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How to Be a Better Boss

Ninety percent of us work for someone else, regardless of our seniority or status. As with great works of art, we have learned to recognize good bosses when we see them, but their specific qualities may prove difficult to define.

The word “boss” is often used interchangeably with “leader,” “manager” or “supervisor,” and it conjures up memories of the good, the bad and the ugly ones we’ve endured throughout our careers. The boss is the authority figure who has direct and frequent contact with subordinates—the “head honcho” responsible for personally directing and evaluating work.

Stanford University management professor Robert I. Sutton, PhD, author of the New York Times bestseller The No Asshole Rule, knows about bosses. He has received thousands of emails about the bad ones since the 2007 publication of that title. In his most recent book, Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best...and Learn from the Worst (Business Plus, 2010) Sutton focuses on what it takes to be a better boss.

“Devoting relentless attention to doing one good thing after another—however small—is the only path I know to becoming and remaining a great boss,” he writes. “I wish I could promise you that the path was easier.”

Whether you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a restaurant owner, athletic coach or store  manager, your success depends on how well you deal with the people who surround you. In any position of authority, great or small, you are expected to personally guide, inspire and discipline.

Anytime you have more power than others, you must interact in productive ways—especially when facing strong emotions and gut reactions. A boss evokes feelings of confidence and comfort, as well as insecurity, fear, anger and confusion, in every communication medium: face-to-face meetings, telephone calls, emails, text messages and video conferences. Emotions can intensify when relationships are inherently unequal.

In many situations, the boss-employee relationship requires that you work “up close and personal,” which means you’re exposed to others’ quirks, foibles and habits. To benefit your team and company, you must excel at accepting differences and finding workarounds.

There are no magic bullets, and the work may seem relentless. Besides getting things done and meeting performance objectives, you must shepherd your people through every hard turn. Your principal rewards for success are keeping your job and receiving even more responsibilities and challenges.

The best bosses keep chipping away at a huge pile of tasks—some interesting, others dull but necessary. Their leadership prowess is measured by how well they handle the frustrations associated with people and performance.

Are you working in a professional services firm or other organization where executive coaches provide leadership development for emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching to help leaders become better bosses? Enlightened leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to fully engage employees and customers.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “The best boss I worked for possesed which qualities?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching for developing good bosses..

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help good bosses create a culture where all employees are fully engaged. You can become a leader with executive presence who models emotional intelligence and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company or law firm.

About Dr. Maynard Brusman

Dr. Maynard Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and trusted advisor to senior leadership teams.He is the president of Working Resources, a leadership consulting and executive coaching firm. We specialize in helping San Francisco Bay Area companies and law firms assess, select, coach, and retain emotionally intelligent leaders. Maynard is a highly sought-after speaker and workshop leader. He facilitates leadership retreats in Northern California and Costa Rica. The Society for Advancement of Consulting (SAC) awarded Dr. Maynard Brusman "Board Approved" designations in the specialties of Executive Coaching and Leadership Development.

For more information, please go to, write to, or call 415-546-1252.

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