Becoming the Boss
eBook - ePub

Becoming the Boss

Lindsey Pollak

  1. 320 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Becoming the Boss

Lindsey Pollak

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About This Book

The author of Getting from College to Career reinvents the concept of management for a new generation, offering a fresh and relevant approach to career success that shows them how to make the next step: becoming a leader.

We are in the midst of a leadership revolution, as power passes from Baby Boomers to Millennials. All grown up, the highly educated Generation Y is moving into executive positions in corporations and government, as well as running their own businesses, where they are beginning to have a profound impact that will last for decades.

Written exclusively for Gen Y readers to address their unique needs, Becoming the Boss is a brisk, tech savvy success manual filled with real-world, actionable tips, from an expert they respect and relate to. Lindsey Pollak defines what leadership is and draws on original research, her own extensive experience, and interviews with newly minted Gen Y managers and entrepreneurs around the world to share the secrets of what makes them successful leaders—and shows young professionals how to use that knowledge to rise in their own careers.

From learning to develop a style that appeals to your older colleagues, to discovering the key trends affecting your career, to mastering the classic rules of excellence that never go out of style, Becoming the Boss helps you identify your next professional move and shows you how to get there.

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Catch Up
Winning Friends, Moving Cheese, and Breaking All the Rules
Remember that feeling of walking into a classroom to take an exam when you knew you’d studied as hard as you could and were as prepared as you could possibly be? In your new role as a leader, one of the ways to achieve that calm confidence is to know your history. Yes, you are building your career in a completely different world from leaders five hundred, fifty, and even five years ago, but some things will never change. No matter how modern or high-tech the world becomes, you’ll still hear frequent references to various leadership and success theories, practices, people, and platitudes from the past.
Even if your aim is to disrupt your industry or be the polar opposite of every leader you’ve ever had, in today’s multigenerational workplace you still have to speak the same language and have many of the same reference points as the people you will encounter. (This is why many companies put their executives through intense cultural training before they take on an international assignment.) I can’t tell you how impressed baby boomers and Gen Xers are when a younger colleague references a classic book like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People or Good to Great. It’s an instant credibility builder. As Harry Truman once said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
While I absolutely encourage you to become a well-read expert on the history of business, management, career success, and leadership, I know that you may not have the time for that right now. In fact, you may have downloaded this book at midnight because you’re starting a new job tomorrow morning. So I’m going to attempt to distill about two thousand years of theory into the fifteen-minute CliffsNotes version.
Here is my ridiculously oversimplified but factual overview (vetted by several respected—and slightly horrified—MBAs in my network) of the top leadership, success, and management books you need to know about. There is a strong bias toward books published over the last five to ten years because those are the titles you are most likely to come across today and the ones you will want to be most familiar with.
Please note that the mention of a book or author here doesn’t necessarily mean that I agree with his or her advice or opinions; it just means that I think they are important to be aware of.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu (second century B.C.)
The Art of War, written more than two thousand years ago, is generally defined as the earliest known book on military and political strategy. Modern military leaders read it. Many salespeople, politicians, and CEOs have it visibly displayed on their office shelves. Here are some highlights of Sun Tzu’s aggressive advice:
• Warfare (and business) are about deception.
• Attack when they (your competitors) are unprepared.
• Do not make a move unless it is advantageous.
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli (1532)
Machiavelli’s ideas and his book The Prince have influenced kings, America’s Founding Fathers, and modern leaders for centuries. Have you ever heard someone describe another person or their actions as “Machiavellian”? You guessed it, that reference traces back to Niccolò. (It refers to situations when a clever trick is used to get something.) Here are a few more bits of the book’s philosophies:
• A prince (or leader) might be a good person, but it’s only essential for a prince to seem good to others.
• Don’t be too generous, as it will only cause more greed.
• It is better to be feared than loved.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (1936)
It might be fair to say that How to Win Friends and Influence People is the polar opposite of The Prince. It was one of the very first self-help books and it’s still amazingly relevant. Here are some of the book’s tips for making people like you. (FYI, the original edition also included tips for wives like “Don’t nag your husband,” but those were, thankfully, removed later.)
• Be genuinely interested in other people.
• Smile. (I know it sounds ridiculously obvious, but I swear that recruiters tell me the characteristic they most remember from candidates they meet at job fairs is whether or not a candidate smiled.)
• Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. A person’s favorite word is his or her own name.
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)
Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged (the only fiction book on this list) explores a dystopian America where some of society’s most successful citizens protest against government taxation by deciding to disappear, demonstrating that the destruction of the profit motive destroys society. Rand is also the creator of objectivism, a deep belief in individual rights and the pursuing of one’s own happiness above all else (known in economics circles as rational self-interest). Before Atlas Shrugged, many business leaders felt somewhat apologetic for their success and wealth. This book made them (and many of their contemporary counterparts) feel like heroes. Here are two representative quotations:
