“Rigid, reluctant, demoralising” – accidental managers at work

Written by Matthew Rock Tuesday 12 March 2024
They’re everywhere – well-meaning but under-prepared people who take up leadership positions and struggle with the responsibilities. What does it feel like working for an accidental manager? And what are the consequences for society?
Orchestra with Performers Playing Violins, Cellos, and Trumpets During Music Concert

Once upon a time, the quality of a company’s management determined whether it could even get hold of money. As the veteran banker Tony Williams says, “when banks were on the high street, one of the parameters for lending was effective management.” 

Today, we’re happy to accept a more casual approach to how our organisations and companies are run. According to CMI’s recent Better Managed Britain research, 82% of managers who enter a management role have not had any formal management or leadership training. And, as we’ve seen in recent years, the results can be devastating. Most business failures are down to poor management. We have a crisis of trust in many cherished institutions.

82% of managers who enter a management role have not had any formal management or leadership training

CMI’s research triggered an important debate about the phenomenon of “accidental management” – how widespread it is, the impact it has on people and organisations, the value of formal training and development in mitigating it and how best to upgrade our national management and leadership. 

Here’s a flavour of that debate, taken from multiple, ongoing conversations…

Why is accidental management so bad now – and how can we solve it?


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