YAPClassic: Marcus Buckingham on Harnessing Your Strengths
YAPClassic: Marcus Buckingham on Harnessing Your Strengths
How many times have you been told to improve on your weaknesses? Annual reviews, feedback, and constructive criticism tell us that our weaknesses are what require our attention, but Marcus Buckingham, the world’s most prominent researcher on strengths and leadership at work, disagrees. Marcus believes that strengths are your areas of development. Companies that focus on cultivating employees’ strengths rather than improving their weaknesses can dramatically increase efficiency and promote maximum personal growth and success. In this episode, Hala and Marcus talk about the difference between strengths and weaknesses, facts about the 360 degree feedback technique, how teams can work on their strengths, identifying leaders, and finding the red threads in work and life.
– Difference between strengths and weaknesses
– How to measure and evaluate strengths and weaknesses
– How to build up your strengths
– Are weaknesses related to strengths
– Understanding feedback and reactions
– Facts about the 360 Feedback technique
– The uniqueness of each person
– How a team can work on their strengths
– Best qualities of managers
– How to identify leaders
– COVID engagement research
– The future of work
– Marcus’s secret to profiting in life
– And other topics…
Marcus Buckingham is known as the world’s most prominent researcher on strengths and leadership at work. He is the founder of the coaching and education firm, The Marcus Buckingham Company, and he leads research at the ADP Research Institute. Marcus spent two decades studying excellence at the Gallup Organization and co-creating the StrengthsFinder tool.
Marcus is the author of two of the best-selling business books of all time, First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths. He has authored nine total books, including his latest release: Love and Work: How to Find What You Love, Love What You Do, and Do It for the Rest of Your Life.
He has been profiled in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, The Today Show, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.
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YAP Episode #1: First Impressions feat. Dorie Clark: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/1-first-impressions-be-more-likable-nail-your-first-impressions/
YAP Episode #101: Greenlights with Matthew McConaughey: https://www.youngandprofiting.com/101-greenlights-with-matthew-mcconaughey/
ADP Research Institute: https://www.adpri.org/
Marcus’s Website: https://www.marcusbuckingham.com/
Marcus’s Books: https://www.marcusbuckingham.com/books/
Marcus’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/marcus-buckingham-86516414/
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[00:00:00] I want to understand the difference between strengths and weaknesses, because this is something that you talk very often about. And I want to ask some followup questions about that. So with that said, could you just lay some foundation for our listeners about strengths versus
[00:00:14] Marcus: weaknesses?
[00:00:15] Marcus: Yeah, sure. I, um, I actually joined the Gallup organization when I first came to the U S about 25 years ago in gallops new for polling, but I did the site. It wasn't polling. It was focused on having. Measure things about a human that are really important, but you can't count things like strengths, things like weaknesses.
[00:00:32] Marcus: And when you start to research strengths, obviously at the time I was building something called strength finder with, um, with my mentor, who was the chairman of Gallup, Don Clifton. And when you really dive into strengths where you discover and weaknesses, you discover that a strength is and what you're good at and a weaknesses and what you're bad at, because we've all got some things that are really, really, really good at that we hate.
[00:00:54] Marcus: So what would you call that? What would you call it? Something where you are really effective at it, but doing it drains you a bores, you or
[00:01:01] Hala: you down or something like that.
[00:01:03] Marcus: And it's funny that happens in school. Doesn't it? Where you can get, you can continually get A's in a class, but you're not there.
[00:01:10] Marcus: I mean, emotionally, you're not there psychologically. You're not there. You sort of procrastinate that cost. Somehow you end up with an a, because you're smart or you're diligent or something, but when you really pushing it, what you find that. All of us respond to situations in life, activities, people, contexts in a Mo in a way that's either positively or emotionally, it's either a little jolt up or a little pull down.
[00:01:34] Marcus: Nothing is really emotionally zero. And so weaknesses, any activity that we can skew, even if you're good at it, a strength is any activity that strengthens you, even if you're not good at it yet. So as strength has far more appetite than it is pure ability. And so that pushes you towards you realize that the person who knows what your strengths or weaknesses are better than anyone else in the world.
[00:02:00] Hala: So then how do you start to understand, like what's a strength for you and what's a weakness? Like how do you measure that and evaluate that?
[00:02:08] Marcus: Well, probably the simplest thing. And we've done this with 10, 11, 12 year olds, by the way, for your listeners, just know, unfortunately, no one at school or in college or at work, no one is interested in finding out your now I know it sounds weird to say, but no one, and I don't mean this to sound cynical, but no one is really interested in what is inside you as a human and what your natural strengths are, because the whole approach to education and work is basically that each one of us has an empty vessel and we can fill it with whatever education we wanted to fill it with.
[00:02:35] Marcus: Test you occasionally to see how full your vessel is through exams or tests and the best student or the best worker is he or she who's the fullest. So the idea that each one of us is beautifully unique with unique strengths or weaknesses, it's sort of a lost on school or on work, but for you, if you wanted to figure out where your particular natural strengths are and weaknesses, the simplest thing to do is to use a regular week of your life.
[00:02:58] Marcus: Just take a blank. Maybe it's a blank pad. Maybe it's a, a page on your, on your phone or whatever. Draw a line down the middle of the pad. And I loved it at the top of one column and loaded. At the top of the other column and then take it around with you for a week. Anytime you find yourself looking forward to it's about a particular activity before you're doing it, scribble it down in the moment and the love to come.
