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Bullies need not apply

What is the model of the modern major CEO? Randall Peterson believes that the trend line is away from the boss whose chief weapons are ...

By Randall S Peterson 01 June 2007

What is the model of the modern major CEO? Randall Peterson believes that the trend line is away from the boss whose chief weapons are fear and control. So where does the trend line lead?
Bullies need not applyIrecently came across a website with a special page highlighting links to articles about workplace bullying. I was especially interested in the articles about bullying managers since, for some time, I have been tracking the demise of tyrannical leaders. Yet there they were: short articles with headlines like “Battling against a bad boss” and “UK infested with bad managers”. There was even this attention-getter: “£11 million claim over ‘mini Hitler’ boss”.

Were these reports dug up from the 1980s, I could have let them pass as oddities. Yet, some of the reports contained some unsettling statistics. For example, the “UK infested” article reports, “Poor management is rife in the UK workplace with nine out of 10 employees claiming to have worked for a bad manager. And according to a new study, the problem is getting worse.” The publication date of the report? 10 May 2006. The other relevant articles were recent as well.

I view bullying at any level of an organization as an exception to normal practice and an extreme one, at that. Yet these articles prompted me to think anew about the important model set by CEOs in any organization. The CEO is the management template for the rest of the company. A competitive chief executive presents one model of leadership; by contrast, companies with a cooperative CEO offer quite another model of leadership. Of course, this modelling begins when the CEO chooses his top team.

Arguably, the most important part of any chief executive’s job is selecting and managing the senior management team. There are many reasons for this: chief executives need reliable information from fellow executives to make good decisions; they need the support of the top team to make large-scale changes; and they must ensure that the company’s legacy – its principles and practices – endures after individual executives move on.

But, once in place, how do chief executives typically manage their teams? I have done extensive research on this question over the past decade.

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