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chapter one
they talk about you – how
leadership affects the
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Everyone who works spends a part of their day talking about their
boss. This ranges from the positive, ‘She’ll let me go on that
executive programme and then I’ll have the opportunity to go for the
Hong Kong job,’ to the quizzical, ‘He spent ages on the phone again,’
to the negative, ‘You won’t believe what he did this time!’ Such
snippets of everyday life appear to be the stuff of gossip; the froth
that floats on corporate life, but they actually tell us a great deal
about the ability of teams and organizations to succeed. Leadership
style accounts for up to 70 per cent of difference in organizational
climate, which in turn can make an improvement of up to 25 per cent
in business performance, Hay Group research has shown.
In short, organizations where people think ‘Great! The boss is in
today!’ do better than those where people think ‘Oh no! He’s back
Learning points from this chapter
The behaviour of the boss has a huge impact on the team.
Having outside interests keeps you rooted and balanced.
It’s only healthy to occasionally feel daunted by a challenge.
Preparing for the top job is essential and includes working
on interpersonal skills.
Societal changes are altering the emphasis of some
leadership skills.
Female executives face extra pressures, but should resist the
temptation to try to be ‘superwoman’.
from holiday!’ This doesn’t mean that you, the leader, ought to be
soft or indecisive – staff actually don’t like that – but rather that you
need to convey the rich tapestry of authoritativeness, empathy,
decision-making and coaching ability that brings out the best in
others and in yourself.
Crucially, this depends on how you behave, as well as how you
think. It sounds like a simple step, but it can be a difficult one. It’s
analogous to the difference between reading about the Olympics and
learning how to swim.
As Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence notes, emotional or
behavioural patterns are more deeply set and require more effort to
change than knowledge-based patterns of thinking. We’ll explore this
some more in Chapter 6. It has also been convincingly illustrated that
the behaviour of a boss actually affects the blood pressure of his or her
team. Researchers at Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College
concluded: ‘Your boss could be damaging your health.’ In a controlled
experiment, the researchers measured the blood pressure of healthcare
assistants who had two supervisors who worked on alternate days of
the week. Those who had one boss they liked and one they did not
had significantly higher blood pressure than a control group, who
liked both their bosses. (New Scientist, 5 January 2002.)
Everybody has a boss. Few would argue that they are not important
in their lives. And all of us can remember the boss from hell, as well
as the boss who really helped us to transform our lives.
Think about who your boss really is, especially if you have more
than one boss, or if you’ve had three new bosses over the last 16
months, or if you have a virtual boss.
Studies suggest that effective managers make the time and effort to
build effective working relationships with their bosses.
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All of us can remember the boss from hell, as well as
the boss who really helped us to transform our lives.

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