Do people who are naturally intimidating become hedge fund managers or does becoming a hedge fund manager make one intimidating? Psychologists have long looked for an answer and while the data has so far been inconclusive, years of research have given us some insight into the varying intimidation tactics-- innate or by design-- used at firms across the nation. You've got your hedge fund manager who intimidates the good old-fashioned way: by screaming at his employees and calling them idiots. The one who uses "indirect methods to get his message across" to subordinates like "retreating to his office and placing and opposing trade" or using an intermediary to hold discussions with colleagues who are sitting two feet away. And, of course, the ones who publish employee handbooks with lines like "Ask yourself whether you have earned the right to have an opinion." And then there are the ones who can do it with just one look, a pregnant pause, and unnerving negotiation of milk froth.
The steely management from Mr Griffin himself is famous or notorious: Goldman Sachs might be a hard-charging environment but it does not have a fiercely meritocratic owner walking the halls. With only about 1,000 employees – compared with 260,000 at JPMorgan – he can manage it. The personality helps. Short-cropped grey hair and an intense glare softened only slightly by a frequent smile, Mr Griffin has a reputation for being intimidating. Today in his office in Chicago he contributes to this by pausing in thought for long seconds, though, incongruously, he also takes time to spoon foam from one Starbucks coffee cup to another.