Bob Sutton is one of my
favorite business authors.

Aside from his belief in
evidence-based management and the value of his work related to organizational
creativity and innovation, I just love this man’s style!

He’s human, readable,
insightful, and direct.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with him, he’s
a Professor of Management Science and Engineering in the Stanford Engineering School.

Insights from Bob’s latest
book, The
No Asshole Rule

What is an asshole?
“… if someone consistently
takes actions that leave a trail of victims in their wake, they deserve to be
branded as certified assholes.”

Attacks are “personal
rather than professional.”

“The difference between
how a person treats the powerless versus the powerful is as good a measure of
human character as I know.”

How do they impact an organization?
“It takes numerous
encounters with positive people to offset the energy and happiness sapped by a
single episode with one asshole.”

People “…devoted their
energy to protecting themselves, not to helping the company.”

“…when people believe that
they work for insensitive jerks, they find ways to get back at them, and
stealing is one of those ways.”

“…how many hours…managers
devote to “asshole management” or to predicting future legal costs incurred by

Then there’s the impact of finger-pointing, risk-adversity, and passive-aggressive behavior that lead to
serious issues with innovation and collaboration.

How can you implement a no asshole rule?
Make a policy of respect
for the individual public and enforce it.

“Hot shots who alienate
colleagues are told to change or leave.”

“…respond immediately if
any individual degrades another…”

“…if persistent nastiness
from any group is left unchecked, it creates a culture of contempt that infects
everyone it touches…”

Assholes multiply. They indirectly encourage people to “kick”
those with less power than themselves. If
in a hiring position, they tend to replicate themselves.

Be careful, your managers
may be assholes: “…even…trivial power advantages can change how people think
and act – and usually for the worse.”

Teach people how to
fight. “…conflict is constructive when
people argue over ideas rather than personality or relationship issues…”

To assess whether you’re
the asshole, learn how to deal with environments where they run rampant, and
explore the (somewhat limited) virtues of having one around, you’ll have to
read the book.

It’s worth it!