Good Boss, Bad Boss


If you are a boss who wants to do great work, what can you do about it? Good Boss, Bad Boss is devoted to answering that question. Stanford Professor Robert Sutton weaves together the best psychological and management research with compelling stories and cases to reveal the mindset and moves of the best (and worst) bosses.

This book was inspired by the deluge of emails, research, phone calls, and conversations that Dr. Sutton experienced after publishing his blockbuster bestseller The No &!$#* Rule. He realized that most of these stories and studies swirled around a central figure in every workplace: THE BOSS. These heart-breaking, inspiring, and sometimes funny stories taught Sutton that most bosses – and their followers – wanted a lot more than just a jerk-free workplace. They aspired to become (or work for) an all-around great boss, somebody with the skill and grit to inspire superior work, commitment, and dignity among their charges.

Key Topics or Truths

Leadership Self-Awareness

This Book is Good For...

This book is good for small business owners and those in mid to upper management who have never thought about whether they were good at managing.

How I Use this Book to make disciples

This book is of great value to any boss — lost or found. But when it is combined and connected to spiritual truths in the Bible, it becomes powerful for the believer. As with many secular books, great thinkers, even the lost, are only discovering God’s creation and God’s principles.

Every mature Christian is going to lead someone. They may lead their kids, their employees, their church teams, or even a larger group. God takes prepared, confident and skilled believers and deploys them to lead others in discipleship, lead His work for the Kingdom, and a host of other great opportunities. The concepts in this book when exploded by Scriptural truth bring disruption to the often narcissistic leaders in the church world and challenge us to become servant-minded.

I have the disciples read a few chapters asking them to support or deny Sutton’s ideas with God’s truths about leadership, humility, and service. If they make the connections well, I finish this book in the next week or so, reviewing truths along the way. If they struggle to make those direct an indirect connections, I meander through this book teaching critical thinking. I want them to not only get the truths about leadership but to master critical thinking and adjust themselves to God’s truths that connect to Good Boss, Bad Boss.

I love this book because it is a disruptor in the field and based on data and experience. It causes leaders to think about whether they are really a good boss. My favorite thought from the book was, “The boss is that last one to know he is a bad boss.” This book can be powerful when the disciples connect Bible verses and truths to the ideas of leadership presented.

Real Life Story

I was in upper-middle management working as a roving problem solver for the board of a bank that got foreclosed on by the Federal Government. They fired the top and kept us around to sell off loans and close the bank. All of us, including those I led on my team, became equals — serfs. One day over lunch, Rebecca, a previous junior team member said, right in front of everyone, “You know you have a problem right?” I was caught off guard. “We all know you are a genius and you get things fixed but you were a real jerk. You had no patience while we tried to catch up to you. You talked to us like we were dumb.” Bam! It hit me like a ton of bricks. Despite my success, I wasn’t a good leader at all. I wish I had access to this “Good Boss, Bad Boss” long before that moment. I would have been better. My success would have been greater. And, I would have been nice. Love this book.

Know Issues or Controversies

There are a few cuss words in this book when describing a bad boss. When I was leading at a more coat-and-tie church, I merely blacked out the words (redacted them) with a magic marker. I know, it sounds silly but it was not worth losing the reader. I later discovered that most of the people reading this really did not care. But be creative if you need to be.

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Robert Sutton
Book Details
Reading Time
Three Weeks Minimum
Related Reads

Pairs well with the truths in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and Spiritual Leadership.

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