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Bosses: True Stories of the Good, the Bad & the Ugly

By Lise Michaud

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Roger D’Aprix released his latest book titled Bosses: True Stories of the Good, the Bad & the Ugly.


Using solid data and diverse contributory testimony, the author takes a hard look at boss behaviour and how it impacts people and business results. This book is an invitation to bosses to take stock of the urgency to put people first in a dramatically changing world. 


In the following book review, Jim Shaffer explains why this book is a must-read.

Book Review by Jim Shaffer


Roger D’Aprix has just published another book that should serve as required reading for every project, team and corporate leader. 


“Bosses: True Stories of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly” is Roger’s eighth book. Each focuses on improving business results through better-managed communication.  The most powerful communication in an organization comes from leaders—or bosses—who communicate by what they say and what they do.


Why another book on this subject? As Bob Dylan once rightly said, ‘the times they are a-changin.’


Radical changes in the workforce are demanding that bosses up their game, as Roger explains.


“In the digital age organizations require greater innovation and creativity than ever before in pursuit of their disruptive and ambitious goals,” Roger says. “That innovation is an organization’s true competitive edge. And it relies heavily on the boss/employee relationship.” 


Roger invited 16 people, including myself, to serve as a panel of contributors who are expert on the subject of leadership communication. All are highly respected practitioners in the field and have deep experience in various phases of communication leadership, from corporate strategy to speech writing to leadership development and coaching.


Eleven of us on this panel have achieved IABC Fellow designations, the highest honor bestowed on any of its eight thousand members by the International Association of Business Communicators.  


Collectively, the panel of experts contribute real life-experiences that reinforce his or her view that company talent is often ill-served by an ill-prepared boss. And, not incidentally, that their experiences represent the so-called ‘state-of-the-art’ in the relationships of bosses and workers. For every story they offer—good, bad or ugly—there are tens of thousands more that go untold, lost for fear of retaliation or the belief that no one cares.


The Gallup Organization claims that companies select the wrong candidate for boss positions 82 percent of the time. Gallup also estimates that the collective cost of lousy bosses is somewhere around $500 billion annually.  Yet, as Roger’s book points out, bosses have been short-changed when it comes to training, development and ongoing support; an unforgivable neglect bordering on, if not actually, senior-leader malpractice.


“Bosses” shines a light on boss behavior – from exemplary to horrific. And while it may be more fun to dwell on the bad bosses, for comic relief if nothing else, Roger believes we need to learn from the good ones who serve as role models, recognizing that a “boss” can be defined as any holder of power, from CEO to team captain.  


Great bosses can take people and organizations to new heights through motivation and engagement. Conversely, lousy bosses can undermine performance and they’re also the primary reason people quit their jobs.  


These are justifiable reasons for emphasizing the importance of the role.


I’ve spent a lot of time studying business leaders over the years. My office bookcase has somewhere around 50 books about leadership, all written by well-recognized authors. 


One of the beauties of Roger’s new book is that he has consolidated major “boss issues” into one very readable book. 


As an example, Roger discusses David McGregor’s concepts of Theory X and Theory Y which are two conflicting theories of worker motivation.  Theory X is authoritarian. Theory Y is participatory. He describes why and how to capitalize on the thinking and action that needs to be taken to drive improved performance. In short, he gives the reader an excellent description and application of concepts and approaches to being a good boss. For me, “Bosses” is a relatively quick read related to numerous leadership issues. 


One of Roger’s major contributions to many organizations and their people is what is often referred to as the Communication Leadership Model, which encapsulates the employee’s needs at work into the following six questions. In Roger’s view, responding faithfully to these questions is the essence of what it means to be a good boss:


  • What’s my job?

  • How am I doing?

  • Does anyone care?

  • What are our goals as a team and how are we performing against them?

  • What’s our vision?

  • How can I help?


This book is one great read, packed with information that every leader should have in order to take people to incredible heights. 


This book review was originally published by The Leadership Report, Jim Shaffer Group.  


Bosses: True Stories of the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is available at

NEW - Looking for best-in-class internal communication training? Click here.

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Jim Shaffer, IABC Fellow, is an internationally recognized business adviser, author, speaker and leader of the Jim Shaffer Group. Shaffer was a principal and global leader of a Towers Perrin center of excellence. He was a practitioner in the firm’s change management consulting practice. He is the author of the book The Leadership Solution, and his clients have included some of the world’s most respected brands.

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