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Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst Hardcover – September 7, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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)
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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

This book is the personal coach that every boss deserves: warm, smart, and freakishly good at translating scientific research 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

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446556084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556088
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Bob Sutton's latest book is a great read, and is filled with vivid examples of leaders who do things right, or wrong. Sutton is a talented story teller, and brings bosses to life in his descriptions of real life executives and managers, and also draws on his deep knowledge of psychology to explain, in clear terms, why the actions of bosses are so impactful, for better or for worse, on the people who work for them. This book does what so few management and leadership books are able to- it balances "showing" through real world stories with "telling" through established theories of social psychology. Anyone who has a boss, or is a boss, will benefit from reading this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Good Boss Bad Boss is a great book on leadership.

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.

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Format: Hardcover
However defined, a "boss" by nature is given or somehow obtains at least some degree of control of and - yes - responsibility for others, for better or worse. Its connotations have become so diverse that the term's meaning is almost entirely determined by the person who invokes it. The inmates of a prison, for example, do not have the same meaning in mind when referring to a guard they fear as do fans of Bruce Springsteen when describing someone they revere. In the business world, however, everyone agrees that having a "good boss" is highly preferable to having a "bad boss." Now and for the first time insofar as I know, Robert Sutton has written a book in which all of the attention is devoted to a rigorous examination of these two types.

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).
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Format: Hardcover
I've had the pleasure of teaching with Bob at Stanford for nearly five years now. Reading this book will give you a small taste of the fun and brain-stimulating zip of being around Bob in real life!

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. :)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When was the last time you read an engaging, spot-on, crisp, in-your-face, business book . . . whose resonance not only made you laugh but also made you wonder what you were thinking by getting into organizational life in the first place? Right, probably Bob's LAST book!

As a recovering corporate type who now consults on organizational and leaderhship issues I encounter the grim realities that Bob captures powerfully on a daily basis. Bob nails the rise in incredibly bad behavior on the part of (usually) well-intended but flat-out over-worked senior leaders. We are pounding ourselves and our people so hard for short term results of any kind that we have forgotten how to get the best out of them. We have never needed peak levels of creativity, engagement, and risk-taking by our very best people. But what do we do? We unwittingly create toxic cultures of fear and risk aversion and when it doesn't work out or our best people bail we look everywhere but into the mirror to find culpability.

Most of my clients are getting this as a gift (though they claim they don't have time to read). This smart, wry, and witty indictment is MOST required for those who profess they don't have time to read anything. And it's not just another guy talking about the problems. It's all about solutions. If you pick one book to read as you think about your business and talent challenges in 2011, THIS is one you will be glad to own.
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