One of the Most Powerful Leadership Lesson That’s So Easy to Forget

I’ve been reading a book called First, break all the rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. The following is a quote from the book:

One of the most powerful things you can do after reading this book is to go back and “rehire” your best people – that is, go back and tell them why they are so good. Tell them why they are on of the cornerstones of the team’s success. Choose a style that fits you, and don’t allow the conversation to slip into promises about promotion in the future – that’s a different conversation, for a different time. Simply tell them why their contribution is so valued today. Don’t assume your best know.

I’ve basically “known” this piece of advice before, but I kind of hadn’t realize how important that last sentence is: Don’t assume your best know. I think I’ve assumed that my team members know how they important are, so I suppose it’s time to go tell each of them how important they really are. Basically – the project wouldn’t be going anywhere without them.

I’d like to add that it’s important to tell each individually. I don’t mean this as a “management technique”, I simply say this based on my own experience: whenever I’ve got “praise” from my bosses in the past, I’ve felt better when they’ve talked directly to me. When they were talking only with me, and telling me “you’ve done a good job” it has felt good. It had much more meaning to me compared to situations when they’ve spoke to the whole team saying something like “all of you guys in the team made a good job”.

It’s easy to notice when people use praise as a “technique” compared to when somebody is really taking time to speak with you individually, and telling his honest opinion. It’s important to remind your team members how important they are.

When was the last time you said your team members how important they are?

Juuso Hietalahti


  1. Blueskied, I did not read into it like that.

    I read First, Break All the Rules (listened to it on audiobook, actually), and was very impressed with it. I think it’s great information to take in at any point in your career, and for pretty much any position. Management especially, but it also relates to non-managerial positions.

    From reading the book and knowing the perspective the book takes on this topic, I do not think there is anything to read between the lines.

  2. I think there are hidden signals in posts of people developing a game.
    For example: If someone writes “I’ve picked up work on my game and work with full force on it again. Should not take long before i will release it.”
    This translates to: “Aargh, i can’t get this thing finished and can’t stand working on it.”
    “I have started working on some smaller projects but no way i will give up my main game project.”
    Translates: “Project cancelled!”
    Your post sounds:
    “These guys don’t get any work done and it don’t know what to do about it.”

    Am i paranoid?

  3. Blueskied, positive comments are something one can (and should) focus. To be honest, I don’t quite understand how you could read between lines what you just said…? If something is going well, of course it’s worth mentioning. At the moment I have absolutely great feelings regarding our team and don’t see a single problem with anyone in our team. We are doing great – and it’s good to acknoledge that!

    And like Jake added – it works in all other areas of life as well, including pets.

  4. Hey it’s also important to say the same sort of things to your family i.e. kids and wife, oh and yourself! ;-)

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