Too Many ‘Lone Wolf’ Managers?

He sits in separate office, appears not to listen to the ideas of subordinates, and doesn’t go out of his way to give them advice, direction or encouragement. Focused on today’s tasks and fairly good at getting them done, he tends not to anticipate potential problems or think over much about long-term issues affecting the enterprise.

Sound familiar?

It’s how Kiwi managers are perceived, according to recent New Zealand Institute of Management fax poll. Designed to present snapshot rather than detailed analysis of management performance, it clearly shows character operating ‘on their own’ rather than as an effective member of larger group.

“They are poor at managing others and are seen as relatively ineffective in supporting them,” according to poll analyst, Graham Weir & Associates.

It’s trait that shows up in communication, effectiveness and interpersonal skills.

Managers earn the lowest communication ratings for “listening and asking questions” and “ability to transform ideas into actions” but do lot better on presentation and credibility ratings, says the Weir report.

“Taken together, both sets of attributes paint picture of managers who consider it more important to project good personal image than using the skills, ideas and competencies of others.”

That’s view supported by their low rating for “working teams” and for “coaching and mentoring” in the interpersonal skills category. It seems the management specimens dissected in this particular poll are poor at managing others and are seen as relatively ineffective in supporting them. Poor performance in all the attributes that are important in working productively with others hampers effectiveness. Subordinates don’t receive clear guidance and therefore can’t be expected to give of their best.

“The results show an undue focus on the manager’s personal needs at the expense of the overall performance of their team’s.”

It also appears that managers are more concerned with daily minutiae than the big picture. That shows up in low ratings for “ability to use information”, “recognising problem areas”, “selecting critical information” and “identification of problem areas”.

This inability or unwillingness to exercise strategic skills isn’t too serious in the short term but longer term will have adverse effects on the way the organisation operates and how well it performs, says the report.

“The lack of such attributes in so many managers does not bode well for the future of New Zealand business.”

Perhaps the most disturbing perception, the report notes, is that little has changed over time. According to respondents, there has been some improvement but it isn’t significant.

Watch this space to find out whether future polls reveal any progress.

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