[00:03:20] Marcus: Anytime you find yourself with time just flying by and what felt like five minutes you look up and it's an hour, scribbled it down. Anytime when you're done with it, it felt like it just clicked. It just clicked. It was almost like you knew how to do it without having to learn how to do it. So rapid learning, scribble it down in the love.
[00:03:36] Marcus: They call them. Anytime you see the inverse of that before you're doing it, you're pushing it off to the side of your desk with something you're trying to shove it under the filing cabinet out. When you're doing a TimeStar drags on it, you get to the end, but you have an empty husk. Anytime, anything like that, scribble it down in the load.
[00:03:54] Marcus: That column just spend a week using the raw material of your life to show you where is the positive valence at the level of the activity and where is the negative? And you'll get to the end of the week. They didn't have. You'll have a list, not of like theoretical terms, like strategic thinking or executive presence or growth orientation or entrepreneurship.
[00:04:16] Marcus: Not that you'll have a list of actual activities, some of which super draw you in and some of which bore you or drain you, as you said, burn you out. That is a beautiful starting point to begin to identify for yourself where you get strength from life and because strength and appetite and appetite and practice and performance and practice are this beautiful ongoing loop.
[00:04:40] Marcus: The more detailed you can be about which particular activities throw you back. Those are your strengths. You may not be good at them yet. You may not be, you may just be drawn to them repeatedly, but the beautiful thing is you use your life, not someone's theoretical models, but your life to help, you know, what are the particular aspects, activities, and situations, contexts, moments that strengthen you.
[00:05:03] Marcus: Those are your strengths and you can do it at 11 years.
[00:05:07] Hala: I love that. I love tactical advice. So I think everybody who's listening should take heed and do that activity to find out their strengths and weaknesses.
[00:05:15] Hala: Now, I know that you're, you have a very strong belief that you should not really focus on your weaknesses.
[00:05:20] Hala: A lot of people have it backwards. They focus a lot on improving their weaknesses, but you say, focus on your strengths. Why is that? And how can we start to build up our strengths even better? And how did you come up with the fact that you feel that weaknesses really aren't where you should focus?
[00:05:35] Marcus: Well, to begin with, just to sort of clarify, I don't feel it.
[00:05:40] Marcus: I don't think it I'm a, I'm a researcher. So I sort of go into any situation with a blank canvas. We went in, this was about 25 years ago now, but we went and basically studied highly performing managers or team leaders and low performing team leaders. And companies would give us their top a hundred managers and their bottom hundred managers.
[00:06:00] Marcus: And we do this again and again and again and again. So you're constantly like. And the world of research is called a study group and the contrast group. So you just keep talking to the world's best managers and team leaders, and you ask them a whole bunch of questions about what do you do? What do you do to get the best out of your people?
[00:06:14] Marcus: And although every single one of the members, and by the way, it got to be about 80,000. So 80,000 interviews, like the one that you're doing with me now, where we transcribe everything that was said, and then pour over the transcripts, looking for well, looking for similarities, basically. And of course what you find, the first thing you find is that all of these really great team leaders are really different from one another.
[00:06:36] Marcus: And I don't mean just differences in terms of race or age or nationality or whatever, but just difference in terms of that style, some of the best team leaders are very future-focused. Some of them are very now focused. Some of them are very conceptual. Some of the very tactics they're all different in terms of that stuff.
[00:06:51] Marcus: But one of the things that they all shared was a deep realization that each person on their team. Hey was in, was in during the unique, even if you have 10 salespeople, you don't have 10 salespeople, you have 10 individuals who happen to be in selling. And each one of those people sells in a slightly different way.
[00:07:10] Marcus: And what you, as the leader have to do is not try to make them all the second. You, as a leader, have to figure out a bit like playing chess versus checkers, right? Chess, all the pieces move differently. The best team leaders realize each of these pieces move differently. First of all, you've got to figure out as a, as a chess playing team leader, um, who's the Knight, who's the Rook, who's the queen.
[00:07:27] Marcus: Who's the Bishop. Who's that like you, you try to figure out the uniqueness of each person. And then they said, if you've got a Rook, don't try and turn it into a Bishop. It's like, if you've got somebody who naturally sells by building relationships with people and get them to trust you, what you do is you help them to maximize that intelligent.
[00:07:45] Marcus: And if you've got someone who really sells simply because of the force of their personality, they close quickly. They're just a closer, that's what they do is what I love to do. You, you help them to cultivate that intelligently. You don't try and turn them into someone who you go well, Johnny, well done for being a good, closer, but now we need to work on fixing your relationship building.
[00:08:06] Marcus: They don't do that and they don't do it. Not because they're trying to be nice. I mean, maybe some of them are, but they're doing it because they realize you've always got as a, as a team leader. Now for you as a CEO, you'll know this more and more and more over time, you're always thinking about return on investment.
[00:08:22] Marcus: You're always thinking about where's the ROI. And I don't mean of the business. I'm in of a human, where would we get the most growth and the best team leaders seem to understand what neuroscientists have only just begun to meet. Namely that you will get the most growth, the most development, the most performance improvement by figuring out where somebody already has some kind of comparative advantage.
[00:08:46] Marcus: And then you maximize it. And we can talk about how to maximize it in a, in a, in a minute. But it's like, that is a mind-blowingly important thing for you to understand in your career because everywhere you go in school, obviously, if he gets, in fact, we ask this question every year for the last 25 years, your child comes home.
