It’s a common story. Time and again, in our work, we hear from smart, hardworking individuals who are progressing in their careers. They are consistently delivering what is asked of them and carefully avoiding major missteps. Yet, when it comes time for the big promotion, they are passed over, leaving them to wonder what went wrong. The problem is rarely a performance issue. Too often, managers get derailed, quite simply, because they misunderstand what leadership is about.

When we published Being the Boss in 2011, we sought to provide guidance for how managers can contribute to organizational performance and build a fulfilling career in an environment beset with rapid change. We wanted to help them avoid all too common mistakes—traps ...

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