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Bringing Out The Best In Others!
3 Keys for Business Leaders, Educators, Coaches and Parents

by Thomas K. Connellan

Bard Press, 192 pages, $12.97

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Managers looking for a fresh approach to tapping into the true potentials of their teams will profit from this straightforward, concise book. It begins with five managers experiencing different motivational issues with their employees. Connellan offers insights into how birth order affects personality, and in turn, job performance. He examines the phenomenon of firstborns being high achievers and reaches an interesting conclusion. Being firstborn is not what matters – it’s the environment that parents create for them.

How is the environment for a first (or only) born child different from subsequent children? According to the author, there are three key factors:

  1. Expectations – people have more positive expectations for their firstborn.
  2. Responsibility – firstborns are given more responsibility and at an earlier age.
  3. Feedback – firstborns get more feedback and attention

Connellan uses these three factors as the basis for improving performance in a work environment. Belief, accountability and feedback are explored in sections that follow the five managers and their specific problems they have with workers.

In Belief, the power of positive expectations manifests in what Connellan dubs the Pygmalion effect – similar to the placebo effect with medicine. The managers learn that a placebo can work positively or negatively, illustrating that expectations have a significant impact on the performance of others.

The chapter on Accountability describes it as positive, and the opposite of blame, which is negative. The model of the U.S. Army shows how people learn to take responsibility for their actions and for their failure to react. Goals are tied into accountability because they create a proactive mindset and a focus.

Next comes Feedback that takes the form of being positive (reinforcement) or negative (punishment). The other kind of feedback is no feedback at all, which Connellan equates with extinction and views as worse than even negative feedback. “Bringing out the best in others requires that we reinforce improvements, even if they’re not ‘there’ yet,” he writes. Connellan adds that for reinforcement to really work, it has to be immediate and specific.

Bringing Out the Best in Others! wraps up by going over each of the five original manager’s stories to show how their problems were resolved using the three key principles. Employees who are treated like firstborns will respond well to Connellan’s motivational methods. The lessons here are valuable for managers, salespeople and teachers of all types.

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