[00:09:05] Marcus: So we ask that if parents, your child comes home with the following grades, English, a social studies, they biology C algebra F which grade deserves the most attention from you. And there isn't a single year holler where less than 70% of American parents focused on. If you give them the choice of those grades, every parent, by the way, every teacher goes straight to the F because we're frightened of the F and then you get to work.
[00:09:32] Marcus: When you start your career, you'll find that we turn the word F into something called an area of opportunity or area for development. So in the world of work, we have strengths jolly well done. I mean those, and then areas of development, the best managers who will go wait a minute, that is completely bass ackwards.
[00:09:51] Marcus: You have strengths, which are your areas for development. And then you have weaknesses that we need to manage around every little effect of sports coach. If you look at them, like, look at tomorrow, Tom Brady has very specific strengths as a player and a whole shedload of weaknesses. If you want to get the best out of Tom Brady, you do not say the time.
[00:10:13] Marcus: Okay. Let's just ignore your strengths for, well, let's really focus on turning your weaknesses. And he has so many, I mean, mobility being the most obvious one of them. And let's try and turn you into Patrick. I mean, when we say it like that, we know that sounds stupid. And yet the really sad thing is that for most of you who are listening in your careers, that is exactly the advice you're going to get.
[00:10:34] Marcus: Find out where your lack of mobility is. We'll call that an area for development and we'll put together an individual development plan for you so that you can emerge this well-rounded perfect human. Well, I'm sorry. The most successful people in the world, the most successful team leaders in the world realize that each one of us is engineeringly unique.
[00:10:54] Marcus: And over the course of our life, we don't turn into someone else. We get more and more and more and more of who we already are. And the real challenge for us is. Can you get to become an incredibly intelligent version of who you are. Best team leaders figured that out so fast. I'm not going to turn my Knight into a Rook.
[00:11:13] Marcus: I got to figure out how to maximize these really beautiful, unique people.
[00:11:19] Hala: That's so interesting. And I know that I had a guest, her name is Dorie Clark. You might be familiar with her. She was on my episode. Number one a long time ago, she's a career expert or reinvention coach. And she said that sometimes your weaknesses can be your biggest strength.
[00:11:35] Hala: So do you have an opinion about that? Have you seen that where your weaknesses are actually somewhat related to your biggest strengths as
[00:11:42] Marcus: well?
[00:11:43] Marcus: Well, that's an interesting question because normally the way that it's positioned is the other way around. You'll hear an awful lot of people say, yeah, but that strength better watch out for it.
[00:11:52] Marcus: That strength of yours can also become a weakness. Right. You'll hear it twisted around. So somebody will say, well, look, you're naturally very good at converting. Your mind, doesn't go blank. Somehow the words come really smoothly. And, uh, you, I just, whenever there's a confrontation moment, you'll feel really good in the middle of it, but watch out, don't use it too much because then it will turn into people to think you're rude or aggressive.
[00:12:17] Marcus: So you need to pull that down a little bit, or they'll say the same with empathy, you know, when you're really empathetic, but you know what you're, you're, you're too soft. You're too. So you can't always be empathetic. You know, in fact, most people's coach. I'm not saying this was true of hers, but because she actually framed it really interesting to go around.
[00:12:32] Marcus: Most of what you'll hear, most of what your listeners will hear is, is the other way around where people were spent really well-intended people like your mother will tell you because they want to help. You tone that down a little bit, your best boss that you first meet when you first meet a boss that you really like, they'll spend a lot of time going, well, this is great, but you need to, you need to turn it down a little bit.
[00:12:55] Marcus: The first thing that all of us should remember is no good advice. Basically when you peel it back, sounds like, be less of who you are. That is never good coaching advice or career, but be less of who you are now. That doesn't mean that somebody can't help you go wait a minute, Marcus. Sometimes when you're confronting people with your grades at sometimes you seem to actually be pushing them further away from where you want them to get to.
[00:13:18] Marcus: How can you be more now? I mean, what's great. Marcus with you is your words can really quickly when you're angry. I don't know. Some people, they shut down, you don't, you get angry and you just get cold. And Chris, when you up, wow. Crazy town. That's so good. How can you use it in a way that actually gets the outcome you want?
[00:13:35] Marcus: You know, sometimes with kids, I'm sure you've seen this with, with other kids that you have relatives that you've got, whatever kids it's almost like their strengths are too big for their level of bodies. So when they have natural strengths, sometimes it's like they haven't grown into them yet. In fact, what a career is really is kind of growing into your natural strengths so that you can use the really intelligent.
[00:13:57] Marcus: Your strength, you can never have too much of a strength. If anyone ever tells you, you got too much of that strength block, that comment out, because what they're really saying, they might be saying is you're not using that strength quite effectively enough. Okay. That's a legitimate piece of coaching advice, and that might make you pause and think, ha I wonder how I can tweak or fine tune or adjust that so I can use my natural proclivities to actually get done.
[00:14:25] Marcus: What I want to get done. The other way around is kind of an interesting framing that your weaknesses are also part of your strengths. I would say this, what we can see you, can't also strengthen you. So if you define a strength than a weakness, the way I did upfront, which frankly, most people don't, they normally say a strength is what you're good at.
[00:14:47] Marcus: And weakness is what you're bad at. But if a strength is what strengthens you and a weaknesses, what we can see, then what we can see you, can't also strengthen you in some way. It's a logical non-sequitur right. But some of the things that strengthen you in some situations can prove effective for you.
