Why You Need to Read This Book

Let’s imagine you’re a carpenter. You’ve been a carpenter for a long time and you’re very good at your job. One day, your boss comes to you and says, “You are a great carpenter. As a reward, we’re going to promote you! Starting tomorrow, you’re going to be an architect!”

What sense would that make? Sure, carpentry and architecture are related, but architecture requires a completely different set of skills and training. If you get thrown into an important new role with no training, you’re almost doomed to fail. It would be a massive mistake, and you and the company would both suffer.

Yet American businesses have consistently made this exact mistake for decades, and they continue to make it today. They promote successful employees into management roles with no training to help them become successful managers.

Managers have a tremendous amount of influence over the culture of a company and the productivity of its employees, and yet only a small fraction of managers are qualified for their jobs. The remainder aren’t good and they know it. They get insecure and defensive, and they quickly become dick managers.

This problem costs US companies hundreds of billions of dollars each year. It results in unhappy employees, high turnover and low productivity. And it’s seemingly impossible to fix.

Except that it’s not. It’s just going to be up to you to become a great manager on your own because it’s unlikely your company has programs in place to help you.

That’s where Don’t Be a Dick Manager comes in. It helps you develop the characteristics you need to become a great manager, to evaluate all aspects of your job and to make good decisions about your role and your career. These are things that can be applied by any manager at any company right now.

This book also helps people with dick managers understand what they’re dealing with and may make it easier for them to attempt a solution or make a change.

About the Author

I became a manager at the age of 29. It was a big job. I had a lot of autonomy, a good-sized team and no management training whatsoever. And the moment I walked into my fancy new office, my education began.

I’d been working since the age of 11 and I’d had eight bosses by then. All I knew about management was that I wanted to copy the good things I’d seen and avoid the bad. Fortunately, I had a supportive boss and a forgiving team. I made some mistakes, but I learned from them, as I have in every job since.

I went on to manage teams in large media companies like CBS and NBC (while it was owned by both GE and by Comcast) and in tiny Silicon Valley tech startups. I’ve worked in government as well as the service, consumer product, media and technology industries. Though every company was different, the great managers I knew–and there were very few of them–all had something in common: they had very specific personal characteristics that enabled them to be great.

Few people are born with these characteristics, but many more can acquire them if they work at it. These are things nobody talks about, which is a shame because I wish I’d known about them much sooner.

This is my attempt to help other managers, particularly those who are early in their careers, make fewer mistakes and enjoy long, rewarding, successful management careers.

This book isn’t based on academic studies or on one person’s unusual, one-of-a-kind experience. It’s based on working in the trenches year after year, learning as I went and eventually understanding what it takes to be a great manager.