UK led by rule of glum

Management is negative, says half the UK workforce...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Or so says the Chartered Management Institute, which has surveyed organisations across the country in a bid to identify the dominant management styles.

Its survey of 5,000 employees found that the three most common leadership styles in the UK were authoritarian (according to 21%), bureaucratic (16%) or secretive (12.5%) - which sounds more Politburo than progressive. Only 10% described their bosses as accessible, and just 7% as empowering.

So it seems our bosses have a way to go in terms of becoming more open. But you have to wonder whether the CMI expected anything different. With the country only now slowly pulling itself out of recession, bosses could argue that this hasn't been the time for gentle nurturing. It is perhaps easier to make time for niceties when the arrow on that sales chart carries itself with more of an optimistic upward swing. It's also hard for a manager to send a chunk of their workforce shuffling across the car park clutching their P45s in a way that's accessible or empowering.

Of course, that doesn't mean such methods are right. And the CMI is right in pointing to the effect a negative culture can have on productivity, retention and customer loyalty. ‘Negativity breeds negativity,' says Ruth Spellman, CMI chief exec.

Doing their bit to address this potentially fatal loop, the CMI has launched a website, including a quick questionnaire to help managers learn what kind of boss they are - and which celebrity managers share their qualities. We were judged to be like Fabio Capello, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jacqueline Gold. This was more down to our ability to ‘provide direction' apparently, rather than our skill in peddling saucy undies or shepherding WAGs. 

But having promoted the merits of the celebrity manager, the CMI also points out that the type of boss we tend to see on TV and in the papers is not necessarily someone to be emulated. The likes of Lord Alan Sugar (it always feels weird writing that) were seen as off-putting by 12% of respondents, while 21% reacted against the traditional suited-and-booted style of manager.

Given that it's their own workforce who've judged them so harshly, it seems that bosses could aim to improve their can-do image. But it may still be some time before those suits and boots come off.


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