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Sunday, 4 April 2010

It's Lonely at the Top (but the View is Great!)

At one stage in my life I used to lecture on a part time basis to people running SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) at Manchester Business School on one of my favourite subjects, Management Style.

I recall that one of the points that I made was that, the higher you progress up an organisation, the fewer people there are to tell you how wonderful you are, and that demands a measure of emotional stamina. If they do tell you, by the way, it can be construed as creeping.

We all need reassurance that the job we are doing is being done well and we really cannot expect that reassurance from subordinates or even from a peer group in the business.
The American psychologist Frederick I Herzberg (1923-2000) propounded a very interesting theory of motivation and, particularly, what it is that really motivates us. He derived what he called hygiene factors, that is, criteria which we often imagine are motivators but which actually operate independently. Typically they consist of things like pay and benefits, company policy and administration, relationships with co-workers and supervision among others.
On the other hand, the really positive motivational factors are Achievement, Recognition and Reward, the Work Itself, Responsibility, Promotion and Growth.

The question is, when you are at the top of the tree, who is going to provide you with all those good things, especially recognition? It is interesting, by the way, to note that pay and benefits are not motivational factors, per se and as hygiene factors they have a short term effect, if any.

We all need someone to talk to, and I have found that there are two excellent outlets for the lonely; a confidential external peer group and an equally confidential one-to-one with a trusted advisor. It is precisely for that reason that I have been with Vistage now for eighteen years and have seen how many stressed businessmen and women have been able to download and discuss their issues and opportunities in a safe environment.

And the moral is? Don’t hold it all in the hope that it will come good in the end. That is a recipe for unhealthy stress. Far better to admit that others can help just as we can help others. As my old Managing Director, Ken Saltrese, used to say “No-one is as smart as all of us!”

Postscript: I made two bad errors in last week’s blog and offered an Easter Egg for the first reader to spot them. The winner was Vistage alumnus David Beddy, Managing Director of Furniture Management Services in Warrington and an old friend and colleague. Well spotted David! (t was Michelangelo not Leonardo who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling (not Cistine))

For more information visit www.vistage.co.uk and www.vistageblog.co.uk
Email ivan.goldberg@vistage.co.uk

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