I recently finished Bob Sutton’s book Good Boss, Bad Boss, who is well known for his book The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t . As most of us, I have many bosses and also manage other people so I have found this book quite useful. Good bosses not only help productivity and work environment but they also reduce stress, diseases or family troubles.
Bob shows that good boses apply Lasorda’s law and use less management, however they don’t ignore their people and help them out. Also, good bosses have mentality of running marathon rather than sprint and they instill grit in followers, where they push them to try a bit harder and be more creative. Bob suggests using small wins and manageable tasks to drive focus and sense of accompllishment in followers. Bob warns against bosses with attitude of toxic tandems, who are self absorbed. Good bosses also back their followers and balance performance and humanity by helping people to do great work and experience pride and dignity.
Here are highlights from Bob’s book:
The media generally portrays leaders as heros, but research shows that most bosses have little impact on overall performance of a company. Good bosses use this illusion to their advantage to bring confidence in their followers and increasing odds of their success.
Good bosses use crisp language and decide unequivocally, however they are not afraid to change their decisions. They follow the rule of strong opinions that are weakly held.
Bosses get credit no matter what but good bosses also give credit to others. I have worked in environments, where bosses took all the glory and passed shit to their followers. However, everyone wins if boss give credits as much as possible.
Good bosses also take the heat for team, which builds loyalty of their followers.
Strive to be Wise
Good bosses create balance of over confidence and healthy dose of self doubt. They ask questions and listen instead of talking too much. Wise bosses assume best from their people and show them compassion and love.
Forgive and Remember
Wise bosses forgive and remember the mistakes so that they can learn from them instead of blaming followers or forgetting them altogether.
Safety & Creativity
Wise bosses create safe environment to share ideas and be more creative. They fight for what they believe in but gracefully accept defeat.
Wise bosses ask good questions, listen and ask for help. They show empathy, compassion and gratitude to their followers. They know their flaws and work with other people to compensate for their weaknesses.
Stars & Rotten Apple
Some organizations glorify solo stars, which undermines team collaboration. Good bosses recruit energizers and eliminate bad apples or energy suckers, who undermine constructive actions.
Keep teams together
Good bosses keep teams together. I have found that a new team takes a couple of months to gel, and having worked in project-based teams (which was awful) I take this advice to the heart.
Link Talk & Action
Good bosses say same simple things and build harmony between their actions and words. They empathizes with their customers by eating their own dog food. They try to reduce complexity and use simple principles, strategies, and metrics.
Don’t shirk Dirty Work
Good bosses confront problems directly, which may include personnel problems such as firing low performer or bad apple. They create realistic expectations for followers and make tough decisions, however they make those decisions with understanding, control and compassion.
Squelch your inner Bosshole
Let’s face it, there are plenty bosses who act like assholes. Unfortunately, most of them are unaware of their attitude and habits. Bossholes create negative work environment and cause health problems for their followers. I have worked in companies, where this was cultural issue and the role models of bossholes was passed from top-down. Nevertheless, this is often the cause of employees leaving companies or having heart attacks. Bob suggests a couple of solutions such as tape method to help manage anger.
As we spend most part of day at work, it helps if the work environment and the boss is empathetic. Bob provides a lot of advice to bosses so that they can build better work environment for their followers.