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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

Be the boss everyone wants to work for by William Gentry

I finished this book in July 2022. I recommend this book 9/10.

As soon as I finished this book, I bought a copy as a gift for a friend who recently became a manager. I wish I had read it when I started my manager journey—and now a great refresher on core priorities.

You can get your copy here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • It's funny that you were probably promoted into your first managerial role and became a boss due to your individual success, technical savvy, subject matter expertise, and smarts. Funny because all that and a Starbucks gift card will only get you a venti iced skinny hazelnut macchiato, extra shot, light ice, no whip, when it comes to leading others.

  • In her book, Carol Dweck discussed the "I" versus "you" pronoun among chief executive officers (CEOs) and the people at the very top of organizations. CEOs who wanted validation—superstar or hero status or wanted others to believe they were the smartest, most talented person in the room—tended to have a fixed mindset. They used the pronoun "I" more. Others mentioned in her book, like Jack Welch of GE, Anne Mulcahy of Xerox, or Lou Gerstner of IBM, had a growth mindset. They hated using the word "I" and preferred to use "you" or"we" or "us" in their writing and speeches. They also emphasized the importance of learning and growing as a leader, not being the smartest and best, and brightest in the room. "It's not about me anymore," right? They got it. They flipped their script by flipping their mindset.

  • Over and over again, four skills kept coming to the surface. The following four skills were consistently picked as being more important for success than others, as well as being skills new leaders often struggled with more than others:

    • Communication

    • Influence

    • Leading team achievement

    • Developing others

If it's highly important for success, and not many new leaders are good at it, that's a skill gap worth closing.

  • Researchers Ray Birdwhistell and Alberts Mehrabian believed that nonverbal communication makes up anywhere between 65 and 93 percent of the total emotional interaction between two people. We tend to pay attention more to the non-verbals—that is, the behaviors—than to the verbals, the words.

  • 6 communication channels

    • Rhythm and use of time: not just music. Rhythm plays a role in the way you communicate with others. Being "out of sync" with others may course confusion, anxiety, or discomfort for both you and the other person or people you are with.

    • Interpersonal distance (space) and touch: not about being touchy-feely. This channel deals with boundaries or territories around us. According to Edward Hall, our personal space is sort of an imaginary, flexible bubble around us, bigger in the back than the front, which grows and shrinks depending on the situation we are in, whom we are talking to, and the culture we are living in.

    • Objectives: more than"dress for success.s" A nonverbal channel that you may overlook at times, yet equally effective at telling people things about you without saying a word, is objectives. Think about your clothes, hair, tattoos, jewelry, cosmetics, and fragrance.

    • Gestures and postures: you reveal a lot with your hands and stance. The fourth channel of nonverbal communication is gestures and postures. You can say a lot with your hands and body without uttering a single word: a wave hi, for example, or raising your hand to stop something.

    • Facial expressions: you can read it all over my face. In face-to-face interactions, a smile, frown, grimace, raising your eyebrows, eye contact—all of that can tell people something that words may not.

    • Paralanguage: say what? The sixth nonverbal communication channel is paralanguage or all the things that make up the sound that accompanies the words. Think about your tone of voice: the loudness, speed, and intensity of your speech.

  • Flip it to the platinum rule: Treat others the way they want to be treated. It's a subtle difference but so important. And it can help greatly help new leaders flip their script, communicate better m and be the boss everyone wants to work for.

  • The best way to flip your influence skill set is to understand your audience and influence them the way they want to be influenced. The next time you must influence someone or an audience, whether it is in a formal presentation to a group of people, a team meeting, or a one-on-one conversation, flip your script by flipping your influence skill set. Need to influence through the head? Well, be specific and practical, and offer sensible goals. Are you providing step-by-step detail? Are you providing the numbers, the evidence? Is your audience more likely to be influenced through the heart? Think about what you can do to build connections through harmony and teamwork. How can you passionately share your vision and link it with that person's own values and beliefs? How can you tell someone he or she is capable of what you are asking? What are ways to tap into a person's sense of service or desire to be attached to an outcome?

  • They noticed that task and relationship-oriented behaviors were tied to three important outcomes: (1) how productive teams are; (2) how effective team members believe the team to be; and (3) team learning (whether teams seek feedback and continuous improvement, discuss errors, and revise process).

  • When you are the boss, you can make or break your team's effectiveness, performance, and ability to learn not just by leading them in doing the work but especially though building your relationships with team members. You can use DAC to flip your relationship with teams:

    • Direction. Each and every person on your team should agree with what the team is trying to achieve and that the goal is worthwhile.

    • Alignment. Each person knows his or her roles and responsibilities and what others are doing.

    • Commitment. Each person should be dedicated to the work and committed to the team.

  • Make DAC Clear. In your next meeting with your entire staff, team, or all your direct reports, use the last 15 minutes to set direction, alignment, and commitment.

    • Direction—Verbalize your message so that everyone is clear on the collective aim, mission, vision, or goal.

    • Alignment—Draw a direct line of sight between the tasks and roles each person plays and the overall goals of the team.

    • Commitment—Stress the importance of each person giving their entire effort to do their job and accomplish team goals.

  • To the boss everyone wants to work for, you clearly don't do all the work. However, you also don't necessarily give people the work you hate doing. The boss everyone wants to work for appropriately, and effectively delegates work. You should give someone important work and more responsibility while providing authority, resources, and support. And by delegating effectively, you free up your time to do other work that may need more of your attention. You also build trust among the people you delegate work to and provide autonomy. In the end, more work actually gets done. If you don't learn how to delegate, your career as a leader may be shorter than you intended.

