Managers not so sweet on Sugar

Alan Sugar has been voted the UK's least popular career coach. We wonder what it is about the shouty and irascible entrepreneur that puts people off?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 18 Jul 2011
The Institute of Leadership & Management found that 31% of the 1,350 managers it surveyed chose The Apprentice boss as the worst possible career coach. We can’ t say we’ re surprised to learn that the man who’ s built a TV career on such outbursts as ‘there might be a village missing an idiot somewhere and that's why you're bringing him in to the boardroom’ isn’t the guy to whom most managers are looking for kind words and inspiration on how to drive their team to greater things.

Sugar sits among esteemed company. X Factor’ s Simon Cowell was considered the second-worst option, taking 17% of the vote, while Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was close behind with 16%. Football fans may think the latter is an odd choice: he has just taken a less-than-stellar line-up to the brink of record 19th league title this year, which rather suggests the purple-nosed one is doing something right. We can only assume he’ s in there courtesy of his infamous ‘ hairdryer’ .

At the other end of the scale, Sir Richard Branson emerged from the survey as the nation's preferred coach. The Virgin boss received 22% of the votes, with Lord Sugar's colleague on The Apprentice, Karren Brady, coming in second with 11% and former England rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward chalking up 10%. So what can we conclude from this? Well, in general terms, people who are famous for being rude to people are considered unlikely to make great career coaches.

‘Leadership styles have changed from being command and control to a coaching approach that doesn't assume the boss is the expert,’ said Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management. ‘ It is more important to help people and teams get to better solutions. Helping managers develop that ability is a critical management and coaching skill.’ That makes perfect sense – but being rude tends to make for much better TV.

According to the ILM, 63% of managers said they weren’ t performing at their optimum level – which isn’ t great given how screwed everything is – and 79% suggested their performance would improve if they had a coach at work. Sadly, it doesn’ t sound like they’ re going to be tuning in to the Apprentice tonight for inspiration; although since SurAlan seems to attract a never-ending stream of wannabe apprentices (not to mention viewers) perhaps he won’ t be losing too much sleep over that.

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