Friday, May 07, 2010

Can managers be both agreeable and successful?

In a recent article, Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College London, argued that the most successful business managers are disagreeable people. In his words: "Agreeable people are certainly more popular than disagreeable people. But agreeableness is not an asset in the boardroom, the courtroom or on the battlefield. Being competitive, critical and sceptical of others’ behaviour and motives works well for people in business. You have to be vigilant for the tricks of your competitors. Business is about survival of the fittest: it is not a gentleman’s game."

However, in my opinion, this is complete rubbish!  From a personal perspective, I remain close friends with several of the bosses I have worked extremely hard for in the past and I am still friends with many of the people who have worked for me.

If you are a good manager, friendship, kindness and appreciation are not traits that need to be confused with performance, efficiency and effectiveness.  But what are your views – do you think people work best for a bully or for someone they like?

Click here to read the full article on the Extensor website, or here to read the article by Professor Furnham.

Brilliant Bank Holidays!

Have you ever noticed how Bank Holidays are some of the best days off work you ever have?  They are not like holidays, not like work days and not like the weekend – they are unique!

The reason that they are unlike holidays is because holidays bring with them their own stresses – making sure you get to where you are going, that you have all your luggage, that you remembered the passports and, worst of all, that you don’t waste a single moment of that precious time off!

The reason they are not like weekends is because by the time the Bank Holiday arrives, you have already had the weekend.

Bank Holidays are the best days off because they are a bonus – completely free time.  Not so much that you can plan a holiday and no so little that you can’t achieve anything – just a random day off.  And that is why they are so relaxing!

In fact, the only bad thing about Bank Holidays is that you can’t choose when to have them.  Just think how brilliant it would be if you were told you could chose when to take your Bank Holidays, but why can’t you?

Next time you are planning how you are going to use your annual holiday days, why not plan in one or two “Bank Holidays” of your own?  Schedule in an odd day off, all by itself, with nothing planned for it other than to be lazy and do nothing in particular.

If people say that Bank Holidays are the best days off they ever have, why not have more of them?

Looking After Your Pearls

Recently I got an email entitled “How to Look After Your Pearls”. Being in the personal performance business I opened it expecting some wisdom on life. I was somewhat amused and a little disappointed that it was actually about caring for pearl jewellery. But it got me thinking about what it might have said…..

What are the “pearls” in your life? You might think about pearls of wisdom which have helped you with difficult choices or situations. They might be principles which guide you, enlighten you or simply clarify things for you.

For many of us, the relationships in our lives are like a string of pearls: sometimes prominent around us and sometimes overlooked. Relationships bring some of the most precious experiences in our lives: love, fun, friendship, support, respect, encouragement and validation. They play a pivotal role in our working lives bringing access to monetary reward, intellectual stimulation, information, knowledge and opportunity. How those relationships are working makes the major difference between a good day and a bad day or even a good job versus a bad job.

Like pearls, relationships need some care and attention to be their best. They need regular contact to keep their lustre.

Pearls are susceptible to contaminants like water and perfume. What contaminants creep into relationships? Poor communication? Perceived lack of respect?  Loss of openness and honesty? Forgetfulness? Contaminants are best acknowledged and dealt with quickly and appropriately.

Damaged pearls need attention and replacement or they affect the look and value of the whole. Relationships change over time. We have to face the need to polish them up again or let them go and replace them with more fitting ones.

New pearls – well they may well be valuable assets too. In business, taking the opportunity to make that network call or ring that sales prospect might well lead to new and rewarding things you can’t yet see. A lot of people shy away from networking for all sorts of reasons. But an effective network, well maintained, quickly brings you knowledge, insights, opportunities, connections to others and recommendations. So the investment can pay back many times – you just may not know when.

The email may not have been on the subject I was expecting, but looking after your pearls is definitely good advice.

Hung Parliament

Despite the dire warnings, we have ended up with a "hung parliament". But is this really so bad? After all, many other countries have coped with this situation for years, for example, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Canada, to name but a few.

And is it really so bad for business? When Italy found itself withy a hung parliament the then US President Ronald egan asked the US Ambassador to Italy, Joseph LaPalombara, whether the markets would react badly? “No, Mr President,” answered LaPalombara. “Quite the contrary. Without a single party having a majority, no populist political action will be taken. It will be business as usual. The markets quite like it.

A diametrically opposite view was once put by Lord Reith, who said that the best form of government was a dictatorship tempered by the threat of assassination.

What is your view? Do you think a hung parliament will be good, bad or indifferent for your organisation?