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Managing Up, Down, Superstars, Bozos -- and Alphas

Many people learn instinctively the importance of managing up -- that is, keeping your boss in the loop, in your corner, and under control.

More difficult and subtle is the art and science of managing peers, subordinates, different generations, geniuses, and jerks. To varying degrees, all have a significant influence on your career, so it's in the best interest to proactively manage these relationships.

Take Alpha males: those brutish, boring, basta -- uh brash -- power movers who seem to be at the center of business decision making. In Unmasking the Alpha Male on Harvard Business Online, Gill Corkindale tells not only how she worked with Alphas and lived to tell her tale, but also how she reduced them to tears. The key? Look at motivation. "Behind the Alpha's big, brash persona is an often insecure and driven individual who fears being unmasked."

Corkindale also put women under the same microscope in Alpha Females: Deadlier than the Male?
Here are additional pointers to recent resources on managing over, under, sideways, down:

  • Upper management Influencing your boss and upper management is often a case of great salesmanship, says business author Marshall Goldsmith, in How to Influence Decision Makers.
  • Former colleagues In Managing Your Peers: What Would You Do? Michael Watkins, Professor of General Management at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, offers a case study and discussion to look at the difficult transition from peer to boss.
  • Superstars The smartest thing a manager can do is hire smart people. But trouble can develop with the <i>really</i> smart ones -- the superstars. In surprising research on superstar performance, Harvard Business School researchers find that brilliant performers can quickly flame out after jumping to a new job. It turns out, professor Boris Groysberg says in an interview, that stars don't shine alone.
  • Fools and Jerks This Harvard Business Review excerpt, a blast from the archives, asks the question, Fools versus jerks: whom would you hire?
What's the most difficult cohort you've had to manage?
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