Level Playing Fields and Non-Sporting Types

Will ‘the future of work’ really be just a gender-balance tweaked version of the current set-up, or should other questions be factored in? More of us – of both genders – work part-time; more of us hop between projects, employers and sectors. Aren’t talent pipelines a symptom of ‘organisations for life’ rather than ‘jobs for life’? The psychological contract has a denser weave of sub-clauses than it used to, and is harder for either party to clearly read.

Will ‘the future of work’ really be just a gender-balance tweaked version of the current set-up, or should other questions be factored in? More of us – of both genders – work part-time; more of us hop between projects, employers and sectors. Aren’t talent pipelines a symptom of ‘organisations for life’ rather than ‘jobs for life’? The psychological contract has a denser weave of sub-clauses than it used to, and is harder for either party to clearly read.

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.

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.

Diversity: populating the tent

Promoting other people in your own image not only says something about your preferences, it says something – and not something particularly healthy – about your own self-image. Leadership depends not just on developing self-awareness, but on maintaining it – staying aware of your impact, of the impression you create, and your relationship to the changing world around you. (If you want a truly ghastly analogy here, consider the scene in Behind the Candelabra where Liberace produces a photograph of himself as guidance for the plastic surgeon hired to ‘re-model’ his partner. If you want to be adored, try being adorable. It’s cheaper and it leaves fewer scars – on everyone – although it does mean finding out what other people find attractive.)

Promoting other people in your own image not only says something about your preferences, it says something – and not something particularly healthy – about your own self-image. Leadership depends not just on developing self-awareness, but on maintaining it – staying aware of your impact, of the impression you create, and your relationship to the changing world around you. (If you want a truly ghastly analogy here, consider the scene in Behind the Candelabra where Liberace produces a photograph of himself as guidance for the plastic surgeon hired to ‘re-model’ his partner. If you want to be adored, try being adorable. It’s cheaper and it leaves fewer scars – on everyone – although it does mean finding out what other people find attractive.)

Generations at work: The other ‘squeezed middle’

Barclays Bank recently commissioned research into the appeal of benefits packages offered by employers to different generational groupings within the workforce. Someone with a keen interest in pop culture – albeit not very recent pop culture – may have chosen the report’s title: Talking About My Generation. Looking at coverage of the report since its publication, other Who singles might have spoken more clearly about the findings: I’m thinking, for example, about The Seeker, Let’s See Action or the inevitable Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Barclays Bank recently commissioned research into the appeal of benefits packages offered by employers to different generational groupings within the workforce. Someone with a keen interest in pop culture – albeit not very recent pop culture – may have chosen the report’s title: Talking About My Generation. Looking at coverage of the report since its publication, other Who singles might have spoken more clearly about the findings: I’m thinking, for example, about The Seeker, Let’s See Action or the inevitable Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Just shout really slowly – understanding cultural differences

News editors love a hoo-ha because the headlines and leading paragraphs almost write themselves. In this century, issues linked to cultural differences are a particular favourite. To take one recent news story, Language teaching crisis as 40% of university departments face closure and Lack of language skills is diminishing Britain’s voice in the world (the latter … Continue reading “Just shout really slowly – understanding cultural differences”

Sisters: taking opportunities for themselves?

Harriet Green OBE has many outstanding qualities: attracting attention to her opinions, her abilities and to herself are just three of them, judging by coverage in recent days in The Times and The Telegraph. Her business abilities clearly extend to knowing which elements of a story will capture both an audience’s and a journalist’s attention: her message to other women to contact blue chip company Chairs directly rather than using headhunters or recruitment consultants – and using her own example as evidence of the success of this approach – makes no mention, for example, that she holds an OBE and is a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. Not everyone who is chipping away at the glass ceiling possesses quite such a diamond-tipped chisel. I hope that it’s not cynicism that leaves me wondering whether chutzpah alone would have been quite so effective.

Harriet Green OBE has many outstanding qualities: attracting attention to her opinions, her abilities and to herself are just three of them, judging by coverage in recent days in The Times and The Telegraph. Her business abilities clearly extend to knowing which elements of a story will capture both an audience’s and a journalist’s attention: her message to other women to contact blue chip company Chairs directly rather than using headhunters or recruitment consultants – and using her own example as evidence of the success of this approach – makes no mention, for example, that she holds an OBE and is a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group. Not everyone who is chipping away at the glass ceiling possesses quite such a diamond-tipped chisel. I hope that it’s not cynicism that leaves me wondering whether chutzpah alone would have been quite so effective.

Employeeship

As a non-academic, there are times when I encounter the outpourings of the higher education community and catch myself thinking “Yes, I knew that, actually. I wouldn’t have explained at such great length, or with so many historic references or such recourse to technical language. But I still feel like I knew that already.” I had that feeling recently, when I researched the idea of Organisational Citizenship.

As a non-academic, there are times when I encounter the outpourings of the higher education community and catch myself thinking “Yes, I knew that, actually. I wouldn’t have explained at such great length, or with so many historic references or such recourse to technical language. But I still feel like I knew that already.” I had that feeling recently, when I researched the idea of Organisational Citizenship.