Book review: Plane Speaking

Emma De Vita reviews Paul Kilduff's collection of musings by Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary

Off the shelf
Off the shelf

What can Michael O'Leary, the foul-mouthed, unconventional boss of Ryanair, teach us about third sector management?

Paul Kilduff has compiled a collection of O'Leary's not inconsiderable number of managerial musings, most of which were made in the pursuit of self-publicity. This is, after all, a man who has arrived for press conferences dressed as Santa, Caesar, the Pope and St Patrick.

When it comes to managing staff, O'Leary tells us that "you can't lead 4,000 people in a direction they don't want to go". That seems sensible enough. But then we get something more forthright: "I've grown tired of hearing companies say 'people are our greatest asset'. We all employ some lazy buggers who need a kick up the backside, but no one can bring themselves to admit it."

Finally, some advice that every cost-obsessed manager could learn from: "I tell the staff not to buy biros, just to pick them up from hotels, legal offices, wherever," says O'Leary. "Recently, I did an interview and I was sitting there with a hotel pen I'd nicked from somewhere. I was asked why and I said: 'We at Ryanair have a policy of stealing hotel pens. We won't pay for Bic biros as part of our obsession with low costs.'" Alternatively, you could start charging staff £1 to use the toilet.

- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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