In the Sunday Times business section this weekend Luke Johnson, Chairman of Risk Capital Partners and the Centre for Entrepreneurs, set out his list of the most important characteristics that a managing director should possess.
In brief these were:
The ability to motivate. The boss who can enthuse a workforce will generally do better than one who rules by fear.
Domain Knowledge. They must have sufficient technical understanding to gain the respect of their team.
The ability to listen. The best bosses don’t dominate debates but encourage feedback and leave their doors open. They listen to the shop floor by going there in person.
Decisiveness. Ultimately companies cannot function as pure democracies and someone has to make decisions rather than procrastinate. Employees need a sense of direction.
Financial literacy. Must be able to interpret financial statements and analyse accouts.
A sense of humour. Life is too short not to enjoy going to work .
Reliability in a crisis. Someone who doesn’t panic in the face of adversity and gets down to work in a diligent and professional way without histrionics.
Frugality. Having a thrifty approach to business. Extravagant CEOs set a bad example especially if they live beyond their means. A lean operation is the only way.
Delegation. The only way for start-ups to become large companies is for the proprietor/managers to learn to identify, promote, trust, and empower talent.
Adaptability. Modern companies need to be flexible and intelligent leaders thrive on change and are constantly learning.
Bravery. Outstanding leaders need the courage to make unpopular decisions. Those who fail to speak out on controversial issues and follow the consensus are followers not leaders.
That’s Luke Johnsons’ list and I can’t say I disagree with any of them. An interesting mixture of personality traits e.g. adaptability (being open to experience) and learned skills e.g. financial knowledge.
I’ve yet to meet anyone who meets all those criteria however! And when it comes to frugality it’s hard to say it abounds. When the average pay at the top of organisations is 130 times pay at the bottom and CEOs get rewarded for failure e.g. the Barclays CEO walking away with £28 million it’s hard to believe it exists at the very top of organisations.
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According to the MacIntyre charity, cited by Camilla Cavendish, the Times journalist who has just published a review of healthcare support workers.
The charity, which provides services for 1,000 adults and children, has created detailed psychological profiles of care workers.
The best ones, the “naturals”, are:
- empathetic introverts,
- good listeners,
- reflective, and
- wanting to work within clear rules
- in structured environments.
Click here for more information and a quiz for you to check out if that kind of work is right for you.
Recruiting people with emotional intelligence and the right values would be a good start. Companies like Nokia have been recruiting for values and attitudes for decades taking the view that they can train people in the technical stuff quite easily.
The Chief Nursing Officer’s vision Compassion in Practice (the 6 Cs) highlights the importance of care and compassion.
One of the 6 Cs is courage and it’s interesting that McIntyre found that the best carers, being introverts, were not very gregarious but would stand up for the people they cared for.
There is also some good research which shows that people with introvert preferences can be more effective leaders than extraverted types.
And you may have heard of Susan Cain, best-selling author of “Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking” (2012).