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Go Put Your Strengths to Work

The highlight of Tuesday’s opening general session at the 2006 National Association for Home Care and Hospice annual meeting was Marcus Buckingham, author of the new book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work. Using research from the Gallup Organization and information from their famous Gallup Poll, Marcus has written two previous books. First, Break All the Rules; What theWorld’s Greatest Managers Do Differently; and Now, Discover Your Strengths.

I’ve been a huge fan of Marcus Buckingham since my wife Elizabeth spoke at a conference with him several years ago, and came back with a signed copy of his first book. She raved about the content of his message, the eloquence of his speaking style, and the fact the he’s “really good looking.” I’m not sure if it was his message, his delightful British accent and humorous speaking style, or the fact that he’s “really good looking,” but the women ( and a guy or two) at NAHC were lined up for an hour to talk with him and get his book signed.

Here are some highlights from his speech that I think you’ll find very interesting.

Marcus begins with a statement:

“Build on your strengths and manage around your weaknesses.”

Most people don’t believe that. The Gallup Organizations asked thousands of people in six countries this question:

“Which do you think will help you be most successful; Building on your strenghts, or fixing your weaknesses?”

In the year 2000, people said:

  • United States – Build on Strengths – 41%, Fix Weaknesses – 59%.
  • Canada – 38% – Build, 62% Fix
  • Great Britain – 38% Build, 62% Fix
  • France – 35% Build, 65% Fix
  • Japan – 24% Build, 76% Fix
  • China – 24% Build, 76% Fix

The idea in our world is that to promote excellence, we find weaknesses and try to fix them.

Buckingham says, “You don’t learn about excellence by studying failures.” His mission is to start a “Strengths Revolution.”

Some other key points:

We live in a deeply remedial world

Women age 34 – 45 are far more remedial – 73% want to fix weaknesses

(When I heard that statistic, I thought of some home care nurses and managers I know. This point explains a lot about how they think, act, make decisions and manage. More about this later.)

You’ve heard the old addage spoken by corporate CEO’s,

” People are our greatest asset.”


“People’s strengths are our greatest asset.”

What % of people in your organization say they spend most of their time playing on their strenths?

A study in the U.S. showed that in 2005, the number was 17%, in 2006 it was 14%, and in 2007 it was 12%. Fewer and fewer people in the workplace say they are spending most of their time using their strengths. How about in your home care company?

The whole point of Marcus Buckingham’s speech to the leaders in the home health industry gathered at NAHC is that we need to find the right people, and then we need to help them spend most of their day doing what they do best, and what they like to do.

We need to focus our attention on building their strengths.

I’d suggest you go to his web site and purchase a copy of the book, Go Put Your Strengths to Work. Begin by applying these principles to yourself. I’m working on that right now for myself.

Then examine how you can help every member of your home care team go put their strengths to work.

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