Thought Leadership

Every now and then we have a few thoughts which we think may be of interest to a wider audience - generally something to do with interims, recruitment or wider business issues. Pop back from time to time to see what is new, and if you feel like adding a comment or making your own thoughts known please drop us an e-mail and we may include them here for the interest of other readers.

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With a swift wind-down towards your summer break, many of you are likely to come back from leave having ‘firmly decided’ that you need to make a job move. For the majority of you, this will likely mean moving to another organisation (I’ll tackle internal job moves in a separate article). Here are my suggestions re a regime to get you ‘match-fit’.

Mindset

  • Be brutally honest and self-critical with yourself, or find someone you trust who can be
  • Look in the mirror and ask ‘would I employ me’? If yes, prove it and work your way through the steps below. If not, ‘get a grip’, sort your head out, and ruthlessly follow the steps below
  • Landing a new job requires hard work and investment; start early – it may take some time; and focus/don’t just leave it all to chance
  • Where is this all headed? Don’t just think about the next job – think about where your career is headed – what skills, knowledge and experience are missing to get there?

 

Research

  • What skills, knowledge, experience, mind-sets do employers in your sector seem currently to be looking for?
  • If you want to switch sectors, what gaps do you need to fill, and do those sectors recruit differently?

 

Personal development

  • Identify any current gaps in your skill sets/knowledge/experience, whether hard and/or soft)
  • Ask your employer for help in addressing them; but also look in the mirror and ask what are you doing to address them yourself?
  • Whether your employer is assisting or not, have you sought out coaches and mentors, each of whom will provide different perspectives of constructive challenge and critique?
    • Ideally, from inside your current organisation, and
    • From outside of your current organisation, and
    • From inside of your current sector, and
    • From outside of your current sector
  • Join an action learning set, or create one – but remember, you’ll need to find a good/independent facilitator to get the most out of it

 

Personal collateral

  • Get your base CV all spruced up, but then be ready to adapt it for each role you apply for
  • Cleanse Facebook/other social media for ‘embarrassing’ photos and stories
  • Are you on LinkedIn? Better to be if you want to be headhunted
    • Ensure up to date contact details
    • Check your photo – would you buy a product from this person, or is it worse than your passport photo?

 

Reputation

  • Do you have one?
    • If not, then being invisible will not help your job search.
    • If you do, is it positive or negative?
      • If negative, then you need to seek to repair any damaged/problematic key relationships (internal and external) if you can. If the latter are sourced by headhunters, you want them to recommend you – not label you as ‘poisonous’
    • Who would be your ideal referees? Do your best to ensure they will have reason to speak positively of you. And are there key partners, especially from other sectors, who might make useful additional referees?

 

Thought leadership

  • Are you up to date (regionally, nationally and internationally) re issues and trends in your sector? Are you regularly reading widely?
  • Do you know who the ‘movers and shakers’ are, and what they are saying?
  • Are you writing/doing public speaking?
  • Are you attending conferences and seminars, and seizing the opportunity to ask questions when you do?

 

General Networking

  • Are you proactively seeking to network?
  • Are you ensuring this is not just one way, but you are trying to add something to these relationships too?
  • When sending a linkedin request, are you sending a message re why as well, rather than just a cold/impersonal request?
  • Are you investing in and finding reasons to stay in touch with your network, and making it a more substantive set of relationships re people who know you and might have reason to recommend you?

 

Focused networking

  • Are you specifically researching those organisations you would ideally like to work for, and those individuals ideally you would like to work with and for – your ‘Holy Grail’ list of target organisations/people?
  • Are you preparing a strategy for how to approach them, and say that if they ever look to hire, you would really love to be considered, or other ways of coming to their notice?

 

Interview practice

  • Phone a friend; ask/beg them to give you a mock interview
  • Video it and then replay it twice; first time fast-forward to see all the nervous ticks, the hand-waving, or that you never move a muscle; and then normal speed to hear the waffle and verbosity; it’s painful – but the only way to learn

 

And finally …

… start now, get ‘match-fit’ through the summer, and be ready for the job search in the autumn.

 

Hamish Davidson is Chairman/Senior Partner of Davidson & Partners

hamish.davidson@davidsonpartners.com

 

 

This article first appeared in Municipal Journal, 12 May 2017

 

 

 

 

 

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The Millennium has seen seismic shifts in society that are changing the way we live and work. Citizens and communities are joining together to create a climate for change. Their focus is on working together and influencing governments to improve lives. Alongside this we are also seeing what has been referred to as a “health epidemic”, pressures caused by demographic changes, and a range of equality issues.

Connected citizens and communities creating the climate for change

Jessica Leber, author of Co-Exist World Changing Idea, wrote that “Peaceful Protests – slow and steady are winning the race to create change”. When discussing “peaceful protests” the discussion immediately moves to media news of ordinary people taking to the streets to correct an injustice. The internet and mobile phones have further expanded the societal revolution by creating social voices – just a “click to connect with individuals worldwide”. Connected citizens and communities are making their voices heard through a host of social media such as Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram. These connected communities have become the drivers for global societal change. “The power of one, if fearless and focused is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.” (Gloria Macapagel Arroyo).

