Sunday, October 25, 2015

Book Review: Standout

StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths RevolutionStandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution by Marcus Buckingham

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

According to Marcus Buckingham, I am a Provider/Connector and the greatest contribution I make to my team is watching out for long-term interests. This is based on the new strengths assessment he developed and makes available online to the book's readers. Armed with the knowledge of our unique personal assets, we can then leverage them to maximize our value and standout in our workplace. By measuring how we would instinctively respond in a variety of scenarios - and comparing the results with hundreds of thousands of others - the Standout Assessment helps us identify how the people in our lives perceive us. We make our best impact when we consistently deliver what people expect from us.

Unlike the 34 talents of Now, Discover Your Strengths and Strengthsfinder 2.0, the nine Standout strengths are role-based. Naturally-born "advisers" are different from "pioneers" and will have different styles as teammates, managers, or leaders. To say that I am a "provider" is to say that I am "protective of other people and will get angry or upset if I see behavior that is cavalier or dismissive of people's feelings."

I'll tell you, there is a great deal of truth in this. I won't send back food in a restaurant for fear of hurting the cook's feelings or causing trouble for the server. I can also tell you that there are people in my life who would laugh our loud at the notion that I give extra care to how others feel. They may acknowledge that I have a special sense for the dynamics of a group meeting when I am facilitating, but there is no question that I can be a bull in a china shop at other times, running rough shod over others with no real-time awareness of it at all. That's the consistency part. To truly standout and make the most of my provider assets, people have to be able to trust that they can count on me to be sensitive to their feelings. What good does it do to advise a group leader to show more respect for the views of his colleagues when he's still smarting because I just dismissed a suggestion he made? Being perceived as inauthentic is killer.

What I like about Standout is that Buckingham doesn't suggest that any of the strength roles are unequivocally good. He describes providers, for example, as thin-skinned and defensive which is definitely true in my case. This is the primary reason why I can be quick to decide that someone is wrong before I have heard their perspective. Buckingham offers suggestions for such down sides, however, strategies and techniques to employ. In my case I should "discipline myself to use my values as a backstop earlier, rather than later" and "tell myself positive stories." Easier said than done, of course, but it feels right and is worth trying.

Once again, Buckingham has made a significant contribution to the field of personal development. By helping us to focus on our natural gifts and abilities, and using them as a launching pad from which to seek success, he's given each of us a personal strategic plan. I recommend Standout to anyone who feels a need to grow their capacity to add value at work and in the community. Learn more at including a great six minute video called "The Case for Strengths."

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