[00:15:01] Marcus: And in other situations, they won't prove effective for you. For example, you might be somebody who is strengthened by persuading, someone to do something they didn't intend to do. You love selling and you love the clothes. And then because you loved selling and because no one really helped you understand which bit of it you really loved and that what you were selling for that a medical device company, you got closes all the time.
[00:15:24] Marcus: It was so great because you've got the little signature on the thing and you're like, yeah. And then you got promoted. I don't know why you got promoted to work for a pharmaceutical company like Amgen or something or Genentech. And you went in and you, you know, you'll quote unquote, good at telling, but you go in there and you suddenly realize that in pharmaceutical sales, you've never closed.
[00:15:42] Marcus: There's no clothes, there's no signature. You're just influencing doctors to write prescriptions. And so you go in there thinking. I'm really strong at selling, but actually, you know what strengthened you was the clothes and you went and joined a pharmaceutical sales company, where does no clothes. So in that sense, your weakness and your strength is stayed the same.
[00:16:03] Marcus: What strengthened you stayed the same. What we can do stayed the same. It's just the, in one context, it was super useful to help you be effective in the job. And then the pharmaceutical sales that, that very same thing that very same parts of you actually proved to be diminishing for you. Super frustrating for you.
[00:16:22] Marcus: And if any of your listeners have found that in their career, where you go, wait a minute. I, what happened to me because I was doing, I was killing it away. I moved over here and suddenly I'm like, I may actually still be able to quote unquote, do the job, but I'm like every day I wake up and I'm in a really bad route.
[00:16:40] Marcus: What. So often it's bigger. There's some parts of your previous job that was, that was strengthening to you. Some activity or situation or personal context in that case, the clothes was strengthening to you and you moved into each problem. Where does none of it. And I was thinking that would have been so helpful if you're one time.
[00:17:00] Marcus: 11 or 12 or 13, but unfortunately for most of us, we have to serve, figure this out as we go along during the course of our career.
[00:17:08] Hala: Wow. I loved everything that you just said. You're giving so many value bombs away. The two big takeaways that I have is, again, going back to writing down what you love and what you loads and really taking the time to think about that and to figure that out so that when you are in situations where you feel burnt out, you know exactly why and so that you can make the right career decisions and kind of evaluate your future experiences based on what you're actually good at.
[00:17:34] Hala: And so that you don't, you know, make a big career change and then you end up hating your job. That's when you were doing really great. So I definitely agree there. I also love your feedback about feedback that you shouldn't just listen to everyone, even if they have good intentions, like your mom or a boss that might really want you to succeed, but they just don't know how to give proper advice and they give you bad advice.
[00:17:56] Hala: So that's super empowering.
[00:17:58] Marcus: Yeah. And on that point, by the way, high, if you look at many of your listeners that are going to bump into this so much of it, but somebody will say, you need to take feedback or, Hey, come in and sit out. I want to give you some feedback. And of course, in today's high-tech world, there are so many tools and functions and features that are aligned to get feedback all the time from people.
[00:18:18] Marcus: And if you're in the corporate world, you work for Disney. You'll notice you actually have four more ways of getting feedback. Sometimes it's called a performance review or, or a performance appraisal, or, and it used to have a Muncie. And now it seems to happen with little apps and stuff. Now it's, you're getting feedback all the time.
[00:18:34] Marcus: What I would strongly suggest to your listeners is block all of it out. All of it.
[00:18:39] Marcus: Feedback never, ever helps you Excel ever. The reason why that is well, there's one small exception, sorry. There's one small exception. When success in a job requires you to know a certain factor. Or a certain prescribed sequence of steps and you're getting the steps wrong.
[00:19:01] Marcus: Let's say you're a nurse and you there's a step sequence to give a safe and painless injection. And you miss one of the steps. It is entirely appropriate for someone to come in and go, Hey, you missed a step. Or if you got it wrong, like, you know, the American independence war was this date. And you say that date, then somebody can say you got that date wrong.
[00:19:22] Marcus: So when it comes to predetermined facts or steps, then feedback is fine. Cause someone might tell you that you've missed one, but excellent. In any job, you're a CEO right now, right? You go 40 people you're charging around like a mad prune and no part of your job is a prescribed sequence of steps. I mean, yes, you need to know how to turn this particular technology on that.
[00:19:43] Marcus: You and I are. You need to know how to do that. You need to know how to save, look, file, and then cut it up into bits. And like, you need to know what to do that. And if someone can teach you how to do that, great. But other than that, everything that you're doing, everything that you're learning every moment that you're kind of doing your very best work is a function of inside out.
[00:20:03] Marcus: It's you taking your natural patterns of loves and lows to a natural synaptic connection patterns and turning them into behavior stimulii of life is hitting you all the time. And you're just choosing a, making a choice here doing this, not that thousands of bees every day, when somebody tries to give you advice, when somebody tries to give you feedback, when you really look at what they're saying, even with the very best of intentions, what they're really saying to you is you would do this job better holler if you did it more like me, because all I've got is my own experience.
[00:20:36] Marcus: I'm telling you, Hey, you need to do a bit more of that. You need to do a little less than that. You should do this. You should do that. And it it's basically someone taking their own experience. And even with the best of intentions smothering you. And instead you shouldn't ask for feedback. And if you are a manager of other people or a colleague never give feedback instead, what you can do.
