Good Boss, Bad Boss, by Robert I Sutton

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It’s no secret that I think incredibly highly of Bob Sutton and his work. I’ve always found him to be smart, encouraging, engaging, and interesting to talk with about work and management, and find that, more than most people in the field, he’s extremely data-driven in his work. I also find that he’s got an incredible ethical framework, and is very wise about the art of management.

He’s got a new book coming in September, and I really, really like it — I think it’s his most profound and useful work to date. I’m generally not a fan of business books — I find that usually their main value is in the title (and if it’s really awesome, maybe the introduction is useful) — but this one, which I’ve read a pre-pub copy of, is great.

His last book, The No Asshole Rule, got a lot of attention, partly for the provocative title, but really more for the ideas on how much culture matters in productive workplaces. And it clearly struck a nerve with people suffering from bad or incompetent managers. His new book is a little less situated in the negative context associated with bad managers, and talks more about how to be an exceptional leader. That distinction is important — it’s obviously easy to be a bad manager, and hard to be a good one — but it’s another thing entirely to be a really exceptional leader, and Bob has gone to great lengths in this book to look at some of the world’s best leaders and really understand what sets them apart.

You can get a taste of the book in this Harvard Business Review post by Bob titled “12 Things Good Bosses Believe” — this is an extremely powerful list of things that the best managers believe.

I fall short of these ideals a lot — I imagine everyone does, really — but every single one of them is worth thinking about and striving for each and every day in the workplace. This book is a great one because it reminds me of how good great leaders can be, and I really recommend you pick it up when it comes out.

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