standout1Why doesn’t it work when we copy what another great leader does? 

In his new book Standout, Marcus Buckingham introduces how we can more effectively innovate and spread great ideas that land and work.

When we see a part of our business performing well or one manager doing a great job, we tend to say, what can we learn from that?  How can we repeat it?  The problem is, we’re not taking into account that the idea may be specific to that individual’s strengths.

A better way of spreading great ideas, is to match the ideas to individual strengths.  If your strength is in focusing on learning, you might get great mileage out of this idea to encourage and share learning.  If you’re a great energiser, you may get more from this idea to introduce wild and whacky fun into the workplace.

Let’s stop forcing an idea onto people who don’t get it, and focus on finding the right ideas for each individual’s strengths.


Marcus’ work to date on strengths has argued these points, but now we have a more specific focus  on growing commercial performance, through the spread of ideas that work – to people who make them work.

What can we do to apply that right now?  What ideas have you heard recently that you thought sounded ok but not quite “you”?  How could you make those ideas more “you”?  Make them your own and watch them work far more effectively.


  • When we focus on the concept of an idea (e.g. to understand individual strengths), we can do more with it than if we just take the tactic (e.g. to make everyone fill out Strengthsfinder!)
  • If we take ideas and make them our own, we are far more likely to succeed – therefore corporate programmes to implement ideas across the board are to some extent doomed to fail
  • As Marcus put it, “true diversity is in strengths”– what mix of strengths do we have in our teams and how are we maximising them?

Marcus Buckingham’s book Standout focuses on using your strengths to gain competitive advantage.

A great summary of the tool, the nine strength roles and how this can help innovation can be found on Kenexa’s website.