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Results-driven control freaks ‘aren’t always the best managers’, research finds

Rob Waugh

Most of us have worked for at least one results-focused, micro-managing leader – who drives himself like a pack horse, and expects everyone to work as hard as he does.

But is that really ‘good management’?

Not really. A Norwegian management expert says that most studies show that the best managers are those who care about their employees – and trust them to do their own jobs.

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Speaking to Science Nordic, Professor Øyvind Lund Martinsen, head of the Department of Management and Organization at BI Norwegian Business School said, ‘All research to date suggests that leaders should focus on being relationship-oriented, preferably with a dash of inspirational vision.

‘The times we live in really affect how we define what is good management. For our time, one form of leadership appears to best.

Martinsen says that as employees have become more highly educated, and less concerned about material needs, they are more worried about their feelings about work.

Martinsen says, ‘We care a lot about our colleagues and if we like our boss. Employees expect a great deal of autonomy, that is, influence on their own working day, and to be given the leeway to solve challenges at work on their own.

He says that the idea of the ‘slave driver’ manager – brimming with genius ideas – is popular with board members, but disastrous with employees.

Martinsen said, ‘This kind of ‘tall, dark’ driven executive, who manages the company based on production requirements and meeting goals, is often on a collision course with today’s employees.

Martinsen explains that the workforce has changed since the 1950s. As people become more highly educated and are less concerned about material needs, they have become more concerned about their feelings about work.