6 practices of superbosses

Bosses are composed of a mix of talent, ambition, personality and authority, among other ingredients. But "superbosses" set themselves apart with the ability to identify and hone talent, according to the Harvard Business Review.

Superbosses don't just oversee the business aspects of their organizations. They find, train and develop the next cohort of leaders, according to Sydney Finkelstein, PhD, the Steven Roth Professor of Management in Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, and author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent.

After reviewing thousands of articles and books and conducting more than 200 interviews, Dr. Finkelstein identified 18 primary study subjects, people he considers definite superbosses. He then analyzed them for patterns to explain why these leaders could not only uplift their companies, but also their protégés. 

Dr. Finkelstein found superbosses tend to be extremely confident, competitive and imaginative. They also maintain a strong sense of integrity. He found they also employ similar "people strategies."

Here are six practices of superbosses, according to Dr. Finkelstein.

1. They seek out unusually talented people. Superbosses value intelligence, creativity and flexibility above all other traits. They want people who can look at problems from different angles and perspectives, manage surprises effectively, learn quickly and excel in any position.

2. They adopt unlikely winners. While superbosses adhere to some standard hiring criteria, like credentials, they are also willing to take chances on people who may not have as much industry experience or the right educational background. As a result of their tendency to reject preconceived notions of what talent should look like, superbosses typically show more openness to women and minorities, according to Dr. Finkelstein.

3. They tailor the job to fit the talent. When the opportunity presents itself, superbosses tailor roles to new hires to allow their unique skills and experience to rise to the forefront.

4. They set high expectations. Superbosses demand extraordinarily high performances from their teams. But they do not only push for stellar results — they do everything they can to instill a strong sense of confidence and exceptionalism in their people.

5. They are effective delegators. Superbosses trust their teams to execute and give them the autonomy to do so. At the same time, they remain intimately involved in the happenings of their organization and employees' work. "Like highly skilled craftsmen, superbosses give protégés an unusual amount of hands-on experience but also monitor their progress, offer instruction and intense feedback, and step in to work with them side by side when necessary," Dr. Finkelstein wrote.

6. They maintain relationships. Even after a protégé has moved on from the company, superbosses continue to provide counsel and support to their people. They are happy to make personal introductions and offer "membership" into their networks.

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