There is a lot more wrong in the leadership of UK companies than bumper pay packets
By Ben Griffiths | Published 15:35, 14 June 12
How can the two be related? There are a remarkable number of business lessons included in this excellent title by management writer Andrew St George.
At the core of his book is an explanation of the Royal Navy’s six core values, each of which would apply just as soundly to corporations as they can the ‘senior service’.
Number one on the list is commitment - fundamental to naval operations. In business this could mean a leader demonstrating personal commitment to his or her people. It is, as St George writes, a moral quality with high practical results.
Next comes courage, clearly important in a fighting force but how is that applicable to business? In the commercial world this could be termed resilience. Or, if we prefer moral courage, it can be interpreted as the ability and willingness to do what is right, even though it may be unpopular. I also welcomed St George’s position that it allows individuals to learn by admitting their mistakes and accepting responsibility for their actions.
How many times in the commercial world do people dodge responsibility, often in order to preserve ill-gotten rewards?
Discipline is the Royal Navy’s third core value. Self-discipline in the boardroom is vital - just ask Fred Goodwin where a lack of discipline can land you.
Next, respect for others is a fundamental expectation in any working environment.
Integrity comes next on the list with St George defining it as a quality of an individual’s character that encompasses honesty, sincerity, reliability and unselfishness. Dependability, punctuality but above all truthfulness and openness are characteristics that should be seen in abundance in the boardrooms of UK plc.
Lastly, the book cites loyalty as a core value. In the naval context loyalty is to Queen and country. In business, the loyalty should be to the cause but also to the people, whatever rank they may be.
Reading the detail of the report into FTSE 100 pay produced by proxy voting firm Manifest and pay consultancy MM&K I couldn’t help but make comparisons between its findings and the core values expressed by St George.
When one in four CEOs at Britain’s biggest quoted companies took home a 41 percent pay rise compared with just 1 percent for ordinary workers I was tempted to post a copy of this book to every one of them.
It’s difficult to perceive any loyalty in that, never mind integrity, discipline or respect for others.
The mainstream press will undoubtedly concentrate on these pay awards and how starkly they contrast with the experience of the rest of us. But there is a lot more wrong in the leadership of UK companies than bumper pay packets.
And if any of our CEOs stayed in the same job for longer than it takes for an able seaman to spend his first pay packet ashore after a long cruise, they might turn their thoughts to developing those longer term qualities and consider the longevity of their companies and not just busy themselves pleasing investors with short-term gains. The longer the tenure the greater their success over the longer term will need to be.