How to Become a Great Boss

Did you ever have a great boss? Everyone should have one, but not enough people do. If you’re a boss, or hope to become one, or have a less-than-great boss, then this is the book that could change your career-and your life.

The following is an excerpt from the book
How to Become a Great BossThe Rules for Getting and Keeping the Best Employees
By Jeffrey J. Fox
Published by Hyperion 
May 2002; 16.95US/$23.95CAN; 0-7868-6823-6
Copyright © 2002 Jeffrey Fox



The great boss stirs the people. The great boss elevates, applauds, and lauds the employees. The great boss makes people believe in themselves and feel special, selected, anointed. The great boss makes people feel good.

Great bosses are memorable. In sixty seconds, this boss created a memory to last over sixty years.

The employee was twenty-four. It was his first real job. He was in the fifth week.

That morning there was a knock on the six- foot-tall glass wall that framed his “office.” “Excuse me, Mr. Godfrey, my name is Ralph Hart,” said a courtly, exquisitely dressed man in his sixties. “Do you have a minute?”

“Of course,” answered the young employee, who recognized the name, but not the face, of the company’s legendary Chairman-of-the-Board. “Thank you,” said Mr. Hart. “Mr. Godfrey, may I tell you a few things about your company?” To the employee’s nod, Mr. Hart continued: “Mr. Godfrey, your company is a first-class company. We have first-class products. We have first-class customers. We have first-class advertising. In fact, sometimes we even fly first-class because the airlines are some of our first-class customers.”

Extending his hand to the new employee, Mr. Hart paused, and with eyes riveted on Godfrey, he concluded: “And Mr. Godfrey, we only hire first-class people. Welcome to Heublein.”

If you believe that able and motivated people are the key to an enterprise’s success, then Mr. Hart just taught you a lot. If you don’t believe able and motivated people are the key to an enterprise’s success, then stop reading and give this book to someone else.



The Great Boss Simple Success Formula

  1. Only hire top-notch, excellent people.
  2. Put the right people in the right job. Weed out the wrong people.
  3. Tell the people what needs to be done.
  4. Tell the people why it is needed.
  5. Leave the job up to the people you’ve chosen to do it.
  6. Train the people.
  7. Listen to the people.
  8. Remove frustration and barriers that fetter the people.
  9. Inspect progress.
  10. Say “Thank you” publicly and privately.



Companies Do What the Boss Does

People take their cues from the boss. The boss sets the tone and the standards. The boss sets the example. Over time, the department, the office, the store, the workshop, the factory, the company begin to do what the boss does.

If the boss is always late, punctuality becomes a minor obligation. If the boss is always in meetings, everybody is always in meetings. If the boss calls on customers, customers become important. If the boss blows off customer appointments, the salesforce makes fewer sales calls. If the boss is polite, rude people don’t last. If the boss accepts mediocrity, mediocrity is what she gets. If the boss is innovative and inventive, the company looks for opportunities. If the boss does everyone’s job, the employees will let him. If the boss gives everyone in the organization a World Series ring, then everyone wants to win the World Series. If the boss leads a charge, the good and able employees will be a step behind.

Great bosses understand this phenomenon. Great bosses position the organization to succeed, not with policies, but with posture and presence. If the great boss wants a policy of traveling on Sunday or practice before presentations, he or she travels on Sunday and practices presentations. If the boss doesn’t want little snowstorms to make people late to the office, he gets in early the day of the storm and makes the coffee . . . and serves coffee to the stragglers as they arrive.

Some bosses lead purposefully, others innately. Whether intentional or not, the great boss shapes the organization. Because the company does what the boss does, the boss better perform, or the company won’t.

Copyright © 2002 Jeffrey Fox

Jeffrey J. Fox is the bestselling author of How to Become a Rainmaker and How to Become CEO and the founder of Fox & Co., a premier marketing consulting company in Avon, CT. Prior to starting Fox & Co., he was VP Marketing and Corporate VP of Loctite Corporation. Fox is the subject of a top 100 Harvard Business School case study that is also thought to be the most widely taught marketing case study in the world. A frequent speaker to large organizations and groups of senior executives, he is a graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and has an MBA from Harvard Business School. He lives in New Hampshire. Please visit Jeffrey J. Fox’s website at: 

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