Saturday, May 10, 2008

Did Old-School Management Work?

George Szell is here conducting Fritz Reiner's Chicago Symphony. Neither Szell nor Reiner was a nice guy--they would use humiliation and fear to get musicians to play well. But boy, did they play well--listen to the precision of the ensemble.

I remember having a few profs who scared the s**t out of me--and did I work hard to prove myself to them.

We as a society don't tolerate this kind of behavior in bosses and teachers anymore--and overall it is almost certainly a good thing. Some people are just sadistic for the sake of being so, and so we have rightly reduced our tolerance for having them in positions of authority.

But there were the rare cases of authority figures who used toughness to assure remarkable ends. I am not sure we allow them to exist anymore, and we may have given up something as a result.

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