Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Are breaking the conventional rules, thinking outside the box the old/new mantras for the greatest leaders?

Consultants for the Gallup Organization Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their masterpiece "First Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently" arrived at this conclusions after analyzing data collected by Gallup over 25 years - using an impressive sample size of 80 thousand managers and 1 million staff from 400 companies. They debunked some of our dearly held notions about management and leadership, such as "treat people as you like to be treated"; "people are capable of almost anything"; and "a manager's role is diminishing in today's economy." "Great managers are revolutionaries," the authors write. “First break all the rules—great leadership manifesto…Is this thinking outside the box?

My best part is “People don't change that much. Don't waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”

Now, all rules finally went kaput! What do you think? Are breaking the conventional rules, thinking outside the box the old/new mantras for the greatest leaders?


  1. On 06/02/09 3:21 PM, Dan de la Cruz, CMA, CPA wrote:
    First, I'll ask who made all those rules? Then I'll ask you to give me a rule and I'll break it, too. Would the catchy title of the book mean "Start Fresh"? I am inclined to believe that management and leadership is bound by responsibility to explore all the options, and sometimes the most impact is made by those who break the rules or think outside the box, hence, this book has selected those events. At the same time, there are some rules that will always apply such as "if you do the same thing over and over, you'll never get a different result". Then I agree that the greatest among us do things that are different and have immense capability to generate fresh ideas on how to tackle the issues and challenges that comes across their path.

  2. I think that innovative leadership is based on breaking from convention. There are a few types of leaders. Transitional leaders are the ones that need this ideal. If you can get people to change the WAY they think about problems you can get them to believe in a new way.

    I had been asked numerous times to go into an organization and make grand scale changes. I had to break the rules to do this. I always assumed that the best time to make changes is during chaos. That way people will cling to the new "law" quickly. My superiors hated it at times. They held on to the "one change at a time" method. I had no time for that when the companies I led were bleeding badly.

    I answer the question with a YES. With consideration to estblished working systems. I never cared much for those. Leave that for the people who don't like choppy waters and rocking boats.

    -G. Cramer

  3. I honestly think "strict rigidity" is the old mantra where "measured flexibility" may be the new mantra. I also tend to agree with Joe's comments in that a lot of the Gallup talk is circuitous and ultimately fails to come to any real conclusions.

    Perhaps not creating the rules before you comprehend the environment is a pitfall to avoid in being a successful manager in the modern age. Really this comes down to not assuming too much when initially starting to lead a group. I have found that integrating with the group itself at certain levels puts me in the best position to lead the unique individuals that comprise that group. For me, this is much like what makes people successful in their sales efforts. I essentially try to learn the dynamics of the people and the group as a whole to see where value already exists and where it can be enhanced or added to in some fashion. To me that is more of method than a mantra.

    So, I believe the greatest leaders are willing to truly know and understand the group they are a part of in order to maximize the value added by that group to their organization as a whole. At the same time they are able to strike a balance between the old and new mantras (i.e. provide a rigid enought structure for people to work from while at the same time allowing for enough flexibility that you don't snap when the wind blows...rest assured that the wind will indeed blow).

    To sum it all up, I think you have to understand and be aware of the conventional rules as well as "the box" all the while realizing that these two things don't encompass all the possibilities. Then, to borrow from the social networking mantra, ensure your efforts are geared toward "adding value" at all levels (for you, your employee and your company).

  4. As i see it, rulezz are one (wo)mans, government attempt to embed creative and thinking limits upon an other persons thinking capabilities?

    Why should you limit your very own beautiful creative thinking capabilities with some-one elses mental garbage?

    The whole (usa) school system has been carefully "architectured" to limit your thinking capabilities for the very basis of your thinking capabilities!
    All thinking and creating processes so be with no limits at all.

    A mind is a powerful and wonderfull thing, stop wasting it with stuff that is not yours...Think free! Always!

    For all those people who are not even aware that they still think / live inside the state - controlled - consciousness box, i have some background reading material:


    Have fun really opening your mind!

    Regards, Ronald

  5. Ben,

    Great question.

    While I put my hand's on my copy from a few years back, let me ask this:
    - Are we now to not treat people as we like to be treated?
    - Are people now not capable of almost anything?
    - Are manager's role diminished in today's economy?

    What Buckingham and Coffman are basically saying is to analyze, identify and REMOVE all the distracting and unproductive rules that have taken over during the last 20-100 years and implement the OLD RULES, the OLD PRINCIPLES - implement them in new ways - in order to continue creating free enterprise.

    If one wants to call it - breaking the rules, or something innovative like that, suit yourself. No argument here.

    But to think that because we now have i-pods, 500-year-old ivy league schools, and cable boxes with 750 channels, we are now going to find/create new business management concepts is truly thinking outside the logical and common business sense box.

    Best regards.

    Alex Velasquez