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Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst Paperback – March 15, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
Want to be a better boss? Unaware that you're a terrible one? Sutton (The No Asshole Rule) is here to help. The cost of callous and cruel superiors is considerable: employees with an abusive boss are more likely to work slowly, make deliberate errors, and even suffer heart attacks. With examples from such diverse workplaces as Pixar and Anchor Steam brewery, Sutton reveals how the best bosses take diverse and intertwined steps to create effective and humane workplaces, and offers tips on taking control, getting and giving credit appropriately, taking responsibility, staying in tune with employees, and squelching your potential inner jerk. Using real-life examples and insight gleaned from 30 years of experience as a manager, Sutton teaches his readers to become the boss employees enthusiastically want to work for. This entertaining, satisfying guide is a wakeup call for bosses everywhere--and a survival guide for those who work for them. (Sept.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This book is the personal coach that every boss deserves: warm, smart, and freakishly good at translating scientific reserach into practical tips that will help keep you at the top of your game.―Chip & Dan Heath, authors of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard
I loved this book - immediately my favorite business book. There are so many great principles and ideas to live up to, backed up by real data - it should be every boss' responsibility to read and understand it.―John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla Corporation, producer of the Firefox web browser
Good Boss, Bad Boss does a wonderful job of challenging conventional wisdom while outlining a clear and compelling rationale for thinking differently. From Sutton's useful steps for getting "in tune" with what it feels like to work for you, to evidence that eliminating the negative is more powerful than accentuating the positive, to the importance of demonstrating confidence with the admission that you're not always right. Good Boss, Bad Boss teaches the art and the science of practical leadership for the 21st century. I would consider it a must-read for anyone looking to improve their impact and accelerate their desired outcomes.―Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit
We are damned lucky to have Bob Sutton. While his every word is backed up by significant research, he writes in simple sentences that make enormous sense. Typical in this book, Sutton's little chart in Chapter 3, 'Smart Versus Wise Bosses,' is worth, all by itself, 100 times the price of admission. Good Boss, Bad Boss is as good as it gets.―Tom Peters, author of The Little Big Things and co-author of In Search of Excellence
It has been damn near impossible to find consistently good and objective insight and analysis from business thought leaders. But Robert I. Sutton, a professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and the Stanford Institute of Design (where we have overlapped), is an exception. His new book, out now, is his best to date. Good Boss, Bad Boss is food for thought for managers and leaders in organizations large and small. It is packed with insight, lists of "how to" suggestions, and questions for bosses to ask themselves.―Reuters
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Top Customer Reviews
I have read almost all of Professor Sutton's books and I find his ability to find real world examples of just about any leadership style or challenge amazing. This book is no exception. Sutton talks about the leadership theory, but balances it with his shrewd and pragmatic lens on the real world. Sutton calls it like he sees it-no apologies. I enjoy the mixture of theory and reality. Sutton sees leadership as a craft; something personal.
This book is filled with great real world examples of leadership in many styles. I found it thought provoking, as I was able to think about how any one of these styles might suit me or my organization.
A great book and author.
Having read and then reviewed most of Sutton's previous books, I was not surprised to find so much valuable material (i.e. information and especially counsel) in his latest book. He also includes contributions from a diverse group of people who share their own experiences, opinions and suggestions. They include Michael McCain ("A Recipe for an Effective Apology," Pages 64-65), Margie Mauldin (the "Tape Method" to manage anger, Pages 92-93), Matthew May (a "dirty trick" to demonstrate how an organizational hierarchy can enable bad decisions, Pages 131-132), Bonny Warner-Simi (how to support and protect direct-reports by improving their performance evaluation process, Pages 165-166), and Paul Levy (how to support and protect those whom Jody Heymann characterizes - in Profit at the Bottom of the Ladder: Creating Value by Investing in Your Workforce -- as "the least-advantaged employees," Pages 195-196).
These and other contributions supplement those that Sutton includes as he delivers what the book's subtitle promises: an explanation of how to be the best (or at least a much better) boss by learning from real-world bosses who lack character and/or competence. "I use the word `boss' rather than `leader,' `manager,' or `supervisor' (although all are bosses) because it implies an authority figure that has direct and frequent contact with subordinates - and who is responsible for personally directing and evaluating their work." This book focuses on the differences between the best and worst bosses "when performing essential chores like taking charge, making wise decisions, turning talk into action, and doing their dirty work (i.e. work that is unpleasant but necessary but illegal, immoral, or unethical).
Sutton duly acknowledges that many of the ideas in this book are shaped by two books he co-authored with Jeffrey Pfeffer, The Knowing-Doing Gap and, more recently, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense. (Note: I highly recommend those as well as Pfeffer's latest book, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't.) Readers will especially appreciate how Sutton presents his material. He makes skillful use of bold face, italics, brackets, and bullet points as well as sequences of separate but related ideas. For example:
"What the Best Bosses Do": Seven attributes (Pages 47-64)
"Tricks for Taking Charge": He identifies nine (Pages 68-70)
"The Attitude of Wisdom": Smart Bosses and Wise Bosses (Page 73)
"Participation Traps": He identifies and discusses three (Pages 88-91)
"Other Smart People's Tricks": He identifies nine (Pages 113-122)
As is also true in all of his previously published books and articles, Sutton identifies the "what" and explains the "why" of a good or bad business decision or initiative, then focuses most of his attention on how to do what must be done while avoiding (or repairing) the damage of what should not be done. Congratulations to Robert Sutton on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
Bob Sutton's writing is fun-to-read, extremely useful for practitioners, and based on real research. This is a rare combination in life generally, but particularly in business writing. Bob distills observational research and data into an actionable and memorable framework for leadership and management that -- if more people heeded it -- can make the world a better place. Sometimes the bad boss case studies make you cringe, but that's more than half the fun. By contrast, the good boss case studies are downright inspiring.
This is an entertaining *and* useful book because it puts a light on one of the most important relationships in our lives -- that between the manager and the managed. Note that Bob emphasizes the practices of the best bosses. This is a fundamentally optimistic point of view: it is saying that we can all improve, that we are all working prototypes capable of learning and getting better. As a highly imperfect (occasionally bad) boss, I appreciate that!
Whether you are a good boss, a bad boss, or living with either at work, this is a book that you should read. I guarantee that many folks above, below, and around you at work will be reading it and you don't want to wonder what they are talking about.
My only critique is that he should have used the word "boss-hole" in the title someplace. :)