Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Definition Of A Great Boss

Bob Sutton’s book Good Boss, Bad Boss, is out in paperback. If you don’t own the book yet, now would be a great time to buy it and start digesting Bob’s evidence-based advice. I reviewed the book here back in July of 2010, and Bob was gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about the book in a separate post in September of 2010. Sutton is one of my favorite management thinkers, and I highly recommend any of his books.

The paperback edition contains a new chapter at the end, an epilogue with nine lessons he has learned over the years about good and bad bosses. The first of these nine lessons is “Assume you are clueless, insensitive, and selfish – especially if you wield a lot of power or your people are performing especially well” (p. 255). The second lesson is “the definition of a great boss (or leader or manager) does not need to be reinvented” (p. 259).

Much of what we know about good leadership is not new. Contrary to the hype created by many management consultants and the books they are trying to sell, there is very little new under the sun with respect to what the evidence shows we want from our leaders. According to Sutton:

We humans still yearn to follow others who are competent enough to bring in resources, teach us new skills, and generate attention and prestige from key outsiders – who drive performance. We also want fair leaders who protect us, and how make us feel cared for and respected – who inject humanity. Although the ways bosses accomplish these things is and always has been constrained by technologies, culture, different kinds of work, and on and on, the fundamentals remain unchanged. (p. 261)…As over fifty years of research shows, treating employees with respect, encouraging them to participate and make suggestions, and listening to them are as important as ever. (p. 263).

The principles of good leadership really are that simple to understand, but they are not easy to master. For most of us, it takes a lifetime of determined learning.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Effective Executives Make Effective Decisions

Making effective decisions is one of the five essential practices that Peter Drucker believes must be developed by any executive that desires to be truly effective. Effective executives develop a system of decision making based as much on learning as on doing.

Effective executives…know that an effective decision is always a judgment based on “dissenting opinions” rather than on “consensus on the facts.” And they know that to make many decisions fast means to make the wrong decisions. What is needed are few, but fundamental, decisions. What is needed is the right strategy rather than razzle-dazzle tactics. (p. 24)

If incorporating dissenting opinions is left to chance in your decision making process, chances are it won’t happen. It’s difficult to create an environment where offering dissenting opinions is expected from the people that work for you; however, it’s absolutely essential if you want to make consistently effective decisions.

Asking people affected by a decision for input on the decision has been a “contemporary” leadership practice for over 50 years. Is it part of your systematic approach to decision making?

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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