Posted: February 7, 2017
In Jim Collins “Good to Great” business book he discusses different styles of leadership, claiming with some authority that the very finest leaders combine two apparently conflicting qualities: modesty and ruthlessness.
An ability to accept ones own limitations (the modesty bit) means that the leader is able to take advice from and garner the support of a wider team.
On the other hand, while this characteristic feels empathetic, the Level 5 Leader (Collins’ name for this type) also has the ability to be coldly businesslike (hence the ability to be ruthless when needed.)
Now, in today’s Times, there is an article which reveals that middle managers generally do better than bosses – apparently for similar reasons.
Middle managers cannot count on the automatic support of their peers and juniors and therefore have to be better at listening and taking advice.
The research – carried out in Rotterdam – shows that middle managers complete more effective projects than the big bosses.
It’s a problem in leadership that we need to tackle.
It might seem diplomatic to let the boss win on the golf course but if the same behaviour is applied to decision making everyone loses out.
Bosses need to open their ears and staff need to speak up.
This research is interesting in the context of the US presidential election where a man not used to negotiating but asserting his will, now has to take on the American political system.
Julian Calderara – Managing Director, London
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