Thatcher's dire management style

The official biography of Margaret Thatcher has revealed that one of her closest advisers, Sir John Hoskyns, thought she 'broke every rule of good management'.

by Michael Northcott
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013

As revelations about the Thatcher years are drip fed to the media to rev-up sales of Charles Moore’s biography it is becoming clear that she was as powerfully divisive in the meeting rooms of Downing Street as she was to Britain as a whole.

The latest nugget of drama to be revealed is a memo from adviser John Hoskyns to Thatcher just two years into her premiership, analysing her management style and predicting many of the reasons why she would eventually be kicked out of office. 

The memo was written amid cabinet feuds between the monetarist budget in 1981 and the autumn statement of the same year. It said: ‘You break every rule of good man-management. You bully your weaker colleagues. You criticise colleagues in front of each other and in front of their officials. 

‘They can't answer back without appearing disrespectful, in front of others, to a woman and to a prime minister. You abuse that situation. You give little praise or credit, and you are too ready to blame others when things go wrong.’

Apparently Thatcher simply ‘hissed’ at the memo, saying that nobody had written to her with such hostility whilst she was prime minister. It was for this reason that Hoskyns recollected ‘the seeds of her downfall were being sown’.

Sounds like Steve Jobs learned everything he knew from the Thatcher book of management…

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