I don’t compromise – and I don’t say that as a virtue, it’s a defect,” so says the Leeds manager. You really shouldn’t look at highly successful managers and try and model yourself on them. Truth is they do a lot of things wrong, they have weaknesses and unattractive or unhelpful personality traits, some of which they themselves recognise, like the Leeds manager. Of course they must be doing a lot of things right in order to be so successful. You can try and identify the right things they do and copy them but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work, you see it’s the total package, the weaknesses as well as the strength that make it work for them.
A manager who yells at their team, is overly critical and makes unreasonable demands should not be successful and yet one of the most successful managers in the recent past is notorious for his ,”hair dryer “ treatment. He wasn’t successful because of this or despite this, it’s just that along side his other skill and personality traits it worked for him.
Conventional management wisdom supports delegation and encourages staff to use their initiative and yet one of the most charismatic and high profile managers was know for his dictatorial management style and treatment of those he managed like naughty ,if talented, children.
Another highly successful manager is know for their obsession with detail. Even they recognise that they take this to an irrational level. Managers are supposed to be concerned with the big picture leaving the detail to those closer to the action and not risk getting overwhelmed with the minutiae.
Everyone agrees that young talent should be encouraged but few managers would take this as far as one very successful manager replacing experienced and knowledgeable, if cynical, members of the senior management team with inexperienced but loyal people who believed totally in what the manager was trying to do.
Loyalty does tend to be a much prized trait by all managers and yet I know of at least one successful manager who believes it‘s over rated because it tends to mean there is an unwillingness to challenge the manager, to tell them only what they don’t want to here, not even to express legitimate concerns for fear that this will be seen as disloyalty.
So when a successful manager tries to explain the methods behind their remarkable achievements or when a commentator attempts to analyse the reasons behind an outstanding managers track record you should bear in mind the one thing they all have in common which is the strength of character to do their own thing.