Monday, June 11, 2018

Robert I. Sutton's Good Boss, Bad Boss

How to be the Best  . . .  
and Learn from the Worst

Doha does not have a deep collection of print books for sale.  I was at Doha Festival City twice last week.  After touring the entire mall, I found a book I did not expect to see in Doha.

It's Robert I Sutton's Good Boss, Bad Boss.  The book builds on his research that supported an earlier book called The No Asshole Rule.  I read the earlier book, several years ago, when I served on a law school's hiring committee.  We tried to use the advice in the book.  Overall, we built a small faculty of dedicated teachers.  Sadly, we did hire a few jerks along the way, and frankly, the institution paid for it.

Amazon describes the new book in this way:  
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 . . . . 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.
I would add that good bosses aggressively protect their followers from "red tape, meddlesome executives, nosy visitors, unnecessary meetings, and a host of other insults, intrusions, and time wasters."  Good bosses play this "human shield" role so employees can do the work they need to do and meet goals that move the organization forward. 

In chapter 8, Sutton mentioned his Asshole Rating Self-Exam (or ARSE Test).  Some of the questions are very surprising . . .  and disturbing.  I can't imagine someone answering true to most of them!  Psychopaths for sure.  

The scoring system follows:
0 to 5 “True”: You don’t sound like a certified asshole, unless you are fooling yourself. 
5 to 15 “True”: You sound like a borderline certified asshole, perhaps the time has come to start changing your behavior before it gets worse. 
15 or more: You sound like a full-blown certified asshole to me, get help immediately. But, please, don’t come to me for help, as I would rather not meet you.
(I scored 0 on the exam, but I may be fooling myself.  I attribute that score to the 3,500 hours of dispute resolution training I have gotten over the last twenty years.) 

The book is an easy and helpful read.  I also recommend his blog -- Work Matters, which I have added to my blog roll. 

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