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What is Your Leadership Style?

November 20, 2017

What is your leadership style? How do you regard your staff?

Treat employees as a resource and not a cost was the conclusion drawn by Marvin Bower and Peter Drucker after working as management consultants for 60 years.

Marvin Bower is considered by many as the founder of modern management and leadership consulting and helped established McKinsey & Company.  He passed away in 2003 but in 1994, at the age of 91, he gave a radio interview on BBC World Service. During that interview he was asked if business had changed in the last 60 years, to which he said, “unfortunately no…the basic way of running a business is essentially  the same…an all-powerful Chief Executive at the top and a hierarchy below to work out the command and control of people…there has been 1000s of changes of methods but not enough changes in the basic way of running the business…but with today’s conditions of competition, global economy and rapid technology it is no longer as effective as it should be…it works well but not well enough…we need to get everybody working together, focus on the business as a whole and make the whole thing work more cohesively instead of hierarchically”.

Peter Drucker, a friend and colleague of Marvin Bower, and also consider another founder of modern management, gave an interview in 1998.  He passed away in 2005, aged 95, but in 1998 he said the following: “After almost 60 years of consulting my basic emphasis that human beings are a resource and not a cost has practically had no impact in this country (USA) or Europe…everybody says people are our greatest asset and then fires them because they are a cost…that has had a very limited impact from 60 years of preaching it…they have embraced the idea but have not done anything about it…on the contrary there is a glorification of the autocratic Chief Executive”.

Whether you agree with these sentiments or not, they are provocative and may prompt you to reflect on your own leadership style and attitude towards your staff.  I believe hierarchies are inevitable, indeed, humans need them, however, that does not mean staff should not be treated as assets and with respect.