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Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
The fact is that I would have given this book a six star rating if the title was something like, "Help Your Boss and Your Team Succeed" or "Influencing Your Boss." The sixth star would have been extra credit for avoiding the current-day compulsion to label everything good as "leadership."

But the publishers and perhaps the author, John Baldoni, chose Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up as the title for the best book I've read on a subject that most managers want to know more about. I know that from a quarter century of training men and women entering their first job as a boss.

In every class, we identify the things that these people want to learn about. There are only two items that ever come out on top. One is confronting team members about poor performance. The other is dealing with the boss.

This book is not a compendium of theory or a program that promises success if you just follow the author's five, or five hundred, "easy steps." It won't be easy. What John Baldoni describes in this book is some of the pick-and-shovel work you have to do if you have a boss.

After you read this book, you'll still have a lot of work ahead of you. But the good news is that you'll know what you need to do. You won't have to learn on the job and you won't try a lot of things that don't work.

Baldoni has divided the book into three sections. The first two direct you to ask two diagnostic questions: "What does the leader need?" and "What does the team need?" That's head work.

The pick and shovel work comes when you ask the question that guides the third section: "What can I do to help the leader and the team succeed?" That's a critical question because it moves things out of your head and on to your To Do list.

That action orientation is one thing that makes this an excellent book. But there's more.

The advice is helpful. Baldoni doesn't just suggest you "think like a boss" and leave it at that, the way many other authors do. He suggests three simple behaviors that will help that happen. The first one, "Be around" is similar to what my research identified as a key behavior of top performing supervisors. I called it "show up a lot."

The book is practical and realistic. Too many books of advice act like things will always work. They ignore the fact that there will probably be times during your career when you work for a great boss and there will probably be a time when you work for a jerk.

Even if you work for a good boss, sometimes he or she won't think your ideas or recommendations are the thing to do. What then? You'll find a guide to what to do next in a section at the back of the book called, "The Smart Guide to Positive Pushback. It's worth the price of the book all by itself.

There's a bonus here, too. The advice won't just work for dealing with your boss. It will also work for you if you are a boss.

Bottom Line: Whether you're a boss yourself or you just work for one, this is the best book out there about how you can do a better job of influencing the boss so that you, your boss and your team succeed.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
John Baldoni offers a great deal of wonderful management advice that would work quite well in any progressive organization that truly engages its employees in a trusting environment of open and honest communication. Unfortunately, some organizations are not so progressive; rather, they are hierarchial and bureaucratic; micro-managment is pervasive, and a culture of fear defines its essence.

Welcome to corporate America.

Strangely enough, the concepts Baldoni proposes throughout this book alligned with my management philosophy during my 26 year experience in corporate America; throughout this book, I was constantly nodding my head in agreement in support of the strategies "to lead the boss"; they would work quite well in any organization that believes in giving its employees as much autonomy as possible to effectively run the business, and most importantly, stay focused on its customers' needs and expectations.

In the real world of business, some bosses have hidden agendas which don't always take into consideration the best interests of those they manage; rather, they inhibit autonomy and make it virtually impossible to sustain any sort of long-term career growth. Under those conditions, no one wins.

Certainly, anyone with a good set of core values and a desire to succeed as an integral part of a team, would embrace the tactics proposed by Baldoni. It's terrfic management advice, in theory.

From firsthand experience, implementing these wonderful concepts can be extremely challenging in the real world of business. Proceed with caution.

Review submitted by Larry Underwood, author, Life Under the Corporate Microscope: A Maverick's Irreverent Perspective
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Don't be misled by the title of this book. The information and counsel that John Baldoni provides will help almost anyone (at whatever level) in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature) to achieve several critically important objectives in relationships with associates, including direct reports as well as with those to whom you report. Specifically, how to

1. Continuously improve your performance
2. Engage others who can assist your efforts
3. Help them to improve their own performance
4. Improve communication, cooperation, and collaboration with others
5. Over time, make whatever adjustments required by new circumstances

For Baldoni, to lead is to take the initiative in relationships with others. Where to begin? Consider these action steps he recommends at the conclusion of the first chapter:

o Establish trust be following through on all commitments
o Make yourself available to help others
o Share credit with others
o Be proactive re solving problems
o Demonstrate common sense (e.g. be realistic and practical)

To these, I presume to add two other suggestions: Volunteer for difficult or unpleasant tasks but only if you can complete them satisfactorily, and, congratulate others on a job well-done.

Credibility is the coin of the realm in a workplace: Baldoni brilliantly explains how to establish and then sustain others' confidence in you, not only in your talents and skills but also in your character. It is imperative for associates, indeed for everyone with whom you interact (including customers) to know that they can count on you.

Throughout his lively narrative, Baldoni cites dozens of real-world examples to demonstrate his key points. He also makes effective use of reader-friendly devices such as summary checklists of key points at the end of each chapter and lists of questions needed to complete a self-audit (e.g. after a setback). He also offers some excellent advice on how to lead with presence. More specifically, how to earn trust, radiate confidence as well as optimism, exude calmness during a crisis, demonstrate emotional intelligence (e.g. passion and compassion), show/express appreciation of others, and lead by example.

