'Ostrich' bosses taken to task

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The Independent Online
BRITAIN'S chief executives are ostriches who bury their heads in the detail of current trading and fail to seek external advice or plan for the future. Unless that changes, they will be unable to compete in the harsher trading environment of the future.

A report by the Institute of Management, Preparing for Tomorrow - the Changing Roles and Responsibilities of Heads of Organisations, finds that while half of chief executives claim to spend most of their time on strategy, in practice three-quarters concentrate on short-term tasks. Only one in 10 devote most of their time to the culture or structure of the organisation.

Business leaders recognise the gravity of external threats from increased global competition and greater regulatory and political intervention, according to the report, based on a survey of the senior executives in Britain's biggest companies by Mitchell Phoenix, a management development consultancy.

They are also aware of the need to broaden their future social agenda and foresee their responsibility will be much wider than for employees, dependants and the immediate community. But, although they acknowledge the need to look outwards, they continue to look inwards for advice.

This is also reflected in the approach to management development, with coaching by those already in place being preferred to help from external experts.

The report warns that this will lead to perpetuation of entrenched ideas and an unwillingness to accept new initiatives.