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Strong leadership is key to success


Management not leadership is the cry of Antony Oliver (NCE 30 March). It will solve all our problems - status, pay - whatever!

Has he ever considered that without leadership by leaders, there would be nothing for managers to manage.

A quick glance at the NCE Consultants File will immediately reveal that 95%of all firms were invariably started by one individual, sometimes two and rarely more - they had leaders. Managers rarely give leadership or create anything of real worth - they tend to follow the trend. They are by nature conservative. They don't like change because it ruins their carefully designed systems.

They are the 'yes, but' people who just preside - usually over the long- term demise - of that which leaders have created.

I was amused to see the headline in The Independent that Greg Dyke sees the problems of the BBC as being 'over managed and under led'. Well, one cannot deny that the BBC has been a grossly underperforming institution for some time.

A look at any business section will prove that the dynamic and successful firms have strong leadership - isn't that right Natwest?

History seems to clearly show that in all spheres - commerce, industry, war, sport, etc - people follow leaders but they suffer management. There are of course bad leaders but strangely we even seem to prefer them to management.

The following are a few signs by which you will recognise the professional manager if you are unfortunate enough to meet one:

Few beyond their secretary and the board have ever seen them and almost nobody has ever spoken with them. They are 'grey' people

They are obsessed by detail and are usually fastidiously tidy

All letters of importance are usually signed by them. But such letters always contain caveats, such as 'we have decided...', 'I am instructed to...'

If things go wrong, it is always somebody else's fault

They cannot take genuine responsibility. They constantly refer to management consultants, solicitors, accountants and similar advisers to confirm in writing what they should do. If the policy fails, then it was clearly the fault of advice received and not theirs

They keep records - usually so that they can use the information against the leaders in due course, if it comes to a showdown

They frequently arrange coups, but nearly always hide behind a hit man who can be blamed in the event of failure

After the demise of the leader they are the first to try on the crown. Invariably, it doesn't fit because it is too small, so they arrange for it to be passed to someone whothey hope they can control a little easier than the last incumbent

They usually die in bed and not on the field of battle. History closes over them. They leave no trace - as in life, so in death!

Brian Clancy (F), 168 Park Road, Timperley, Altrincham, Manchester WA15 6QH

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