First Break all the RulesMeredith Farkas’s post reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write about First, Break All the Rules. Meredith introduced the 12 questions that demonstrate organizational health, so I’ll just say that one of the highlights of the book for me was the mountain climbing metaphor, early in the book. Buckingham and Coffman break the twelve questions into 4 groups that represent different stages of the “climb”:

  • Base Camp (What do I get?)
    • Do I know what is expected of me at work?
    • Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  • Camp 1 (What do I give?)
    • At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
    •  In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
    • Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
    • Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  • Camp 2: (Do I belong here?)
    • At work, do my opinions seem to count?
    • Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
    • Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
    • Do I have a best friend at work?
  • Camp 3: (How can we all grow?)
    • In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
    • This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

The idea is that you can’t advance too soon to the higher camps, or you will get “Mountain Sickness” – that is, you won’t be able to sustain your energy at the higher altitudes of vision and purpose if you haven’t firmly established your foundation at Base Camp and Camp 1. The authors point out that a lot of management theory and practice is focused on Camps 2 and 3, when most managers really need to focus on Base Camp and Camp 1. I’ve definitely found that most of the leadership and management books I read seemed to be focused on the Camp 2 and 3 types of issues.

At any rate, this book made me question several assumptions I had about leadership, and I got a lot out of it. Definitely worth a read.

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