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Published: September 2, 2010

 
 

It Is about You

The upshot is, to be a great boss, you’ve got to think and act as if “it is all about you.” Your success depends on being fixated on yourself. On the surface, this conclusion clashes with advice from many gurus and experts. Former GE CEO Jack Welch and Stanford’s Robert Joss (dean of the Graduate School of Business for a decade), for example, implore managers, “It’s not about you.” I agree with the spirit of this advice, as the aim is to discourage bosses from falling prey to their most selfish and destructive instincts. Yet I question the words because most bosses, like most human beings, are remarkably self-obsessed — and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Yes, the worst are selfish, are oblivious to their charges, and cling to dangerous delusions about their magnificent leadership skills. The best are equally self-obsessed, but have different motivations. Their obsession isn’t for egotistical or for selfish reasons. On the contrary, they focus on controlling their moods and moves, accurately interpreting their impact on others, and making adjustments on the fly because they want their people to produce work that others will admire — and to feel respect and dignity along the way.

— Robert I. Sutton

Copyright © 2010 by Robert Sutton. Reprinted by permission of Business Plus, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Inc. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
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This Reviewer

  1. Jon R. Katzenbach is a senior partner with Booz & Company, where he leads the Katzenbach Center in New York. A cofounder of Katzenbach Partners LLC, he is the author or coauthor of eight books, including Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the (in)Formal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results (with Zia Khan; Jossey-Bass, 2010) and Why Pride Matters More Than Money: The Power of the World’s Greatest Motivational Force (Crown Business, 2003).

This Excerpt

  1. Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best…and Learn from the Worst (Business Plus, 2010) by Robert I. Sutton
  2. Robert I. Sutton is a professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford University School of Engineering. He is the author of several books, including The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Warner Business Books, 2007), a New York Times bestseller and winner of a Quill Award as the Best Business Book of the Year, and Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense: Profiting from Evidence-Based Management (with Jeffrey Pfeffer; Harvard Business School Press, 2006).

 

 
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