Author: Sydney Finkelstein
Reviewer: Bob Moore
Superbosses is a fascinating exploration of the world’s most effective bosses—and how they motivate, inspire, and enable others to advance their companies and shape entire industries. Sydney Finkelstein is the author of Why Smart Executives Fail. In that book, he and his research associates were in search of the causes of executive failure.
In Superbosses the focus is on the causes of what could be described as “super success.” From ten years of research which began in 2005, Finkelstein discovered the most effective bosses are driven by a desire to make an impact on the world coupled with a vision of what they want to achieve. Then, they recruit talented people who will help them accomplish it. The superboss knows from the outset that top talent will leave. Finkelstein calls this “good churn which opens up opportunities to bring in fresh talent.” His discoveries go against conventional best practices and present a new, comprehensive paradigm for developing talent. Rather than looking for stable, lifelong employees, superbosses would prefer to cultivate a new generation of talent that will eventually outshine them.
The superbosses Finkelstein describes in his book are first and foremost true to themselves, and do what comes naturally to them. We can gain insights from the traits and practices that make them super successful as bosses, whatever the leadership role we have. It can also help us assess the leaders we follow with high hopes they will make us grow.
Finkelstein’s diverse collection of examples includes 18 superbosses from different fields including: Larry Ellison founder of Oracle; Robert Noyce co-founder of Intel; billionaire investor Julian Robertson, who founded Tiger Management; chef and restaurateur Alice Waters, who pioneered the farm-to-table movement for fresh, local food; American football coach Bill Walsh; jazz musician Miles Davis; newspaper editor Gene Roberts; Star Wars creator George Lucas; fashion designer Ralph Lauren, and nine others.
Tree of Talent
What do these business leaders have in common? They stand apart from their peers in growing a “tree of talent” – that is, the leaders they nurture, in turn, build up new cohorts of talent. Finkelstein considers this aspect of leadership to be what’s most important for organizations. However, there is little or no attention given in business schools and management literature. Studies by McKinsey and others showed that most workers are unhappy and disengaged, despite scores of HR best practices.
A Must Read
Superbosses is a must-read for anyone interested in leadership and building an enduring pipeline of talent. You will learn how to be better a boss so you can develop world-class top talent. It will also show employees in any field how to identify superbosses in their industry so that they can get hired and advance their careers. LinkedIn Chairman Reid Hoffman calls it “a leadership guide for the Networked Age,” while Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, says “Superbosses gives leaders a playbook to bring out the best in their people.”
About The Author
Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, where he teaches courses on Leadership and Strategy. He has published 20 books and 80 articles, with several bestsellers, including the #1 bestseller in the U.S. and Japan, Why Smart Executives Fail. Finkelstein is a Fellow of the Academy of Management, and has had three books nominated for the Academy of Management’s Terry Book Award, the most prestigious such honor in the field. He is a recognized thought leader on leadership, strategy, and corporate governance, and is listed on the “Thinkers 50,” the most prominent ranking of management thinkers in the world. Finkelstein is well known for his keynote speeches and television appearances, and is a regular columnist for the BBC. To stay up-to-date on Professor Finkelstein’s latest insights on leadership and decision-making, follow him on Twitter @sydfinkelstein.
About the Reviewer
Bob Moore, CMC, The Effectiveness Coach,
is a Certified Management Consultant,
CEO of Effectiveness, Inc,
Managing Principal of the Talent Management Institute,
and publisher of From the Desk of Bob Moore.
Bob is also the publisher of a weekly blog series and articles which you can access by clicking on the link below.