The end for alpha males

In the buccaneering times, they were kings of the dealmaking jungle. But in a recession we deserve more thoughtful leadership.

by Denise Kingsmill

Times are tough in the corporate world and are likely to get tougher - the recession will prove painful and prolonged for many. Although the alpha chief executive (ACE) may not be top of the list of those deserving our sympathy, it's probably worth sparing a moment to reflect on the particular difficulties this type is experiencing, if only because they are at risk of becoming an endangered species.

ACEs are an easily identifiable breed who are prepared to sacrifice family, friends and personal wellbeing to climb the greasy pole. These are men who know in their hearts that work-life balance is for wimps and women, whatever they may say to the HR director. They truly believe that they do this for our collective good, of course: they are the wealth-creators, the employment-givers and the dealmakers. So when, as a result of the failings of others - such as politicians, regulators and central bankers - they are unable to fulfil any of these roles, they suffer.

Tirelessly and courageously, they have pursued glittering success. They were always the first over the barricades, oblivious to whether or not the troops were following. Motivating the team is not their style. You are either for them or agin them. When times were different, they were seen as charismatic leaders; now they find themselves described as bullies.

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