The Things the Books Forgot

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I’ve read hundreds of business books in my career. I learned something from most of them. But there are a few things that almost all the books leave out.

The books forgot to mention the fact that being a boss is a high velocity job. There are emails and voicemails and drop-ins and your boss, who needs a “quick answer.” There are meetings and forms and company rituals.

The Duke of Wellington would go nuts because there’s simply no way to stay until you get everything done. Besides, with the net and mobile devices, the work follows you home.

The books forgot to mention the outside relationships that need managing. They all seem to think that it’s you and your team plus the occasional need to “manage your boss.” Nope.

There all those other bosses, including your peers and their bosses. There are project managers for the projects you and team members are on and task force managers for the different teams you all belong to. There are your customers, inside and outside the company. And there are regulators and auditors to placate.

The books forgot to mention that you make this up as you go along. In the Book World, objectives and plans are clearly drawn and guide all decisions. In the Real World, black and white blend into gray, with some fuzzy edges.

The books forgot to mention that it takes a lot of trial and feedback to learn the job. In the Book World, if you take a few principles from your guru of choice and apply them, success is assured. In the Real World, it will take you a year or maybe two to get the basics of a boss’s job down. And you’ll spend a lifetime mastering it.

The books forgot to mention that being a boss is hard, draining work. There are no quick fixes and very few right answers. Instead there’s lots of trial and feedback and, hopefully, some intelligent choices.

Boss’s Bottom Line

The books forgot to mention one other important thing. When you get it right, with the right people in the right places doing the right things at the right time, there’s no job in the world that’s more satisfying.

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