”
    • They focus on people first
    • They help them.  They coach them.  They find a path and set expectations.
    • They grow.  They make the next step and help others do the same.
  • “Talent is more important than experience.”
    • Talent = a recurring pattern of thought.  Enduring patterns in a person.  Hire for those, then train for skills.
  • How to find talented people?
    • Ask open ended questions, stay quiet, believe what they say.
    • Ask appetite questions:  “What did you love most about that?”
    • Talents are far more about natural appetite
  • Feedback:
    • “People need feedback to grow and excel.  It grows best not with feedback, but with help.”
    • People grown when attention is given to them.  “Pay attention to me.  My talents.”  People need attention to what really works in them
  • Leaders must look at the real world
    • Idiosyncratic — The best are…
    • There is a difference between theory world and the real world
  • “Learning is an emergent experience.”  It’s inside out… How you do your version…
  • How do you measure things that are hard to measure?
    • “Must make a distinction between traits and states.”
      • Example of a trait = extroversion
      • Example of a state = mood, skills (can change)
      • Competencies are a combination of both
  • Being labeled a “Hi-Po” (high potential) in an organization:  “It’s made up, not a thing.  Toxic because it presumes that some human brains can’t/won’t grow.”
    • “There is no point in having the ‘hi-po’ conversation.  In talent reviews, ask for each person… How will they grow best?  Don’t use a 9 box grid.”
    • “Replace potential for momentum.”
  • “Work life balance is a very weird aspiration.  It’s very hard to do it perfectly.”
    • “Balance is a way of being stationary.  It’s not a good way to move through life.”
    • “We shouldn’t tell people to do this.  Health is motion, finding love, finding red threads.”
    • “It draws you in.  You should move through life.  Draw strength from the movement.”
  • “If a leader has no followers, they’re not a leader.” — “Follow-ship is the thing.”
  • “We all have fears for the future.  Find a leader that can see around the corner, we’re drawn to that.”
  • “Be a free thinking leader.”

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