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Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best... and Learn from the Worst [Hardcover]

Robert I. Sutton
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Sep 2010
If you are a boss who wants to do great work, what can you do about it? Good Boss, Bad Boss is devoted to answering that question. Stanford Professor Robert Sutton weaves together the best psychological and management research with compelling stories and cases to reveal the mindset and moves of the best (and worst) bosses. This book was inspired by the deluge of emails, research, phone calls, and conversations that Dr. Sutton experienced after publishing his blockbuster bestseller The No Asshole Rule. He realized that most of these stories and studies swirled around a central figure in every workplace: THE BOSS. These heart-breaking, inspiring, and sometimes funny stories taught Sutton that most bosses - and their followers - wanted a lot more than just a jerk-free workplace. They aspired to become (or work for) an all-around great boss, somebody with the skill and grit to inspire superior work, commitment, and dignity among their charges.



As Dr. Sutton digs into the nitty-gritty of what the best (and worst) bosses do, a theme runs throughout Good Boss, Bad Boss - which brings together the diverse lessons and is a hallmark of great bosses: They work doggedly to "stay in tune" with how their followers (and superiors, peers, and customers too) react to what they say and do. The best bosses are acutely aware that their success depends on having the self-awareness to control their moods and moves, to accurately interpret their impact on others, and to make adjustments on the fly that continuously spark effort, dignity, and pride among their people.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus; First Edition edition (7 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446556084
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556088
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 91,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

What great bosses do and how to become one. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book 12 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommend this reading for aspiring managers and for everybody working with teams of people. It gives valuable advice and guidance on how to act and what to avoid at the workplace
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnets and septic tanks 2 Nov 2010
By Robert Morris TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
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) information 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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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  54 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about good and bad bosses 24 Aug 2010
By NYC Reader - Published on Amazon.com
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.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Leadership Book 30 Aug 2010
By P. Klebahn - Published on Amazon.com
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.

Perry
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare combo: well-researched, fun to read, useful to managers 25 Aug 2010
By M. Dearing - Published on Amazon.com
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. :)
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnets and septic tanks 7 Sep 2010
By Robert Morris - Published on Amazon.com
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).

These and other contributions supplement those that Sutton includes as he delivers what the book's subtitle promises: an explanation of how to be the best (or at least a much better) boss by learning from real-world bosses who lack character and/or competence. "I use the word `boss' rather than `leader,' `manager,' or `supervisor' (although all are bosses) because it implies an authority figure that has direct and frequent contact with subordinates - and who is responsible for personally directing and evaluating their work." This book focuses on the differences between the best and worst bosses "when performing essential chores like taking charge, making wise decisions, turning talk into action, and doing their dirty work (i.e. work that is unpleasant but necessary but illegal, immoral, or unethical).

Sutton duly acknowledges that many of the ideas in this book are shaped by two books he co-authored with Jeffrey Pfeffer, The Knowing-Doing Gap and, more recently, Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense. (Note: I highly recommend those as well as Pfeffer's latest book, Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't.) Readers will especially appreciate how Sutton presents his material. He makes skillful use of bold face, italics, brackets, and bullet points as well as sequences of separate but related ideas. For example:

"What the Best Bosses Do": Seven attributes (Pages 47-64)
"Tricks for Taking Charge": He identifies nine (Pages 68-70)
"The Attitude of Wisdom": Smart Bosses and Wise Bosses (Page 73)
"Participation Traps": He identifies and discusses three (Pages 88-91)
"Other Smart People's Tricks": He identifies nine (Pages 113-122)

As is also true in all of his previously published books and articles, Sutton identifies the "what" and explains the "why" of a good or bad business decision or initiative, then focuses most of his attention on how to do what must be done while avoiding (or repairing) the damage of what should not be done. Congratulations to Robert Sutton on a brilliant achievement. Bravo!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quintessential Sutton 3 Sep 2010
By Robert B. Mintz, Ph.D. - Published on Amazon.com
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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