How to Become a Great Boss by Jeffrey Fox

How to Become a Great Boss by Jeffrey Fox

Paul Gallipeau Business Book Notes Leave a Comment

Originally published on August 2nd, 2011.

About the Author

Jeffrey J. Fox is an awesome writer who writes clearly and concisely. His words are gems of knowledge that can be absorbed and appreciated, enjoyably, in short sittings. Most of Jeffrey’s books can be read cover to cover in as little as 2 hours. Fox’s wisdom and stories are both instructional and entertaining. Professionally, Jeffrey Fox is a marketing consultant, speaker, and author. This is the second review I’ve posted of one of his books, you can check out the first one here.

The Book

My copy of the book, in MLA form, is:

Fox, Jeffrey J. How to Become A Great Boss: The Rules for Getting and Keeping the Best Employees. New York: Hyperion, 2002.

You can get a copy of the book on Amazon or your local library (recommended). If you’re interested in listening to the audiobook, you can get two free audiobooks with your 30-day free trial on Audible.

My Review

I love Jeffrey Fox’s books. They are quick to read and the lessons are easy to put straight into action. Fox uses short stories and case studies to support his points. As I have said before, the knowledge and wisdom that you obtain from a Jeffrey Fox book is unlike any that you can get from a textbook. If you are a boss or someone who has ambitions of becoming a boss, this book is a must read. It provides insights on hiring and firing employees, leadership, and humility.

Topics Covered

Some of the primary topics covered in this particular book by Jeffrey Fox are as follows (in alphabetical order):

Hiring and Firing Notes
  • “If there is a job that does not directly or indirectly get or keep a customer, that job is redundant and should be eliminated or outsourced” (Fox 9-10).
  • Great bosses and great companies need to constantly train and improve their employees to keep the company competitive. If an employee can’t or won’t provide value then that employee needs to go (Fox 13).
  • Hire slow and fire fast because mishires are very expensive. To avoid mishires, slow down the hiring process for important jobs and expensive candidates. Trust yourself and do interviews, tests, background checks, consult advisers, and scrutinize both the failures and successes of the candidate (Fox 21-23).
  • When you must fire an employee, obey all laws, company procedures, and act responsibly. Fire fast for the sake of the company and also so the rest of the employees don’t develop any negative qualities such as becoming doubtful of the boss’s competency (Fox 26-27).
  • The supervisor can veto the hiring choice of the subordinate so the hiring manager needs the supervisor’s approval for a new employee. This helps to reduce mishires (Fox 32-33).
  • “If the boss has a hunch that the candidate is weak or has a fatal flaw, then there will be a veto. If the boss feels the hire is problematic but not a certain reject, and the hiring manager is in favor, there will be no veto” (Fox 34-35).
  • Only hire people with the right attitude and ability (Fox 36).
  • Look into the ‘Ten Ds’ when an employee has a performance problem: debt, divorce, disease, drugs, death, depression, drinking, dice, deviancy, and dalliance. Have the employee commit to an improvement plan or terminate him or her (Fox 39).
  • A great boss deters future problems during the hiring process by being clear on compensation, benefits, work product, hours, company culture, and behavior. Make sure the new employee understands (Fox 57).
  • Hire the best because the best only want to work with the best. Mediocre people with hire even more mediocre people. Keep the standards high (Fox 61).
  • “Having to check the expense accounts means you have the wrong people” (Fox 108).

Return to topic index

Humility Notes
  • “The careful boss listens and observes before making any decisions about people. The great boss does not make snap judgments about anyone” (Fox 16).
  • “Treat people the way you wish to be treated. People understand reality. Treat people with dignity and even the most difficult circumstances get better” (Fox 31).
  • Great bosses are mentors, teachers, and coaches. They are so with humility (Fox 44).
  • “Solid principles are to a boss as a compass is to a sailor” (Fox 49).
  • “Work hard with pride, discipline, integrity, and respect for your associates” (Fox 51).
  • “The great boss remembers his or her roots, and remembers who helped along the way. Never forget that your success was not earned by you alone” (Fox 52).
  • Pay attention to employees and make them your sole focus when meeting or speaking. Ask questions and listen. Be polite and courteous (Fox 72-73).
  • Never be too important to listen to, and learn from, anybody. Have respect for everyone regardless of background, status, or title (Fox 77).
  • “Employees must know that they can freely tell you what you have to hear, not what you want to hear. A great rule from the great boss is ‘never let me make a mistake'” (Fox 82).
  • “Seven common words [‘I don’t know. What do you think?’] – and the courage, self-assurance, and modesty to use them – make for uncommon wisdom” (Fox 87).
  • “Heed what you say. Heed how you say it. Your words carry weight; speak with discretion” (Fox 91).
  • Do not blurt thoughts or participate in gossip because the great boss cannot say anything that may unintentionally be misinterpreted (Fox 92).
  • “To belittle someone is to be little. Don’t be-little; be big” (Fox 102).
  • “The great boss is often thankful, humble, and lucky. It is an attractive quality that attracts other good people, an inexpensive way to perpetuate good luck” (Fox 116).
  • A great boss takes responsibility for both his or her own mistakes as well as the mistakes of the team. A great boss will also give credit publicly to employees for any success (Fox 133).
  • The great boss does not create scapegoats. He or she will stand up for the team and take the heat (Fox 148).
  • Great bosses will not win the office pool. They will contribute, but if they win they will find a way to pass it on for another drawing by claiming bragging rights or another creative solution (Fox 159).