Again, it is important to keep in mind that insofar as Baldoni is concerned, a leader can be anyone, not necessarily a "boss"; also, an aspiring leader must be authentic in the sense that she or he (in Bill George's words) follows True North, "the internal compass that guides you as a human being at your deepest level. It is your orienting point - your fixed point in a spinning world - that helps you stay on track as a leader. Your True North is based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations, the sources of satisfaction in your life. Just as a compass points toward a magnetic field, your True North pulls you toward the purpose of your leadership."

I highly recommend this book to those in urgent need of practical advice on how to manage themselves, "lead" themselves, more effectively so that they can then be of service to others within and beyond their workplace, wherever they may be located in an organizational hierarchy. Credit John Baldoni with a brilliant achievement.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2009
Baldoni's strength is finding good stories and then using them to make a point. This is one of those management books you can open to any chapter and begin there. Each chapter can stand alone. Although the title is "Lead your Boss" ... it is really about how to influence others at any level in the organization in a positive way. If nothing else, pick this one up for the stories. They will stick with you long after you forget where you read them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2010
I recently read Lead Your Boss by John Baldoni, The Subtle Art of Managing Up. He was the author of Great Communication Secrets of Great Leaders and Lead By Example.

As most of my readers know, I did not really have a boss (unless you count the Board of Directors) for most of my working career. Then for five years I worked for Synnex, although I was CEO of the Canadian entity, I did have a direct reporting relationship to the CEO in the States.

At some point I may again have a boss.

The title itself makes me think, how do you manage up. After I sold my business to Synnex for the first six months I was depressed thinking it was the worst mistake I had ever made, mostly because I hadn't learned how to manage up. A good friend of mine took me aside when I was complaining about not being able to do what needed to be done and said that I needed to treat it like a sale.

That switch in my head, that reframing caused me to love the five years that I worked at Synnex. They were challenging but I viewed my job as simply selling head office to do the right thing and for some reason I don't get depressed when I don't make a sale, I simply go out and figure out what is a better way to make the sale.

From the book: "Leading up requires great courage and determination, writes Michael Useem, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and author of an eponymously named book that popularized the concept. "We might fear how our superior will respond, we might doubt our right to lead up, but we all carry a responsibility to do what we can when it will make a difference."

Individuals who lead up are those who demonstrate that they are aware of the bigger picture and are ready, willing, and able to do what needs to be done for the good of the team."

He suggests in order to do well you need to think like a boss. I guess because I've always been a boss that doesn't take much. His suggestions are to be around, be seen, and be curious.

The obvious is ask what you can do to help.

I found my time at Synnex was made somewhat easier by me doing a weekly report and I turned this into a process I call rollup weekly reports. I would have the people who reported to me do a weekly report, then cut and paste snippets of things I thought should be known by California into a weekly report. Also as my week progressed, if I thought there was something relevant they might not have heard or seen that I would simply put it in a file. When it came time to do my weekly report, I could fairly easily generate it. The weekly report of course always had some of my opinions of what was happening, which was one way for me to subtly sell my points.

Over time, I've modified the weekly report to even include things like having 3 or 4 organizational goals and asking everyone when they do the weekly report to report what they've done on these goals. This is a great way to get a company focused.

Another line which I like to add is what do you need from me. The reason for adding this in, is it makes sure I'm not the stumbling block, although no one can use waiting for something from me as an excuse.

With so many books written about leaders, I'm surprised there aren't more written about how to be a good follower leader (or a good senior person on the team), because there's many more of those positions than there are of the true leaders.

If I ever take another position where I have a boss, I will simply treat it as an additional challenge to the job. And I will study it.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2010
Intended to be the ultimate survival guide for mid-level managers in complex organizations, this book is missing one very important element from being a good reading: structure. Listing vast amount of ideas, probably way too much for a single book, addressing common wisdom and certainly not untrue, you get lost by turning a page and hardly remember what has just been read. The best books I have read share one common thing, they focus on topics around a central point and keep it simple, so it is easy for you to take away something important. With this book I would hugely struggle to take away anything.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
225 pages of insipid, limp advice. Cliches abound such as "discover your inner compass" and "challenge the status quo." I think I would've gotten more concrete advice from a bag of fortune cookies. Books like these give business books and self help books a bad name.

The book starts by telling you why managers fail: ineffective communication, poor interpersonal skills, job mismatch, failure to clarify direction and performance expectations, failure to delegate and empower. When I read this I was ready to learn how to lead my manager through those issues-- instead I got things like "exert courage in times of crisis." Waste of time
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2010
LEAD YOUR BOSS; THE SUBTLE ART OF MANAGING UP offers a fine plan for delivering what the boss and team needs, telling how to think like a boss without stealing the position, how to turn ideas into action, and how to handle criticism. A manager who truly supports a boss with his own perspectives support the entire team's efforts - and this tells how in a selection key for any business library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 30, 2010
Great if you have a boss that isn't the greatest, micromangages, etc. Simple, quick read, that helps if you use the suggestions.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2010
was really hoping for action steps in this, but instead the whole book speaks in vague generalities that are a given, such as "Be strategic." Duh, I already am strategic; that's why I read up on how to maximize interpersonal dynamics. I got absolutely nothing out of this book. what a waste of the money.
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