Notes to the Boss

Based on years of managing several organizations, including the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and on extensive consultation with large and small organizations, I’ve distilled much of what
I believe and advocate into “Ten Truths.” I hope you find this list helpful. Feel free to share it with colleagues and friends.

  1. Everyone rationalizes; including you. (We’re all smart and ethical in our own eyes.)
  2. There are lots of things you don’t know and lots of people who hope you don’t find out. Your “open door” doesn’t keep you in the loop.
  3. What you allow, you encourage. Bad employees tend to come in pairs: the poor performer and the boss who fails to do what needs to be done.
  4. Everyone says it can’t happen here — until it does. No company is immune to bad judgment or weak character.
  5. When someone tells you an honest but ugly truth, say thank you; if you “kill the messenger,” you won’t hear the truth again.
  6. Doing nothing is doing something; the consequences of inaction are as potent as any action. Make decisions – it’s your job.
  7. No matter how many good things you do, you will be judged by your last worst act; resentment lasts much longer than gratitude.
  8. Don’t worry about being liked by everyone, but be sure you are respected and trusted.
  9. Being the boss doesn’t entitle you to be a jerk; treat people the way you want to be treated.
  10. It’s all about relationships — dealing with messy and petty personnel issues is an important part of your job, since workplace morale and job satisfaction are critical to success.

I’d love to read your observations and suggestions for additions to this list. Post a comment below.

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