The likes of the Apprentice and Dragons Den might make great TV, but (and feel free to dismiss us as old fuddy-duddies here) we're not convinced they provide the best example of how to manage people in the real world. So we were pleased to hear that a study of finalists from the last eight years of the National Business Awards has revealed that these award-winning bosses tend to look much closer to home for inspiration...
Don't get us wrong: we're all for positive business role models getting some decent air time. It’s just that Sir Alan's leadership style (at least as far as it appears on TV) isn't really one we'd like to see imitated across UK plc. Happily, however, TV bosses were barely mentioned when the NBA finalists were asked about their inspirations - Sir Richard Branson was mentioned in dispatches, but in general, they seemed much more inclined to nominate the (largely unknown) bosses who they'd worked with or been mentored by on their way to the top. (OK, so we suppose it's relatively unlikely that a senior boss would model his or her approach on a reality TV show of comparatively recent vintage, but nevertheless).
When businesses ponder the upside of these awards - and debate whether to bother filling in the endless application forms they usually involve - the focus tends to be on the reputational benefits. And sure enough, 93% of these finalists reckoned it had boosted their organisational credibility, while 62% said it made them more attractive to potential customers. Tristram Mayhew, the founder of the 2009 SME winner GoApe (and author of an entertaining diary piece for us last year), reckons there's another big advantage: filling in the form helped him assess the strengths and weaknesses of the business, he says.
But it's also a great way of providing staff with a positive role model and raising internal morale. When the boss brings an award like this back to the office, it not only makes staff feel like they work for an exceptional company (which is good for engagement), it also encourages them to try and emulate such achievements in the future. We're not sure you'd get that from handing out DVDs of The Apprentice.
In today's bulletin:
Unemployment down again - but more bad news ahead?
BA union tries to escalate with Teamsters tie-up
Facebook outstrips Google for first time
Famous bosses not the inspiration for award-winners
MT talks to JoJo Maman Bébé's Laura Tenison