Dr. Robert Sutton’s bestselling book, The No Asshole Rule, chronicles the extent that toxic bosses can damage their organizations. As Sutton clearly demonstrates, the hostile environment created by workplace jerks usually ends up destroying the motivation, loyalty, and productivity of the rest of the workforce.
Bosses who wonder how they can improve their management skills now have an answer. Sutton’s upcoming book, Good Boss, Bad Boss, which is due to hit the shelves on September 7, 2010, is the product of extensive research and is packed full of case studies that provide examples of how the best bosses, including Pixar’s Academy Award winning director Brad Bird, IDEO’s founder and chairman David Kelley, Intel’s former CEO Andy Grove, and Xerox’s former CEO Anne Mulcahy manage and inspire their teams.
One research study that Sutton mentions in the book should leave no doubt among managers that being a great boss should be a top priority: “Teams with just one deadbeat, downer, or asshole suffer a performance disadvantage of 30 to 40 percent compared to teams that have no bad apples.”
In Good Boss, Bad Boss, Sutton introduces readers to the most important leadership strategies of the best bosses, and he explains how they can be adopted by the rest of us:
• Take control – “This chapter is about what it takes to magnify the illusion and reality that you are in control of what your followers do, how well they perform, and how they feel along the way.”
• Strive to be wise – This chapter explains the difference between smart bosses and wise bosses. According to Sutton, smart bosses answer questions and talk well, while wise bosses ask questions and listen well. Smart bosses give help, but don’t ask for or accept help. On the other hand, wise bosses know how to give help as well as ask for and accept help.
• Stars and rotten apples – “This chapter shows how bosses can select and breed employees who not only produce splendid solo performances, but bring out the best (rather than the worst) in others, too.”
• Link talk and action – Sutton provides tips on avoiding the “smart-talk trap,” where, despite the fact that bosses and their teams know what needs to be done, their energies are spent talking about and studying the issues instead of implementing the necessary solutions.
• Serve as a human shield – “The best bosses let the workers do their work. They protect their people from red tape, meddlesome executives, nosy visitors, unnecessary meetings, and a host of other insults, intrusions, and time wasters.”
• Don’t shirk from the dirty work – Sutton explains how bosses can successfully make difficult, potentially unpopular decisions without eroding the support of their employees by integrating prediction, understanding, control, and compassion into these decisions.
• Squelch your inner bosshole – Sutton provides helpful tips for avoiding the natural inclination of those in power to abuse, belittle, and disrespect their subordinates.
Good Boss, Bad Boss is a timely, effective resource that provides a clear roadmap for both recovering “bossholes” and for good managers to improve their leadership abilities.
Sutton has also published an online survey called the BRASS, which is a 20-item survey to assess how good or bad your boss is, and whether he or she lives in a fool’s paradise.