Thursday's Thoughts on Leadership: 12 Things Good Bosses Believe

As I was finishing listening to my friend Guy Kawasaki’s book, Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions this weekend, I came across a section that I think would be good for all leaders to know.  The title of this section is called “Listen to Brother Bob” and highlights Bob Sutton who wrote the book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best . . . and Learn from the Worst. Sutton complied a great list of the twelve beliefs of good bosses. Think of it as a Good Boss Manifesto; a checklist to determine how good a boss or leader you are.

  1. I have 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 ambition 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.
  7. I aim to fight as if I am right, and listen as if I am wrong – and to teach my people to do the same thing.
  8. One of the best tests of my leadership – and my organization – is “what happens after people make a mistake?”
  9. Innovation is crucial to every team and organization.  So my job is to encourage my people to generate and test all kinds of new ideas.  But it is also my job to help them kill off all the bad ideas we generate, and most of the good ideas, too.
  10. Bad is stronger than good.  It is more important to eliminate the negative than to accentuate the positive.
  11. How I do things is as important as what I do.
  12. Because I wield power over others, I am at great risk of acting like an insensitive jerk – and not realizing it.