When governments or public bodies are not listening or addressing societal problems people are doing it for themselves. An inspirational story of a community working together can be found in the city of Detroit, which was crumbling following the collapse of the car industry. Amy Kaherl founded Detroit Soup, saying “we don’t have to wait to ask for permission – we can do this for ourselves”.

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Based on the crowd-funding concept, members of Detroit Soup a) cook soup together as a bonding experience and b) generate income by charging $5 per person for the soup . Members of the community come along and are pitched business ideas by other members of the community. After the soup has been eaten a vote is held to decide which business idea will be funded. SOUP’s micro grants have created a network of social enterprises, building skills and social value which have helped to regenerate the city. Homeless and unemployed people have got jobs, homes, new skills and, as important, self-worth.

The collapse of the banking system created a culture of distrust across the world about banking sector ethics due to huge bonuses for banking staff whilst loan facilities were tightened, forcing those who can least afford high interest rates to seek credit from unscrupulous sources. To help mitigate this, charities and communities have started to offer their own “payday loans” at an interest rate that stops individuals spiralling into debt. The societal shift of “people over banks” is continuing without abatement in sight.

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The Social Value Act (2012) was a response to a growing societal voice that public money generated through taxation of citizens should be used to improve local communities by procuring services/products through local enterprises. “Public money generating community growth and economic worth”. However the top down rather than bottom up “SOUP” approach to regenerating communities has yet to realise its ambition.

With modern global communication there is no escaping powerful imagery of injustices and human suffering. The “consciousness” of ordinary people has been stirred. People now care about where goods are sourced and the human cost of low cost items. They care if supermarkets have been lax about the origin of products – and vote with their feet. They care if humans are traficked for money or forced into bonded labour. The Modern Slavery Act (2015) is a result of deep seated concern that human beings are being used as commodities. Businesses are now expected to start to ensure the supply chain that brings products to market is free from modern slavery. Society has shifted and a new era of caring has emerged with people thinking that “it’s about us as a society”.

Pay Inequality

America’s focus on income equality was highlighted when President Obama called the growing inequality in society “the deining challenge of our time”. In Britain, Channel 4 highlighted that 20% of employees in Britain were paid below the rate deemed necessary for a basic standard of living. The boss of Next, who earns £4 million a year and pays shop workers £6.70 an hour, sparked a row by declaring the “living wage “irrelevant” with no basis in reality”. This is just one example of those who have not supported the concept of the living wage. However, in a move to improve wages in 2015 the British government increased the minimum wage by 3% to £6.70 per hour. The TUC responded by saying that the increase will not be enough to end in-work poverty.

The consequences of not addressing the growing number of hard working people who live in poverty are large – including increasing burdens on social services and decreasing motivation for people to ind work. Income inequality needs to be addressed. Maintaining social cohesion and equality is a global issue that will require a collective political and societal approach.

Population

Along with equality of income sits the thorny issue of maintaining population growth. Across the developed world the birth rate is declining. For example, in Italy the birth rate has dropped to 1.6 and the US has also plummeted to a record low 1.86. In Britain there was a bit of a baby boom between 2001- 2012 when live births rose to 1.94 in 2012 but decreased in 2013 to 1.85 births.

In the UK there is no single explanation for the mini baby boom. Possible causes may include more women currently in their twenties having children and an increase in foreign born women who have a higher fertility rate. Government policy and economic climate may also indirectly influence decisions around childbearing, such as increasing maternity and paternity leave and tax credits.

There is also concern that demographic trends predict an ageing society where there are more people not working than working. Ten million people in the UK are over 65 years old and the latest projections are that this number will nearly double to around 19 million by 2050.

An inverted population demographic with more elderly people than live births creates huge economic and societal pressures. The health and wellbeing of the population along with an older population that contributes rather than draws on the economic wealth will be the “real deal” for governments and society. It is easy to predict that there will be a continuing rise of pension age, indeed retirement as we know it may well not exist. For employers balancing four generations in the workplace with different values and work abilities will be the challenge that extends far beyond the issues of living wage pay.

The Ill Health Epidemic

Brigitte Piniewski, MD, Chief Medical Oficer at Peace Laboratories commented “we are no longer accidentally well”. In a few decades we will lose the last of the generation of accidentally well which was the “baby boomer” generation who acquired a level of health, itness and cognitive performance they did not set out to earn. High calorie food was not invented, children played outdoors, and walked to school. What was a genetically stable population has, within four decades, moved to 67% of the population being overweight and obese, with secondary adverse health conditions, more cardiovascular disease and one or more chronic diseases. In the US 75% of healthcare spend is on chronic care management. Research is indicating that 70- 85% of health conditions are lifestyle mediated.

Research by the World Health Organisation indicates that the global rise in obesity (and associated conditions) is due entirely to a drop in activity and a switch from farm to factory foods (diet). This is consistent regardless of population or country.

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Obesity prevalence

Source: B, Pinewski MD Chief Medical Adviser. Peace Research Institute USA

 

Globally there are profound social implications regarding the evolving epidemic of T2 diabetes in children and young people. This raises concerns about the future for a whole generation who are managing diabetes through medication and lifestyle. What is the impact of poor diet and nutrition on the cognitive ability of a whole generation of young people? How will that in turn impact on the “knowledge” industry job market of developed countries and consequently economic growth?

