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Jordan Weissmann has gotten hold of a new study by Edward Lazear, Stanford economist and former George W. Bush, Stanford’s Kathryn Shaw and the University of Utah’s Christopher Stanton. The meat of the study indicates bosses achieved much better results than others in their organizations.

Weissman explains,

“…some bosses achieved much better results than others. Mathematically, taking a boss in the 10th percentile of productivity and replacing them with a supervisor in the 90th percentile was the rough equivalent of adding an extra worker to a nine-person team.

So what were the good bosses doing right? The researchers considered two possibilities. Either a boss might have been really good at motivating their team (i.e., they were a cheerleader, or maybe a drill sergeant) or they might have taught employees lasting skills (i.e., they were a coach). By looking at how well workers sustained their productivity after switching supervisors, the team concluded that teaching accounted for about two-thirds of a boss’s impact on his workers’ productivity.

All of this, of course, comes from a deep dive into the workings of a single corner of a single company engaged in the post-industrial equivalent of basic assembly work. Who knows how a similar study, if it could even be conducted, would hold up with creative professionals, or higher skill workers.

Still, it’s findings seem worth remembering. What’s the secret to being a good boss? Teach.”

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