In every office there’s a boss. And under the boss there are people, most of whom secretly believe they could do the job better.

So what are the key traits that would propel you to the top and make you a great leader?

ELAS Group HR Director Pam Rogerson cites ten characteristics: someone who is honest, reliable, confident, believable, inspiring, visionary, fair, committed and conscientious with a strong moral compass.

Phew - exhausted already? Last week the Daily Mail sifted through the leadership and motivation experts and came up with a list of seven personality traits that high successful and high earners share.

Do you have them? Check the list:

  1. Have and communicate a vision: You can’t get anywhere unless you know where you want to get to and can articulate to others in a way that gets them on board for the journey – this includes clients!
  2. Team building skills:To build and maintain a viable team you need to be able to identify what skills and types of personalities are required to make a robust team – like the manager of a good football team, you need to keep an eye out for talent.
  3. Heart, self-awareness and belief: Simon Coops saysit’s important to believe in yourself and you should also be open to - and encourage - constructive criticism.
  4. Humour: Being able to see the funny side of things will help you get over the inevitable bumps in the road.
  5. Humility:Always remember there is room for improvement and there are loads of people out there who could improve on what you do – including people in your own team.

6: Humanity and honesty: Caring about the people around you and taking the long-term view will always triumph over selfish, short-term and greedy thinking.

And finally:

  1. The ability to sleep soundly at night: Sleepless nights are a given for those in the driving seat.

Not surprisingly, this list of virtuous qualities met with only qualified enthusiasm from the paper’s readers.

“What a load of drivel”, commented one. “Why are we obsessed with this pseudo-entrepreneurial nonsense? Why can’t we respect people with real abilities and talents - hard skills if you like, such as being good at brick laying or maths?”

“Things were better in the 1950s and 1960s”, wrote another. “It was made very clear in no uncertain terms where you stood. Now today, management is full of smiles and at the same time you know they hate you.”

Posted another about the virtue list:  “The one thing missing is sociopathic tendencies.”

And another let rip with a workplace cri de Coeur: “My boss almost bullies me and I can’t do much about it without ruining my own career, so have to wait it out till I find something else. I have to tell her every three months or so she is making me ill, and she backs off for a week and then starts slowly ramping up the pressure again. She has made me work (over the phone) on every holiday I’ve ever had, and pressures us to do impossible projects to make her look good.”

This prompted unanswerable advice: “You know what to do. Make it look like an accident.”

The problem with articles like this – and indeed the whole motivational/leadership shemozzle with ‘How to’ books, conferences, seminars and courses on the perfect boss is that few if any of them work.

This is because they stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and culture of modern work – and a profoundly mistaken belief in the abilities of employees to be bosses of any sort.

A few years ago Dr. E.L Kersten, founder of Despair Inc., penned a brilliant book called The Art of Demotivation.

It was a brutal assault on the leadership/motivation industry. Management, he said, have entrapped and tortured the average worker “in delusions of grandeur…   management has only further reinforced their sense of entitlement.

“Though most employees live lacklustre lives full of wasted opportunities and trivial accomplishments, they grow ever more certain of their enormous worth and glorious destinies.

“This is because they are products of a narcissistic age, the results of a grand social experiment that has gone terrible awry. As a result they are afflicted with an irrational sense of entitlement that simultaneously increases their dissatisfaction with their jobs and prevents them from accepting responsibility for their lives.”

Kersten’s advice to the motivation industry is to stop inflating fantasies of infinite human potential but instead accept “the grim realities of a broken world”.

He developed a programme called Radical Demotivation, based on the premise that employees are victims of the Noble Employee Myth – one with which many bosses would secretly agree. “They demand more income than they merit, more respect than they have earned, more autonomy than they can handle and more leisure time then they need.”

It’s a satire, of course, but one that lands a deadly blow on the How to Be a Perfect Boss motivational industry.

There’s only so much you can do to in a workplace forged in unrealistic expectations and ruled by targetitis.  Change the persona of a domineering boss into an empathising freak?

Beware of humanising Donald Trump – and ending up with David Brent.


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