Saturday, October 6, 2012

Managers Who Need To Be Loved

In the age old book, The Prince, Machiavelli poses the question, "Is it better for the Prince to be loved or feared".    This book has become a treatise on both politics and management in general.   Theoretically, anyone is a leadership position would want to be loved; but is it even possible when  tough decisions are often required in management.   On the other hand, there are managers that failing everything else use fear as their management style.  

Years ago, when I was a young manager working for a subsidiary of Merrill Lynch, the CEO of our company, with a Napoleonic Complex, kept a hard hat right outside his office door.   The implication was that when you entered his office, you were going to get your head beat in.  This fellow was a little tyrant and like all tyrants, he failed as a manager.   Fear is never a good long term management style.   In fact, Managers that use fear as their management style should not be tolerated because it is destructive behavior in an organization. 

Managers who need to be loved are problematic, as well.   These Managers usually cannot deal with conflict.   They want to say Yes to everything when No is the answer.   As I often said to our sons when they were growing up, "What part of No don't you understand".   And,  good managers must be able to make tough decisions.   Managers that need to be loved run from tough decisions and as such are usually pretty ineffective. 

There is a third choice and the one that I prefer as the CEO of a global company.   I neither need to be loved, nor do I want to be feared.   My goal is to be respected as a result of my experience, good humor and sound decisions, particularly during Bad Times.   Remember, the first job of a CEO is to insure the survival of a company, doing anything and everything necessary, within legal and ethical bounds, to make sure that a company is fiscally sound and in business to fight another day.   In bad times, that could mean lay-off's, or other cuts in spending, all of which requires tough decisions that often do not result in being loved.  

Making tough decisions, based on sound reasoning, not fear, should be the basis for respect.   Effective Managers cannot worry about being loved because that would be a road to paralysis.   Managers who need to be loved might be better placed in a government job, charity, or other non-profit organization; though it is hard to believe that even there, this management style would be beneficial.   In any case, if you are a Manager who needs to be loved, snap out of it, or find some other vocation that works for you. 

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