First Break All the Rules (Summary and Review)

In the business world, people tell you to read so many books. While there are certainly some duds out there, there are absolutely some books that you should add to your required reading list. At Dotedison, we believe in reading for our own growth, and so we wanted to share some books that have really shaped us and our work. 

The first book we want to bring up is First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman and published by Gallup. Marcus Buckingham helped to create the StrengthsFinder assessment that so many companies use today and has come to be one of the most revered voices in business leadership and team building in the professional world. First Break All the Rules, one of his best-selling books, is centered on these topics as well.

What Is First, Break All the Rules?

first break all the rules

The book itself gets all of its wisdom from a historically large survey of managers from various businesses and industries. Drawing from the conclusions in the data, Marcus Buckingham presents what lessons are to be learned both for employers and for employees. The advice Buckingham gives is at times unconventional, but it’s also irrefutable, as it’s literally drawn from years of research and data. We’ll go through some of Buckingham’s main points so you can learn from his wisdom, too.

Lessons for Business Leaders

Most of this book is intended to be read by business leaders, or those who hire or mentor others. Buckingham believes that how good or bad the company culture is can be attributed to the company’s leaders. In one of the most beloved quotes from the book, Buckingham observes: “People leave managers, not companies.”

The best types of managers believe in their teams as a whole, but also in their workers as individuals. Furthermore, instead of trying to invest in every single person in a team, Buckingham suggests that managers spend time choosing the best of the best and focusing your development energy on them. Even though it might sound cold-hearted, when you don’t waste time developing people who may never benefit from your effort, you can focus on those who will flourish with even the smallest amount of mentoring.

Lessons for Employees

There are lots of lessons that you can still learn from First Break All the Rules, even if you’re in your first job. While mentorship is at the heart of Marcus Buckingham’s philosophy, employees who work under leadership must be ready and willing to be developed. As Buckingham writes, “Persistence is useful if you are trying to learn a new skill or acquire particular knowledge…but persistence directed primarily toward your non-talents is self-destructive.”

Additionally, as an employee, you should evaluate when your work environment is helping you grow as a professional, and when it’s holding you back. Buckingham gives a list of questions that help to determine if a work environment is truly healthy. Answering each one of those can help you see if your current job is genuinely treating you in the way you deserve.

In the end, we really can’t recommend First Break All the Rules enough. It’s helped us grow our team, develop our employees, and market your businesses, too!