The Superman effect

 It is always Sir Alex Ferguson who is held up as the successful role model. Any Public Sector manger would be thrilled to be held in such high regard by colleagues, hold such an impressive record of success and have his reputation for man management to say nothing of a sneaky admiration for his skill with the mind games. A successful manager in any field has things to teach the rest of us but Sir Alex doesn’t share our financial problems he still has access to millions to improve things, he hasn’t had to sell off the training facilities, close the staff canteen or charge staff for car parking.

A more appropriate comparison would be Michael Appleton. Michael who? The new manager of Portsmouth. When he took up the post it was because he shared the chairman’s five year vision but the five year plan didn’t last past the first crisis budget meeting. It was Michael who had to call in his senior staff and say I don’t want you to leave but you have to leave because we can no longer afford you. What’s more we can’t pay you what you’re entitled to but at least you will get something your staff won’t be as fortunate. Michael talks about feeling frustrated and wondering if the job is worth the aggravation but he knows he must remain positive about the future whatever his doubts. The financial position and uncertainty about the future has meant that moral has been very low on occasions. He talks about driving to work thinking about facing staff who have hit rock bottom. It’s on such occasions that he uses the “Superman effect”. I get out the car and I go bang this is what we are going to do today and this is how we are going to do it. If people see that I am bright and breezy, confident and positive then they think well if he’s like that then I’ll be alright. 

I think most public sector managers live in Michael Appleton’s world not Sir Alex’s.

Blair McPherson author People management in a harsh financial climate published by Russell House

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