StandOut 2.0: A book review by Bob Morris

StandOut 2.0StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work
Marcus Buckingham
Harvard Business Review Press (July 2015)

How to identify and then leverage the strengths needed to accelerate personal growth and professional development

Those who have read one or more of Marcus Buckingham’s books — First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently (1999), Now, Discover Your Strengths (2001), and Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance (2007) — already know that his mission in life is to help as many people as he can to accelerate their personal growth and professional development. In my opinion, StandOut 2.0 is his most valuable and will be the most influential book he has written…thus far. He provides an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that can help team members, their leaders, and individuals to identify, nourish, and the leverage the strengths they need to achieve success, however it may be defined.

What’s in it for you?

More specifically, he explains

o How to find your edge (i.e. competitive advantage) and make it work best for you.
o How to take full advantage of the potential benefits of the StandOut Assessment
o How to use three lessons — “Your Genius Is Precise,” “Remember Who You Are [and Aren’t],” and “Always Sharpen Your Edge” — to build your strengths
o How strengths-building can accelerate innovation
o What specifically each of the strengths roles requires and how to fill each role to achieve high-impact

These are the nine roles:

ADVISOR: You are a reliable, highly-valued source of wisdom and knowledge.
CONNECTOR: Your are a catalyst and bridge-builder.
CREATOR: You make something new.
[INNOVATOR: You make something better],
EQUALIZER: You maintain appropriate balance and proportion.
INFLUENCER: You are persuasive because others trust you and respect you.
PIONEER: You embrace opportunities to explore/understand what is unfamiliar.
PROVIDER: You nourish others’ needs.
STIMULATOR: You inspire self-motivation in others.
TEACHER: You enjoy learning as much as you enjoy sharing what you have learned.

People tend to be oblivious to their unique (albeit under-developed) strengths, as are others with whom they most frequently interact. That said, it would be a fool’s errand to attempt to become an outstanding performer in each of the nine roles. Let the results of the new StandOut Assessment suggest on which two or three to focus. With all due respect to the strategy “Let your light so shine before man,” it is equally important to know where and how to shine that light, first within the as-yet undiscovered self and then in all areas of one’s life.

Personal note: I give Marcus Buckingham high marks in each of the nine categories. He is as caring as he is bright. As I suggested earlier, he is on a mission. How else to explain why he continues to write books such as this one?

He devotes all of Chapter 5 (Pages 39-84) to discussing each of these nine, using a template that consists of eight components:

o The Definition [of the given role]
o You at Your Most Powerful
o How to Describe Yourself [resumés, in interviews, performance reviews]
o How to Make an Immediate Impact
o How to Take Your Performance to the Next Level
o What to Watch Out For
o How to Win as a Leader, as a Manager, in Sales, and in Client Service
o How to Manage Me

Buckingham urges his readers to complete the new StandOut Assessment because it will reveal (a) what their greatest strengths are now and (B) which strengths (albeit under-developed strengths) are most likely to help them find their edge, sharpen it, and thereby become a peak performer in months and years to come. He suggests they think of the results of the new StandOut Assessment as a “Rosetta Stone” to make sense of the human complexity to which Walt Whitman refers in Song of Myself: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes.”

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