By Marc Basil | January 15, 2017


As 2016 begins, many of us take time to reflect on the year ahead and vow to make changes, both personal and professional. Be it losing weight, quitting smoking or changing jobs, with the New Year comes the commitment to a fresh start.

As a recruiter, I cannot truly understand how to assist an individual in their job search without a true and honest understanding of what is motivating the desire to leave their current job. Year in, year out, the most commonly cited reason (though it remains taboo to discuss in a formal interview) is a poor manager.

Considering we spend a significant percentage of our lives working, one hopes to align with a manager who inspires, motivates, challenges and mentors. Unfortunately, such managerial traits are often quite elusive.

A recent article in The Harvard Business Review by Sydney Finkelstein discusses the attributes “superbosses” possess. From Larry Ellison to George Lucas to Ralph Lauren, there are several commonalities among these incredibly accomplished businesspeople that get put on display each day. I find this pretty fascinating and wanted to share with you the five aspects of Finkelstein’s “superbosses” I found to be the most interesting.

1. They have an unconventional approach to hiring.

According to Finkelstein, “Superbosses begin by seeking out unusually gifted people” who may not have all of the measurable skills “on paper” that a particular role may require. This is certainly a departure from how most managers approach the hiring process i.e. checking off the boxes of a job description or matching key words from a resume.

2. They accept churn.

Smart, hard-charging, creative people tend to have fast-paced careers and want to move on early and frequently in their careers. Superbosses understand that the quality of talent on their team matters more than stability and turnover. The change is viewed by superbosses as an opportunity to find fresh stars.

3. They set high expectations.

Superbosses demand high performance from their teams and go beyond pushing hard for results. They instill a sense of confidence and exceptionalism in their people. A mindset such as this is both infectious and transformational with regards to the team. Superbosses turn the ordinary into extraordinary.

4. They focus on intelligence, creativity and flexibility.

Superbosses seek out intelligence, creativity and flexibility – above all other attributes – when hiring new talent. They look for people who are versatile, can think quickly on their feet and approach situations from different angles. The best managers often insist that if you cannot hire someone great, you should not hire anyone at all.

5. They are masters.

Superbosses are extremely effective delegators who trust that they have hired the right team to execute their vision. Yet, they also tend to remain intimately involved in the details of their business and the work of their team. They give a good amount of hands-on experience and step in when necessary while teaching life lessons along the way.

What are some other secret attributes of “superbosses”? Let us know in the comments below!


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