Managing People – No More Mr Tough Guy on Czerwiec 27th, 2002

I believe the media and our culture sends the wrong messages
about how to manage people and this makes it difficult for
Business Owners and Managers.

We’ve all heard the old clichÚ „nice guys don’t finish
first” and that has a huge impact on how managers deal with
their people. We’re led to believe that successful managers
are tough, courageous „no nonsense” type of people. And if
you’re weak or soft with your people, then you’ll get walked
on and taken advantage of.

A manager will often look at „successful” managers in
business or sport to try and understand what makes them
successful. The media often portrays these people as tough
guys who drive their people by the force of their
personality, shouts and threats – no wimps allowed.

Jack Welch the ex CEO of General Electric writes in his book
„jack” –
„Strong managers who make tough decisions to cut jobs
provide the only true job security in today’s world. Weak
managers are the problem. Weak managers destroy jobs”.

Now that statement may be true however it leads managers to
believe that they most certainly have to be strong. There’s
no way that a manager wants to be perceived as weak.
However, it’s how you define tough and strong that decides
how successful a manager you’ll be.

We’re all aware of the big tough sports coaches who run
successful teams. In the United States the legendary Red
Wings coach Scotty Bowman, often billed as the greatest
coach in hockey, was well known as a relentless, heartless
and humourless task master.

Another legend, football coach, Vince Lombardi, was known to
work his teams hard. He pushed his players and made them
repeat plays over and over till they got it right. He yelled
at his teams for any mistakes, even after games they had
won. One of his famous lines is – „Winning isn’t everything.
It’s the only thing.”
He had rigid rules, imposed discipline and had no tolerance
for mistakes.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Europe’s most successful soccer coach was
once in the news due to a dressing room incident at
Manchester United. The team had just lost a game that he
felt they shouldn’t have lost and he was letting the players
know how he felt about that. Apparently, in his temper, he
kicked a football boot across the dressing room and hit one
of his star players, David Beckham, just above the eye.

Unfortunately the media presents these situations and
character traits as what makes a successful manager.
Managers and particularly those new to a leadership role,
try to model themselves on those that they read about and
see on TV.

In a recent seminar I asked a young manager why she thought
Roy Keane played so well under Sir Alex Ferguson at
Manchester United – „It’s because Alex regularly kicks his
ass” was her reply. Now Roy Keane is a real tough guy player
known for his hard and uncompromising style on the soccer
field. I asked this young manager how she thought Roy would
respond to having his ass kicked regularly. She didn’t seem
to have an answer to that.

Here are some other comments I’ve read about successful
sports coaches and managers –

John Wooden –
„One of the true gentlemen in sports or any other walk of
„He taught them to be good people, good sports and still be

Scotty Bowman –
„A great sense of humour that people never see”
„Deep down, a caring man”

Mike Krzyzewski –
„You cannot mistake the fact that he loves his players. He
cares about their schooling and them being model citizens”
„Coach K still puts up the wins proving once and for all
nice guys can finish first”

Wayne Graham, baseball coach, Rice University:
„A demanding coach is redundant. If they are going to be
happy with you and produce, they have to know you care”

Managers are misreading the signs sent by the media and our
culture and it’s creating difficulty for them. Some managers
can adopt the tough guy approach very easily but most feel
uneasy with it. The ones, who’re uneasy, in an attempt not
to be seen as weak, then manage their people in a way that
makes them as a manager feel uncomfortable. This ultimately
causes problems with their teams. I think we should look at
what really makes a successful manager and it certainly
isn’t just about being a „tough guy.”

Discover how you can generate more business by motivating
your team!
Alan Fairweather is the author of „How to get More Sales
by Motivating Your Team” This book is packed with practical
things you can do to get the best out of your people.

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