The Hard Manager

I have posted before about Steve Jobs’s management style of “Managing by walking around – and scaring people”. It would be cheeky to say that the Harvard Business Review has now caught up, but David Aaker also blogged about it yesterday here. He makes a comparison with Bobby Knight, a basketball coach with a similar style, and also highly successful. Perhaps a British comparison would be with Sir Alex Ferguson (or maybe not).

It is clear that despite being “old school” these two are very successful leaders. It is a cliche that we are all different, both leaders and followers. And to some extent, the people who put up with this leadership style are the people who put up with it. The others move on.

Yet they are not seen as bullies. Why not? Partly because they succeed, partly because there is a vision that they are pursuing. But also because it seems that they are “just like that” – and so with everyone. They do not play favorites, or pick on some people, not others.

There is a health warning: this leadership style can easily be counterproductive, if it is not natural to that individual, or if the factors set out by Aaker (and probably one or two more) are not present.


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