Being the Boss

There are hundreds of books on leadership and being a manager, but you will do very well if you read and learn from “Being the Boss” by Linda Hill and Kent Lineback.

According to Hill & Lineback, management is difficult because of its inherent paradoxes which you will encounter everyday as a manager. Some of the paradoxes are:

1. You are responsible for what others do. To be successful requires you work through them and with them rather than issue directives.
2. To focus on the work, you must focus on the people doing the work.
3. You must both develop your people and evaluate them. Dealing with both being coach and judge presents one of the most difficult and challenging aspects of being the boss.
4. You must make your group a cohesive team without losing sight of the individuals in it.
5. To manage your group, you must manage the larger context beyond your group.
6. You must sometimes do harm in order to do a greater good. For example when you must lay off people or promote only 1 out of 3 good candidates.

The job of a manager despite the paradoxes is to create in his team a real sense of commitment to the work such that they put in the effort required to achieve great results and care about the results. As the saying goes, “people go to work for a company but quit a boss”. Has anyone quit on you lately? If yes, why?

The journey of becoming a good manager requires self-awareness, self- control, discipline, resilience and above all personal courage. So where are you in your journey as a manager? Are you able to bring out the best in others? Are you able to influence those you have no control over? Do you know your strengths and where you need to improve? Can you endure the discomfort of learning? An effective manager will answer yes to the last 4 questions. In order to help you become an effective manager, the authors designed a framework around 3 imperatives: manage yourself, manage your network and manage your team.

Managing yourself deals with the changes required in how you think about yourself and your new role, how to relate to others as a boss and how to influence others.

Managing your network deals with how you create your own network and deal effectively with the political side of organizational life.

Managing your team is about managing all those in your team for whom you are responsible. It is about creating a high performance team that is more than the sum of the individuals in it.

The rest of the book focused on how to become better at managing the 3 imperatives and also the important role of self-assessment. Throughout the book, the reader is encouraged to examine himself in the light of each imperative and to take responsibility for personal development.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and recommend it as a useful and practical manual to have in your managerial journey.

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