Summary of The Art of Leadership

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The Art of Leadership book summary

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“Small things, done well” make a big difference in a leader’s career, says Silicon Valley engineer-turned-executive Michael Lopp. He recounts working his way up at Netscape, Apple and Slack in this three-part – or three “Act” – memoir covering what it means to be a manager, director and executive. He encourages all leaders – from new managers to experienced executives – to sweat the small stuff when hiring, delegating, managing meetings, handling problematic “capital-S” crises, controlling rumors and more. His stories enliven even mundane topics, and he includes a chapter on no-win situations with some fun for Star Trek fans.

About the Author

Michael Lopp has worked as an engineer and business leader for Slack, Borland, Netscape, Palantir, Pinterest and Apple. He also wrote Managing Humans, Third Edition and Being Geek.


Managers must listen to employees, prepare well for meetings and handle problems with a cool head.

Many new managers receive no managerial training and must learn by experience. It is hard for managers, even those a year or more into their roles, to work out the most efficient or productive way to run things.

Competence in synthesizing information is an important skill for managers. They tend to sign up for too many things and don’t realize they have overextended themselves, especially if they’re new to management. Then, they have to delegate a previous commitment or maintain all their commitments and perform poorly. Both are bad choices. Managers who don’t deliver on their promises seem incompetent or lazy. That signals to their team that it’s okay to drop assignments. Good managers use self-insight to understand their own capabilities.

They are conscientious about communicating with and meeting with their staff members, both in valuable one-on-one meetings and as a team. However, managers must prepare for these sessions; novice managers who don’t prepare for staff or one-on-one meetings by setting an agenda and considering...

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