The book didn't intend to be a book-length exposition. But the common insight that they found among good managers is that people come lop-sided. They have strengths and weaknesses that they aren't going to change. When you try to make people work on their weaknesses, you're virtually guaranteed to fail and make them miserable in the process. But instead figure out how to tailor their jobs to their talents and they will outperform. If you can pair up people with complementary talents, the combination will do much better than either person could on their own.
The book then includes example after example from industry after industry. For everything from housekeeping in a hotel to being a bartender to data entry. For each of these jobs, there are people whose talents will make them ridiculously better at it.
(Side note. That is the only management book that I recommend to non-managers.)
My favorite was outlined in https://www.amazon.com/First-Break-All-Rules-Differently/dp/... - namely treat different kinds of jobs as different skillsets and take away the perverse incentive to switch to one you might not be qualified for. Specifically, moving from being an individual contributor to a manager should come with an immediate pay cut. (With opportunities for a pay raise down the road if you prove competent.) And there should be a promotion track for individual contributors. Furthermore, most managers should manage someone who is higher paid than themselves.
When the perverse incentive is taken away, people are more likely to switch jobs because they think that they will be good at the new job, and not because they want to be important, well paid, or whatever.
But this does require a mindset from managers that they are in charge, but not necessarily more important. Which is a cultural shift that is easier in some organizations than others.
Essentially, great managers do these things:
- Create clarity
- Provide support and equipment
- Celebrate wins
- Build an atmosphere of learning and development
- Help cultivate personal connections
- Give developers the space to work in their strongest areas
- Listen to the opinions of the members on the team and make sure they matter
- Instill purpose
- Practice empathy
- Commit to quality