Here Executive Grapevine explores the strangest habits of some of the most influential bosses of all time:
1) Memorizing employee number plates – Bill Gates
Now famous as much for his philanthropy as his business acumen, Microsoft founder Bill Gates once had a very strange method of keeping tabs on his employees. On the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, he admitted that he memorized the number plates on his employees’ cars so that he could track when they arrived at and left work.
However, not even the super-intelligent Gates could keep tabs on everyone. “Eventually I had to loosen up, as the company got to a reasonable size,” he said.
Now, he has a different opinion on how long people should be spending in the office. He told Desert Island Disks that while he regularly worked weekends and “didn’t really believe in vacations,” when he met his wife Melinda he reassessed his priorities to give himself more time away from work.
2) Wearing the same clothes every day – Steve Jobs
When you think of a successful businessman, you’re likely to think of someone in a sharp suit and tie. However, Apple founder Steve Jobs was famed for his choice of a black turtleneck, jeans and sneakers which he wore every day.
He claimed it was because he wanted to cut down on the number of decisions he had to make every day, allowing him to use the mental energy on more important things.
Dr. John Grohol, the founder & CEO of Psych Central, says there’s no evidence that Job’s clothing choices affected his brainpower. “It’s easy to cherry-pick a few successful people who engage in a behaviour you admire. However, such anecdotal evidence doesn’t hold up to two seconds’ worth of scientific scrutiny.”
However, there’s something to be said for feeling comfortable at work – and if Jobs really did feel better wearing his trademark outfit every day, it probably did help him do his best work.
3) Making some waves - Michael O’Leary
The Irish Ryanair Boss Michael O’Leary is no stranger to the media – he loves to be in the limelight and believes it is good for business. Last month he was filmed giving free drinks to passengers on board a flight after his horse, Tiger Roll, won the Grand National. Previously he’s been pictured dressed as the Pope when opening a new route between Dublin and Rome and has stoked controversy suggesting charging for using the toilet on planes.
All of these stunts are part of O’Leary’s belief that "as long as it's not safety-related, there's no such thing as bad publicity".
He might not be right on that front – Stanford Graduate School of Business research found negative publicity harmed book sales by 15%, and the same may be true for business.
But, considering most of O’Leary’s antics come across as harmless and eccentric, he’s unlikely to be doing any harm to the multi-billion pound airline.
4) Enforced tidiness - Martha Stewart
American CEO Martha Stewart has a strange rule when it comes to ink in her business – it must only be red or black, and blue is banned. She’s also not a fan of employees having clutter on their desks, with photos, plants and coffee mugs outlawed in her office.
“Whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information,” says Mikael Cho, writing for LifeHacker. “Similar to what multitasking does to your brain, physical clutter overloads your senses, making you feel stressed, and impairs your ability to think creatively.”
So maybe there’s a reason for Stewart’s apparently harsh rules!
Source: Executive Grapevine