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How to be a Likeable Boss

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Best advice to get the best out of your workers and keep them motivated.

Robert Sutton is a Stanford business professor known for his expertise with bullies and jerks. In his popular book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that isn’t, he presented the issues around poor management in fun and thought-provoking manner.

He has now written a new book and this time it is titled, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to be the Best and Learn from the Worst. In this book, he examines real-life organizations and gives examples to explain better how good bosses work and what ticks people off about bad bosses. He was able to have conversations with entrepreneurs to provide new insights into the difficult part of being self-aware.

Sutton made it known that writing the No Asshole Rule exposed him to so many stories about terrible bosses. People had the most issue with bosses who were perceived as being nice but also incompetent. That is a very tricky situation to navigate, so his book isn’t just about bosses that are mean but also covers bosses that don’t quite know what they are doing.

He talks about a story where a company that was in the business of motivational content had a boss who was faced with the crisis of sales going down. His way of motivating his employees was towaterboardd one of them during a picnic and describe to his staff how he expects them to work as hard as the poor guy was struggling for air. Incredible stuff.

It is easier for people who have worked up the ladder of an organization to become bosses and handle it well because they know what it’s like to be in different stages in the organization. Also, people who leave other companies to come work for new companies will typically have the same characteristics. Where the problem mostly lies is with those run their ventures. They tend to have a difficult time understanding what motivates people and why they may not necessarily be as excited as they are.

A boss’s attitude can affect employees positively or negatively to varying extents. If you examine successful startups, you find that the bosses always have a long-term perspective and this is evident in the manner in which they operate. Attitude is infectious, and it can quickly rub off on every member of staff. When employees feel valued and protected by an organization, it is not surprising to see them ready to do anything to see to the success of that venture. Loyalty is a two thing. It is important for a boss to self-aware and listens to the people around him to pick up signals that will inform how he handles people and circumstances.

To be the best boss, you need to find ways of motivating people without pushing too hard, be a positive influence and make employees feel like you’ve got their backs. Make them see your loyalty, and they will, in turn, give you theirs. It is also important for your employees to know what to expect. Try to be a little predictable so they can be comfortable in their day to day activities.

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspapers industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto and much more.

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