FRANCIS BECKETT: A former editor of two business magazines, Beckett is also a biographer of two Labour PMs: Clem Attlee and Tony Blair. Writing about Blair's management style in this month's MT, Beckett is clear on who he prefers: 'Attlee was one of the most effective political managers ever to occupy Number 10.'

If you don't like the prime minister's way of operating, you'd label him an autocrat.

by Matthew Gwyther, mt editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Like storm clouds gathering over the prairie, it looks as though there's an election on the way. Here at MT, we would not dream of insulting your intelligence by adopting the strange and archaic habit of national newspapers by telling you which party we think you should vote for. We do think, however, that it is timely after eight years of his rule to look at the leadership style of our prime minister. How does he manage?

Nobody would dream now of using the cuddly epithet Bambi to describe Tony Blair. Indeed, with recent domestic initiatives and foreign policy forays, he has shown himself to be more of a Thumper. What our feature shows is that he has a very different way of running the country from any of his predecessors. Blair's way of getting things done - and he likes to be at the centre of getting a lot done - is to dispense with Cabinet as a decision-making forum and to sideline the mandarins of the civil service. If you don't like this method of operation, you'd label him an autocrat. If you approve, he's streamlined, decisive and effective. Either way, we'll let you make up your own minds whether you want to give him five more years.

To get things done the way you want them, you need to be a master of the art of persuasion, and Blair seems pretty adept in this field. Being good at getting your own way is a powerful asset in business, and our feature on the subject offers a step-by-step guide to honing your technique when it comes to smooth-talking, cajoling or even arm-twisting. One key, of course, is 'the extent to which you can inhabit the other person's world and see things from their perspective'. Always appeal to people's self-interest. Something along the lines of: 'Look, you've got to get rid of these weapons of mass destruction because you really don't want one landing in your back yard, do you?'

What you do want in your back yard, however, is a branch of TK Maxx, the discount retailer that sells distressed inventory clobber at low, low prices. We have one just round the corner from our office and I'm a serious, even slightly sad, addict. Why, after all, shell out £700 on a Paul Smith suit, a Nicole Farhi shirt and some Missoni boxer shorts when you can have the lot for a quarter of the price? (And no, I hold no shares.) And, why, as our piece on 'value' retailers asks, with such stuff on the racks, do you ever need to go to M&S for clothing again?

Someone who has never had to go to M&S for his boxers is Rocco Forte.

The ageing but resolutely macho hotelier has laid down a challenge in our letters page for anyone to prove that he isn't the fittest CEO in Europe. There's money for charity if you can. The 60-year-old is doing an 'Ironman' triathlon comprising a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon. How does he manage?

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