First, Break All the Rules: What the Worlds Greatest Managers Do Differently

Version: Abridged
Author: Marcus Buckingham , Curt Coffman
Narrator: Marcus Buckingham
Genres: Business & Economics, Management & Leadership
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published In: November 2000
# of Units: 3 CDs
Length: 3 hours
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In "First, Break All The Rules," Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman of the Gallup Organization present the remarkable findings of their massive in-depth study of great managers across a wide variety of situations. Some were in leadership positions. Others were front-line supervisors. Some were in Fortune 500 companies; others were key players in small, entrepreneurial companies. Whatever their situations, the managers who ultimately became the focus of Gallup's research were invariably those who excelled at turning each employee's talent into performance.

In today's tight labor markets, companies compete to find and keep the best employees, using pay, benefits, promotions, and training. But these well-intentioned efforts often miss the mark. The front-line manager is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. No matter how generous its pay or how renowned its training, the company that lacks great front-line managers will suffer.

Buckingham and Coffman explain how the best managers select an employee for talent rather than for skills or experience; how they set expectations for him or her -- they define the right outcomes rather than the right steps; how they motivate people -- they build on each person's unique strengths rather than trying to fix his weaknesses; and, finally, how great managers develop people -- they find the right fit for each person, not the next rung on the ladder.

This audiobook is the first to present this essential measuring stick and to prove the link between employee opinions and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover. There are vital performance and career lessons here for managers at every level, and, best of all, the audiobook shows you how to apply them to your own situation.

Reviews (9)

7 times...

Written by Troy from Oshkosh, WI on October 6th, 2009

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This is the 7th time I have either READ or LISTENED to this book. I find Mr. Buckingham easy to listen to and always find it refreshing when an author can read their own work. I've tried to apply many of these concepts in my management style and have rocked the boat at the corporate level a bit but it is having an impact on productivity, customer service, and longevity within my team. Others are starting to take note. A highly recommended read or listen.

Good Book but can be Skipped

Written by Dave Paulson on March 9th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 3/5

I actually listened to this book after The One Thing You Need to Know. In light of this, it was, for the most part, a review. The book does have a wealth of good information, and Marcus Buckingham is very easy to listen to. There are many insightful passages pertaining to the management of people and the habits of great managers. But other than some insight into the actual process used by Gallup to gather the information that provides the basis for both books, there is little to gain by reading this book. I would recommend "One Thing" - skip this book and go to the latter work.

Must read

Written by Anonymous on July 19th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Amazing book. I found myself calling my voice mail every five minutes to capture yet another great tidbit which I would implement as soon as I got into the office. If you manage a team you have to read this book.

first break all the rules

Written by Mark H on January 30th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

A must read for any manager. Especially ones that want to manage higher-end salespeople. Read this and then all of his others... you will get more out of your people than you ever thought possible. Explode the strenghts and manage around the weakness's. Don't try and fix all the weakness's it will drive you crazy! This book is incredible!

Good but Simplified...

Written by Rich on March 25th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 3/5

It really is unfortunate the unabridged version is no longer available, because this version is missing much of the information, background, and case study-work integral to the book's core thesis. But barring reading the book or tracking down an unabridged version, this is good for the basics. It will just leave those expecting Gallup's signature detail unfulfilled.

Insightful read

Written by kk2again on December 22nd, 2004

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Very good presentation of a life long set of learned management skills. Strategic.

Well Worth It...

Written by Anonymous on October 12th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 4/5

This book was well worth it. The reader (Marcus Buckingham) is a bit boring, but the book has good content. It gives advice on what managers should do and, more importantly, what they shouldn't do -- such as trying to change employees' attitude and behaviors.

First, Break All The Rules [abr]

Written by Pablo on September 24th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 3/5

It is an OK book, pretty much all common sense but a couple of really good points. I think that it is a bit too long for the new knowledge that it presents.

First Break All the Rules

Written by Anonymous on August 11th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 4/5

It is really good listen.

Author Details

Author Details

Buckingham, Marcus

In a world where efficiency and competency rule the workplace, where do personal strengths fit in?

It's a complex question, one that intrigued Cambridge-educated Marcus Buckingham so greatly, he set out to answer it by challenging years of social theory and utilizing his nearly two decades of research experience as a Sr. Researcher at Gallup Organization to break through the preconceptions about achievements and get to the core of what drives success.

The result of his persistence, and arguably the definitive answer to the strengths question can be found in Buckingham's four best-selling books First, Break All the Rules (coauthored with Curt Coffman, Simon & Schuster, 1999); Now, Discover Your Strengths (coauthored with Donald O. Clifton, The Free Press, 2001); The One Thing You Need to Know (The Free Press, 2005) and Go Put Your Strengths To Work (The Free Press, 2007). The author gives important insights to maximizing strengths, understanding the crucial differences between leadership and management, and fulfilling the quest for long-lasting personal success. In his most recent book, Buckingham offers ways to apply your strengths for maximum success at work.

What would happen if men and women spent more than 75% of each day on the job using their strongest skills and engaged in their favorite tasks, basically doing exactly what they wanted to do?

According to Marcus Buckingham (who spent years interviewing thousands of employees at every career stage and who is widely considered one of the world's leading authorities on employee productivity and the practices of leading and managing), companies that focus on cultivating employees' strengths rather than simply improving their weaknesses stand to dramatically increase efficiency while allowing for maximum personal growth and success.

If such a theory sounds revolutionary, that's because it is. Marcus Buckingham calls it the “strengths revolution.”

As he addresses more than 250,000 people around the globe each year, Buckingham touts this strengths revolution as the key to finding the most effective route to personal success and the missing link to the efficiency, competency, and success for which many companies constantly strive.

To kick-start the strengths revolution, Buckingham and Gallup developed the StrengthsFinder exam (, which identifies signature themes that help employees quantify their personal strengths in the workplace and at home. Since the StrengthsFinder debuted in 2001, more than 1 million people have discovered their strengths with this useful and important tool.

In his role as author, independent consultant and speaker, Marcus Buckingham has been the subject of in-depth profiles in The New York Times, Fortune, Fast Company, Harvard Business Review, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal and is routinely lauded by such corporations as Toyota, Coca-Cola, Master Foods, Wells Fargo, Yahoo and Disney as an invaluable resource in informing, challenging, mentoring and inspiring people to find their strengths and obtain and sustain long-lasting personal success.

A wonderful resource for leaders, managers, and educators, Buckingham challenges conventional wisdom and shows the link between engaged employees and productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, and the rate of turnover. Buckingham graduated from Cambridge University in 1987 with a master's degree in Social and Political Science.

Coffman, Curt

"Curt Coffman is the global practice leader for The Gallup Organization's Workplace Management Practice. He consults regularly on the development of productive, customer-oriented workplaces."