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Nine Lies About Work

A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World
Length: 8 hrs and 53 mins
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Your organization's culture is the key to its success. Strategic planning is essential. People's competencies should be measured and their weaknesses shored up. People crave feedback. 

These may sound like basic truths of our work lives today. But actually, they're lies. As Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall show in this provocative, inspiring book, there are some big lies - distortions, faulty assumptions, wrong thinking - running through our organizational lives. 

But there are those who can get past the lies and discover what's real. These are freethinking leaders who recognize the power and beauty of our individual uniqueness, who know that emergent patterns are more valuable than received wisdom, and that evidence is more powerful than dogma. 

With engaging stories and incisive analysis, the authors reveal the essential truths that such freethinking leaders will recognize immediately: that it is the strength and cohesiveness of your team, not your company's culture, that matters most; that we need less focus on top-down planning and more on giving our people reliable, real-time intelligence; that rather than trying to align people's goals we should strive to align people's sense of purpose and meaning; that people don't want constant feedback, they want helpful attention. 

This is the real world of work.

©2019 One Thing Productions, Inc. and Ashley Goodall (P)2019 Gildan Media

What members say

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  • S. Marshall Priddy
  • 2019-04-05

Actually is mind-blowing. Highly recommend.

Everyone wants to write a book on leadership that says something new, true, and mind-blowing, but that's actually very hard to do in practice. Some can shock by saying things that are controversial for the sake of controversy, but those tend to have little applicability. Others try repackaging and recycling old ideas that have already been rehashed a million times. But this one really, really did make me think and make me question a huge number of foregone conclusions.

The reading style is also very good. I actually just saw Marcus Buckingham speak in Philadelphia yesterday, and decided to purchase the audiobook for my long drive home (despite the hardcover being a part of my attendance, meaning I now have this in all three formats, and still think it worth it). Less than 24 hours later, I finished this book, and I'm continuing to mentally digest this.

I get onto kicks for different types of books, and recently that has been an interest in leadership, as leadership training is part of what my department does. Everything in this book is immediately relevant to my day-to-day work. And this will undoubtedly change my frame of reference and everything else I read (or to which I listen), setting the bar to be surpassed for me to accept the conclusions and assumptions of those other books on leadership or management.

These two have written a very important book, and I'll be looking forward to reading much of their other work to come. Presentation style is also good, with alternating chapters read by each author (complete with British Charm Unit). As an American, I was still able to listen to most of it at 3X speed, because they articulate clearly and pace their reading consistently.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • JoanneSD
  • 2019-04-16

Long overdue

Truly refreshing to listen to this work and have it echo so much that is our reality. I loved how in the book, they spoke of the blueprint for leadership and how it does not exist. Marcus and Ashley have done an amazing job brining their research to the masses.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • R. Vieira
  • 2019-07-08

Great info, much to ponder

I would rate this one as excellent through 8½ of the 9 lies. The other ½ is also great, but is a mismatch with the rest of the book.

"Nine Lies" seeks to use data and the authors' observations to disprove a number of myths about the workplace. The data and examples used are excellent, and help go after many of the assumptions that lead us down bad paths as both employees and as leaders. Ever feel like your review doesn't match you at all? There's a reason for that. Ever feel like the "force fit" model of percentages of people fitting into certain brackets fails to give some their due, and over-rewards others? There's a reason for that too.

Perhaps the best part is that the book offers real alternatives to many of the sources of these myths - things you can implement local to your team if not across your organization.

This is one I'd really like to give 5 stars to, but, for a specific reason, don't feel I can quite get there. There are two things that cause me to downgrade the overall title - one in each of the story and performance camps:

1) Performance wise, Marcus does great. Ashley would be fine, but is very soft spoken and the tone of his voice is such that I found him very difficult to hear and understand when on the road - he just blended into the road noise. A guy's voice is his voice, but it seems like this could have been addressed in production in some matter.
2) During the 9th lie, there is an attempt to paint a long picture utilizing Martin Luther King and a tour the authors took of a civil rights museum in the US. MLK is among my most admired figures in recent history, so I enjoyed the story elements there, but perhaps 90% of it is really in a different theme for a different book. There was an element of it that was a match, but a huge section of it was obtuse for *this* title. It's great homage to MLK, but much of it very out of place for this particular title and the lie being addressed. In the end, both points (one for the lie, and one more directly related to MLK) are easily missed, which does them both a disservice.

Overall, this is a great read, and one I would recommend - just don't get lost in the end. :)

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dan
  • 2019-06-12

If you can get past the poor audio...

This book will change the way you think and conduct business. The content is absolutely remarkable. However, the audio is horrible. Frequently the speakers are unintelligible and there are big fluctuations in volume.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tomer Avraham
  • 2019-06-08

A must read!!

In contrast to what stems from lists like "Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work", employees care much less about which company they work for, and its overarching employee engagement strategy.

Employee's engagement and satisfaction mostly depends on local, team level interaction (Gallup’s Q12):

01 I know what is expected of me at work.

02 I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.

03 At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.

04 In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

05 My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.

06 There is someone at work who encourages my development.

07 At work, my opinions seem to count.

08 The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important

09 My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.

10 I have a best friend at work.

11 In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.

12 This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.


There seem to be much for variability in how strongly employees feel about the above within a company than between different companies.

As employees we should not dispense of the notion of "company culture", rather we should be careful not to mistake it for something it isn’t. We should be aware of specific "company signifiers", designed to lure us to join. Culture locates us in the world. It consists of stories we share with one another. These stories give life to the empty vessel of "company", BUT, in the end, we shouldn’t expect from these stories to explain our experience at work, as these local, team-level experiences have far more bearing on whether an employee is engaged and stays. Teams make work real. Good teams unlock what is unique about each of us in the service of something shared!

While people care which company they join, they seem to not care what company they work for, but about what team they are on…

The good news for us team leaders is that what our subordinates care about the most is within our control. We simply have to decide whether to embrace it… 


1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • htownhman
  • 2019-05-16

The authors should not have narrated the book

An excellent and thought provoking book about work and leadership. However, the authors should not have narrated the book. The speech is often unclear, of varying volumes, and difficult to understand. The verbal inflection and pacing are not up to the standards of the best audible narrators.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Kimberly A. Whittaker
  • 2019-04-19

Brilliant Work

I highly recommend the audible version so you can hear the authors share their brilliant work. The last chapter on leadership is especially poignant as Ashley recounts the leadership examples of ML King, including his last days in Memphis. Listening to this chapter is emotionally riveting and it will crystalize for you the reason people follow other people.

Well done Ashley & Marcus and thank you for sharing your unique strengths with the world!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Judith R.
  • 2019-08-15

Wonderful!

Wonderful account of the meaning, true meaning, of leadership woven into the Journey of one of our greatest leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.!

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  • Cory
  • 2019-08-15

Great book, poor narration

The slow pace and monotone voice of one of the authors/narrators distracted from some wonderful content.

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  • Klas Moreau
  • 2019-08-08

A true eye-opener!

I have read many leadership books in the last 30 years. This one is truly capturing the essence of what it means to be a leader, particularly in 2019!
I must read!