Psychological consultant James P. Armatas labels MANAGEMENT PRACTICES OF SUCCESSFUL CEOS as a memoir, but his book is also a set of insightful case studies, a guide to the qualities of an effective Chief Executive Officer, a treatise on psychological testing of employees and, indirectly, a history of American business culture from the middle of the 20th century to the 21st.
Armatas himself describes his book as “a longitudinal research project, identifying the management practices of successful CEOs and their companies as models for a new generation of entrepreneurs and future CEOs to consider.” And few people are as qualified for a longitudinal study – Armatas ran his consulting practice for fifty years and, at the time of this book’s publication, is 87 years old.
Over his professional life, Armatas consulted for many different kinds of companies, including restaurants, service companies, manufacturing firms, corporations and conglomerates. Of all these, he says that the manufacturers were his favorite clients, because his psychological training started in Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals, which gave him a grounding in organizational structure and bureaucratic inefficiency. This provided him with the tools that were especially effective in bringing about change. (Armatas notes that the field of clinical psychology itself was actually born in 1949 when the VA collaborated with the American Psychological Association to create training and university programs to help veterans deal with mental health issues, with over 90 percent of the first wave of American clinical psychologists being trained by the VA.)
Armatas begins his memoir with his most colorful character and one of his first clients: Del Dunmire of Growth Industries, who robbed a bank to pay off a gambling debt, was jailed for life but got out after two years, and who then became a multi-millionaire manufacturing aircraft parts. But every one of his CEO portraits is both interesting and useful. Most CEOs, he finds, have certain traits in common: high intelligence, broad knowledge, workaholic habits, and competitive but adaptive personalities. Although there has been much controversy in America about CEO compensation, Armatas’ vignettes prove that effective CEOs are a rare breed and, like every good that is scarce but in demand, naturally command high prices. The only deficiency in this book is, perhaps, the lack of detail about how Armatas used his psychological training to improve employee performance.
MANAGEMENT PRACTICES OF SUCCESSFUL CEOS by psychological consultant James P. Armatas contains a wealth of information for readers interested in any aspect of business culture, practice, and history.
~Kevin Baldeosingh for IndieReader