Am I the only one who thinks that managers are less colourful than they used to be?  Over the years I have worked with hundreds of managers (invariably men!) who, in various ways, were, shall we say, zany.  The list includes:

A CEO who kept a pair of fluffy, pink carpet slippers in his office and wore them throughout his working day – even when receiving important visitors.

An HR Director who was a keen bird watcher and had a pair of binoculars, on a tripod, permanently set up in his office.  In the middle of a meeting, without warning or apology, he’d leap up and train the binoculars on an unsuspecting bird then make a note of the observation before resuming the meeting as if nothing had happened.

A captain of industry who had two disarming habits; he’d sit through meetings with his eyes shut and, secondly, without warning he’d lapse into long silences.  It was, however, a mistake to think he had fallen asleep.  He was listening – it is just that you could be forgiven for assuming he wasn’t.

An MD who insisted that all meetings should be held standing up to make them shorter and more business-like.   

A senior manager who used to wander around asking staff, ‘how are you?’ and, regardless of the answer, would always say, ‘jolly good, jolly good’ before moving on to the next person. One day a mischievous member of staff said, ‘Well, I ran over the cat this morning and my wife is in intensive care’.  The reply was still ‘jolly good, jolly good’.

The senior manager who used to walk into a large open-plan office and attract attention by blowing a whistle that he carried with him on a lanyard.  After saying whatever he had to say, he’d signal that people could resume their work with another blast on the whistle.

An entrepreneur who was surrounded by sycophants and got fed up with everyone agreeing with him all the time.  He hired an expensive outside consultant whose brief was to disagree with him. Unfortunately, this was counterproductive; the sycophants, appalled that anyone had the effrontery to disagree with their manager, sprang to his defence.

So, am I right in thinking that there are there fewer eccentric managers nowadays?  Cheer me up by telling me I’m wrong!

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