• “Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach . . . The world you desired can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.”
• “He was guilty of nothing, except that he earned his own fortune and never forgot that it was his.”
Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy (1963)
Ogilvy has often been called the father of advertising, so his name is mentioned frequently. If you are a fan of Mad Men, as I am, then you’ve heard some of Ogilvy’s wisdom doled out by various characters on the show. Probably his most famous quotation is “The consumer isn’t a moron; she is your wife,” but I don’t see much modern application for that one. Here’s a better one: “It is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create.”
The Effective Executive (1967) and The Essential Drucker (2008) by Peter F. Drucker
If Ogilvy is the father of advertising, Peter Drucker is the father of management. I chose The Effective Executive for this list because Drucker’s influence was particularly strong in the late 1960s (and rumor has it that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos requests that all of his top executives read it). But Drucker wrote dozens of important books on management, leadership, success, and business, which is why I also recommend The Essential Drucker, a greatest-hits collection of his sixty-plus (!) years of writings. I guarantee you will hear someone quoting Peter Drucker in a meeting or presentation sometime soon (whether that person knows he or she is quoting Drucker or not), so you must know his name. Here are two of his most well-known pieces of wisdom:
• “What’s measured improves.”
• “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”
Servant Leadership by Robert K. Greenleaf (1977)
While it is a timeless concept, perhaps traceable to the Tao Te Ching, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the term servant leadership in a 1970 essay called “The Servant as Leader,” which was published in book format in 1977. According to Greenleaf, traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and employment of power by the person at the “top of the pyramid.” In contrast, the servant leader shares power, puts other people’s needs first, and helps people develop and perform to the best of their abilities. Servant leaders judge themselves by the satisfaction of their employees and their service to the greater good in society. Here is the theory in Greenleaf’s words:
• “The servant-leader is servant first . . . The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
• “This is my thesis: caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the rock upon which a good society is built.”
The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson (1982)
When I reached out to dozens of colleagues to ask what their favorite business book was, The One Minute Manager received the most mentions. Consider this super-short book a “management for dummies” that’s really very smart. It basically boils down to this:
• Set one-minute goals that you can write in 250 words or fewer. (If Twitter had been around in 1982, Blanchard and Johnson probably would have recommended 140-character goals.)
• Give one-minute praise and one-minute reprimands for behavior to keep people on track toward their one-minute goals.
We’ll come back to the One Minute Manager in chapter 5 because Blanchard and Johnson’s advice is still so relevant and easy to apply today.
In Search of Excellence by Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman Jr. (1982)
In Search of Excellence is one of the best-selling and most widely read business advice books of all time, and Tom Peters is still considered one of the world’s top management gurus (more on Peters in chapter 2). When you think of the go-go-go 1980s, think of this book. The authors studied forty-three top American companies of the time period and came up with eight principles of management these companies had in common. Here are a few of them:
• Make decisions and solve problems as quickly as possible. In other words, get on with it.
• “Stick to the knitting,” i.e., stay with the business that you know. (I honestly did not know why people said “stick to the knitting” in business meetings until I saw it in this book.)
• Keep your staff lean and have minimal staff in your headquarters. (Note: the 1980s saw the first massive layoffs of middle management staff. Corporate America hasn’t looked back since.)
The E-Myth (1986) and The E-Myth Revisited (1995) by Michael E. Gerber
As an entrepreneur, I have often been recommended The E-Myth over the years. Most important, and most applicable to your career whether you want to be an entrepreneur or not, is Gerber’s insistence on the importance of working on your business and not just in it, meaning that you as the leader need to pay more attention to the structure, processes, and operations of your organization or team than to your product or service. Here is the key concept of the book, underlined and highlighted in my own copy:
• “The technical work of a business and a business that does that technical work are two totally different things!”
In other words, as Gerber points out, a great barber does not necessarily make a great barber shop owner and a great musician does not necessarily make a great music store owner. Similarly, as you’ll read in chapter 5, being great at doing your job does not make you a great manager of other people doing that job.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey (1989)
I was a freshman in high school in 1989 and I remember how insanely popular The 7 Habits of Highly Effectiv...

Table of contents

  1. Dedication
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. Contents
  4. Part I: Learn
  5. Part II: Lead
  6. Part III: Last
  7. Resources
  8. About the Author
  9. Also by Lindsey Pollak
  10. Copyright
  11. About the Publisher
Citation styles for Becoming the Boss

APA 6 Citation

Pollak, L. (2014). Becoming the Boss ([edition unavailable]). HarperCollins. Retrieved from (Original work published 2014)

Chicago Citation

Pollak, Lindsey. (2014) 2014. Becoming the Boss. [Edition unavailable]. HarperCollins.

Harvard Citation

Pollak, L. (2014) Becoming the Boss. [edition unavailable]. HarperCollins. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Pollak, Lindsey. Becoming the Boss. [edition unavailable]. HarperCollins, 2014. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.