Return to topic index

Leadership Notes
  • “Able and motivated people are key to an enterprise’s success” (Fox 3).
  • Great bosses lead an organization to success with their attitude and presence, not with policies. Companies will do what the boss does; for instance, if the boss is always late then employees will follow suit (Fox 6-7).
  • Remember that the customer is the real boss because without their money there is no job (Fox 11).
  • Sometimes purging personnel files of petty and trivial issues can lead to huge improvements so long as you tell your employees and show sincere faith in their capabilities. In other words, you don’t need to fire everyone and hire new people if you inherit a ‘bad’ team (Fox 17-18).
  • “If the boss allows mediocrity, the boss validates mediocrity” (Fox 19).
  • There are internal problems that can cause performance problems with employees and they are demoralized people, de-motivation, and poor direction (Fox 40).
  • There are situations where you can forgive a major mistake and use the opportunity to motivate the employee (Fox 48).
  • “Give the task, job, or project to the least senior (possibly least paid) person who can do the job properly. This is delegation, and the key to efficiency” (Fox 59).
  • “The great boss makes people make decisions” (Fox 64).
  • “Ask, ‘what would you do if I were dead?'” (Fox 64).
  • Tell the employees the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ but leave the ‘how’ up to them. Be a resource and occasionally check in on the employee and the project. Don’t do the job for the employee (Fox 66).
    “You get what you inspect, not what you expect” (Fox 69).
  • “Successful organizations keep their promises. People who keep their promises flourish in good companies. The great boss makes sure his or her people flourish” (Fox 81).
  • “The great boss encourages food-based mini-celebrations” because it is a good time to meet and mingle with employees while surprising and thanking them for their work. Send the left overs home with your employees (Fox 89).
  • Give surprise, unexpected bonuses and rewards for a job well done (Fox 98).
  • “The great boss stands for what the organization stands for. The great boss does not allow the company name to be sullied and does not allow people publicly linked to the company to defame the company” (Fox 112-113).
  • “Be firm, fair, and friendly, but not a friend” (Fox 117).
  • The boss and the organization may lose but they do not quit (Fox 121).
  • “Good people make the boss look good. Motivated, well-trained people can make the boss look great. And the great boss knows it” (Fox 126).
  • Invest most of your time with your best people. You wouldn’t invest most of your money with low-return companies. Don’t make that mistake with your time (Fox 129).
  • Teach for ten minutes a day. That’s forty hours a year which is the equivalent to at least one college course credit (Fox 135).
  • Great bosses do not allow policies to hinder performance or business. More policies equates to less innovation (Fox 136-140).
  • “Energy energizes. A great boss’s energy energizes the organization. An energetic organization always beats the lethargic organization” (Fox 156).

Return to topic index

“The Great Boss Simple Success Formula”

This portion below is quoted directed from Jeffrey Fox on pages 4 through 5.

  1. Only hire top-notch, excellent people.
  2. Put the right people in the right job. Weed out the wrong people.
  3. Tell the people what needs to be done.
  4. Tell the people why it is needed.
  5. Leave the job up to the people you’ve chosen to do it.
  6. Train the people.
  7. Listen to the people.
  8. Remove frustration and barriers that fetter the people.
  9. Inspect progress.
  10. Say “thank you” publicly and privately.

Return to topic index

Want the full experience?

Buy the book here or support your local library! If you’re interested in listening to the audiobook, you can get two free audiobooks with your 30-day free trial on Audible.

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