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Friday, 14 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.

I've done Boss 1 - Ambitious, Boss 2 - Bruiser, Boss 3 -Bullish, Boss 4 - Consistent, Boss 5 - Driver......and today Boss 6 - Eager

As William Shakespeare wrote in “Richard III”: “Hark! The shrill trumpet sounds, to horse, away, my soul’s in arms, and eager for the fray.”  Boss 6 always seemed to be ready, rather like a 100m sprinter at the starting block, to race off and do whatever needed to be done, to jump to attention if a senior executive arrived or spring into some impulsive action to fix a problem.  He was eager to look busy, eager to contribute and eager to please.  No one could fault his enthusiasm and energy.  The trouble was his instinct to do the job himself, somehow to keep proving the old notion that he was not willing to tell others what to do unless he had done it himself.  We believed that somewhere in his career he was advised to always lead from the front and he seemed to take it literally.  As a team, after a time, we gave up trying to contribute or lend a hand or take some of the burden off him.  He was a nice guy but too lost in his own eagerness to devote much time to team involvement. 

The following list encapsulates the man and the manager:
Never have just one trick up your sleeve
Always be ready to act and react
Luck is a major factor in business decision-making
In a crisis, instinct and experience almost always work
Energy and enthusiasm will always defeat boredom
Risks are part of the fun
Without challenges, nothing and no one improves
A strong leader leads the charge
Work hard to impress others, and yourself
At the end of each day, assess successes and failures

It is true to say that Boss 6 had more successes than failures.  His “gung-ho” approach to the job certainly earned him lots of plaudits around the company.  He was seen as a go-getter, a manager not interested in wasting time or opportunity.  But he could dig some deep holes for himself and his team.  On one occasion, he came back from a project meeting and told us that he had agreed to a six-week schedule in what everyone knew was a 12-week rollout of a set of new auditing procedures.  His impulsive nature had obviously taken over during discussions and he leapt in with a guarantee that the job could be completed in half the time.  This was an example of how he went about most things.  In this instance, had he taken the time and found the patience to listen to his team, to absorb the amount of time required to write and deliver training courses, to plan the logistics of UK-wide travel, accommodation, training facilities, printing of course materials and so on, he would not have jumped in with two left feet.  He could see on our faces expressions of despair because we had been handed an impossible task.  He could see that we were unhappy, not just with the truncated schedule, but also with him.  But he insisted that it was possible to meet the new timing if we all got stuck in rather than analyse the project to death.  The next day he arrived at work beaming from ear to ear.  He told us that he had just come off the phone to his boss and they had agreed a 10-week schedule.  We burst into a spontaneous round of applause.  We felt good that he had listened to and understood our concerns.  Later, it emerged that an equipment supplier had scuppered the 6-week idea and that was the reason for rethinking the number of weeks.  Our boss did not tell us that part, assuming we would believe that he and he alone had saved the day.  The upside of his eagerness was apparent in results but sometimes he was just as eager not to divulge things that might tarnish his image. 

My summary:


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