Fred Goodwin: was his ‘assertive’ management style a factor in RBS’s downfall?

Fred Goodwin: was his ‘assertive’ management style a factor in RBS’s downfall?

The FSA report into the downfall of the Royal Bank late last year, highlighted the former chief executive, (no-longer-Sir) Fred Goodwin’s ‘assertive and robust’ management style as a contributing factor.

It would seem that the bombastic, ‘shouty’, alpha-male genre of management, characteristic of the City and financial institutions, is going out of vogue.

What are the new tenets of leadership that we should be looking for in 2012?

Let’s be clear, a big ego is typically a pre-requisite for the top job in any business or organisation, but there is a fine line between self-confidence and over-confidence. Leaders can be very confident, but it must be real not bluster.

Confidence must be based on technical expertise and experience, important factors for establishing a leader’s credibility to a variety of audiences not least investors and employees. But whilst technical knowledge of a given market or subject is important, there are some other more fundamental characteristics that a leader should have.

Leaders need vision. They need the ability to set their sights on the strategic, long-term view and not get side-tracked by short-term tactics and problems. This doesn’t mean not listening to advice or taking new information into consideration, but it does mean not indulging in flashy quick-wins that ultimately don’t take the company forward.

They need moral courage to stick to their vision. Sometimes leaders have to make very unpopular decisions but they must act in a way that they believe to be right whatever other people think. In order to carry this off and keep people loyal, leaders need to be able to inspire.

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