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Articles & Material

Paul McCartney's passion
02 / 09 / 13

Quote in Financial Times

The FT asked if I'd like to comment on this question:

"Ahead of a concert in Canada last week, Paul McCartney, a longtime vegetarian and supporter of animal rights, is reported to have supplied his local crew and stagehands with vegetarian-only meals. Is it ever a good idea for the boss to impose lifestyle choices on others?"

My response was unequivocal:

"Thereís nothing wrong with the boss imposing lifestyle choices, so long as youíre not being asked to do anything that would harm you or land you in jail. Besides, did Paul McCartney impose? Did he stand over them and make sure the tofu slid down their throats? Everyone in the music business knows his views. If you donít want to eat a vegetarian meal, work for someone else or buy a burger. In my experience, any leader who doesnít have a clear set of beliefs or passion for a cause isnít worth following. The best bosses I coach share their personal convictions freely, enjoy opposition and tolerate dissent with grace and humour."

However, the two other respondents, one business school professor and one business owner disagreed. They thought that managers should allow their employees to do what they want since this drives engagement. This is current received wisdom, I reckon, and ill thought-through. Passion is what drives engagement. And if employees disagree with what they are being asked to do, they can reply with equal passion and get a dialogue going. A good boss will respond well. A bad boss will impose, and as I said, itsn't worth following.