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In summary the emergent explosion in chronic diseases has arisen as a result of:

  • preventable poor health;
  • lifestyle, diet and inactivity;
  • and a model of acute hospital care which fails to meet the explosion in lifestyle induced

If population health is to be improved there is a need for a societal shift towards health self-management. Piniewski comments that “citizens can no longer be passive recipients of healthcare but co-creators of their own health and wellbeing”.

Wellbeing

Today a lifestyle with little activity coupled with signiicantly reined carbohydrate loads wreaks havoc with nervous and immune systems. Lifestyle modiiers including activity and diet would deliver a reduction of 60% of some cancers and 83% less heart disease. Emotional wellbeing is also key to healthy lifestyle – there is a strong link between emotional ill health and chronic conditions, physical pain and emotional dificulty.

The top tips for wellness are:

  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Mobility
  • Avoiding carbohydrates and fast food
  • Peer support
  • Giving back to the community
  • Positivity
  • Daily exercise
  • Me time
  • Family/friend time
  • Avoidance of smoking and excess drinking

Making national news on BBC/ITV at the end of March 2015 was a press release from the Public Health Institute. They have been undertaking a research study measuring how negative emotions can harm health and wellbeing, and the effect of peoples’ lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet and alcohol. The good news is “We are all oficially happier”.

There is no doubt that society has shifted and increasingly realises that individuals, communities and countries can make a difference to tomorrow’s world – but is that making us oficially happier? Time will show but society is starting to embrace health, itness and wellness.

by Lady Christine Bamford, Board member, CCEG

Visiting Professor and Board Member of the Institute of Health & Wellbeing, University of Northampton

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Acknowledgement

Brigitte Piniewski MD Chief Medical Oficer, Peace Laboratories, Portland, USA, for her generous sharing of research, articles and presentations http//peacehealth.org. and istock royalty free images

References

IDF Diabetes Atlas (http://www.diabetesatlas.org) OECD health data

CDC World Health Organisation, Milken Institute

YouTube Dave Coplin Microsoft Chief Envisonist ,”Future re-imagined” http://data.worldbank.org

http://www.oecd-library.org/economics/oecd-factbook-2014 http://census.gov/population http://fastcoexist.com/3040827/world-changing-ideas/can

 

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Recent failures of governance at high profile charities such as Kids Company have been subject to many articles, much comment and some analysis.  I do not intend to add to this but have been reflecting on the role of trustees – and specifically charity board chairs and their responsibilities.

I know from personal experience that being a chair can be demanding and challenging, at times very time consuming and above all very rewarding. For more than 40 years, I have chaired various voluntary sector and public bodies, and am currently chair of the charity Action Space and of the Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy.

In the comments that follow, which emerge from that experience, I will confine myself to charities that are large enough to employ staff, and in particular, chief executives. The situation is different in small organisations in which the board of trustees are also the volunteers, who deliver the charity’s activities.

I believe that the chair of a charity has five key responsibilities:

1. A chair must be the ultimate guarantor and protector of the charity’s mission, values and principles, and of its reputation.

2. A chair has to ensure that the board is aligned with this mission, the values, the principles and reputation, and acts collectively as its custodian. The chair must also: ensure that the right trustees are appointed; be supportive of trustees, enabling them to make a full contribution at board meetings and in other ways; and appraise them on a regular basis.

3. A chair must secure the appointment of a chief executive, ensuring that  she/he has the necessary values, attributes and competencies to fulfil this role, and is held to account for agreed objectives and outcomes. This will involve jointly setting agreed targets with the chief executive, undertaking regular appraisals and, performance managing (and where necessary, and in extremis, removing) the chief executive. A good chair will act as a critical friend to a chief executive, offering challenge and support. Where a chief executive is seen to be failing, it may be necessary for the chair to step in and offer some limited operational leadership but generally, it is vital that the chief executive is empowered to undertake operational leadership, leaving the board and chair to focus on strategy.

4. A chair has to ensure that the charity is financially sustainable, and is robustly compliant with all current legislation and regulation.

5. A chair has to ensure that the board adopts a strategy for the charity and reviews this on regular basis.

In addition, many charity chairs will play ambassadorial roles for the charity.

The most critical relationship for the success of any charity (and indeed for most bodies in all sectors) is the relationship between the chief executive and the chair.  This has to be professional. Ego has to be put to one side.  The chemistry between the two has to be right. The chair has to be challenging whilst also being supportive. She/he should always be well informed and ideally be visible and allowed access across the organisation: this enables her or him to know what is going on, without being involved in operations and/or getting under the feet of the chief executive and senior staff.

I believe that there are several conditions that should apply to any chairing of a charity. These will be vary from charity to charity but should include:

·      an absolute  time limit on appointment

·      a commitment to give the time that the role requires

·      the avoidance of any conflict of interest

·      an empathy with the charitable aims

·      a job description;

·      an annual appraisal, which ideally should be an externally facilitated 360 degree’process

·      a willingness to undertake training and to keep up to date to with the organisation and the environment in which it operates

·      putting in place development and succession planning for the chief executive, the board and their own position – as well as ensuring that similar steps are in place for the executive.

