Just under a third of those surveyed chose The Apprentice boss, who returns to our screens tonight for series seven of the popular television show.
X Factor mogul, Simon Cowell, was second in line, with 17% of the vote, while Manchester United manager, Alex Ferguson, was third – seen as a nightmare coach by 16% of voters.
The survey named Sir Richard Branson the nation’s preferred coach. The Virgin boss received almost a quarter of votes, with Lord Sugar’s colleague on The Apprentice, Karren Brady, coming in second with 11% of the vote. Rugby World Cup winning ex-England coach, Sir Clive Woodward, was close behind with 10%.
The survey also revealed that the majority of managers are not performing at their optimum level, with 79% of those questioned believing their performance would improve if they had a coach at work.
Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, says: “Leadership styles have changed from being command and control to a coaching approach that doesn’t assume the boss is the expert. It is more important to help people and teams get to better solutions. Helping managers develop that ability is a critical management and coaching skill.
“People learn when they are stretched and challenged and a bit of performance anxiety is no bad thing, but not when it is disabling. A coach’s role is to raise the bar then help people get over it. Naturally, Lord Sugar’s TV persona does make for entertaining viewing but it doesn’t necessarily translate into a great lesson in what works in the real world.
“It is worrying such a high proportion of managers say they are not performing at their optimum level at a time when the UK economy is still so fragile. Managers need to be confident in their ability and direction if they are to lead their staff effectively and contribute to the country’s economic recovery. Developing managers’ coaching skills is the single most cost-effective development investment a business can make, and the wise CEO will ensure coaching is introduced across their organisation to help staff work at the optimum level.”
A large number of respondents (59%) said that they had previously received coaching at work, with 92% saying their performance had improved as a result.