Who needs a manager anyway?


Lacking Authority?

I was enjoying my Bank Holiday weekend with a copy of a well known news magazine. One of features I idly flicked through was an interview with the new CEO of Ford, a guy called Alan Mulally who was credited with turning the car company around and taking Toyota’s place at the top of the US car market (I’m not sure the dodgy break pedals didn’t have an impact!)

Mr Mulally, as Chief Executive, was credited with being the driving force behind turning Ford around.

But, that is the private sector and in the public sector we don’t necessarily see things that way. A few weeks ago one of my fellow bloggers mused that possibly local politicians were realising the value of high paid senior managers by awarding them above average pay rises and then defending them in the local newspapers.

This may have been the case in some London Boroughs but apparently in Whitehall the feeling is not shared.

This past week Mr Pickles, our esteemed Secretary of State commented that he was not really sure what Chief Executives did and felt that the Leader of the Council could do a similar role and possibly do it better. (Whether Mr Pickles also believes his Permanent Secretary doesn’t do anything worthwhile is an interesting question)

My sense is that Mr Pickles was commenting on those Chief Executives of smaller councils; many of which are already considering sharing their Chief Executives or in some cases letting the Leader run things for a short period whilst they find a new Chief Executive.

However, even with that caveat, how is it that we have lost so much faith in the value of leadership and management that we now don’t think we need a Chief Executive to run the council. I’m not the biggest fan of many of the Chief Executives I’ve come across but that doesn’t mean I want to get rid of them; it just means I want them to be better, work harder and to show more leadership.

Eric Pickles seems to like abolishing things rather than fix them; first the Audit Commission and now over 400 Chief Executives. What next, rather than just remove Fabio Capello for England being rubbish let’s eliminate the post of England Manager and let the players work it out? Or rather than get rid of the chef from his local pub, let’s abolish the post of head chef and let the diners work it out as they come in?

I’m starting to get a little concerned…

Explore posts in the same categories: The future of Local Govt

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One Comment on “Who needs a manager anyway?”

  1. localgov Says:

    In the past I’ve thought that there are too many bad managers, and that cutting them out will actually do a lot of good. However, with this one I think the esteemed Mr Pickles is 100% wrong. Organisations need strong leadership and direction, now more than ever; getting rid of them smacks of short-sightedness of the highest order.

    It brought to mind a classic story:

    There were once four members of a project team:
    Everyone, Someone, Anyone and No-one.

    Like all projects there are some important tasks to do,Everyone was really busy and was sure that Someone had more time to do most of these tasks, but Someone thought Anyone could do them.

    However Anyone couldn’t do them, and so unless Anyone made Someone realise that Someone was the best person to do those jobs, Everyone ended up allocating the jobs to No-one.

    Sadly No-one wasn’t very good at getting these jobs done, so the result was a disaster, which impacted Everyone.

    Everyone ended up angry with Someone, because Everyone knew that Someone could do the jobs far better than No-one


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