Chairing is as vital to a charity as to a listed company or a public body.
Charities of all sizes and with every possible mission and objectives require high quality chairs – because effective governance matters.

If you aspire to be a chair, it is important that you seek and select the right appointment for you, and take on the role only when you know that it is right for you and, just as importantly, that you are right for the charity.  When you know that you can’t give what is required (be this time, commitment or physical/emotional engagement), then you also have to be ready to step aside. Hanging on past one’s sell-by date and/or when one is out of kilter with the organisation’s objectives and ethos is inappropriate and wrong.

I am mindful that a chairing a charity shares has much in common with chairing a public body, a school governing board or a company board.  We have to ensure that there is cross-sector learning, while also understanding the differences and between the sectors.

The next few years are likely to be very challenging for many charities – and I am clear that those with effective chairs, effective chief executives and effective governance have the best chance to survive, and to thrive.

Chairs, as much as chief executives, must step up to the mark for the sake of the charity sector and its beneficiaries.

Written by John Tizard

(Originally posted at http://guest.thirdsector.co.uk/2015/11/30/observations-and-a-health-warning-on-the-role-of-chairs-in-charities/)

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This is the first of a series of thought pieces on the role, shape and design of leadership for the future in Further Education (FE).

 

The results of a project commissioned by the Royal Navy to gaze into the future and design the warship for the year 2050 have recently been released:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34077719

The output is pretty amazing.

The predicted warship of the future ‘just about’ looks like a ship as we know it, but any further resemblance to current warships ends there. It is very clear that every element of a traditional warship has been considered and radically re- designed to be fit for future purposes.

So, the question we would like to pose is this: should College Corporations be adopting a similar approach, and critically appraising every aspect of what they do now and measuring it against the likely future requirements of further education, albeit on a shorter time frame?

The answer must surely be ‘yes’, if FE (in anything like the form that we now know) it is to survive.

A good starting point is surely to consider the requirements for leadership in colleges of the future by posing the challenge:

What will the chief executive/principal role look like in the future and what skills and attributes will they need?

As the person primarily charged with adapting and flexing the College to meet the environment and challenges of the future, it’s clear that the chief executive of the future will, at the very least, need the following in abundance:

  • They will drive forward an organisational culture which challenges sacred cows and the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking. They will promote innovation and creativity. They will harness cross cutting teams of staff at all levels, linking with service users, partners and other stakeholders to develop an ethos of collaboration. They will be comfortable with flat structures rather than building empires.
  • Their modus operandi will be collaboration, willing to work with complex (and at times overlapping, as in federations) governance arrangements, well networked and with deep and informed insight on the regional and national agenda.
  • Their management style will be one of strong and transparent upward communication with governors, a managed risk taker, and ‘ruthlessly’ focused on outcomes.
  • One of their key skills will be as an exceptionally shrewd recruiter. The CEO of the future will invest in hiring, building, promoting and growing the right people and teams, and not settling for second best or mediocrity.
  • They will galvanise the workforce, building on a sense of urgency, energy, hope, aspiration, purpose and clear direction.
  • They will build organisational values and a positively empowering culture, which permeates throughout every layer of the organisation. They will walk the talk on modelling required behaviours, respect for people and the power of diversity (using the widest possible definition of the latter term).
  • They will need to be entrepreneurial, with an ability to analyse and assess commercial opportunities and a willingness to go for them, whilst understanding the importance of accountability and value for money.
  • They will take a long term and strategic view of future-shaping and, to the extent possible, future-proofing the organisation. They will create a sense of pride in the organisation but will be flexible in their approach and recognise the need to be just one part of an overall pathway linking all elements of public service provision for the benefit of the community. The traditional view of a college as a stand-alone and autonomous provider of services, often fed by the ego of the Principal, simply won’t work.

So, what are the implications of the above for Governors?

Many corporations are understandably, like rabbits trapped in headlights, preoccupied with the immediacy of forthcoming ‘area reviews’. And many (if not most) may take the view that now is not the time for crystal ball gazing.

Sadly, the truth could not be further from the case, for this stance is likely to doom many a college. Preparing for, positioning and responding to the reviews, requires exactly the skills and attributes of leadership we have talked about above. And being in control of one’s own destiny (being run over by the car, or getting out of the way) requires action – not inaction or indecisiveness.

That said, and looking ahead, if new structures do emerge from the reviews, this will surely be an opportunity to review, redefine the need, and in some cases, refresh the leadership of the newly emerging organisations.

For those colleges who emerge unchanged (or should we say ‘unscathed’ – and we doubt there will be many) from the review process, there will still be the need to deal with an unprecedented degree of change, a significant reduction in funding, and on-going uncertainty over Government policy.

For the vast majority, however, the case for new approaches to leadership and direction in the sector seems stronger than ever. The stark reality (and this should really come as no great surprise) is:

  • There is much evidence pointing to the fact that too many colleges are simply not coping in the current environment.
  • Government is unconvinced of the “value add” of colleges in addressing the skills shortages in UK plc.
  • With a few notable exceptions, there is little evidence of any apetite for ‘radical’ approaches and new ways of thinking within the sector.
  • The process of change (transformation hardly seems appropriate given the pace of change, regardless of any fancy job titles), is inevitably and increasingly leading to tension and breakdown of trust between boards, senior leadership and their staff.