[00:21:00] Marcus: And what's so legit to do is to say what your reaction is just to be way more humble. Don't cross the feedback bridge and start giving advice stuff, right. To just stay on your side of the bridge and sell it. My reaction was this. So how, if you said to me, Hey Marcus, um, you know, I just really didn't understand what you just said.
[00:21:20] Marcus: That's your reaction? That is so legit. I can't say yes, you did holla. You totally did. I can't say that you could, your reaction is your reaction. You're the owner of your reaction. You can say, I didn't understand what you didn't say. Oh, you could say I was really bored by what you just said. I come in and go.
[00:21:35] Marcus: No, you on board. You are bored. So that's the reaction. Tell me your reaction. If you go through your career and you're blind or deaf to other people's reactions to you, okay, that's a miss. You need to listen for their reactions, just smile and close your ears. When they start giving you feedback on what you should do differently.
[00:21:58] Marcus: The only way that actually they can help, you know, what to do differently or better is not only if they react when something didn't go well. But actually the best thing to listen for is for their, their reaction. When something really, really, really worked well. Your, and this again, it's one of those, mind-blowingly obvious things when you say it, but no one teaches you.
[00:22:20] Marcus: There's the raw material for your future. Greatness is your current goodness. Your overall material for your future greatness is not your current failure. It's your current areas where you're already doing something where people, oh, that was cool. That presentation you gave, you know what, you know, not everything about it was great, frankly, but this part I meant in like crazy.
[00:22:45] Marcus: If you built a whole presentation where you did more of that, that, that moment there, I don't know. I just lent it. I couldn't stop myself from leading. And it was so you nailed it. Your energy was fantastic. That room, if someone's telling you their reaction about what worked, that's not them being nice to you.
[00:23:01] Marcus: That is them giving you raw material to help, you know, what should I tack towards what should I do more of what should I find tune or. Because frankly, most of us, we charged through life and we're trying our best. We do a bit of this and a bit of that and a bit of this other people's reaction to what worked, whether it's an email you wrote, whether it's a campaign you started, whether it was a relationship you built, whether it was the presentation you gave, if someone is reacting to what bits of it worked.
[00:23:29] Marcus: Oh, my word, that is the best, best coaching advice you can ever get from someone so different, by the way, the, when someone's telling you what you should do differently, which as I said, normally turns out to be, you would do better if only you did it more like me. So whenever you hear feedback, just your, your alarm bells go off.
[00:23:49] Hala: Oh, my gosh, this is excellent. I love that. When you said smile and close your ears, when you hear feedback, that's such a good tip for people. And you know, a lot of people think that they're supposed to get feedback and they don't realize that most feedback is actually negative. Like when somebody asks you for feedback, you're thinking, well, what's the one negative thing I can think about this person and give them some constructive criticism.
[00:24:11] Hala: You're not thinking about good feedback, right? And I know that you, you actually have this opinion about 360 reviews. You, you call them gossip. So tell us about your opinion on 360 reviews. Cause we did that at, I don't work at Disney anymore, but we did that at Disney and I have a great story about how, you know, somebody who was just kind of out to get me gave really bad feedback, which had not like if you asked any of my past managers of the past 10 years or any of my past coworkers, everybody would be like, that doesn't sound anything like Kala, but it's just one person who was out to get me.
[00:24:40] Hala: So talk to us about 360 feedback.
[00:24:44] Marcus: I don't have an opinion about it. You got the facts, right? I mean, I already say that because as you know, in this day and age, it's sort of, everyone's a thought leader. I think there's, I think that, I think there's, I was a chef, but now I'm a life coach. It's like, how does everyone's a thought leader?
[00:25:01] Marcus: So it's important if you have data to sort of start with, well, the data show, because then you're not really just putting your opinion out. You're going, this is what we can see in the world when it comes to three sixties, first of all, you're right. In many, many cases, there are an opportunity for someone anonymously to lobby, little hand grenades and other people.
[00:25:22] Marcus: So there's that whole part of it, which is just dangerous and politically damaging and psychologically hurtful. But even if you de-anonymize it, the basic that there's two basic huge floors with any 360, for any of you listening to are forced to go through a 360, just keep your mind focused on these two floors.
[00:25:42] Marcus: Again, you may have to smile and just. Pretend, but know that these two floors are right there at the heart of all three sixties. The first is that you can learn about succession studying failure there. If somebody's using a 360 to point out where your gaps are, you can learn a lot from studying your gaps.
[00:25:59] Marcus: Remember you learn nothing about success from studying. Let me let, let's just all be really clear. There's so much stuff. Our failure is such a great teacher. No, it isn't. Failure teaches you about failure. If you wanted to learn about failure, studying it up the wazoo, it teaches you nothing about success.
[00:26:16] Marcus: In fact, some aspects of failure are really similar to success. So if you study failure and then say, don't do that, you won't succeed. It's like saying, if you studied really unhappy marriages, you actually, and this is true. You find out that people argue a lot. You count the arguments. There are a lot of arguments.
[00:26:30] Marcus: So what you would then say as well to have a happy marriage, you shouldn't argue, but you actually study really happy marriages. You count the number of arguments. There are exactly the same number of arguments or rather there's no statistically significant difference between the number of arguments and a happy marriage and the number of arguments and a rotten one.
[00:26:46] Marcus: It turns out. The difference between a happy marriage and a rotten one. Isn't the number of arguments. It's what goes on in the space between the arguments and in the unhappy marriage is somehow you lean away from one another. And each argument is proof of the need to kind of be Ahmed against the other person's attacks.
