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Trade Secretary Liam Fox call Britain’s bosses ‘too lazy and fat’

The recent story of Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, biting the hand of those he needs support from is, to say the least, interesting. His assertion that Britain’s business leaders are either too ‘fat’ or ‘playing golf on a Friday to export’ has rankled with many of our clients. What was he thinking …..?

Given the immediate distancing played out by Number 10 he was, perhaps, just expressing a personal view. Or is this one of those Government double bluffs that so often creep into the machinery of spin and counter spin?

On many levels to accuracy or authenticity or, even, authorship, of such comments is almost immaterial. What really counts is the motivation behind them and the effect they will have.

As leading executive coaches working with many senior leaders and business directors our experience shows that, on balance, an approach that motivates, engages and enrolls your followers, potential advocates, customers and stakeholders pays dividends.

Demotivating comments such as ‘too fat’ that drag people down may, in a minority of cases spur short-term ‘I’ll show you’ performance but the longer-term effects soon wear thin – this appears to be the case here.

Of course, Dr Fox, also faces the double whammy of ‘who are you to talk?’ Not only has he made his inflammatory remarks but he’s also faced a barrage of feedback such as that from Richard Reed, Innocent Drinks co-founder, when describing Mr Fox said, “had never done a day’s business in his life”.

Our own experience of business leaders is that all strive to produce as much as possible and certainly recent history shows that business has needed to strive in order to survive.

Is business perfect? No. Are business leaders perfect? No. Are some business leaders over weight – have all politicians looked in the mirror??

As for playing golf, there is a lot of evidence to support the value of setting different frameworks for business negotiation and golf is a proven vehicle.

Perhaps some Coaching in the Department of Trade using Positive Psychology might help…?


About the Author:

Alan Denton is MD of executive coaching and leadership development company The Results Centre.  Alan regularly coaches CEOs and senior executives across a range of areas including financial services, pharmaceutical, the legal sector and many others following his years working as a senior manager within the retail and the automotive industry.