So what do we need?

Maybe we need some genuine ‘anti-chief executives’, who think the mirror opposite of the current cadre. That is not to say they will always be right, or that current thinking is always wrong, but surely this is the time for some totally radical thinking – and for whatever the reason, the current set-up is simply not producing enough of individuals capable of literally re-inventing what FE is about.

Look at the example of Steve Jobs going back to Apple and how he turned around an organisation that was just about ‘okay’ and sort of addressing the future, into on which was pretty quickly ‘shaping’ the future.

Many will argue that to be successful, a college Principal must be passionate about teaching and learning, and committed to providing students with the best possible experience. We have no reason to disagree. However, that must not be at the expense of not being able to “look over the fence” into other sectors and areas, and learning from and applying best practice.

The fact is that many (probably most) principals and Chief Executives simply haven’t experienced the scale of contemporary challenges, and frankly, neither have their role models.

The question has to be asked – can FE rise to the challenge of designing new modes of leadership that are fit for the next decade, or will it slowly sink beneath the surface, inundated by change?

 

The next in this series will deal will the challenges faced by Colleges seeking to recruit the best leaders.

Colin Horwath is a partner in Davidson and Partners and deputy chairman of an NHS Foundation Trust

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On 10th June 2015 we heard from Barbara Wilson (Founder and Director of Working with Cancer) about her journey and experience of becoming a social entrepreneur, followed by Professor Christine Bamford sharing insights on the impact that the Social Value Act and the Modern Slavery Act will have on businesses and society. Christine is Head of Talent for Davidson and Partners.

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Connected Citizens and Communities creating the climate for change

 

“ Peaceful Protest – slow and steady are winning the race to create change” says researcher Jessica Leber, author Co-Exist World Changing ideas

Mention “peaceful protests” in conversation and immediately the discussion moves to media news and of ordinary people taking to the streets to correct an injustice.  The societal revolution has gone beyond taking to the streets, the internet and mobile phone have made it possible to create social voice – just a “Click to Connect with individuals worldwide”  Connected citizens and communities are making their voices heard through the host of social media sites … twitter, what’s up, instgram, Facebook, LinkedIn etc

Collective citizenship is getting the message to a global audience. Gloria Macapagel Arroyo said “The power of one, if fearless and focused is formidable, but the power of many working together is better”   Connected communities working to make their voice heard have become the drivers for societal change.

And when Governments or public bodies are not listening or addressing societal problems – people are doing it for themselves

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Amy Kaherl, Founder of Detroit Soup, calls herself a urban pioneer and is quoted as saying  “we don’t have to wait to ask for permission – we can do this for ourselves”  The story of crumbling Detroit with abandoned houses, homelessness and unemployment, following the collapse of the car industry is an inspirational story of a community working together for others,  A simple idea based on crowd-funding concept into parts Part A cooking soup together as a bonding experience. Part B Generating income by charging $5 dollars for soup and a vote to decide which of the ideas pitched by members of the community would make a good business. Gradually over time the city is being reenergised. Homeless and unemployed people have got jobs, homes and new skills – and as important self-worth.  SOUP’s small micro grants have created a network of social enterprises, building skills and social value

From local to global … the logo SOUP has become a icon for urban regeneration and is now popping up all over the world !!

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The collapse of the banking system has created a culture of distrust across the world about the ethics of the banking sector.  Huge bonuses for banking staff whilst a tightening of loan facilities forcing those who can least afford high interest rates, to seek credit from unscrupulous sources.

Charities and Communities supporting those in difficulty have started to offer their own “pay day loan” at an interest rate that stops individuals spiralling into debt.  A growing trend in local community internets are encouraging residents  “if you don’t like the values of your bank – change to an ethical bank”   The societal shift of “people over banks” is continuing without abatement in sight.

At PPLX (Public Private Leadership Exchange) Dave Coplin,Senior Envisioning Officer, Microsoft exploring the issue of productivity paradox elicited a response that was worth further exploration …”should we continue to measure outcomes as productivity or should we measure outcomes in respect to social value”

“Its about Me” generation of the 80s/90s has been replaced by the new millennium “it’s about us as a society”

The Social Value Act 2012 was a response to a growing societal voice that public money generated through taxation of citizens should be used to improve local communities through procuring services/products through local enterprises. . “Public money generating community growth and economic worth” The “top down” rather than bottom up “SOUP” approach to regenerating communities has yet to realise it’s ambition

Global communication brings stories to life beamed into the living room, i phone or computer there is no escaping powerful imagery of the injustices and human suffering.  The “conscious” of ordinary people has been stirred.

People now care about where goods are sourced and the human cost of low cost items.  They care if supermarkets have been lapse about the origin of products – and vote with their feet.

