Welcome back the the bullies!!!!

In a rather insightful piece in today’s edition of The Guardian, Jackie Ashley, reflecting on the implications Gordon Brown’s bully-boy tactics  ,as revealed by Alistair Darling in his memoirs, argues any organization run by an autocrat is bound run into trouble.

 I’d argue that there is a much wider problem, a cultural problem, illustrated by Darling’s implied parallel with the leadership of RBS before the crash. We know, or say we know, how good decision-making works. It should be fact-based, deliberative and tested by real arguments. This means it needs people who have the knowledge to engage and the self-confidence to challenge assumptions. In theory, a cabinet of ministers who are there because they have parliamentary support and have risen through past successes should provide just that – a table full of people with the facts in front of them, able to say “no, prime minster”.

 In theory, just the same should apply to the management of big companies, including banks. Around the boardroom table, independent-minded people with business records of their own, are able to cross-question CEOs and managing directors. New ideas are thrashed out. Mistakes are honestly debated and learned from. If things go too wrong, then the wider electorate can call a halt – the real electorate in politics, and the shareholders in business. It’s a theory of public life most people sign up to…..

 I cannot say that in forty years of working in manufacturing  I much come across the theory that’s put into practice. In fact in recent times, and probably because people, for reasons that I hardly need  spell out, I see they bully-boy tactics prevail more than they ever did.


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