[00:27:04] Marcus: And somehow in a happy marriage, the arguments are assigned for more reaching toward one, another more intimacy, more curiosity. So if you just studied really unhappy marriages found out that they argued a lot. You'd go well, well then if you want a good one, don't argue, which is completely wrong. It's like saying health is the absence of disease in order to learn about health, we should study disease.
[00:27:26] Marcus: No, if you want to learn about disease, you study disease, which is fine. Do that, but don't imagine that. Hello, this is a totally different thing. So that's the first thing with three sixties. They're predicated on the idea that to get better, you should figure out where you're kind of failing according to your 360 colleagues and then fix it.
[00:27:46] Marcus: Okay. Completely wrong. You will learn more about how you're going to Excel from those places where you Excel it very quickly. The second thing that's problematic, hugely problematic with three sixties is that based on the idea that I am a reliable rater of you on anything. And it turns out after 50 years of research on this, it turns out that the only thing I'm a reliable rater off is my own feelings and experiences.
[00:28:14] Marcus: I'm a pretty good relater or rates, or rather of whether I'm bored by a presentation. I'm a good writer of a restaurant that I just went to a, will I go there again? I can rate that I can rate whether I will advocate that restaurant and friends and family. I can do all of that because it's all about me.
[00:28:29] Marcus: Rating me, turns out I am a terrible writer. Of your strategic thinking or your empathy or anything in you. I'm a terrible rates are of it. And it turns out there's a thing called, and this is going to sound long and kind of convoluted, but it's called the idiosyncratic rates of effect. And it basically means when I rate you, my rating of you is idiosyncratic.
[00:28:54] Marcus: And it reflects me more than it does you. And we know that because when I raped 10 people on something like empathy, presumably if I was really seeing that through a window, if you like the ratings would change because I'm looking at 10 different people, but we know measurably the ratings don't change my ratings, move with me.
[00:29:13] Marcus: I I'm in a sense, revealing myself as I'm writing these 10 people, three sixties are supposed to be a window into other people. They're not, they're a mirror. They're just me bouncing me back at me. And for those of you who are listening, who are stat heads, you'll know that if your measurement system has systematic error in it, which this is systematic error, the more data you add, doesn't get rid of the.
[00:29:41] Marcus: It adds to the era. It's like, if you got one broken some mometer, you've got one bad measurement. If you have 15 broken thermometers, you've now got 15 bad measurements and you're no closer to knowing how hot it is outside. So that's what a 360 is. It's a systematically error filled badly designed focused on failure.
[00:30:03] Marcus: And unfortunately for many of your listeners that you're going to bump into this. Some well-intended team leader is going to go, Hey, here's this new nifty 360. It's part of our human capital management system. And it's going to help you get that up. Okay. Whenever you see that again, you may have to smile to be politically savvy, but just please don't let your career.
[00:30:26] Marcus: Be determined by other people's faulty thermometers.
[00:30:30] Hala: It's so crazy because I know that so many corporations do this. And so many of us are going through these feedback reviews and there's so many like messed up outcomes as a result of this. There's so many managers who are focusing on the wrong things and team members who are just drowning because they're worried about their weaknesses, not focusing on their strengths.
[00:30:48] Hala: It sounds so, so broken, you know, and that's just really sad to me that it's, it's so broken right now.
[00:30:54] Hala: I know that you have like 20 years of research experience. And so you've researched a lot of different topics. You have many different books were on the topics of managers. So over the years, you've done lots of research studies on this. What makes the best qualities in a manager while we're on this topic?
[00:31:11] Marcus: Well, that's hard to say, right? Because every manager is different. What we do know is that every really, really great manager has the ability to individually. If you call it individualize, you can't build a great team because the great team isn't built up a bunch of the same people that the team, if you will, people always say, there's no IMT team as though the point of a team is to remind you that you're not that special.
[00:31:33] Marcus: It's like, no, no. That's a complete misunderstanding of what teams are for you bring teams together because a team is the place in which lots of different people, lots of unique eyes actually make a contribution together and they achieve something together. They couldn't do by themselves. The point of a team are the eyes.
[00:31:50] Marcus: So individualization. If you want to be a really good team leader, cultivate, and some part of this is a skill. It's not just a natural strength. Some part of managing is learning how to see the clues. Can you see where somebody has rapid learning? Can you see where one of your team members just gets in those zone and they just seem to be in flow.
[00:32:13] Marcus: Can you see where people are naturally volunteering? I know. Not in a miss instinct kind of way when some people's instincts are there instinctively raising their hand for a job because the job comes with certain benefits, money prize, prestige, American, eyeball, all those people like volunteering, their volunteer.
[00:32:35] Marcus: Are they really voluntary for learning a hundred word songs, do a hundred words to a hundred songs, practicing all those times by yourself. Are they really volunteering for the actual activities of what it takes to be an American idol? Or are they volunteering because they want the praise and the money or the attention.
[00:32:53] Marcus: We've got a lot of miss instincts in our lives because no one's ever really taught us to inventory while our own natural strengths are.
[00:33:00] Marcus: So as a, as a manager individualizations are really important thing. But the second thing I would say, and this is less holler and attribute and more, just a behavior.
[00:33:12] Marcus: And by the way in yet mean this, you should do this too, because this is free. And it's just everything. The best team leaders check in with each person on their team for 15 minutes each week in the. And the conversation in that 15 minutes, or you could call it a check-in or a touch base or a conversation or a one-on-one the word doesn't matter, but that's 15 minutes.
