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Leadership Book Review: "Good Boss, Bad Boss" and "Drive"

(posted: December 15th, 2011)

Questions: As growing leaders in the business world, we might ask ourselves these questions.

  • Why are some people and organizations more innovative, influential, and profitable than others?
  • Why do some command greater loyalty from customers and employees?
  • Why do some have repeat success?

Question Behind the Questions:

"What can we do to enhance this in our organizations?"

Leadership Book Reviews

To answer the questions above, we go to two books in the first in a series called the Leadership Book Review

As a leader, I have read and reviewed many inspiring leadership books this year. My original thought for this blog was to pick my "top best practices" and share. Well, this was easier said than done. Not only are there way too many books to choose from, but there are also way too many best practices.

So here is my plan. I will select two books per blog and post one each week. Therefore, you will have something to look forward to.

In this blog I will recap the important "best practices" and what the key success factors are from each book. This will give you the opportunity to start implementing these factors in your life; to help gain greater loyalty from your customers and employees that will lead to short and long-term success.

Leadership Book Review

Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best and Learn From the Worst

by Robert Sutton

Research shows that 75% of the workforce reports that their immediate supervisor is the most stressful part of their job.
When I read this my response was, "Wow, let's hope this books provides me with the reasons why this statistic is so high."

If you are a boss who wants to do great work, what can you do about it?"

Good Boss, Bad Boss answers that question.

As Gallup studies show:

"People don't quit organizations, they quit bad bosses."

Key Concepts:

  • The top-tier of leadership sets the tone for how his or her direct reports behave; which reverberates throughout the company.
  • The best bosses embrace five beliefs and best practices.

1. Don't crush the bird:

"I believe that managing is like holding a dove in your hand. If you hold it too tightly you kill it, but if you hold it too loosely you lose it.

Tommy Lasorda

A good boss seeks balance between managing too much and too little.

"As people what they need to succeed and try to give it to them."


2. Grit gets you there:

The best bosses have perseverance, passion and patience. They work toward and through challenges; never giving up when things get tough.

3. Small wins are the path:

Great bosses set big goals that direct and energize people with a path to success paved with small wins.

The best bosses' break problems down into bit sized pieces and talk and act like each little task is something that complete CAN complete.

4. Beware the toxic tandem:

The best bosses are constantly leading by example. They think about the little things they do and say because as leaders are constantly on the entire teams radar.

Do not hesitate to say, "I don't know."

Know your foibles and flaws; work with people who correct and compensant for your weaknesses.


5. Got their back:

The best bosses see their number one priority to care and protect their people.

"Everyone wins if you can bring yourself to give as much credit as possible and take as little as possible."

"Saying thank you is a leader's primary job."

Max DePree

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit."

Harry S. Truman

Leadership is about a being a top dog on a tightrope. It is a great balancing act. The good bosses can walk that delicate rope.

Leadership Book Review

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Robert Sutton

This is a book about motivation, and how too many organization's skills operate from outdated assumptions about human potential and individual performance.

Pink first looks at the flaws in our reward-and-punishment system, and then proposes new ways to think about motivation.

Next he shares a new way of thinking and an approach to motivating ourselves and others.

He even shares a comprehensive tools kit with dozens of exercises to awaken motivation in yourself and others.

Key Concepts:

Reasons why typical carrot and stick motivation techniques don't work

They can extinguish intrinsic motivation

  • They can diminish performance
  • They can crush creativity
  • They can crowd out good behavior
  • They can encourage cheating, short cuts, and unethical behavior
  • They can become additive
  • They can foster short-term thinking.
  • If we want to strengthen our organizations, we need to concern ourselves less with the external rewards to which an activity leads, and more with the inherent satisfaction of the activity itself.
  • We need to hire and coach people that have the internal desire to control their lives, learn about their world, and accomplish something that endures

Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos, offers news hires, at the end of their first seven days of training, $2000 to leave if they feel Zappos is not for them.

  • Emphasize the elements of deeper motivation, autonym, mastery, and purpose.
  • Autonomy over their task, time, talent, and team
  • Mastery attracts because mastery eludes; the joy is in the pursuit
  • Purpose "One cannot lead a life that is truly excellent without feeling that one belongs to something greater and more permanent than oneself." ~Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"The science shows that the secret to high performance isn't our biological driver or our reward and punishment drive, but our deep seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities and to live a life of purpose."

Daniel Pink

There are so many tools in his kit. It is arduous to pick my favorite but here they are:

  • At the end of each day ask yourself whether you were better today than you were yesterday.
  • On a note card list what gets you up in the morning and on the other side what keeps you up at night. If both answers give you a sense of meaning and direction, congratulations!! If not, figure out what you are going to do about it.
  • Ask everyone on your team to write down in one sentence, "what is our company's purpose?" If people don't know why they're doing what they're doing, how can you expect them to be motivated to do it?

"Have you ever asked yourself what kids of a leader your team members want?"

You must remember the things the people you are leading expect from you, and you must intentionally live up to their expectations every day to be successful in growing yourself, your teams and your business.

Go look in to mirror. The problem is you. That is the bad news. The good news is if you are the problem you are also the solution. You are the one person that can change the easiest.

Stay Tuned...

Next week the two books I will be reviewing and sharing from are, The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle and Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Challenge Yourself
  • Are you doing what it takes to make your organization innovative, influential, and profitable?
  • What can you do better to succeed in doing this?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

John Quincy Adams

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