Marcus Buckingham – Strengths-based Leadership

Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham – Strengths-based Leadership – Contents

  • Marcus Buckingham Biography
  • Marcus Buckingham – Big Idea: Strengths-based Leadership
  • Interesting Facts and Insights about Marcus Buckingham
  • Career Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham
  • Business Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham
  • Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham
  • Marcus Buckingham Inspirational Quotes
  • Books by Marcus Buckingham
  • Articles by Marcus Buckingham
  • Questions about Marcus Buckingham
  • Marcus Buckingham – Videos

Marcus Buckingham Biography

Marcus Buckingham is an author, motivational speaker, and business consultant. In 1999, Buckingham coauthored with Curt Coffman, “First, Break All the Rules,” which explores what the world’s greatest managers do differently. The book became a New York Times best-seller.

In 2001, Buckingham coauthor with Donald O. Clifton, “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” which promotes the Big Idea of the Strengths-based Leadership model. In 2006, Buckingham started The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC) to create management training programs and tools. The company helped him to launch a coordinated series of products in conjunction with the publication of the book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work.”


Marcus Buckingham – Big Idea: Strengths-based Leadership

The Big Idea of “Strengths-based Leadership” advocates that each person possesses a certain number of personal-character attributes, defined by the authors as “talent themes.” These talents result in an individual’s tendency to develop specific skills more quickly in their areas of strength. Buckingham explains that by focusing on excelling in areas of strength, an individual can achieve higher levels of effectiveness.

The Strengths-based Leadership idea was developed in the book, “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” which was later updated as just “StrengthsFinder” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton. The book which was first published in 2001, includes the internet-based “Clifton Strengths Finder,” which is an online personal assessment test that helps to outline the user’s strengths. The authors advocate that by focusing on building on an individual’s strengths, career success and job satisfaction can be increased.

The authors claim that if leaders focused on identifying an individual’s strengths and placed people in the appropriate roles in an organization, its members can be utilized in more aligned roles, hence developing the required skills quickly. This approach claims to help an organization to reduce turnover, improve employee morale, and the organization’s overall performance.

Criticisms of the “Strengths-based Leadership” model include:

  • A strengths-only approach may not be viable when areas of strength do not align with business needs.
  • Strengths can become weaknesses or leadership derailers if strengths are overused and can create negative consequences.
  • Weaknesses matter and ignoring weaknesses and focusing only on our strengths can lead to failure.

Interesting Facts and Insights about Marcus Buckingham

  • Born: Marcus Buckingham was born in 1966, in Radlett, Hertfordshire, England.
  • Father: Marcus Buckingham’s father was the Personnel Director at Allied Breweries.
  • Stammer: Buckingham suffered from a substantial stammer which he initially found very difficult to overcome, and said he was unable to speak until the age of 13.
  • University of Cambridge: Buckingham graduated with a degree in Social and Political Sciences in 1987 from Pembroke College, Cambridge.
  • SRI: Buckingham joined Selection Research, Incorporated (SRI).
  • Selection Research: SRI developed interview tools to help businesses to identify talents in individuals, to match people to the right roles.
  • Gallup: SRI acquired The Gallup Organization in 1988, and took on the Gallup name.
  • Employee Engagement: Buckingham became a member of a team working on a survey to measure the range of factors that contribute to employee engagement.
  • First, Break All the Rules: Buckingham published with coauthor with Curt Coffman, “First, Break All the Rules” in 1999. The book was based on employee engagement surveys and interviews from their research about employee engagement.
  • Best- Seller: Buckingham’s book became a New York Times best-seller and had over a million copies in print.
  • TMBC: In 2006, Buckingham started The Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC) to create management training programs and tools.
  • Go Put Your Strengths to Work: TMBC launched a series of products, including the publication of “Go Put Your Strengths to Work.” The book and a film series became the basis of TMBC workshops called Simply Strengths.
  • ADP: TMBC was acquired in 2017 by ADP.
  • TV Appearances: Buckingham has made numerous television appearances on US television networks and cable channels to promote his Big Idea.
  • Wife: Buckingham and Jane Rinzler married in 1996 and divorced in 2017.
  • Children: Buckingham has a son, Jack, and a daughter, Lilia, who is an actress.
  • Home: Buckingham lives in Beverly Hills, CA

“Great leaders rally people to a better future.”

– Marcus Buckingham

Career Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham

“As a general rule, people tend to do best what they enjoy doing most.”

“If we have to know without a doubt that the choices we are making are the perfect ones, we risk never making any choices at all.”

“Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. The time you spend with your best is, quite simply, your most productive time.”

“Persistence directed primarily toward your non-talents is self-destructive.”

“Looking at your friends and wishing you had what they had is a waste of precious energy. Because we are all unique, what makes another happy may do the opposite for you.”

“True individuality can be lonely.”

“Life’s tricky for women because they have to make more choices than men. And yes, choice is good, but boy, you better be an expert choice maker.”

