Robert Sutton, Ph.D., doesn’t believe a leader should be feared rather than loved. On the contrary, he thinks the boss who gets the most results (and a happy workforce) is a leader that employees can talk to and rely on.

“Good bosses master the art of being just assertive enough; they can set goals that are just challenging enough and know what it takes to convince their people they are competent and in charge — but aren’t overbearing jerks,” says Sutton, who set out these traits in the new book, “Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best ... and Learn from the Worst.” “They can have difficult conversations with people about things like poor performance without damaging their employees’ motivation and commitment.

Good bosses are skilled at using the kind of language, emotion, goals and incentives that encourage their people to turn knowledge into action.”


However, Sutton points out that a good workplace isn’t completely due to the boss; rather, the employer and employee relationship demands an effort on both sides. For employees to draw out the best in their bosses, they can simply ask how they can help. “It not only demonstrates and enhances empathy, it often generates information that enables all parties to succeed.” Why is it so significant for a boss to be good?

“There’s one Scandinavian study that shows that when you are working for a bad boss, your chances of a heart attack are about doubled,” he says.

Sounds like it’s not only important, but also vital.

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