Thursday, February 03, 2011

Non-Fiction: Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader

What does it take to be a great boss? I have had my share of bad bosses -- and my share of good ones. Even great ones. For me, the secret is inspiration. Great bosses know how to lead with inspiration, not fear. But that’s another story.

In the realm of business books, my own personal guru is Tom Peters. Linda Hill and Kent Lineback’s Being the Boss (Harvard Business Press) will give Peters a run for his money. True, Peters has great graphics -- but even without the special effects, Being the Boss is terrific. It takes boss-hood to a much higher level -- and with businesses everywhere looking for ways to venture successfully into the future, being a great boss (or having one) is more important than ever.

The authors have boiled it all down to three imperatives: manage yourself, manage your network, and manage your team.

Simple, right? Wrong. If it was simple, anyone could do it. The thing is, the authors say, management is different. It isn’t like other jobs. It requires a new set of skills, new things to learn, a new perspective. It’s not a project with an end date; rather, it’s a journey. It’s not even about you; it’s about the people you manage.

In this wonderful book, Hill and Lineback break management down into bite-sized chunks that are easily understood -- and just as easily implemented. They cover how bosses are different from stars, how important it is to develop and evaluate people. They discuss innovation, friendship, and trust. They review your network and show you how it should work, even must work. And they examine your boss -- and why your relationship with him or her is so vital to your own success as others’ boss. Finally, they show you how to build and work with effective teams.

In no-nonsense, entertaining prose, Hill and Lineback provide an on-the-ground, in-the-foxhole view of what it means to be a boss today. What’s more, they provide tools that allow you to chart your own progress -- a particuarly nice touch that transforms Being the Boss from an insightful lecture to a really cool and useful how-to. ◊

Tony Buchsbaum, a contributing editor of January Magazine and Blue Coupe, lives in central New Jersey with his wife and sons. These days, he is writing his second novel. Again.

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