This is how we do things here

Every manager has a philosophy. The best are able to transmit this philosophy so that everyone buys into a particularly way of doing things. 

When the philosophy delivers no one questions it but the point about a philosophy is that a manager sticks to this way of doing things even when it appears not to be working. 


If you chop and change your philosophy to follow the fashion, to appease your critics or give in to self doubt then you don’t really believe in it and if you don’t really believe in it how can you expect your team to? 



A manager needs time to transmit their philosophy and time for the philosophy to work. The question is how long should they be given. It’s for others to answer that question. 


Circumstances change should the philosophy be adapted? Refuse to change and be accused of being a purist, inflexible and adapt too much or too often and you undermine the philosophy you are trying to promote and confuse your team. 


A philosophy is about values that you seek to promote or are happy to “ stretch” in your pursuit of improved performance. There are as many philosophies as there are managers/ chief executives but they all fall with in a continuum between extremes idealism and extreme pragmatism. Which is a dilemma because management/ leadership is a combination of idealism and pragmatism. 


Some no doubt will adopt an approach that is based on if it works do it , if it’s not illegal it’s legal and if you can get away with it why not. A pragmatic philosophy is also a philosophy as in, the end justifies the means. But the degree of cynical pragmatism that can be found in investment banking  is not one that we would expect to find in the public sector.


It’s like drink driving you either don’t do it because it’s wrong to risk the lives of others, do do it because there is not much chance of getting caught and you may be over the limit but you’re still a good driver or you drink and drive but only a small amount, you’re reasonable confident you’re under the limit. 


The message from highly successful managers  is chose your philosophy and stick to it. But be prepared to weather  the storms during the periods your philosophy is no longer fashionable and appears not to be working. Remember you’re playing  a long game. 

Blair McPherson former director, author and blogger 

Security level: Public

More Blog Entries

So who cares how they do it in the US 

Whenever I read management articles about US companies it is clear to me that the way they do...

The Management Delusion 

Every baffled new senior manager goes searching for answers in management/leadership books- but...