Stanford Professor of Management Science and Engineering Robert Sutton writes
in the Harvard Business Review
that, “by adopting the habits of good bosses and shunning the sins of bad bosses, anyone can do a better job overseeing the work of others.”
And yet, all the coaching in the world won’t be effective unless the person has a certain mindset.
For Sutton, the best bosses have the following 12 beliefs:
1. I have a 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 ambitious 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.
Writing in his book The Art of the Start 2.0
, author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki recommends using Sutton’s checklist to help you select the right quadrant in “the only two-by-two matrix you need to know as a leader”: