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


Today, I am continue 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 started reading LIE #7: People have potential chapter from Nine Lies About Work book.

Chapter #7

LIE #7: People have potential

It’s not true—or, indeed, useful—to think that people have potential. Instead, the truth is that people have momentum.

Addressing their potential makes people feel like they’ve been dealt with. Addressing their momentum makes them feel understood. More important, it helps them understand themselves by encouraging them to consider where they are right now—not as a point of stasis, but as a unique human being moving purposefully through the world.

It’s far better to invest in helping our team leaders do what we need them to, by

1) getting rid of ratings of “potential”. 2) teaching team leaders what we know about human growth. 3) prompting them to discuss careers with their people in terms of momentum—in terms of who each team member is and how fast each is moving through the world.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow, we will read the next chapter LIE #8: Work-life balance matters most.

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?”

  7. LIE #7: People have potential

    It’s not true that people have potential. Instead, the truth is that people have momentum. Encourage team leaders to discuss careers with their people in terms of momentum—in terms of who each team member is and how fast each is moving through the world.

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
Buy from Amazon

Part 17 of 23 in the 📖 Nine Lies About Work book series.

Series Start | Nine Lies About Work - Day 16 | Nine Lies About Work - Day 18



Amazon Associates Disclaimer! 💬
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I make a tiny commission if you buy using one of the links above at no additional cost to you. I use the money to buy another book 📖 to review or grab a beer 🍺 Super duper thanks 🙌