Chess or Checkers? The Difference Between Great and Average Managers

Want to be a great manager? Of course there are different styles, but there’s a common denominator…Continuing on the theme of people, and their vital relationship with their superiors, here’s a zoom on what sets great managers apart. It’s written by Marcus Buckingham author of several best-selling books including StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work (Harvard Business Review Press).

chess or checkersIn my research, beginning with a survey of 80,000 managers conducted by the Gallup Organization and continuing during the past two years with in-depth studies of a few top performers, I’ve found that while there are as many styles of management as there are managers, there is one quality that sets truly great managers apart from the rest: They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it. Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.

The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves. More important, you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces. Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.

Harvard Business Review


I Quit! Why Employees Leave (Gallup Study)

An extract from the New York Times on a study performed by the Gallup Organization focused on better understanding why people quit their jobs:

i quit…most workers rate having a caring boss even higher than they value money or fringe benefits. In interviews with two million employees at 700 companies, Gallup found that how long an employee stays at a company and how productive she is there, is determined by her relationship with her immediate supervisor. ”People join companies and leave managers,” said Marcus Buckingham, a senior managing consultant at Gallup and the primary analyst for the study.


Vision to Action: People – and their Dynamic Role on the “Bridge to Growth”

This is the final video (for now) in the series on “Vision to Action – Bridge to Growth.” In this segment I take time to underscore the vital importance and changing roles of people- & leadership- profiles as a company grows. Just like a football coach situationally adapts roles throughout the game (ex. special teams, defense, offense, etc.) your organization depends on you to leverage the full power of your people to win. Understanding these dynamics is the first step towards being able to manage them.

Vision to Action: 4 Ways to Diagnose the Health of YOUR “Bridge to Growth”

If you’ve seen the previous video on the “4 dysfunctions,” you’re likely thinking: “how do I prevent them from happening to me?” Especially in our age of hyper-competitiveness and ever-changing economic environment, companies are constantly challenged to evolve, flex, overcome obstacles and seize opportunities. How do you keep your finger on the pulse of your organization’s capability to translate vision to action? In this video I give four straightforward answers to this important question.

Vision to Action: 4 Dysfunctions of an Organization on the “Bridge to Growth”

Welcome to the 3rd video in this series on “Vision to Action: Bridge to Growth.” Now that you understand the model, I’m putting it to work highlighting the 4 main dysfunctions all organizations deal with at some point in their life-cycle. It’s not a matter of “if” but “when” – they’re not deadly unless they persist unchecked – but it’s YOUR JOB, as a leader, to make sure you identify and stay on top of them.

The labels of the primary dysfunctions are listed again here (may not be clear from the video): “sagging, wall, void, silo.” Now it’s up to you to match them up…