Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bob Sutton: 12 Things Good Bosses Believe

World's Best BossImage by Kumar Appaiah via FlickrRobert Sutton is a Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University. He studies and writes about management, innovation, and the nitty-gritty of organizational life. He is the author of Weird Ideas That Work and The No Asshole Rule.  His new book is Good Boss, Bad Boss, forthcoming from Business Plus. He also blogs at Work Matters

Below is an excerpt from his post in the Harvard Business Review on  the 12 Things Good Bosses Believe:

[I]'ve come to conclude that all the technique and behavior coaching in the world won't make a boss great if that boss doesn't also have a certain mindset.

My readings of peer-reviewed studies, plus my more idiosyncratic experience studying and consulting to managers in many settings, have led me identify some key beliefs that are held by the best bosses — and rejected, or more often simply never even thought about, by the worst bosses. Here they are, presented as a neat dozen:
  1. I have a flawed and incomplete understanding of what it feels like to work for me.
  2. My success — and that of my people — depends largely on being the master of obvious and mundane things, not on magical, obscure, or breakthrough ideas or methods.
  3. Having ambitious and well-defined goals is important, but it is useless to think about them much. My job is to focus on the small wins that enable my people to make a little progress every day.
  4. One of the most important, and most difficult, parts of my job is to strike the delicate balance between being too assertive and not assertive enough.
  5. My job is to serve as a human shield, to protect my people from external intrusions, distractions, and idiocy of every stripe — and to avoid imposing my own idiocy on them as well.
  6. I strive to be confident enough to convince people that I am in charge, but humble enough to realize that I am often going to be wrong.

Read the whole thing here.  In late July, he also did the keynote at the Summit At Stanford talking about Good Boss, Bad Boss. Click here to see video of his talk.

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