Five steps to good management

By Professor Adrian Furnham


Senior positions always involve stress. People have to make hard decisions, take risks, face criticism and endure set-backs. They need to be hardy and resilient to respond to the pace and challenges of modern business life.

The single best predictor of stress reactions is a person’s emotional stability. Less stable people are, in essence, prone to neuroses, while unstable people tend to be tense, touchy and thin-skinned. Stable leaders, by contrast, cope well under inevitable periods of stress.

Cognitive Ability

The single best predictor of leadership/management success is intelligence. Managers need a minimum level of intelligence to do the job well but as one goes up the ladder, jobs become more complex thus they need to be more intelligent. Things can change or need changing and leaders have to understand those issues. All senior management positions require a basic level of intelligence, which can be found via tests, but these must not disadvantage any groups. This is not to say that leaders need to be exceptionally able, but they must reach a minimum level.



Every business leader needs to be hard-working and self-disciplined. They have to be dependable, reliable and responsible to their staff, colleagues, customers and share-holders. They also have to learn to be organised and understand the need to plan ahead.

People are quickly observed by others to be well organised and constantly striving to reach goals. But the easy going, poorly organised and careless person is not difficult to spot.


Emotional Intelligence

Management and leadership is a social activity. Leaders have to inspire and support staff and understand themselves and other people. Emotional intelligence involves understanding and being able to influence other people. But it also involves self-understanding or awareness and the knowledge of how to deal with set-backs. It is essentially about having social skills and leaders of this nature understand the importance in everyday life.



Motivation is the engine of leadership success but it needs direction. People are motivated by different things – power, influence, control and recognition. The problem with the concept is that it appears all encompassing and vague. People are motivated to achieve a goal and the more motivated they are the more time, effort and energy they put in. More importantly most of these goals are not easily satisfied and this does not stop once they have been achieved. Of all the factors it is often most difficult to measure motivation.

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