GREAT LEADERS

5 Truths All Great Bosses Know

Some iconoclastic observations about what actually works when you're in the corner suite.
Advertisement

In the process of researching a few of my books, I've interviewed and discussed business challenges with hundreds of successful bosses, from big company CEOs to small town entrepreneurs. Here are five interesting truths I've learned from that experience:

1. You can't manage groups, only individuals.

It's crazy to think that you're managing a group of people, because the "group" is an abstraction that exists only in your mind. Either you're managing the individuals in that group or you're managing the individual who's managing those individuals. Period.

2. You can control or coach, but not both.

Every manager must make a fundamental decision: Is your job to control an employee's behavior or to coach the employee so that the behavior improves? You can't do both because they're mutually exclusive.

3. Hire very slowly but fire very quickly.

Take your time hiring because the cost of a bad new hire is astronomical. By contrast, if somebody isn't working out, treat the situation like surgery. Make the cut quickly so that everyone (include the person you fired) can move on.

4. To get loyalty, you must first give it.

Many bosses complain about employees who jump ship. The bosses who were self-aware, though, realized it's unrealistic to ask for employee loyalty unless you, the boss, are willing to take a financial loss in order to keep those employees employed.

5. Too much leadership spoils the team.

You want a team full of leaders, right? Wrong! Most of the time you're better off hiring worker bees than queen bees. Think of it this way: An orchestra consisting of 110 conductors is just a bunch of people waving little sticks.

The above is based upon my new book, Business Without The Bullsh*tIf you pre-order BWtBS, you get an exclusive bonus chapter (for you and a friend) and a signed bookplate.

Last updated: Apr 2, 2014

GEOFFREY JAMES | Columnist

Geoffrey James, a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author, speaker, and award-winning blogger. Originally a system architect, brand manager, and industry analyst inside two Fortune 100 companies, he's interviewed more than a thousand successful executives, managers, entrepreneurs, and gurus to discover how business really works. His most recent book is Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for the free weekly Sales Source newsletter.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Livestream events | Comments
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: