Some chief executives want blood. They demand loyalty, ruthlessness and total commitment. Whether deliberately or by default they creat a culture of intoxicating machismo. The aim is to make a very tight senior management team that is determined to be a top performing organisation. The loyalty is personal loyalty and allows no room for doubt or debate. When it comes to budget cuts there are no special cases. There is no place for those who baulk at closing services, cutting management posts or making compulsory redundancies. Breakfast meetings, long days and attending corporate evening events are just part of the job as are taking phone calls at home. Ill health is a sign of weakness, no senior manager ever takes time off with the flu. Any one who does not live up to these exacting requirements can expect to be criticised, on occasions in front of their own staff.
How can such a management culture work? Well those involved see this as heroic, evidence they are made of stronger stuff.
In what circumstances is machismo management thought appropriate? Some times a senior management team becomes complacent, talented and experience individuals become too comfortable and the organisation coasts in mid table. The new chief executive is brought in to shake things up or may be the organisation has slipped to a point where it needs a dramatic turn around. It is a risk but the board/ cabinet want success and if this chief executive can't deliver then another will be recruited.
It's is not hard to imagine the impact this style of management has on the management culture within the organisation. Maybe it is in the nature of the job that chief executives demand more but increasingly there are those who think that to damage yourself for the cause is not heroic but weakness.
Does it work? Some times, other wise it would not be so often tried. However success is inevitably short term, there comes a point when the constant demand for even greater effort leads to fatigue, disillusionment and cynicism.