I started reading Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst. I’m only a few chapters in, but I’ve seen enough to recommend this one. It’s dripping with great nuggets, and author Robert Sutton has worked really hard to include powerful stories from the field, including this great story from Andy Grove:
Andy Grove was tremendously successful as Intel’s CEO. Growth and earnings went through the roof during his tenure. He was selected Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1997. Grove is one of the most blunt executives I’ve ever met. In 2002, I was at a conference in Silicon Valley where Andy was interviewed by Harvard’s Clay Christensen. Clay asked Andy how leaders could act and feel confident despite their doubts. Andy began by talking about the Sopranos TV show and how intrigued he was by fictional mob boss Tony Soprano’s struggles. The messes that Tony dealt with week after week included turf wars, unexpected hits on Tony’s people, bad decisions, emotionally unstable subordinates, and Uncle Junior, who kept undermining his authority and trust. Andy commented that although Soprano’s product was different from Intel’s, “anybody in this room could very easily relate” to his daily struggles to maintain control.
After the laughter died down, Andy said, “Investment decisions or personnel decisions and prioritization don’t wait for that picture to be clarified. You have to make them when you have to make them. So you take your shots and clean up the bad ones later.”