They care if humans are trafficked for money or forced into bonded labour.  The Modern Slavery Act that came into force on 26th March 2015 is a result of people and Governments deep seated concern that human beings are being used as commodities. Businesses are now expected to start to ensure the supply chain that brings products to market is free from modern slavery.  2015 has been defined as the new age of enlightenment – and slavery has no part in an enlightened society. Richard Branson commented on LinkedIn discussion “This is incredibly important because today 21-26 million people are enslaved worldwide. Many think the number is much higher.  Slavery is a business issue More than 75% of slavery victims today are in forced labour – forced to work in mines, make cement, harvest crops, fish, stitch, and sew products for global chains.  Looking for modern slavery may not be as easy task, but all businesses need to do it”

Maybe the baby boomer generation of the 60’s who witnessed the rise of Civil Rights are making their voice heard one more – or through their children – whatever the catalyst – society has shifted and a new era of caring has emerged.

PAY INEQUALITY

Can treating low-wage workers well – become the hot new business strategy?”  Jessica Leber’s research highlights that Aetna, Gap, Starbucks and even Walmart – are to step up pay and benefits for their low wage employees. Mark Bertolini, CEO, Aetna said “We are a Fortune 50 company and we have employees who are on food stamps and putting their kids on Medicaid. Does this work”  America’s focus on income equality was highlighted  when President Obama called the growing inequality in society as the “defining challenge of our time”  In Britain Channel 4 highlighted 4.8 million people in Britain (20% of employees) were paid at a level below the rate deemed necessary for a basic standard of living.  Next boss who earns £4 million a year and pays shop workers £6.70 an hour … sparked a row by declaring “living wage “irrelevant” with no basis in reality”   Tory Peer Lord Wolfson with an estimated wealth of £100 million and a basic salary of £729,000 waded in with a comment saying he thought the living wage was an “an invention”.   Labour MP Ann McKechin (a member of the influential business committee) responded that taking into account Lord Wolfson’s wealth the comments were “ill judged”  In March 2015 Cameron and Clegg announced 3% rise – the new minimum wage of £6.70 per hour (an uplift of 20p) will be effective from October 2015.  The TUC responded by saying that the increase will not be enough to end in-work poverty.

The bigger social question still remains about how we will address income inequality. The consequences of not addressing the growing number of hard-working people who live in poverty are large – including increasing burdens on social services and decreasing motivation for people to find work

Maintaining social cohesion and equality is a global issue that will require a collective political and societal approach

POPULATION

Along with equality of income sits the thorny issue of maintaining population growth.   The “replacement rate” as it is known is calculated at 2.1 (often rounded up to 2.5)  children to be born to each couple.  However across the developing world the birth rate is declining.  Europe’s declining birth rate is continuing to fall.   In Italy the birth rate has dropped to 1.6 – which put simply means there are less Italian born citizens on the planet than there were 30 years ago.  The US has also plummeted to a record low 1.86 (US last had 2.1 births in 2007).  Whilst in Britain there has been a bit of a baby boom between 2001-2012 when live births rose to 1.94 in 2012 but decreasing in 2013 to 1.85 births

In the UK is no single explanation as to the mini baby boom. Possible causes may include

  • More women currently in their twenties having children
  • More women at older ages having children
  • Increase in foreign born women (higher fertility rate than UK born women)
  • Government policy and economic climate indirectly influencing decisions around childbearing  eg support for families has been increasing for example maternity and paternity leave and tax credits, support for first time home owners and more affordable homes.

 

Sound economy, inflation, cost of living and the living wage are all factors influencing population growth.  It makes sense that Governments are addressing pay inequality to ensure continued population and economic growth

Whilst there is a need to ensure the population continues to grow there is also a concern that the demographic trends predict an ageing society where there are more people not working than working.  10 million people in the UK are over 65 years old.  The latest projections are:

  • By 2035 23% of the population will be over 65 years
  • 5.5 million more older people in 20 years time
  • The number will have doubled to around 19 million by 2050.

An inverted population demographic where there are more older people than live births creates huge economic and societal pressures.  The health and wellbeing of the population along with an older population that contributes rather than draws on the economic wealth will be the “real deal” for Governments and society.  Against the backdrop of demographic trends it is easy to predict that there will be a continuing rise of pension age, indeed retirement as we know it may well not exist.  For employers balancing four generations in the workplace with different values and work abilities will be the challenge that extends far beyond the issues of living wage pay.

THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC

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Source Authors re-elaboration The Economist 2003 cover

In 3-4 decades man has undone 5-6 million years of evolution

 

Obesity is a global phenomena and the causal factor in the rise of chronic diseases

Diabetes, some cancers, heart disease, hypertension, mental disorders, Pulmonary conditions, Stroke. In 2015 estimated 2.3 billion of the population were overweight

OBESITY PREVALENCE

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Brigitte Piniewski, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Peace Laboratories commented “we are no longer accidentally well.  In a few decades we will lose the last of the generation of accidentally well which was the “baby boomer” generation who acquired a level of health, fitness and cognitive performance they did not set out to earn.  High calorie food was not invented, children played outdoors, and walked to school.”   What was a genetically stable population has within four decades moved to 67% of the population overweight and obese, with secondary adverse health conditions, more cardiovascular disease and one or more chronic diseases.  In the UK patients with long term condition consume 70% of the health budget.  Patients with more than one chronic condition are set to increase by 2.9 million by 2018 – that equivalent to another £5 billion spend.  In the US 75% of healthcare spend in son chronic care management.  Research is indicating that 70-85% of health conditions are lifestyle mediated.

