Please describe your people management philosophy/ethos...

...and illustrate with examples of how you have put this into practice to successfully lead a team.



This job application closes at midnight and I have nine shitty questions likes this to answer. Can you do my homework for me please

"The iron fist in the velvet glove."


"No pain, no gain."

My thoughts when I know the associate will need to stay up for 72 hours straight to finish by the deadline I've given him


Give them one chance which they will screw up, then quietly take the work back, DIY, write off their time and wait for them to move on when they are bored stiff. 

Give them one chance which they will screw up, then quietly take the work back, DIY, write off their time and wait for them to move on when they are bored stiff. 

Bog on about shared values, honesty and positive two way transference. 


Less touchy-feely, more smashy testes. 

"I see my workplace as a Lord of the Flies island, and I am the only one with the conch"

I am not afraid to use my team as a shield for my own incompetence or to take the fall for my own cock ups.

That's management 101, guaranteed to get you the job.

And don't forget to emphasise how you are  a people person whose door is always open' type who is prepared to feel their pain if necessary as well a to share in their gain (or yucky words to that effect). Oh and how inclusive you are and how you value diversity etc.........

I hate it when the word philosophy is demeaned to mean a management technique or business strategy

just use these words

Empower. Coach. Mentor. Critical Friend. 

Make up a few examples that succintly demonstrate this.

Congratulations, you are manager. 

I aim for co-operate & trust, fostering a culture of mutual respect. I try to be approachable and supportive and take a genuine interest in the development of each individual team member albeit within the context of the needs of the organisation.

So far this year I've only reduced 60% of my team to tears whilst sensitively providing feedback on "things that might have gone better". Similarly, although having had to crush 5 rebellions from trainee partners irked to discover their degree and LPC does not entitle them to partnership income levels, this marks a significant improvement in the metrics of previous years.

I reduce a trainee to tears in one appraisal many years ago.  My “Philosophy” has been to try not to do that again.  In that I have been largely successful.

Espoused vs. enacted, innit it.

When I was measured on profitability, my management philosophy was 'I had to work stuff out for myself without complaining, so you can do the same'.  I explained the overall direction, allocated specific roles and held people accountable for the targets that I had set them.

When I was measured on return (including human capital), my management philosophy was 'I'm not measured on short-term results, you are not measured on short-term results, lets get this done in a way that is fun, helps you to develop, adds to the intellectual capital of the firm and improves its reputation.

The latter was more fun.  

But frankly the latter is only possible in a professional sevices context when you'll deliver on the short-term profitability measures anyway. Because its in your DNA, and its what your network expects.  For example, I created a lot of secondment opportunities, particularly for senior associates, because they needed to understand much better how clients viewed transactions.  But none of them were discounted - my clients would have ben very suspicious if I had offered them a resource at below market rates.  My motivation was to help develop the associate, but it didn't dilute the team's performance on the standard measures (well, it did slightly, in that I could have spent the time on creating more profitable opportunities elsewhere)




Pigeon management.

Fly in, drop the shit and get out.

on a more serious note. People want accountability, support, creative freedom and recognition.

I personally am a bit sucky at recognition but do have a high accountability + high support environment in my team. Also we are open and try to learn from each other and spend a lot of time coordinating. Everyone has their own 'portfolio' or accountabilities so there's no showing off or stealing work. 

As a vaguely serious comment - I've observed (personally and from the experience of others) that it's a sad fact that being too nice/decent usually doesn't actually breed any more loyalty than if you don't do it.

In fact at my old firm the scariest managers got the best product and effort because people were genuinely terrified of them. So they would jump to their requests and work all night because the consequences were too dire to avoid doing so, rather than the reasonable partners that would look out for them and fight their corner. The nice(r) partners would get told that they had booked a weekend away so terribly sorry but back to you.

Ultimately the vast majority of people act in their own interests, when it comes to it. 

10-12-2 philosophy. Amble in at 10, off for a long lunch at twelve and piss off home at 2 but with a jolly wave to the team, showing them that you're not a control freak that won't let them learn for themselves from experience!

Submitted with minutes to spare.


I went with Trickys pigeon example, fingers crossed for an interview

“Divide and rule, a sound motto. Unite and lead, a better one.”

Excellent. That should go well.

When you get the interview also add your upward management style of mushroom management: keep 'em in the dark and feed 'em shit.



All depends on the how replaceable your staff are.  Don't think this would work if you manage sought-after specialists.



I absolutely wasn't advocating it as an approach and it's not one I have followed myself. I had two points:

- in law firms those people that shouted loudest tended to get the best effort and results (fear was driving people more than fairness or loyalty). I happen to think that is a bad thing for all concerned but it's a human self-preservation technique (why upset the person who is going to give you the most grief and aggravation?).

- ultimately people tend to act in their own interests. I (and others) will have all done many things for people that might be expected to instil loyalty but when it's come to it the better prospect/job offer etc will generally cause people to act in their own interests and forget about all of that.

So my points were: being nice is the right thing to do but doesn't necessarily get you that far even if it's the decent and proper thing to do.