Great leaders tap into the needs and fears we all share. Great managers, by contrast, perform their magic by discovering, developing, and celebrating what’s different about each person who works for them. Here’s how they do it.

Read the full article at: hbr.org

After extensive research (80,000-manager Gallup survey plus two-year studies of top performers), Marcus Buckingham knows what sets great managers apart.  “They discover what is unique about each person and then capitalize on it.  Average managers play checkers, while great managers play chess.”

Intuitively, the analogy seems sound.  Most of us have tried to play chess.

“In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable…they move at the same pace, on parallel paths.  In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way…you won’t win if you don’t think carefully about how you move the pieces…”

Buckingham tells stories about how great managers (different from great leaders) succeed.  “Great managers…identify exactly how each employee is different and then figure out how best to incorporate those enduring idiosyncrasies into the overall plan.”  He gives specific how-to’s, such as, “Make the most of strengths. Trigger good performance. Tailor to learning styles.”

While we read about ways managers can be great, we also get a strong sense of how difficult greatness is.  So, it’s confirmed. Chess is definitely harder than checkers.

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