The World Health Organisation research indicated that the global rise in obesity (and associated conditions) is due to entirely to drop in activity and a switch from farm to factory foods (diet) This is consistent regardless of population or country.

Globally there are profound social implications regarding the evolving epidemic of T2 diabetes in children and young people.  What will the future hold for a whole generation who are managing diabetes through medication and lifestyle.?  What is the impact of poor diet and nutrition on the cognitive ability of a whole generation of young people? How will that in turn impact on the “knowledge” industry job market of developed countries and consequently economic growth?

In summary the emergent explosion in chronic diseases have arisen as a result of :

  • preventable poor health,
  • lifestyle, diet and inactivity
  • and a model of acute hospital care which fails to meet the explosion in lifestyle induced conditions.

If population health is to be improved there is a need for a societal shift towards health self management Piniewski comments “citizens can no longer be passive recipients of healthcare but co-creators of their own health and wellbeing”

 

WELLBEING

The green shoots are here!   Society is starting to embrace health, fitness and wellness. There is an acknowledgement that nutrition plays a large part in diet.  Early humans consumed fish, seafood, vegetation and meat in their diet – providing all the nutrients needed for human bodies and brains, including the capacity for complex abstract thought.  The central nervous system was tightly regulated regarding glucose and insulin balance. Today a lifestyle with little activity coupled with significantly refined carbohydrate loads wrecks havoc with nervous and immune system.  Lifestyle modifiers including activity and diet would deliver a reduction of 60% of some cancers and 83% less heart disease.  Emotional wellbeing is also key to healthy lifestyle – there is a strong link between emotional ill health and chronic condition … and physical pain and emotional difficulty.

The top tips for wellness are:

  • Diet
  • Nutrition
  • Sleep
  • Mobility
  • Avoiding carbohydrates and fast food
  • Peer support
  • Giving back to the community
  • Positivity
  • Daily Exercise
  • Me time
  • Family/friend time
  • Avoidance of smoking and excess drinking

 

Making national news on BBC/ITV at the end of March 2015 was a press release from Public Health Institute.   They have been undertaking a research study measuring the impact of how negative emotions can harm health and wellbeing and effect the choice people make such as smoking, diet, alcohol ….. and the good news is    … “We are all officially happier”

There is no doubt that society has shifted and is grasping the challenge that individuals, communities and countries can make a difference to tomorrow’s world … is that making us officially happier?  Time will show

 

Author : Visiting Professor Lady Christine Bamford is Chair of CCEG and Board member of the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Northampton

Untitled6Acknowledgement to Brigitte Piniewski MD Chief Medical Officer, Peace Laboratories, Portland, USA, for her generous sharing of research, articles and presentations http//peacehealth.org. and istock royalty free images

References:

IDF Diabetes Atlas (http//www.diabetesatlas.org

OECD health data

CDC World Health Organisation, Milken Institute

You tube Dave Coplin Microsoft Chief Envisonist ,“Future re-imagined”

http//data.worldbank.org

http//www.oecd-library.org/economics/oecd-factbook-2014

http//census.gov/population

http//fastcoexist.com/3040827/world-changing-ideas/can treat

 

 

Article

For the latest Innovatus event, Professor Christine Bamford and Dr. Celine Mullins led a workshop on ‘Enhancing your Personal Impact as a Leader’.

innovatus 1It was, as promised, a very interactive session, with all attendees having the opportunity to discuss, practice and take away a range of tools and techniques. These were modelled on the most impactful world leaders and were designed to improve executive presence and content creation. The session also included a section on how positive and negative messages are picked up by audiences, and another on how our ‘thinking styles’ can either diminish or enhance our impact. One attendee remarked in her feedback that the session “should be mandatory for all women in business”.Innovatus 2

Article

On the 2nd December, senior women’s networking group Innovatus had its sixth meeting – inviting along male partners, colleagues and friends for the first time, welcoming them at The Institute of Directors in Pall Mall.

Another first for Innovatus was a male speaker: Philip Birkenstein, Chairman of the St Petersburg Collection.

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Established in 1984 and based in Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, Philip’s gallery specialises in the creations of Theo Fabergé, scion of the famous family of craftsmen and jewellers. Chance played a great role in their venture: until they met, Theo was a retired engineer and craftsman with a passion for offset lathes, who only made the occasional intricate jewelled piece on commission. Philip was a businessman with a marketing background who picked up a magazine on a flight to South Africa containing an interview with Theo; inspired by the article, he decided to try and make contact. Eighteen months later, they were in business together.

The Fabergés

Originally a Huguenot family from northern France named Fabri, the Fabergés arrived in St Petersburg via Germany in the early 1800s. The jewellery business was started by Gustave Fabergé who took his ambitious young son Carl on a tour of museum and university collections to gather inspiration. At 24 Carl took over the business and built a worldwide reputation for extravagant design and painstaking workmanship.

