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All things Pharma

You’ll never walk alone

Is your management style Premier League? Melanie Wombwell uses the example of football to look at what makes for successful business leadership. 

Carlo Ancelotti and Alex Ferguson are among the world’s leading and most respected football managers – each of them having twice won the game’s pre-eminent club competition, the UEFA Champions League.

But football as a business is still pretty hard to grasp. It seems to bear little resemblance to most other businesses, or indeed most people’s day-to-day lives. Contracts appear to count for nothing, most clubs make a loss, and a player such as Rooney can decide to go for a whacking pay rise – reportedly up to £160,000 a week – at a time when the UK government is announcing huge public spending cuts.

However, most people probably have more to say about Ferguson’s or Ancelotti’s management style than they have about their own bosses. So while using football as a model for analysing modern-day management might appear frivolous, it’s arguably the most public and widely discussed form of management around.

Tougher than the rest

Now we’re halfway through the Premiership season, and into a new year where many UK businesses, particularly those operating in the healthcare sector, are looking to 2011 to bring them growth and success after a tough few years.

We have analysed the management styles of 10 starting managers from the 2010/2011 season. We have also surveyed over 100 business professionals, asking them which premiership football manager they would most like to work for, who they think would be the best manager to run a UK business, what their own management style is like, and their views on a few other insightful aspects of managing people (such as what they think of their own bosses).

Below is a list of 10 recognised business management styles of today, and the names of 10 football managers who we believe represent those styles:

Autocratic (Alex Ferguson) – prefers a high level of power over the team.

Relationship (Ian Holloway) – leads people through encouragement and enthusiasm.

Cognitive (Arsene Wenger) – leads by a purely logical, methodical approach.

Collaborative (Roy Hodgson) – deliberates with their team members and uses their contributions to make decisions.

Shadow (Carlo Ancelotti) – provides adequate authority for the team members to decide on their own.

Co-achievement (Harry Redknapp) – works with all team members to inspire them to reach decisions and do the right things.

Results-focused (Sam Allardyce) – only interested in making sure that the result happens, whatever it takes.

Transactional (Roberto Mancini) – rewards are measured and offered by performance.

High-flex (David Moyes) – will change their style to suit the circumstances or needs of the time.

Delegator (Mick McCarthy) – like a ‘shadow’ leader, but also keen to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s going on. Allows free thinking, yet always wants to make the final decision.

From footy to FTSE

After our initial analysis (a more in-depth look can be found in our full report, downloadable for free, at www.resultsinternational.com), we conducted a detailed online survey with 108 business management professionals from some of today’s most dynamic UK businesses.

Of all those questioned, over a third (34%) stated that their management style was a ‘relationship’ management style, similar to that of Ian Holloway. This makes for positive reading, in our view, as the ‘relationship’ method is one that would be successful in leading a business team out of recession and into high growth – a statement that 15% agreed to when they suggested Holloway would be the best football manager to run a UK business in today’s economic climate. However, it depends on the character of the manager.

Interestingly, 25% said that their management style was ‘collaborative,’ a similar style exemplified by Roy Hodgson. Yet only 5% thought Roy Hodgson would be the best manager of a UK business. Hodgson’s management style didn’t work for him at Liverpool: after just half a season in charge, he was dismissed. In business terms this style could also prove unsuccessful, since it relies on having a good team of people around you. If you don’t have that, or if your team members aren’t contributing, it can fall apart.

19% of those surveyed said their management style is a ‘delegator’ style similar to that of Mick McCarthy. However, only 2% thought McCarthy, out of the premiership managers listed, would do the best job of running a UK business. At the time of writing Wolverhampton Wanderers are sitting in the relegation zone, and their chances of survival don’t look good. Although the ‘delegator’ management style can work well at times, like the ‘collaborative’ management style it depends on having a good team. If you aren’t delegating to strong people, or you’re delegating to people who don’t react favourably to that method, then you’re not going to get the results you want. It seems that this management style is not Premier League.

Business goals

Business isn’t a spectator sport, however, and the public don’t pay to watch you selling medical devices. So does management style matter? Here are three reasons why it does.

1. Delivering results. People who manage well and are well managed help to unlock ideas, motivate others and drive businesses forward. Like the football world, the business world is fraught with turmoil and change. It takes good leadership and a strong managerial style to overcome these challenges.

2. Creating harmony. Good management works at its best when there’s a natural fit between the management style of the MD or CEO and the team he or she is leading. However, of those surveyed, the largest fraction (23%) said that their MD’s or CEO’s management style was like Mick McCarthy’s – a ‘delegator’. Yet this style does not seem to be working for the Wolverhampton players, and is one that only 1% of those surveyed say they like to work under.

Most of the business professionals surveyed said they want to work with the ‘Harry Redknapp’ and ‘Ian Holloway’ types, and most likened their own management styles to Holloway’s. Yet their own current managers are likely to be ‘delegators’… a style they don’t favour, and perhaps one that is ultimately hindering their own career and the growth of the company they run. What is wrong with this picture?

3. Saving money. During tough times, companies have to motivate their teams while keeping salaries in check. Good management is an important part of achieving this. When we asked the business professionals what motivates employees in their organisation, money or bonuses – perhaps surprisingly – did not come top of the list. Instead it was inspirational leadership (36%) and the reputation of the company (34%). So good management can save companies a fortune in salaries and bonuses.

Teams are made up of people. It’s people who score (and defend) goals. Business is always about people – whether you’re running a football club or a healthcare SME. Motivating your staff and getting the best out of them are key to running a successful business. To do that, you need not only a good management style but the right management style.

So: is your management style Premier League?

Melanie Wombwell is Managing Director of corporate finance and strategy advisor Results International.

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