1-Sentence-Summary: Becoming The Boss shows leaders of all kinds, whether new or experienced, how to identify the pitfalls that stand in the way of influencing others for the better and overcome them.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
I’ve summarized over 200 books so far. That’s a lot of ideas and I’ve noticed a few common threads in them. One of the biggest is how fast our world is changing and how hard we have to work to keep up. Leaders are no exception to this rule.
What worked well for the greats of the past like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs doesn’t always apply today. Technology is changing the way we communicate and learn so fast that it’s a wonder any of us can keep up, let alone those at the top!
What you need to succeed as a leader is to remain malleable enough to change and improve according to the modern world. And that’s just what you’ll learn how to do in Lindsey Pollak’s Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders.
Let’s dig in and see how much we can learn in just 3 lessons from the book:
- Learn how to lead yourself if you want to become a great leader.
- You will influence others best when your communication skills are excellent.
- Don’t gossip, prepare for difficult questions, and use people’s names when talking to them.
Read? Set? Lead! Here we go!
Lesson 1: The best leaders are the best at leading themselves.
When I was a missionary, our leaders had to teach us but also take care of their own areas. I didn’t understand how they could do it until I spend more time with them.
That’s when I realized that they were so good because they were excellent at leading themselves.
This requires you to be just as good at organizing your own life and improvement as you are at doing so for a whole team. It might sound daunting, especially if you’re new to your position, but there is hope for you.
The first rule you want to follow is don’t panic. Things change fast in the business world. Technology throws ideas at us at lightning speeds. It’s completely normal to be afraid occasionally, and you can learn to handle it.
One helpful way is to ask yourself if you want what’s in front of you more than you’re afraid of it. If you can answer yes, then push through your fears and go for it!
Also, learn to be creative. It used to be that you could become an expert in your field and that would be enough, but not anymore. If you want to stand apart, learn the ropes of other fields.
Additionally, always be learning and working harder. Assess your current knowledge. Pay attention to the skills you need to work on and make a plan. Check the LinkedIn profiles of people you admire to see what they’re good at and work on those things.
Lesson 2: Focus on others and make your communication skills top-notch if you want to have a positive influence on them.
In one of my favorite speeches I’ve attended, a leader I admire used a phrase that I’ll never forget:
“It’s not about you!”
This is some of the best leadership and life advice I’ve ever received. It still has a huge impact on everything I do today, especially whenever I get the chance to lead.
Research from the University of Texas confirms this, too. It identified that leaders don’t use the word “I” as much as non-leaders. So if you want to be excellent, stop thinking and talking so much about yourself!
It doesn’t do any good to just try to avoid doing something bad, you want to fill the gap with what’s good. And that’s thinking about your employees. You don’t want to talk about them behind their backs, and we’ll get to that in a moment.
You need to focus on the needs of your people and not your own. If you’re lost in what you need to improve all the time, you won’t be receptive to their needs.
Under-communication is another must-avoid when working with others.
One survey by Accountemps identified that not communicating often or openly enough hurts morale than anything else a manager can do wrong! So it’s better to do it too much than not enough.
Lesson 3: Use people’s names when talking with them, avoid gossip at all times, and know how to deal with difficult questions.
You’re not born with excellent communication skills, but you can learn them. Some of the most basic ones you can apply in just a few minutes to start seeing results!
One of the first is to remember people’s names and use them when you’re speaking with them. It’s an excellent persuasion tool, but you also need to check that you’re using the right names, too!
I had a manager once that wasn’t great at being a leader. But I do remember how he would always my name while talking with me. It did make me feel like I mattered, at least a little bit.
Additionally, we often overlook the power of eye-contact. Building this habit when conversing with employees will express confidence.
Sometimes, however, an unexpected question comes up that you won’t know the answer to. You can’t know the answer to everything, so don’t try to do that. Instead, maintain confidence by using one of these three techniques:
- Refer the person to another who might have the answer.
- Defer the question to another time by telling them you’ll get back to them.
- Ask them to be more specific.
You also want to avoid gossip at all times.
Have you ever been around someone that only likes to talk about other people? Every time I see this, I lose trust in the person. If they’re talking about another person behind their back, then what’s to stop them from talking about you behind yours?!
Don’t lose your employee’s trust. Never talk about other people when they’re not around.
Becoming The Boss Review
Becoming The Boss is an excellent book that I highly recommend everybody read, not just managers. I especially liked how it focused on looking inward at how you can improve as a leader. It seems that so much of being a boss these days is about having a commanding presence with no humility, but we need leaders that can see their faults too!
Who would I recommend the Becoming The Boss summary to?
The 60-year-old executive who doesn’t think they need to change anything to be a better leader, the 36-year-old that just got their first management position and feels a little out of place, and anyone that wants to learn to lead themselves.