Glass Ceiling? If only it were so simple

Is it too critical, or too nuanced, to suggest that it’s not just the visibility of female role models that is an issue ? Visibility – and more fundamentally, existence – is certainly important: the vast literature of leadership development and behavioural change provide endless examples of the power of modelling what you wish to create, rather than merely calling for or espousing it. Without role models, the idea that something is possible is far harder to grasp or conceive.

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Figures and FOG: Laura Rittenhouse on Candour

Rittenhouse’s charts and blog posts, tracking the candor analysis rankings of top companies against their performance, makes for interesting reading and is often persuasive. It’s also interesting to see recent moves in the rankings: Google are plummeting in recent times, while 3M are travelling in a more positive direction. And yet, and yet …

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Mental and Physical Rooms: removing obstacles for your creatives

Where and how we work are closely related to each other, and impact similarly closely on our outputs. Job design – how the content and structure of what we do during the day optimise opportunities, play to and extend our strengths or avoid problems further down the line - is often a topic of HR and L&D debate. Yet the environments in which these jobs play out are often given less attention: the design of ‘the workplace’ – one of the most over-used words of our time? – is often seen as having moved from being an issue that either still belongs in the estates and facilities remit, or which is now influenced by an idea of branding: office design as visual branding.

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Keeping it real: if you can fake that …

Surely I’m not the only one who has noticed the steady rise of ‘fake’ as an insult. If you’ve ever watched Big Brother – in itself, a social experiment that has morphed into light entertainment – you’ve probably noticed that this single adjective now encompasses every variety of dislike, including just genuinely disliking someone: in the show’s context, it truly has become the four-letter f-word. Inauthenticity is the most deadly slur that one candidate can utter against another, even while speaking in the context of a competitive game show based in large part around the social popularity of those taking part.

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Apprentice 2013, Episode 10: You Can Take The Boy Out Of Monaco …

At 6.30am (ooh, a lie-in; are these people slacking), the candidates are shepherded to the sitting room, where Jordan is ‘rocking’ a sarong. OK, make that rocking slightly in a sarong, and possibly wittering a little. It’s the ‘smell what’s selling’ task, where they start with one load of tat and wind up with another. They’ll start with a stall and £150, and then open a pop-up shop on Day Two. (‘Pop-up’ is the new Brick Lane in Apprenticeworld, pop-pickers. It sounds so much trendier than ‘temporary’ or ‘in an old shipping container’, doesn’t it, even if the main thing that threatens to pop-up is my dinner. But we’ll have more of that story later …) Boys versus girls, to even up the numbers. Edited to stereotype, Luisa is already bitching about how hopeless the boys are.

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Apprentice 2013 Episode 5: Highly Dubai-ous

Not a gripping episode, and Fran and Rebecca seemed to disappear altogether. The task’s relationship to reality was so tenuous, entertainment was sorely needed and there’s only so much excitement anyone can wring out of a shopping mall. Moving the mall to Dubai doesn’t essentially change matters. If anything, the episode therefore focused on the candidates as people: from a viewer wishing for some form of a relief from the crassness of the task, that was sadly a mixed blessing.

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Moving air or punching it?

As Noel Coward pointed out, cheap music is potent: it's a point made in the New Statesman's review of the latest Bon Jovi CD. But there’s one difference between Bon Jovi and the roles of politicians or other senior leaders that an album review can’t hope to address: I may financially support entertainers, but their responsibility ends when I file back to the car park or I put the CD back in the rack. They are not charged with shaping the society I live in, the organisation I work for, or the role I perform. If it’s all a little vague, then the fact that they ultimately inspire little beyond a film of perspiration and a briefly lingering sense of uplift of ‘feelgood factor’, means they have fulfilled their requirement.

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Thinking differently? Meet a real maverick …

Close to ASK’s heart is Ricardo Semler's insistence on a critical question: “why?”. And not just asking it at every available opportunity, but asking it three times. The first to get the rehearsed answer, the second to start the process of fresh thinking in the questionee, and the third to push the new thinking forward. (In an extract from his second book, The Seven Day Weekend, at inc.com, I was amused to see him draw the same parallel with four year olds as we did here some years ago – although we obviously forgot the motivational power of ice-cream.)

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Defining Courage

Courage isn't just about bravery and derring-do. It also includes holding yourself accountable, encouraging pushback and seeking out feedback – including negative feedback – on your own behaviours and actions: taking the personally rough with the personally smooth. To quote Hemingway, “Courage is grace under pressure.”

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