Macho management plagues finance sector


Despite overwhelming evidence that macho management is totally ineffective, many senior managers in Britain's financial services sector are opinionated, arrogant bullies who blame their staff and take credit for the work of others.

Research by Dr Paul Dobson of CASS Business School in London and HR consultancy Fairplace has found that effective managers are open-minded, respected and resilient, rather than cut-throat and aggressive.

But many of the senior managers with between 5-10 years experience in the financial services sector interviewed for the study could identify at least one present or former colleague whose behaviours and integrity left much to be desired.

Some of the descriptions of these managers included: "ruled by fear", "opinionated and arrogant", "would blame their staff", "would take credit for their subordinates work", "whose warm tongue would whisper poison in the CEO's ear", "were scared yes men who wouldn't rock the boat".

The research was based on the use of the repertory grid technique, originated in the field of clinical psychology by George Kelly.

It identified a framework of 10 clusters of competencies that differentiate very effective and less effective performers in senior roles.

Integrity, personal impact, participatory management style, strategic thinking, energy, social rapport, open-mindedness, courage, proven business experience and confidence were the key factors associated with high-performing managers.

It raises the question of how these people got senior management roles in the first place

"This research will help dispel any myths that persist in organisations which suggest the 'macho manager' is best, but it also raises the question of how these people got senior management roles in the first place," Dobson said.

I believe that in many cases it is the pressure of the job, coupled with inappropriate competencies, that causes managers to display these very negative characteristics."

"As people move into senior positions they often find themselves outside their comfort zone – they are confronted with unfamiliar issues outside their functional expertise, a high degree of uncertainty, and complex decisions of significant consequence that are very 'visible' in the sense that it is clear to all who carries the can.

"Therefore, managers who do not build a strong team around them in order to harness the support and talent of others can find themselves in a very stressful and isolated position".