“You grow most in your areas of greatest strength. You will improve the most, be the most creative, be the most inquisitive, and bounce back the fastest in those areas where you have already shown some natural advantage over everyone else your strengths. This doesn’t mean you should ignore your weaknesses. It just means you’ll grow most where you’re already strong.”


Business Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham

“In most cases, no matter what it is, if you measure it and reward it, people will try to excel at it”

“Every time you make a rule you take away a choice and choice, with all of its illuminating repercussions, is the fuel for learning.”

“The hardest thing about being a manager is realizing that your people will not do things the way that you would. But get used to it.”

“People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.”

“Identify a person’s strengths. Define outcomes that play to those strengths. Find a way to count, rate or rank those outcomes. And then let the person run.”

“Managers are encouraged to focus on complex initiatives like reengineering or learning organizations, without spending time on the basics.”

“Innovation and best practices can be sown throughout an organization – but only when they fall on fertile ground.”

“It’s a special person – and personality – who can lead a start-up to soaring success and sustain that success for the long term.”

“Companies don’t have one culture. They have as many as they have supervisors or managers. Do you want to build a strong culture? Hold every manager accountable for the culture that he or she builds.”

“Great managers know they don’t have 10 salespeople working for them. They know they have 10 individuals working for them. A great manager is brilliant at spotting the unique differences that separate each person and then capitalizing on them.”

“The talented employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits, and its world-class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.”


Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Marcus Buckingham

“The difference between a pebble and a mountain lies in whom you ask to move it.”

“Create heroes in every role. Make every role, performed at excellence, a respected profession.”

“Define excellence vividly, quantitatively. Paint a picture for your most talented employees of what excellence looks like.”

“People leave managers, not companies”

“Leaders are fascinated by the future. You are a leader if and only if, you are restless for change, impatient for progress and deeply dissatisfied with the status quo.”

“The friction between ‘what is’ and ‘what could be’ burns you, stirs you up, propels you. This is leadership.”

“Clarity is the preoccupation of an effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.”

“The best strategy for building a competitive organization is to help individuals become more of who they are.”

“Managers are and should be, totally responsible for recognizing individual strengths, getting those strengths in proper alignment and then leveraging them.”

“The true genius of a great manager is his or her ability to individualize. A great manager is one who understands how to trip each person’s trigger.”

“In the minds of great managers, consistent poor performance is not primarily a matter of weakness, stupidity, disobedience, or disrespect. It is a matter of miscasting.”


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Marcus Buckingham Inspirational Quotes

“You cannot learn very much about excellence from studying failure.”

“Spend the most time with your best people. … Talent is the multiplier.”

“Clarity is the answer to anxiety. Effective leaders are clear.”

“Great leaders rally people to a better future.”

“The opposite of a leader isn’t a follower. The opposite of a leader is a pessimist.”

“The best way to find out whether you’re on the right path? Stop looking at the path.”

“To get the best coaching outcomes, always have your 1-on-1’s on your employee’s turf, not yours. In your office, the truth hides.”

“If you want to change your life so that others may benefit from your strengths, then change your values. Don’t waste time trying to change your talents.”

“Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.”


Books by Marcus Buckingham

  • StrengthsFinder, by Donald O. Clifton and Marcus Buckingham, 2001
  • First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham, 1999
  • The one thing you need to know, by Marcus Buckingham, 2005
  • Go Put Your Strengths To Work: 6 Powerful Steps To Achieve Outstanding Performance, by Marcus Buckingham, 2007
  • StandOut 2.0: Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win at Work, by Marcus Buckingham, 2015
  • Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, by Ashley Goodall and Marcus Buckingham, 2019
  • Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, by Marcus Buckingham, 2009
  • The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, by Marcus Buckingham, 2008
  • StandOut: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution, by Marcus Buckingham, 2011

“If you want execution, hail only success. If you want creativity, hail risk, and remain neutral about success.”

– Marcus Buckingham

Articles by Marcus Buckingham

  • Work-Life Balance Is a Myth. Do This Instead, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Time, 2019
  • The Real Secret to Employee Engagement, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review, 2019
  • The Power of Hidden Teams, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review, 2019
  • The Feedback Fallacy, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review, 2019
  • The Right Way to Help Colleagues Excel, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall, Harvard Business Review, 2019

Questions about Marcus Buckingham


“The secret to living a strong life is right in front of you, calling to you every day. It can be found in your emotional reaction to specific moments in your life.”

– Marcus Buckingham

BIG IDEAS:

“Strategies for Influence” explores and shares the BIG IDEAS from the Leaders of Influence that can help you with your Career, Business, and Leadership. Click on any of the links below to explore the Big Ideas that have influenced our work and lives.

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“Clarity is the answer to anxiety. Effective leaders are clear.”

– Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham – Videos

Marcus Buckingham: Identify Your Strengths

Marcus Buckingham: How To Succeed At Work


“Focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence.”

– Marcus Buckingham

Image Credit: Nicholas Roznovsky/Mays Communications