[00:33:31] Marcus: Isn't about feedback on this weekend. I'll tell you how you do it. Let me tell it now it's, it's a short-term future focus conversation about next week in which the manager is just asking two questions. What are your priorities this week? And how can I help you? What are your priorities? How can I help you?
[00:33:47] Marcus: And the best managers realize you don't do that as a group. I mean, you can get your team together as a group if you want, but every week, each individual on that team is basically invisibly raising their hands and going, can you pay attention to me? Can you pay attention to me? Can you pay attention to me?
[00:34:04] Marcus: Every human being has got like an attention bucket, but the bucket has a hole in it. And so you fill my bucket in the course of the week by going, okay, what are your priorities next week? What are you working on? How can I help? And then you think, well, I've done that. So I don't have to do that now for another five months, would that person know next Friday, you kind of got to do it again, and then you kind of got to do it again and you got to do it again.
[00:34:28] Marcus: And if any of your listeners are thinking, well, I can't do that because I've got too many people, then you've got too many people. It's like, what's the perfect span of control in a young business like yours. It's not span of control. It's span of attention. And, and the perfect span of attention is how many people can you as a team leader, legitimately check in with every week for 52 weeks.
[00:34:49] Marcus: And also if you are a team leader or you are aspiring to be one in your career and you're listening to this and you're thinking to yourself, well, that sounds boring. I don't want to check in with each of my people every week is I want to be strategic, strategic riser. I want to be, you know what, I've been doing, the cool, sexy leadership stuff, then don't leave me.
[00:35:08] Marcus: Because if you don't want to check in with each person and find out what's going on in their head and how can I help every single week? Because things change group. If, if that doesn't interest, you don't lead people. Cause this thing, this check-in thing isn't like in addition to leading it is leading.
[00:35:25] Marcus: And if that doesn't interest you, then go be smart by yourself or maybe you and one other person. But if you want to try to get the most out of a team of people, you've got to check in with them each week about near term future with your strengths lens on. So you're looking for where they've shown some sort of signs of real achievement, rapid learning in the zone.
[00:35:45] Marcus: And you're trying always in the face of a changing world, right? The goals that you put together for your company back in June, we're relevant by July. That's that's how quickly the world. And it's not just COVID that's just every year is like that. We have a whole other conversation about goals, by the way.
[00:36:02] Marcus: If you're a team leader. Yes. You need to individualize. But then this frequent light-touch check-in no one will tell you this, by the way. I don't know why, but no one will tell you this. And yet I promise you if you're leading a team right now and you get in this habit, it's like brushing your teeth. You don't need to have a perfect coaching moment.
[00:36:19] Marcus: Every check-in some check-ins will just go, oh, and okay. And I'll do my best. And that's all you got that week for that, but that was fun. Cause next week you're going to ask them again and again and again, and again, it's like your year is 52 little sprints as you pay attention to each person last quick point on the data.
[00:36:40] Marcus: But data show that the modality doesn't matter whether you're doing it. In-person whether you're doing it on the phone in app, on the text, uh, on an email, it actually doesn't matter. What matters is that it happened. Not the way in which it happens. So weirdly crazily, the most powerful team rich, or you can put in place as a manager is not a team ritual.
[00:37:04] Marcus: It's a one-on-one check-in with each person, super light touch. If they go beyond 20 minutes, well, maybe you decide that three of them in the year we'll go beyond 20 minutes. Cause you just want to full a debrief. But most of them, I just tend to 20 minutes of like, what are you working on? How can I help?
[00:37:20] Hala: And so do you recommend, like I have a C I'm a CEO of a company and I have sub-teams. So do you recommend that each leader does this with their sub team? Or do you recommend that? I do that for every single person? No.
[00:37:31] Marcus: No, absolutely not. Your role as a CEO is totally different, which we can get to in a minute.
[00:37:35] Marcus: Do you want to, but, but no, your role right now as a CEO, you're building teams of teams, you're building teams of teams. In fact, your most important job right now as a CEO is how do I ensure that I'm putting in place the right ways to build lots of teams? Like my best. W it's like we found out, obviously you ask people this question around the world, 84% of people say they do most of their work on teams, 84%.
[00:38:01] Marcus: There's a few people in the shed at the bottom of the garden, all by themselves permanently doing just, well, there are a few people like that. Most of us though, even the smartest of us, we're doing work on teams. 65% of us say we do most of our work on more than one team. And that that team isn't reflected on the org chart.
[00:38:20] Marcus: It's a dynamic ephemeral team that came together for six weeks over here, or it came together for four months over here. So most of us have a formal team and then a couple of other kind of coming together teams, but teams are work and I don't mean teamwork, you know, and that kind of cliche, oh, you got to be more teammate.
[00:38:39] Marcus: No, no, no work is teamwork. So what you should be doing as a CEO is usually going, am I building more teams like my best teams, which begins across. Anybody that I'm the most important decision you make by the way in your growing company is who you make team leader. So goes your team leaders. So goes everything.
[00:38:59] Marcus: You could be the smartest person in the world. And if you're putting in place, people that don't get kicked out of individualization, that really actually want to tell people what to do, because they're into control. They don't want to check in with everybody each week individually, cause it bores them to tears.
[00:39:12] Marcus: And they're way more interested in themselves. If you keep doing that, I don't care how smart you are, that your company is going nowhere because no one would want to work there. Or if they do come to work for you, they want to stay, you join a company. People may join your company because of you because you're cool because you're out there because you're exciting because of your innovative, but how long they stay and how productive they are while they're with you.