  • The evidence clearly shows, developing others is like a gift: it's as good to give as it is to receive.

  • Support others the right way:

    • Build the reputation of the people you are developing by bragging about them.

    • Help others develop their skill sets. Assign the people you are developing important tasks and responsibilities.

    • Protect others from things they don't need to know. Many of the people you are developing may not know the pros and cons of getting involved in certain projects.

    • Give them interesting, challenging assignments. The only way people are challenged is if they actually take on a challenge.

  • It's very simple, direct, and helps you avoid common missteps providing feedback, such as judging individuals, not actions: being vague, or giving unwanted advice. The model is an easy-to-remember abbreviation. SBI: situation, behavior, impact.

  • Successful marriages and those ending in divorce. During conversations around conflict resolution, the ratio of positive to negative interaction for successful couples is usually around 5:1. For unstable marriages, the ratio's usually 0.8:1.

  • Politics is not a game to be played where you have to win, and everyone else loses. In fact, it's not negative or positive. Politics is simply the air we breathe in organizations. When you flip your perspective in this way, you'll survive—even thrive—at navigating politics in your organization with your political savvy and feel good about yourself and the way you do it too.

  • There are 4 different aspects of political savvy that you can develop:

    • Read the situation. Objectively scan, observe, and gather information about yourself and the people and the environment around you.

    • Determine the appropriate behavior before acting. Based on the observations of what is going on around them, politically savvy bosses learn what to do in a given situation. Find common ground and do what needs to be done so everyone wins something and feels good about the final result.

    • Network strategically. This is not about having the most friends on Facebook. Build strategic relationships and garner support for your goals and those of your coworkers and stakeholders.

    • Leave people with a good impression. Many of us who study political savvy believe what Ferris suggests: if you have political savvy, you appear not to have it. Everything you do—your behaviors, your actions, the words you say—are all genuine, transparent, and authentic.

  • P130. Everyone can network strategically.

  • Second, on the agenda is our own team development. From our own internal opinion surveys, we on the management team know that we are falling short in some areas. People don't feel connected to each other. Ask your peers how we together can get our people to feel more connected. They have been in the organization and in their management role longer than you. So what have they seen or heard in the past that has been effective in getting people to feel more connected? The final item on the agenda: How can your groups get better at internal messaging, at making clear to our stakeholders across the organization what we do and why it's important? So try to understand our stakeholder's point of view. How is our work important to them to get their work done? What would they need from us that could help right now?

  • Show your senior colleagues one way that you have to ability to help them meet their needs over the next 30 days.

  • Map your network. Make sure it is Open—Diverse—Deep.

    • Start with a blank sheet of paper.

    • Write your name in the middle, and draw a circle around it.

    • Think of the many people you are connected to:

      • The people you know really well.

      • Those who you don't know well but would like to.

      • The people who you work with closely on a daily basis.

      • The people who you work with but who are out on the fringe.

      • The people who you ought to know in the future as you progress in the organization.

      • The people who you know have a lot of power and influence.

      • Others important to you.

    • Put the names of those people with whom you have a strong, high-quality relationship close to you on your map.

    • Draw circles around those names, and connect your encircled name to theirs.

    • Put the names of those you have a weak or distant relationship with farther from you.

    • Draw circles around those names, and connect your encircled name to theirs.

    • Notice that distance means something on this map. Not everyone in your network map will have a line of the same length.

    • Connect your connections. If one of your connections has a deep relationship with another one of your connections, connect those two names together with a line. Do the same for all connections you feel have deep connections with each other.

  • "You will be confronted with questions every day that test your morals. The questions will get tougher, and the consequences will become more severe. Think carefully, and for your sake, do the right thing, not the easy thing."

  • Integrity—Acting in accordance with your stated values, showing consistency in your words and actions, following through on promises, and using ethical consideration to guide decisions and actions.

  • Bravery—Acting decisively to take the lead in tackling different problems and persevering in the face of unpopularity, threat, or challenge.

  • Perspective—Understanding the perspectives of different functional areas in the organization and having a firm grasp of external conditions affecting the organization (like business opportunities and challenges, business trends, and strengths and weaknesses of competitors.)

  • Social intelligence—Understanding your own impact on situations and people, knowing what makes you and others tick, understanding their motives and feelings, and having the ability to adapt your behavior to what the situation dictates.

  • Looking deeper into the date, we also learned which of the four character strengths was most important. Integrity came out on top. At the highest of levels in an organization, character strengths are important to a leader's performance. And of the four we analyzed, none is more important than integrity.

  • First, understand that you don't have control over how trusting other people are. Some people are more trusting than others. So go easy on yourself if it seems difficult to build trust with someone—he or she may not be that trusting of anyone. Trust is not an automatic guarantee with everyone. Remember Brené Brown's work: a little vulnerability goes a long way. That's how trust really starts. Maybe it's giving someone a project that you have some apprehension about because the stakes are high.

  • Support, develop, and attend to the needs of your direct reports, staff, or team. Make them feel appreciated and valued. They need to know that their best interest is your top priority. And there isn't one blanket way to five professional hugs to every single person. Remember the platinum rule: make others feel appreciated and valued the way they want to feel it.

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