Superbosses author Sydney Finkelstein
Sydney Finkelstein. Image: Connor McKenna

What do you need to do to become a super boss?

10 Nov 2016

In a world where talented employees are becoming more discerning about where they work and who they work with, it’s more important than ever to develop an appealing management style – to become a superboss.

We’re currently in a talent-driven market. With a massive skills gap, particularly in tech, there are more jobs than there are people to fill them.

That puts jobs candidates (and employees) in a position of power. To get the best talent at your company or organisation, you need to create an attractive offering.

While perks and benefits can play an important role, more often than not, it’s a candidate’s affinity for a company – and its staff – that makes all the difference in a decision on whether or not to sign.

That starts at the top. Interviews – and indeed the course of a person’s tenure within a company – give candidates the opportunity to discover if they will gel with you, their manager. If they find you wanting, they’re out the door.

So how do you make yourself more appealing? How do you grow your talent and your business? Become a superboss.

Sydney Finkelstein, author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, describes a superboss as “a leader that helps other people get better … It’s actually someone who generates and regenerates talent on a continuous basis and, thereby, accelerates the careers of all the people that work for them”.

According to Finkelstein, these “mentors on steroids” push and support talent growth by raising the bar and unleashing people’s creativity.

The superboss ethos, claims Finkelstein, is perfectly designed for industries like tech, where the workforce is in constant flux.

“It’s actually a new way of thinking about leadership,” says Finkelstein.

“We know that most people are going to stay – more and more, is the case – for a very short period of time … They want to learn, to have an impact, to be able to make something happen. And actually, if you do that and you create that opportunity, you will keep them longer than a year or two.”

But how can you become a superboss? Well, says Finkelstein, “the single most important thing any manager could do to become a superboss is to do the mindset shift and to say, ‘You know what? There’s something else I could be doing here, and I should think about my job as someone who helps other people get better’.”

Seems like a good place to start.

Sydney Finkelstein is a leadership expert, author, and professor of management and director of the Center for Leadership at the Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth. He recently spoke on Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent at IMI’s National Management Conference.

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Kirsty Tobin
By Kirsty Tobin

Kirsty Tobin served as careers editor of Silicon Republic from 2015 up to August 2017. When she was younger, she had a dream where she started and won a fight with a T-Rex, so she’s pretty sure she kicked butt at this, too. Passions include eating all the cake, watching more TV than is healthy and sassy comebacks.

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