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Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  756 ratings  ·  61 reviews
What do football coach Bill Walsh, restaurateur Alice Waters, television executive Lorne Michaels, technology CEO Larry Ellison, and fashion pioneer Ralph Lauren have in common? On the surface, not much, other than consistent success in their fields. But below the surface, they share a common approach to finding, nurturing, leading, and even letting go of great people. The ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Portfolio
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3.59  · 
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 ·  756 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Ryan Lackey
Superbosses is everything that is good and bad about business books. There is a core good idea: some leaders are very good, intentionally or unintentionally, at developing talent, and maintaining networks of current and former employees or protégés. Finkelstein conducted interviews with famous leaders across industries who seem to meet this definition, grouping them into 3 main types, and then contrasting their behaviors vs normal bosses.

Some of this seems to be taken a bit too far to justify pe
Jul 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Every time I read a book like this I am like, this would make a good Economist supplemental issue.

Because its goddamn miserable as a book.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a book by a Professor at Dartmouth's Tuck School about "Supermanagers" and how they operate. As best as I can tell, the intuition is that a Supermanager is someone whose firm or organization has achieved outstanding and continued performance under that person's leadership and whose tenure is marked by extensive and prolonged work with protégés in an apprenticeship format in which junior managers are trained by the Supermanager to succeed in the firm and who subsequently move on to outsta ...more
Guillermo Trueba
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When my boss recommended and lent this book to me i thought: oh another management book, great... But i found just what i needed, examples of great people, people i can aspire to be.
This book does an analysis of the traits the best bosses in the world have, to my surprise is not about them, it is all about what they can do for their employees that makes them great, their positive influence on other is what makes them successful, this is mentioned over and over again with many different examples
Simon Roberts
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: incomplete
Find a summary rather...
I normally steer clear of books with a low rating (unless I've been personally referred), but this book was a gift from a good friend so I thought I'd give it a try.
I got through the first 70 pages and then progress ground to a halt. It started becoming too repetitive. Sydney seems to have done a good job of researching and finding these "superboss" examples for us, but the constant context switching between anecdotes doesn't work for me.
There is a long list of credible
Jason Liu Yantian
May 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Even though I am far from being a boss but I do find the perspective this book provides to be quite enlightening. It is definitely nice to understand from the viewpoints of the managers/bosses so that being employees we can work better together to achieve the same goals. So here are the takeaways:

1. understanding working style differences
- how she/he like to feedback?
- How she handles conflict?
- Key priorities outside work, how to structure work so she can complete all priorities
- When is he lea
Bill Serva
Jan 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This book attempts to identify the similarities between bosses that have a great deal of success in not only running a business, but also in hiring, retaining, and motivating exceptional employees. The author accomplishes this through his many different stories of people that exhibit the traits of a superboss. This approach exposes the readers to some techniques that are characteristic of superbosses, but is far from a "how to" guide for those wanting to follow in the footsteps of the greats men ...more
Rajib Borah
Feb 02, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
1) This book was published in 2016.

Hilary Clinton was one of the 12 people cited as being an example of a superboss.
Donald Trump was the only person who was cited as being an example of a bad boss.
(Disclaimer: I only read the first 40% of the book)

2) I desperately wanted to like this book when I picked it up.

The same generalities are repeated through out the book - I believe the same thing could have been written in 10-20 pages.
This is the first book that I have marked as 'read' on goodreads w
Elke Sanborn
Oct 27, 2018 rated it liked it
The book highlights unconventional competencies of hyper-successful leaders who develop other highly successful leaders and mentors. While the concept is interesting and almost compelling, the writing style lacks organization and spends significant page space to document the talent webs of these leaders which could have been summarized as a few charts in the appendix. I wanted to love this book, however the reader has to work too hard to pull out the golden nuggets.
Yvo Hunink
Dec 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice book that should be able to help me in setting up my company as an open attractive learning environment and how it helps to let people grow as employees and as persons.

