BOOKS: The book that shook - Patrick Smith

BOOKS: The book that shook - Patrick Smith - 'I enjoy reading a wide variety of books, but have never taken to those on management. Hermann Hesse's novel Narziss und Goldmund, which I read as a young man, is a book of great lyrical beauty that follows the

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

'I enjoy reading a wide variety of books, but have never taken to those on management. Hermann Hesse's novel Narziss und Goldmund, which I read as a young man, is a book of great lyrical beauty that follows the lives of two childhood friends, one a dissolute, the other an ascetic. Their lives could not be more different, but in their last years they become close once again.

I felt it was a metaphor for the way that very different aspects of your own personality don't need to be curbed, but can be reconciled within you.

It has also influenced the way I have put together teams to build businesses.

I have always chosen teams of different personalities and management approaches.

I have never tried to 'standardise' them, but encouraged them to see the benefits that each brings in a different way to the whole. That allows each person to give of their best in their own way. Such teams have worked well together and have been stronger as a result.

Genuine tolerance of difference is sadly rare in both business and life generally. It enhances both.'

Patrick Smith is chief executive of Swinton Insurance.

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