Kiwis don’t like it when their bosses are ruthless and power hungry - who would've guessed?

  • News
  • May 17, 2016
  • Jonathan Cotton
 Kiwis don’t like it when their bosses are ruthless and power hungry - who would've guessed?
The infamous Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

A not-so-shocking new global survey of just under 40,000 businesspeople has found that New Zealanders place much higher priority on ‘soft’ skills – like good communication – than more aggressive attitudes – such as ambition.

In the survey (conducted by workspace provider Regus), respondents were asked to rate various traits as ‘nice to haves’, ‘importants’ or ‘essentials’. ‘Good communications’ was the top-rated trait, followed by ‘commitment’; ‘honesty’ and the ‘ability’ to motivate people tied for third, with ‘confidence’ close behind.

‘Ruthlessness’ however was rated as the least important of the 14 traits.

“Cut-throat corporate titans, such as Gordon Gekko in the movie Wall Street, are going out of fashion as businesses seek leaders with people skills who can engage and motivate staff,” opines Regus NZ area director, Pierre Ferrandon, in the accompanying release.

“These skills are more important than ever, due to the changing nature of work. Increasing emphasis is being placed on flexibility, work-life balance and a positive workplace culture. Following the GFC there is also a focus on responsible corporate behaviour.”

Ferrandon says New Zealand respondents placed greater emphasis on ‘communication’ than anywhere else in the world, giving it an average score of 2.85 points, compared to the global average of 2.63.

Other important traits for Kiwi business leaders included the ability to rapidly assess situations, innovative thinking and high energy levels.

And the bottom of the list?

‘Persuasiveness’, an ‘ability to take risks’ and ‘technical product knowledge’ were among the most unpopular attributes, with ‘ruthlessness’ coming in last.

“Kiwis value honesty, transparency and openness in all aspects of life, including in the corporate world,” Ferrandon says.

“We expect our CEOs to be ‘straight up’ with their workers, customers and the general public”.



Importance (1- Nice to have, 2- Important, 3- Essential)


Good communications









Ability to motivate people






Ability to rapidly assess situations



Innovative thinking



High energy levels



Financial competence









Ability to take risks



Technical product knowledge






So now that we’ve established what we don’t want in a boss, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin.

Who’s doing bad the best?

Time for a top five!

The top 5 most hated CEOs in the world (according to popular culture)

5. Mike Jeffries

Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries is an unsavoury character. While famous for his Bond villianesque visage, Jeffries also has a penchant for saying the shallowest, most elitist, and downright creepiest stuff imaginable:

“People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy!”

4. Martin ‘Pharma Bro’ Shkreli

In 2015, entrepreneur, pharmaceutical exec and hedge fund founder Martin Shkreli raised the price of a life-saving drug his pharmaceutical company produced – Daraprim – by 5,556 percent (that’s US$13.50 per tablet to US$750 per tablet).

The reason? Why, no good reason at all.  

When called on to explain his actions, Shkreli was unapologetic about his profiteering and presented his wildly punchable face to the public in an ill-advised interview on CNBC. To say that he came across as an unsympathetic character is to put it mildly.

He was everything we hated about big finance, big pharma and big douchebags and the world rejoiced when he was arrested on securities fraud charges in December last year.

3. Mark Weldon

Image: via

Former MediaWorks CEO Mark Weldon has taken quite the beating in the media over the last week, as former employees and, it seems, an unaccountably engaged public, has revelled in the resignation of TV3’s former big deal.

Weldon’s stick-it-in-and-rip-it-out approach to cost-cutting certainly didn’t make him any friends, and neither did his apparent inability to make friends, but, if there’s one thing that we can learn from this whole sad affair, it’s this: When you mess with Hilary Barry, you mess with all of us.

2. Jeffrey Skilling & Kenneth Lay

These days, the name Enron is synonymous with corporate corruption and that is, in the main, thanks to two people – the worst of a bad bunch, former chief executive Jeffrey Skilling and former CEO and chairman Kenneth Lay.

Long story short, in 2000 Enron execs hid massive losses and secretly sold their stock while telling the general public and Enron investors to buy more stock.

Ultimately, Skilling was convicted of 19 counts of conspiracy, securities fraud, insider trading and lying to auditors and Lay was found guilty of multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud.

Oh, and, for a time, the phrase “We have all been Enroned” actually became a thing.

1. Charles Montgomery ‘Monty’ Burns

Though not technically a CEO, with sycophantic advisors, an unquenchable desire for money and power, and a psychopathic disregard for the safety and wellbeing of others, nuclear power plant owner Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Shicklgruber Burns tops this list as most hated business bigwig in the world (according to popular culture).  

His crimes, while too many to mention here, include pollution, blackmail, bribery, blood-drinking, theft of a trillion dollar bill, attempted murder, and attempted taking-candy-from-a-baby.

And that’s enough for us. Boo-urns!

This story was republished from Idealog

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