Women Mean Business

Middle Management

Middle Management (Photo credit: p_a_h)

For obvious reasons last week saw a bit of commentary about women in leadership roles (and I will blog about Lady Thatcher later on, but not I think the Tribunal case involving Stella English, Lord Sugar’s former Apprentice).


Meanwhile there is plenty to chew over in the latest Cranfield School of Management research on female board level appointments.  Apparently the rate at which women are making it to the top is slowing: confidence is still the issue.


If confidence is the cornerstone of achievement, the implication from Cranfield is that too few women in middle management have it.  They lack the potent belief in themselves that could take them to the top.  Perhaps men in line for top jobs will take the chance that they are good enough for the promotion right now, where women will be more cautious.


It seems the challenge for senior managers, as they nurture junior talent, remains:


–       Spotting potential high flyers, irrespective of gender or other differences


–       Providing them with opportunities to shine


–       Supporting them as their confidence grows



Anti Social Media Part 2

Logo of the Kent Police.

Logo of the Kent Police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Understandably Paris Brown has turned down her appointment as Youth Police and Crime Commissioner in Kent.   This was probably inevitable once the Kent police themselves started to investigate the legality of Ms Brown’s contentious Tweets.


Credit to her for facing the media though.   As Commissioner Ann Barnes’ 9 April statement points out, Ms Brown shows courage by appearing publically to withdraw from the job.


Second time around, the Kent recruitment panel will have to find someone who hasn’t thrown words around casually online, since registering on Twitter.  A clean searchable history means that the next Youth Commissioner will be able to concentrate on their post, without the need for explanations of the ‘right’ context of their language.


Mind you, speech was ephemeral when I was 17.  I am glad I am not accountable for some of the things I said then, or since.  I would have been mortified to have my youthful thoughts captured and shared online.  I’m not sure how I would have handled being a headline item within a 24 hour news cycle.


Coincidentally a recent article in the Guardian newspaper shows that information from the pre-digital era can still turn up on search engines, whether or not it is an accurate reflection of the subject.  That’s a sobering thought.




Perhaps the learning point from these events is this: however detailed your life-plan is everyone makes mistakes, some of which are large enough to be subject to scrutiny by prospective employers, partners, in-laws and the press.  Handling the scrutiny gracefully is part of the the key to managing the long-term impact of those mistakes.

Anti Social Media

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve posted about social media before, so it is no surprise to say that Paris Brown gets some of my sympathy.

Imagine being 17 years old, casually Tweeting your thoughts to your mates, and a year later holding a post as a youth Police Crime Commissioner in Kent, where your words are regarded as anything but casual.  Talk about making your growing up mistakes in public.


Many of us are learning the hard way that Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and their peers are not transient media.  It is difficult to put a favourable context on what Paris Brown said.  She got it wrong.  An apology after the fact for ‘any offence that I have caused’ sounds increasingly like damage limitation.  Deleting the Tweets won’t mean they will be forgotten.  Bottom line, it is difficult, but not impossible, to erase a digital history.



In a sign of the times the British Library is to store some social media output for posterity.  Perhaps every social media user needs to act on a simple goal: to use their chosen medium in way that would reflect their personal brand positively, if what they wrote was to be saved by the British Library.



The Things You Learn From The Movies

Screenshot of Paul Henreid, Ingrid Bergman, Cl...

Screenshot of Paul Henreid, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains and Humphrey Bogart from the trailer for the film Casablanca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Birthday Warner Brothers.  This week, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph, I learned that this film studio is 90 years old.  David Grittens’ article suggests that Warner Brothers introduced a grittier sort of realism to the cinema audience of the 1920s and 30s.


For a start their actors – including Ingrid Bergman, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Bette Davis – looked right for their roles, rather than being picture perfect.   You know they have lived a little and will use that life experience, one way or another, as the story unfolds.


Being liberal – and very tongue in cheek – with the concept of realism I would say Warner Brothers offers some personal development pointers too.  Here are three thoughts on the subject.


Casablanca’s Rick would love to rekindle the pre-war romance he had with Ilsa.  However he adjusts what he wants in favour of what the situation (War, Fidelity, Resistance) demands.  He lets her go.  They will always have Paris after all.  That sounds like a simple action to take, but the impact it has for all concerned is huge.


Wile E Coyote will always strive to catch the Roadrunner and will always come to grief doing so.  He doesn’t stop to learn wisdom from the many setbacks he experiences – with or without the help of Acme Corporation products.  He probably needs a coach to support him in identifying realistic options and then to do some effective action planning.


Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight might also benefit from some support, so that Bruce Wayne can look deep underneath the Kevlar body armour and find out what he truly wants.  That might make his life less conflict-prone.



It’s All About The Goals

Michael Owen

Michael Owen (Photo credit: emphasis)

There was an interesting Guardian article at the end of March about Michael Owen’s source of motivation to become the best footballer he could be.  There’s a lot to agree with in the piece and some points on which I take a different view.  On the plus side in the article he says:


“Reaching the top of your profession on your own is nigh on impossible. Doing it with the support of others gives you a small chance.  Having the support of all your family, while being guided by a father like mine made it hard to fail”.


From a young age Michael Owen put a lot of effort into pleasing his father.  Luckily the desire to please his parent chimed with his own growing desire to excel at his chosen sport.


On the other side, I think there is more to be said about the balancing elements of motivating a young person to achieve good results and their own desire to succeed , in sport or elsewhere.


What little I know about developmental psychology comes into play here.  Parents may say ‘you need to be better at this subject’ and the child may believe ‘I want to be better’.  If so, great results are possible.   If the pressure is all external – the parent bearing down on the child – there is a risk that the child will try hard and be unhappy doing so.