Being the Boss

Summary Written by Hanna Felipe
"Effective managers accomplish much of their work in hundreds of little steps that eventually accomplish the work of management."

- Being the Boss, page 219

The Big Idea

Wield authority wisely

"Use authority to do useful work, not to serve own ends"- Being the Boss, page 45

After promotion, what managers usually take for granted is that they have gained the ability to influence people in the organization. Authority becomes a tool to help you and your people grow. Effective managers use their authority to achieve the goals of the group. They do not see authority as a mark of superiority above others. While you build your team from the inside, you also shape the environment outside by growing and building your own web of influence.

The true litmus test of a good manager is “not how good you are at bossing. But what little bossing you have to do.”

Insight #1

Self-knowledge is power

"Management begins with you—who you are as a person. It begins with you because what you think and feel, the beliefs and values that drive your actions, matter to the people you must influence."- Being the Boss, page 71

Working on oneself is the groundwork for the first imperative. There are three ways to get people to follow: one that relies on formal authority, one that relies on friendship, and one that has foundation in trust. Of the three, the last is the gold standard.

But how is trust earned? Trust is built on two things: competence and character.

Competence may be expertise in the technical, operational, and political aspects of the job. Technical competence is about knowing what to do. Operational competence is about knowing how to apply it; and political competence is about knowing who does what and how to influence.

Character is the second element of trust. People must believe in the value of what you do. Having a good work ethic, believing in and following a set of values, will build on your character and your people’s trust in you as a manager.

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Insight #2

Management is about getting things accomplished through others

"Management is responsibility for the performance of a group of people"- Being the Boss, page 15

Managers must deal with several contradictions. Example, “to focus on the work, you must focus on the people doing the work”, and another favourite, “manage today and manage tomorrow”. Navigating through paradoxes is a skill that a manager must master in his or her journey.

As practice, the authors advise a simple 3-step action model to be able to integrate the three imperatives (self-management, network management, team management) into the daily grind: Prep- Do-Review.

In everything you do, think ahead. Prepare. Whether it’s presenting key facts, big data, explaining context at the beginning of a project, do your homework. Once the stage has been set do as planned. Just do it. There will be room for improvement; especially outcomes will have to be reviewed. This kind of learning model fosters continuous improvement.

In the end, it’s about striking a balance between management and leadership while building a high-performing “we” out of all the “I”s.

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