Reading the biography of a very successful leader is often
disappointing if you are seeking to learn how to replicate their
success. Interviews with those who worked closely with such leaders
often come up with interesting stories but no really usable tips.
Friends and family simply tell of the contrast between the private
person and their public persona. So I had high hopes that a fly on the
wall documentary capturing a highly successful manager going about
their work would reveal how it is done. After all the viewer was being
allowed to see and hear for themselves how on a day to day bases a
successful manager went about things. Obviously a PR exercise and so
edited to flatter and avoid controversy never the less I was expecting
a master class in leadership. I assumed people management would be at
the heart of this recipe for success. May be also skill in spotting
talent early and certainly some great motivational speeches.
This is a very diverse team, for many , including the manager,
English is not their first language. This may go some way to explain
the limited use of language to get messages across. Instructions were
basic, team talks were high on emotional content either urging one
another on or in recriminations. On one occasion the manager stood
back whilst a junior member of the back room staff gave a forceful
and rousing team talk delivered at such speed and intensity and with
such a strong accent that those members of the team whose first
language was not English latter admitted they had not understood a
word of it. But they understood the passion.
The managers message, repeatedly stated, was effort and aggression
wins the day. His favourite expression for conveying this message was,
“ You’ve got to have balls”.
The manager was “happy” to let team members confront one another in
outbursts of frustration because this, “showed they cared”. However
the second message was team work , helping each other, supporting each
other, covering for each other and not putting a team mate under
Despite some indifferent and some disappointing performances the
manager did not criticise individuals preferring instead to talk about
the need for more collective effort and aggression. He did refer to
mistakes and the need to avoid making them but expressed his
confidence in the skill and ability with in the team.
The management philosophy could be summed up as keep it simple,
keep it positive. Clearly there is more to it but the
secret of success remains a secret.
Blair McPherson former Director , author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk