This post is part of the 📖 Nine Lies About Work series.


Today, I am reading the LIE #7: People have potential chapter of book Nine Lies About Work written by Authors Marcus Buckingham & Ashley Goodall.

TL;DR! 💬

There are some big lies, distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking that we encounter every time we show up for work. Nine lies, to be exact. They cause dysfunction and frustration, ultimately resulting in workplaces that are a pale shadow of what they could be.

By reading Nine Lies About Work, you can get past the lies and discover what’s real. These freethinking leaders recognize the power and beauty of our uniqueness. They know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom and that evidence is more powerful than dogma.


Yesterday, I finished reading LIE #6: People can reliably rate other people chapter from Nine Lies About Work book.

Chapter #7

LIE #7: People have potential

Is potential a thing at all? Do we think that there is a trait that confers some lucky few to grow more and learn more regardless of setting or circumstance?

We can all get better, and we will all get better at different things, in different ways, and at different speeds.

Potential, like being human, doesn’t tell us anything about what particular human you are or what direction would be best for your sort of human in the future.

This notion that some people have lots of potentials while others don’t lead us to miss the gloriously weird possibilities lying hidden in each team member, even those who, at first blush, seem to have little to offer the team’s future.

How can you honour your company’s need to get the most from each person and not segregate your team into artificial and demeaning categories, such as hi-potentials and lo-potentials?

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will continue the same chapter LIE #7: People have potential.


What lies we've learned so far?
  1. LIE #1: People care which company they work for

    We, as team members, want our team leader to make us feel part of something bigger, that he/she shows us how what we are doing together is important and meaningful. You as a team leader make us feel that you can see us, and connect to us, and care about us, and challenge us in a way that recognizes who we are as individuals.

  2. LIE #2: The Best Plan Wins

    It’s far better to coordinate your team’s efforts in real-time, relying heavily on each unique team member’s informed, detailed intelligence. You’ll have to sit down and survey your team members and make your plan.

    The more frequently and predictably you check in with your people or meet with your team—the more you offer your real-time attention to the reality of their work—the more performance and engagement you will get.

    It’s not true that the best plan wins. The best intelligence indeed wins.

  3. LIE #3: The best companies cascade goals

    We should unlock information through intelligence systems and cascade meaning through our expressed values, rituals, and stories.

    We should let our people know what’s going on in the world and which hill we’re trying to take, and then we should trust them to figure out how to contribute.

    They will invariably make better and more authentic decisions than those derived from any planning system that cascades goals from on high.

  4. LIE #4: The best people are well-rounded

    Best people are not well-rounded. They are distinctive. Well-roundedness is a misguided and futile objective for individual people, but it’s an absolute necessity for teams.

    The well-rounded high performer is a creature of the theory world. However, each high performer is unique and distinct in the real world and excels precisely because that person has understood their uniqueness and cultivated it intelligently.

    Competencies like Customer focus, innovation, growth orientation, agility are values to be shared, and they are not abilities to be measured.

    Shift your thinking to outcomes where you’re asking individual team members to deliver to better match their distinctive talents.

  5. LIE #5: People need feedback

    People don’t need feedback. They need attention and attention to what they do the best. And they become more engaged and therefore more productive when we give it to them.

    In the real world, each person’s strengths are the greatest opportunity for learning and growth. Time and attention devoted to contributing to these strengths intelligently will yield exponential return now and in the future.

    Get into the conscious habit of looking for what’s going well for each of your team members.

  6. LIE #6: People can reliably rate other people

    There’s no reliable way to measure competencies that team members are supposed to possess in the real world. Human beings can never be trained to rate other human beings reliably.

    We need to ask thorny questions like, “Do you turn to this team member when you want extraordinary results?”, “Would you promote this person today if you could?”, “Do you choose to work with this team member as much as you possibly can?”, “Do you think this person has a performance problem that you need to address immediately?”

Nine Lies about Work

Author(s): Marcus Buckingham

Author(s): Ashley Goodall

Short Blurb: How do you get to what's real? Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic … Read more
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Part 16 of 23 in the 📖 Nine Lies About Work book series.

Series Start | Nine Lies About Work - Day 15 | Nine Lies About Work - Day 17



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