Bob Sutton

Bob Sutton

Bob Sutton is a Stanford Professor who studies and writes about leadership, organizational change, and navigating organizational life. Follow me on Twitter @work_matters, and visit my website and posts on LinkedIn. My latest book is The A–hole Survival Guide: How To Deal With People Who Treat You Like Dirt. Before that, I published Scaling Up Excellence with Huggy Rao. My main focus these days is on working with Huggy Rao to develop strategies and tools that help leaders and teams change their organizations for the better — with a particular focus on organizational friction. Check out my Stanford “FRICTION Podcast” at iTunes or Sticher.

Articles by Bob Sutton


Firing people: What you do versus how you do it

Research and wisdom from leaders suggests firing people in humane and caring ways is best for an organization, the people doing it, and those sent packing.


Rhythms and red flags: How two restauranteurs prevent friction and frustration for employees

They show why many small problems are essential to prevent early — especially those that are linked to other essential and interconnected tasks.


“Productive paranoia: Lights, camera…anxiety!” Lessons from making 37 movies

"The best moment of a producer's life is the day they get the call that they got a film order." And after that, it is all problem-solving and productive paranoia.


Yes, that elephant can dance: General Motors Chief Talent Officer on innovation at scale

There are well-told stories about how and why old struggling companies have beat the odds and changed their cultures, practices, and products for the better — although it is important to remember that nothing life is permanent, so such successes are best viewed as temporary and precarious.


‘Describe your worst people nightmare. Describe what it cost you.’

What blindsides most leaders, brings down their teams and organizations, gets them fired, and keeps them up at night are those complicated, unpredictable, and emotional people who they lead, follow, and otherwise are responsible for influencing, inspiring, and sometimes, discouraging and defeating.

Office Life

What are the advantages of working for bad bosses?

This piece focuses on the topic we kept coming back to: the idea that, well, bad bosses aren't all bad. We all had suffered through bad bosses, and had seen them do all kinds of damage. BUT during the course of the conversation, we started realizing that a bad boss (especially the kind who doesn't really have the power to hurt you very much) can be a great thing in some ways.

Office Life

Top dog on a tightrope: The delicate art of being perfectly assertive

One area where self-awareness is particularly hard to gain has to do with one’s level of assertiveness. Bosses often can’t tell when they’re pushing people too hard versus not challenging, questioning, and coaching them intensely enough.


On “flim-flam and flubbery” in the American workplace

I would describe the book, Malice in Blunderland, as a collection of silly and serious thoughts about why people in big organizations do so many absurd and seemingly irrational things.

The Whole Human

Why ‘am I a success or a failure?’ is the wrong question to ask

It is best to travel through life with a focus on what you are learning and how to get a little wiser and better right now, rather than fretting or gloating over what you've done in the past (and seeing yourself as a winner or loser).

Office culture

Bad behavior is contagious: Beware of the company that you keep

Bad behavior is an infectious disease that you catch from other people — and it is mighty hard to resist.


The 100,000 homes campaign: A model for scaling up excellence

This is a true story that more people ought to hear. It contains numerous lessons for any leader, organization, or social movement about how to spread something good from the few to the many.


12 books that every leader should read

The best material out there on leading teams, creativity, and organization behavior.


This is why your job is becoming impossible to do

Your job is becoming impossible because of well-intentioned organization overload


Thirteen things I believe: Principles of organizational behavior

Stanford professor Bob Sutton reveals his 13 principles of organizational behavior.