Book Review: Nine Lies About Work

Every time I begin to think I understand people and work, I read a great book or hear an amazing speaker and it completely shatters all that I think I know. This happened again with Marcus Buckingham’s most recent best-seller Nine Lies About Work.

In 1999, Marcus  Buckingham wrote one of the all-time great books on management entitled First Break All The Rules. Now he has teamed up with Ashley Goodall to write a book that both aligns with his previous best-seller and debunks much of what we have come to believe are the realities of modern-day management.

Below are several examples of work “lies” Buckingham and Goodall explore in the book.


The Lie: People care which company they work for.

Reality: People care which team they’re on.


The Lie: The best companies cascade goals.

Reality: People don’t need to be told what to do; they want to be told why.


The Lie: The best people are well-rounded.

Reality: The best people are spiky (excel at some things and weak at others)


The Lie: People need feedback.

Reality: People need attention.


In each case, authors Buckingham and Goodall use hard data to debunk the lie and then provide ample evidence and rich examples to prove the reality. If you choose to read this book, be prepared to let go of most of what you believe about managing people and learn the new realities.

I strongly recommend this book to any small business leader interested in successfully leading people.