I thoroughly enjoyed the two books that have come out of the Gallup Organization prior to this one: First, Break All the Rules (Simon & Schuster, 1999) and Now, Discover Your Strengths (Free Press, 2001). I feel the same way about this one. Though its writing style likely won't win a Pulitzer, the concepts contained here are powerful, accessible and worthy of your attention.
Though I tend to take less seriously books that are based on the "latest research" from this pollster or that, it's difficult to ignore the strength and history of the Gallup group, even if the statement about the book being based upon the company's study of "10 million customers, 3 million employees, and 200,000 managers" seems a bit far-fetched.
What I find most useful about the book is its insights into what successful companies tend to do in terms of managing people and what they do not do. One conclusion the authors come to is that the emotions expressed by employees and customers in doing your work or buying your product have great market value. In other words, great companies do not assume that "either superior college grades or comprehensive training" is the only dependable predictor of success on the job. Instead, they rely on "the reliable source that other (less successful) businesses disdain: human nature." To which I say, huzzah!
As I write this I must note that, according to today's news, a large unnamed airline based in the southeast is announcing 8,000 layoffs. One would hope that this company and the business schools that keep sending it leaders (lame and otherwise), co-producers of the excesses of the market economy, are starting to pay attention to books such as this one. To willing readers it can provide a counterpoint or two along the way to market failure or domination. Find this book and put it onto your boss's desk today.