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Wednesday, 5 February 2014


I am working on a book about management style and behaviour based on my own bosses over four decades. "Career-View Mirror: 40 Bosses In Forty Years" is a work in progress and each day over the next couple of weeks, I am publishing here rough-cut chapters to test the idea.

The plan is to publish the material in a book, either via mainstream or self-publishing routes and then to take the material and share it in talks, presentations and workshops with business students and current managers.

Today - Boss 1.......  

The enjoyable thing about Boss 1 was watching him operate.  He liked to look and sound slick.  He would be masterful on the telephone, always increasing his speaking volume so that all of the office employees could hear how in control he was of any situation.  He was very, very ambitious, hungry for board director positions and ultimately Chief Executive of whatever came his way.  He was very open about all of this.  He was not unpleasant in any way, just a supreme self-publicist, a great talker, mostly about how he did this and did that.  He loved the glory, taking the lion’s share, but was adept at sharing the blame.  He was an effective manager and, after a while, a crashing bore.  But, he delivered the goods, met targets, controlled costs, kept the team lively and looked after us at appraisal and salary reviews.  Here are some of the things I noticed about him and learned from him:
Develop supreme self-confidence
For career success, be prepared to make sacrifices
Fear of losing should keep us on our toes
Being half-ambitious is pointless
Learn to be streetwise and understand the real world
Build a team with the right mix of people, skills and talents around you
Enjoy whatever you do and especially surf the stress
No matter how good you are, there is always room for improvement
Control your aggression
Relish a good rivalry as a stimulus for self-improvement

Boss 1 made leadership and management look easy.  Think of George Clooney or Cary Grant on screen and consider how effortlessly they perform, seemingly just walking in off the street and doing their jobs with the minimum effort.  It’s nonsense, of course, because preparation and rehearsal are key to what we see finally in a movie.  But they possess varying degrees of self-confidence and are in control of their talents and abilities to deliver assured performances.  The same was true of Boss 1.  He had the personality and swagger to carry it off, regardless of any obstacles in his way.  He always made it sound as if he knew everything, had the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.  He knew his audience, whether it was his own team or the company directors.  He was able to adapt his conversation to suit all parties.  

Of course, he did not know everything, nor have all the answers, but he was determined not to fail in front of anyone who could help his career.  I have no idea how hard he worked on his “act” away from the job, but he was always well-prepared, upbeat, generally calm and, as I said before, effective in delivering business and people targets.  In addition, he was very competitive, determined to top all the important league tables and, by and large, he worked his team hard to ensure he (and we) stayed on top.  He was ambitious in a self-centred way, and we knew that, but it felt good to the rest of us to be on the winning team, most of the time.

My summary:

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