What if Greta is correct?

Acres of hardcopy material and megabytes of softcopy content have been written about Greta Thunberg.  This 16-year old Swedish girl started the Friday school strike phenomenon to protest against what she regards as government and corporate inaction to combat climate change.  An article in the Sunday Times on August 18th suggested she is being manipulated by others taking advantage of her Asperger’s syndrome, see https://www.thetimes.co.uk/past-six-days/2019-08-18/news-review/greta-thunberg-and-the-plot-to-forge-a-climate-warrior-9blhz9mjv

Putting that aside, however, what if Greta is right and our planet is standing Tom Daly-like on its tiptoes on the edge of a very high diving board and could all too easily plummet into some catastrophic climatic cauldron?  As coaches, mentors, managers or leaders, are we providing destabilising counsel that cumulatively will increase the likelihood of that fall occurring?  Or, are we exerting enough influence upon those we work with to cause them to start to think differently or, cliché warning, to think outside the box?

Continue reading “What if Greta is correct?”

Badges of honour: continuing needs for old words

This time last month, the commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings were starting to be held.  I found them moving, poignant and dignified.  Most memorable were the remarks of those who had taken part, whose numbers, like the tides on the Normandy beaches, are ebbing away due to their age.  Yet what astonishing and remarkable men and women they were.  Never forgotten.

Unlike my 95-year old mother who was a WRN stationed in Weymouth during Operation Overlord, their memories have remained pin sharp and crystal clear.  The understated manner in which they spoke about their experiences of the ferocity and horror of battle was humbling.  There was no 21st century scream of “Me, me, me!”.  Instead, their laser-like compassionate focus was on their comrades, especially those who were killed or injured. 

During the last four weeks, I have re-read many articles written about the commemorations.  What struck me most powerfully was the vocabulary used to describe the behaviours, motives and values of the soldiers, sailors and pilots.  (Pleasingly, due recognition is now being paid to the countless women involved, many working covertly behind enemy lines or diligently in logistical activities, such as Mum.)  These words resonated strongly with me.  They bear repeating, so here in a random order is a selection:

Continue reading “Badges of honour: continuing needs for old words”

We don’t need no education

So sang Pink Floyd in 1979 on their Christmas number 1 single Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 from their album The Wall.   It was a protest against rigid, didactic education. 

Continue reading “We don’t need no education”

The kids are alright

Let’s start this month’s essay with a musical philosophy question. 

In the 1960s, the Who sang “The kids are alright”.  In 1998, The Offspring sang “The kids aren’t alright”.  Which group had the more prescient song?

Continue reading “The kids are alright”

Reining in the horses


In Biblical terms, the four horsemen of the Apocalypse were Pestilence, Famine, War and Death.  An American psychologist, Dr John Gottman, who researches divorce and its causation, identifies four new horse riders that he names Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt and Stonewalling. The adverse impact of these behaviours apply in organisational leadership just as much as marital relationships.

Continue reading “Reining in the horses”

Trains – going nowhere, slowly

It is the day of the 10th anniversary of the WOW! Awards gala at the Tower of London.  I thought it would salve my anger to write about the train “service” my local train operating company, Greater Anglia, “provides”.  As a  corporate entity it has about as much chance of winning an award as a chocolate remaining in a solid state in a furnace.

Today also saw the annual announcement of the increase in rail fares, 3.1% in January 2019.

Continue reading “Trains – going nowhere, slowly”

Awards – which ones matter?

There are a great many awards schemes that businesses and organisations can enter nowadays.  But which ones are worth winning?  My experience as a judge highlights two schemes that are genuine and represent a true accolade of excellence.

What does success in these awards say about the organisation, its leadership and the team and/or individual who has won?  And what should critics of business and our public sector organisations take heed of?

Continue reading “Awards – which ones matter?”

Millennials – plus ca change, la meme chose

It is very interesting to read recent posts from Frank Clayton and Charlie Walker-Wise about millennials’ attitudes and values.  Their remarks make valuable contributions to the rolling discussion about this demographic, which seems to me to be often unfairly slighted for being work-shy, recalcitrant and pessimistic.

Continue reading “Millennials – plus ca change, la meme chose”

Astroturfing

I intend to keep this blog short; I hope that is a pleasing first sentence.  I want to toss you a tough piece of meat to chew on or, rather, give you a piece of astroturf to lay…

Last Week Tonight

 

 

Are you fans of UK satirist, John Oliver, and his HBO show “Last Week Tonight”? It is broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic.

For me, it is required viewing on a Monday night.

 

This week, after his usual verbal fusillade at President Trump, Oliver does a lengthy piece about something called “Astroturfing”.  You can watch it here, https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6rxztfThere is an ad for a web-site building business fronting the piece. 

As ever with Oliver, his soliloquies contain some strong profanity.  His frustration at the legal advice constraining him from saying what he wants to remark is palpable and a joy to watch. 

Continue reading “Astroturfing”

The curse of the accidental manager

On July 12th, the FT published an article headlined “The UK’s productivity problem: the curse of the ‘accidental manager”, you can find it here – https://www.ft.com/content/b96ce8f2-5dd9-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68.

Are pork pies good for you?

It is somewhat disquieting to read that the “Peter principle”, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_principle, continues to thrive in UK business.  Our poor productivity performance arises because too many people gain promotion into managerial roles beyond their level of natural competence.  However, in the firm featured in the FT article performance is improving.

It strikes me, however, that simply hanging up figures of Superman (is this unconscious bias by the firm’s leaders?), and doling out pork pies are rather superficial practices.  The only likely outcome of this epicurean approach is hardened arteries.

The firm’s performance growth is due to its managers doing something much more profound, i.e. the way they “serve” their employees, see Robert Greenleaf’s Servant Leadership, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Power-Servant-Leadership-Robert-K-Greenleaf/dp/1576750353/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1531821205&sr=8-3&keywords=robert+greenleaf.

At the simplest level, they should be talking to their employees as equal partners striving for success.  When this is achieved, I hope they’re rewarded with more than cholesterol laden pies!

Continue reading “The curse of the accidental manager”