Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent

What this book is about?
While reading this book, I was having goosebumps or at least some ‘electric feelings’ because I always aspired to be a good teacher, leader and in the language of this book — a Superboss — and the author seems to have figured out exactly how.

It has been five years since I read this book, but the feeling is still fresh in my memories although the content is a blur. Yet after a quick refresh, I recollected most of the key points and realized that I applied some but had forgotten many.

A ‘superboss’ is a boss who produces bosses on a large scale beyond chance. In this book, the author has cited examples from USA and Europe in a variety of sectors from technology to hospitality.

Now let’s explore these key ideas in more detail:
Superbosses Key Idea #1: Superbosses come in 3 shades.
It would be wrong the think a superboss is a kind, meek, generous and easy person. The outcome of any superboss is one: the apprentice becomes an endowed boss himself. The process however can be shady. The superboss can be a ruthless, mean, scheming and a slave driver, here called, “iconoclastic bastard”. He can also be a “nurturer”: calm, calculating, the typical Kung Ku master in Chinese movies. Apparently, the effect on the employees is the same: they are pushed to excel.

Superbosses Key Idea #2: Every superboss has a clear, bold vision, is brutally competitive and fears nothing.
Confusion is the enemy of leadership. Clarity is needed to be a leader. Superbosses have been great leaders who are not easily confused and can see the big picture. They are achievers and love to compete and are also are brave and stand their ground. These characteristics can’t be ignored by anyone. They are also highly transferable by superbosses who communicate them directly and indirectly to their employees.

Superbosses Key Idea #3: The magnetic charisma of a superboss is based on an individual’s integrity and authenticity.
See you will never be a superboss if you are a crook or have loose morals. You might be a great boss, a great leader but you will never be able to pass on the memes of the boss to followers. If you are not honorable then that will also not be high on your ‘to do’ list. However, if you want to leave the legacy of bosses who recall you as their mentor on the pyre or coffin, then have integrity and be authentic.

Superbosses Key Idea #4: Superbosses are looking for employees who “get it,” demonstrating intelligence and creativity.
Garbage in, garbage out. Superbosses are no idiots. They know not all of their employees have the qualities to excel as bosses. So, they filter a lot like a babaji in the Himalayas won’t take any disciple just because he begs or even commits suicide for him. Superbosses among many qualities look for intelligence and creativity.

Superbosses Key Idea #5: Superbosses challenge and encourage employees to push harder and strive for more.
This is a no-brainer, so I won’t elaborate further on this.

Superbosses Key Idea #6: Boost teamwork by creating powerful bonds and nurturing a little competitive spirit, too.
This is a tricky part for anyone but superbosses know how to play the hearts of their employees like a violin. First, they encourage team spirit, comradery among the staff. Then they plant the seeds of competition. However, the other way round usually does not work, ie. first make them compete, then collaborate.

Superbosses Key Idea #7: Use the three questions of the “superboss quotient” to lead you toward becoming a better boss.
They are:

  1. Do you have a vision for your business that inspires you, and do you use this vision to energize and inspire your team?
  2. Do team members feel close to each other, are they comfortable with one another?
  3. How much time do you spend helping employees learn?

Again, the importance of this last key idea is self-evident. However, I want to emphasize that being a superboss is not only about action but more about ‘brains and hearts’. Without a learning attitude, no one can have a vision, understand people as a team and know how to help them to succeed so you can succeed.

Finally, the author recommends taking a ‘superboss day’ once a week. We are pressed with our own daily Job descriptions and other pressures. So, implementing one or more of the 7 key ideas may be impractical, but committing one day a week is not.

How is it useful to you in your:

Life x Business
This book is a must if you have great ambitions of becoming a tycoon. I know many who aspire to be super-rich. But mind you to be a tycoon you need at least 100 bosses like you who can reflect your leadership on to the remaining other SBU’s (Single Business Unit) and people. You might have the positions filled but if you are a lousy boss then your other bosses won’t be better and will have even a lousier leadership style than you. Take my word, have some humility, assess your leadership style, discover how you too can be a superboss. I promise you will be happier, sleep better and earn more.

Some people might be opposed to the concept of superboss as it means creating competition, the next boss who will topple you. But as with many examples in this book, and many real-life examples of my own, creating bosses might add a competitor but the relationship will be one of guru-chela. So, one day when all the world will fall on you, these employees you turned into competitors will save you directly or directly. The most powerful effect is ‘positive gossip’. They will sing your praises to customers, suppliers, community. The rest, I am sure I don’t have to expound.

General details of the book
Originally published: 2016
Author: Sydney Finkelstein
Page count: 272
Genre: Leadership

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