Only could have done with a bit less repitition and some more concrete focus on tools that help apply the lessons in real life for bosses around.
Rebecca Heins
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was expecting more from the book, reading the reviews on the cover! But felt that it hardly offers any insight. Most of the examples are American and not that well known outside of USA. Felt like it was just repeating the same points throughout the book. The writing style is also not engaging at all. I just ran towards the end to just get it over with it.
Jun 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Even a 5 star would be an under rating for the book. This is a book that you have to chew word by word. Though there isn't a manual of things that need to done, directly in the book there are loads of wisdom in each and every page. Becoming a Superboss is easy provided we are up to creating the necessary balance between our ego, teaching ability and others...
David Javier
Jun 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
Had very high hopes for Sydney Finkelstein. The first chapters of the book are very sleepy and used the word boss/superboss very too often without any aid for the readers to help understand the author's purpose. Points were weak and barely believable.
Danielle Hunt
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an excellent book. My husband came home with this book and I have been spouting the knowledge of this book all week long, my colleagues probably are sick of it! But it makes sense. Now I need to go forth and get it done.
Jim Holder
May 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Not really the best book. Felt very repetitive, without offering a ton of information. Wasn't a huge fan of the book, and felt it would be more of a play-by-play of a good manager, and how to manage talent. I felt like a kept reading through the book without really picking up anything.
Sebastian Song
Jul 22, 2017 rated it liked it
More wonderful tales of great bosses and mentors. Unfortunately the book could be more condensed and deliver the same results with probably three fewer chapters.
Aug 15, 2018 rated it liked it
For higher level managers.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
Had some interesting anecdotes, but didn't really provide advice, and referred to the same eople over and over.
Kevin Comer
May 23, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business-books
A series of just-so stories about (supposedly) extraordinary people, whose success is totally defined by the positions that their protégés achieve. Completely neglected in this “analysis” is just how much social professional networks cause these proteges get the jobs, thus negating his entire thesis that the boss actually made their protégé “better”.

Never once are there any tips on how to become a better manager – just a few rhetorical questions at the end geared around, “Are you a superboss? Do
Tedi Irawan
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nice book. So many examples that I can reflect on.
Joe Moreno
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for any manager that wants to take their performance to the next level!
Oct 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Good research and insights, but the book would have been twice as impactful if it were half as long.
Joe Thacker
Mar 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I wish this book was 20-30 pages for there some great points in here.
V Narayanan
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This Book reinforced my Crazy Ideas by which I felt that I am a Leader or Standard by myself

It helped me to logically understand myself & my philosophies and become better conscious person

However how could I break my weaknesses to unleash my leadership- I couldn't learn from this book
Oct 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a bit disappointing. I heard him on the Coaching for Leaders podcast and was excited to read the book but felt it suffered from wandering anecdotes. There is a lot of good stuff in here, but I think it could have been a bit more focused in the message and then used the anecdotes to support.
Dale Mullings
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Thanks to Alysha for getting this book for me! I really enjoyed this book and the many examples of super bosses from the modern corporate world. I definitely have a few strategies to borrow for my own personal actions and team playbook moving forward. My criticism of the book is that although it tries to focus on a core set of example super bosses to evidence it's point, it regularly shoots off to hand pick examples outside of the core to make all of its points. It leaves the feeling that few ar ...more
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
First, the bad: the book sometimes feels like a set of elaborate conclusions drawn from specific individuals. The sample size is not that great and sometimes you wonder whether the experience presented of the superbosses really backs up the presented theories. Some of the theories, albeit true, sometimes seem kind of trivial and obvious, although that might be my opinion.

That aside, it presents excellent and timely conclusions. I particularly enjoyed the sections on the alumni communities and wh
Marc Stephan
Mar 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book repeats the same ideas over and over again which, from a learning perspective, I suppose makes sense. You want this stuff drilled into your head. But from an interest perspective, I found myself wanting to skip sections at a time whenever I wasn't listening to the accompanying audio book. It's all the same things, the only difference is who embodies the idea best at the time.

Still, the concept of "Superboss" itself was interesting to me. I like to feel passionate about the projects I'm
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book offers a different perspective on leadership and the role of a leader itself.

I'd give it 5* if it was shorter, more to the point and if it had an applicable summary. Nevertheless, it's original in its approach and worth the time.


“You have a choice when it comes to talent: hire and develop people who will reach a natural ceiling, and keep them forever; or cultivate a new generation of talent that intends to surpass you, and help them do it. These superperformers will not be satisfied
Allison Pignatello

This should be a must read for every employee in a company. Clear, compelling, and approached from the angle of good story telling.
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Video interview with Superbosses author Sydney Finkelstein 1 4 Feb 25, 2016 11:37AM  

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“Whereas many coaches left to others the minutiae of leading an organization, Walsh broke down the minute-to-minute progression of team practices, defined responsibilities for coaches and players, and set rules for how to handle business matters such as negotiating contracts and dealing with the media. He also dispensed with an authoritarian style of leadership and empowered individuals by teaching them to think independently. These innovations amounted to a comprehensive new approach to coaching, one adopted and refined by a generation of Walsh’s successors.” 0 likes
“Superbosses aren’t like most bosses; they follow a playbook all their own. They are unusually intense and passionate—eating, sleeping, and breathing their businesses and inspiring others to do the same. They look fearlessly in unusual places for talent and interview candidates in colorful ways. They create impossibly high work standards that push protégés to their limits. They engage in an almost inexplicable form of mentoring and coaching, one that occurs spontaneously with (apparently) no clear rules. They lavish responsibility on inexperienced protégés, taking risks that seem foolish to outsiders. When the time is right, superbosses often encourage star talent to leave, after which these acolytes usually become part of the superboss’s strategic network in the industry.” 0 likes
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