[00:39:34] Marcus: Doesn't depend on you. It depends massively on that little local team. So yeah, the short answer, the question is each one of your team leaders should be doing this and they don't want to do it. That is a red flag.
[00:39:47] Hala: I think this is such a great point. You made me think about something that I've said before on this podcast, that you can be a great employee and you can be great at what you do.
[00:39:55] Hala: And doesn't mean that you have to eventually lead people. There's lots of people who aren't great at leading, and they can lead in their own way as an individual contributor and not have a team. And that's how they, how they perform well, just because somebody performs. Well, it doesn't mean you just promote them to lead a team because it's a very different skills.
[00:40:13] Hala: And so I think that's a brilliant point that you make. And it just like really drives that point
[00:40:18] Marcus: home
[00:40:18] Marcus: and, and, and to put specificity to it. It really sort of means you're not going to be a great leader rather than saying it that way. You can always say to people, look, let me tell you what leading is leading is figuring out the uniqueness of each person and then paying attention to that person in the work, that person in the work, that person in the work for 52 weeks of the year.
[00:40:38] Marcus: Are you interested in that? Because if you're not, then in terms of the deck going all the way back to the definition of a strength and a weakness, if that doesn't strengthen you, and by the way, we could try it out, we could try it out. Why don't we try it out? And the thing we're trying out, isn't some elusive concept called leadership.
[00:40:57] Marcus: We're actually just trying out an activity. We're going to maybe, maybe we'll put you in a dynamic or a femoral team. We'll give you a little project. We'll give you a project for about six months. I dunno, six weeks, whatever it is, you can try it out and see whether or not checking in with each person about near term future work.
[00:41:13] Marcus: When you can't tell them what to do, you have to manage by remote control, not all control. You have less control. Let's see whether or not you get any sort of kick out of that, because if you don't, that's the job of leading. And if that right now, for whatever reason, doesn't thrill you, or it doesn't give you any jolts or anything, then the money.
[00:41:32] Marcus: If it comes with little money or the bigger title, if it comes with a bigger title, that's not going to carry the day. It's like in the end, if you want to build a really great career, the what always trumps the why or the who with, even if you super believe in the why, by the way, I'm a huge fan of Simon Sinek stuff.
[00:41:51] Marcus: So find your why. Okay. That's cool. And, and obviously the people you work with the who that's important, but if what you're doing every day at 10 30 in the morning, on a Tuesday, what you're doing at 3:00 PM on a Friday, if the activities themselves don't strengthen you, then that will always in the end, burn you up.
[00:42:12] Marcus: Burnout comes not from losing your why it from comes from doing the wrong. What in service of the why? So in that sense, if you want to know if you want to be a team leader in your life, having an activity that we can go, oh, leadings that. All right. Well, let's try that and let's see what you get any kind of thrill out of it.
[00:42:35] Marcus: And it can be done. As you said, that doesn't mean you're a bad person. It doesn't mean you couldn't be incredibly successful in your career. It means you're probably going to be successful mostly because of your own efforts, your own insights, and less about your ability to build teams or teams of teams.
[00:42:51] Marcus: Everyone shouldn't aspire to be you. I mean, if I looked at your job, your life, there's going to be a whole lot of activities that a lot of us would go. I don't want to do that. I don't want a, like, so all of us have got different thrills that we get from life. And of course that doesn't mean my wrong or right.
[00:43:07] Marcus: It just means it just means for us.
[00:43:10] Hala: So the last question I ask all my guests is what is your secret to profiting in life?
[00:43:16] Marcus: You know, the Western philosophy says, I think, therefore I am right.
[00:43:21] Marcus: Cognito goes. So I think that where I am, but there is an African philosophy called the. Which basically says, now we only exist in relation to other people you're not out there by yourself thinking everything isn't cognitive. It's not. I think therefore I am it's. I am because you are, we only exist in beautiful relationship to one another.
[00:43:44] Marcus: So my secret to profiting in life for me, but for you too, and for your listeners would be look to your left and look to your right, because you are because of who they are, who are you moving through life with? That includes your life partner, the person you choose to do life with includes your colleagues.
[00:44:09] Marcus: Your beautiful uniqueness is manifested not by itself. It is manifested through the attention, the challenge, the curiosity of someone else, helping you to demystify yourself so that you can contribute to. So look to your left, look to your right, and remember that the goal of any great relationship that you have in life is to make each one of you bigger.
[00:44:36] Marcus: And you should only surround yourself with people whose goal is to help you be bigger. The biggest version of you not threatened by you, not blind to you, not controlling of you, not trying to be you. The goal of any relationship is that that other person sees you and wants you to be bigger. And I think the thing that I've learned in my life anywhere, and I've done my career was a little bit like yours.
[00:45:00] Marcus: Over the years, writing books, speaking, being individually productive, starting a company, having a company grow like crazy, having another bigger company coming in by like, like now I'm here doing this with you. It's been an interesting scavenger hunt for like, But the biggest lesson I'm going to take from my life is that I am because you are.
[00:45:20] Marcus: And so who's the you in that sentence, who am I surrounding myself with? Um, for every one of your listeners, they aren't an island. They're not by themselves. They're super connected. And so think very carefully about who you're choosing to walk through life with. And if they're wanting you to be bigger, hold on tight, because that's the way in which you live the full,
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