If you ask a highly successful manager, a great leader what it is
that makes them so effective don’t expect to get the answer that those
who work with them would give. Even the best often lack insight and
don’t see themselves the way others see them.
They see themselves as paternalistic looking after and out for
their staff. Those who worked for them describe a strict Victorian
parent figure, sever and distant, feared rather than respected. They
view themselves as pragmatic their colleagues speak of a ruthless
streak. They consider one of their strengths to be their ability to
focus and not be distracted, their critics refer to a blinkered
approach. They describe themselves as confident and assertive others
refer to arrogant and aggressive behaviour. They talk of a management
style based on coaching and mentoring those who have been coached and
mentored call it bullying. They claim to have a special skill for
spotting and developing talent others say they have a selective memory
only for the successes.
I worked for a director who thought himself decisive and often
refers to his favourite Tom Petty song,” I won’t back down“, his staff
complained he was to easily influenced by the last person he spoke to.
Yet he was effective mostly because he surrounded himself with very
able people who liked him and wanted to deliver for him.
Typically we tend to over look a managers short comings and forgive
their abrasive and opinionated behaviour whilst they continue to be
effective and deliver impressive results. However once they start to
lose the Midas touch the critics, including their staff, are quick to
draw attention to unattractive and unacceptable aspects of their
management style. This comes as a shock to successful managers not use
to unflattering or critical feedback but they are not going to change
instead they simply point defensively and irritably to their
impressive track record.
The lesson to be drawn from this is that great managers do not
necessarily have any great insight into their own behaviour and are
therefore not a reliable source to answer the question “what made you
so effective?” All they can say is they did it their way and for a
time at least it worked very well.
Blair McPherson www.blairmcpherson.co.uk