Though they represented only a small percentage of the company’s output, the best known of Carl Fabergé’s designs remain the eggs – prompting Philip to answer the question of why Carl focused his skill on an object as mundane as an egg. It turns out to be their symbolic value, as well as their monetary or design potential: “In 1840, half a million Russians ate ten million eggs on Easter Sunday. They represent new life; even today new parents in Russia are presented with little eggs to hang on a jewellery chain for their daughters. It used to be Polynesian tradition to bury the dead in egg-shaped coffins, and Jewish families have burnt egg on the table at their Passover meal.”

Royal Approval

The Imperial Russian Czar established a tradition of presenting a Carl Fabergé ‘Imperial Egg’ to the Czarina or Dowager each year, often spending the equivalent of a million pounds. Carl had been commissioned to make – and not design – eggs for the Czar in 1885 and 1886, both of which contained what became a company trademark: a surprise hidden inside (in this case, a tiny enamel chicken with a further diamond surprise within the chicken). The following year Carl struck a deal to design and manufacture an egg in secret, for delivery and unveiling with great fanfare on Easter Sunday. Fifty of these ‘Imperial Eggs’ were made, the whereabouts of 43 of which are known. According to Philip, “an egg that hadn’t been seen for over 100 years, inside which was a working clock, had been picked up by a scrap metal dealer in the United States in the 1960s for $8,500 in order to be melted down. When he thought he’d lost money on the deal he’d put it on a window sill and forgotten about it. There it sat until recently and sold for $40m…”

Driven by the public’s response to the Imperial Romanov family’s enthusiastic endorsement, the company thrived, opening branches in St Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa and Kiev – and in 1903 in London, firstly in the Berners Hotel and later in Bond Street.

By the watershed year of 1917 the company had produced over 100,000 pieces, some rare and enormously expensive, others less so. Abiding by the design philosophy that jewels were used for decorative value, not for their financial worth, Carl Fabergé and his four sons presided over a business that effectively used serf labour (employees worked for 14 hours a day, six and a half days a week) to create exquisite pieces. Enamellers used a cocktail of arsenic, lead and mercury to produce over 140 colours of enamel. Change, however, was on the way.

According to Philip, “when the revolutionaries arrived at the Fabergé premises in St Petersburg, Carl walked out and never entered again”. Perhaps surprisingly, the stock and other seized items weren’t ransacked or lost in the chaos: “every piece was catalogued and saved by the Bolsheviks”.

Theo Fabergé

The son who had opened the family’s London branch, Nicolas, stayed in England and became one of the first fashion photographers, and his own son was born in 1922. Young Theo clearly had a talent for precise design: he made his first model at the age of four, and, after serving in the RAF during the second world war, started an engineering firm.

Casting around for something else to do after a successful career in engineering and the sale of his business, Theo set about restoring offset lathes – the mechanical precision of which appealed greatly – eventually helping to save around 150 worldwide. It was only at the age of 57 that Theo was persuaded to begin making eggs, at first for individual commissions. In 1984 he commenced working on the St Petersburg Collection with Philip.

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Theo died in 2007 at the age of 84, having seen his designs become highly sought after through the business that they built together, continuing the remarkable legacy of his grandfather.

The limited edition eggs produced by the company are individually signed and numbered, and made via a long-winded and logistically complex process by some 30 specialist craftspeople working in their own studios in England. There is no factory: Theo insisted that each specialist had to agree to train an assistant in their particular skill, some of which are unique in the world. Roughly half are women: “it’s all about talent, and patience” (which, Philip contended, women tend to have more of).

Whilst labour conditions have (mercifully) improved, the process of pattern cutting, enamelling, stone setting and creating mechanics in miniature is still painstaking, with 15 individual craftspeople often working separately on a piece. Enamelling remains a risky business, even without a toxic cocktail of ingredients: each colour used needs to be fired at a different temperature, and faults in the colour due to overheating or other mishaps lead to the eggs being destroyed. These losses can account for a startling 30% of the pieces.

Egg collectors

Over a thousand Carl Fabergé pieces are owned by the British royal family, with Queen Victoria being the first collector. Victoria’s granddaughter-in-law, Queen Mary, developed the habit of visiting stately homes with Carl Fabregé creations in their collections, asking to see them, and dropping heavy hints until they were presented as gifts (which is a nice trick if you can get away with it).

The world’s second largest collection, at just under 700 pieces, belongs to the King and Queen of Thailand, and is never publicly displayed. The third largest collection was recently sold in New York to a Russian multimillionaire who has put them on display in his native country.

Philip showed us a selection of the eggs, pendants, lacquered boxes and watches (unbranded, with only a tell-tale egg cut-out showing the internal workings) that the company makes today; as one would imagine, the workmanship and colours were extraordinary.

The St Petersburg Collection Gallery 9 Princes Arcade St James’s SW1Y 6DS 020 7495 2883

 

Article

Centre v. Local: A leadership debate

Anyone running any organisation lives with that constant temptation to dive into detail, to rewrite that draft, to ‘get every one in here now and I’ll sort this mess out’. These, after all, are the comfort zones for many.

The on-going debate around how the centre of government best drives public service efficiency and reform is mirrored in every organisation. How does the centre best develop and hold to account its business units and encourage ambitions to continuously transform and improve service outcomes? Time and again, the same conclusions are expensively reached: that control, intervention, micro-management, inspection, regulation and centrally imposed solutions do not, on their own, lead to sustained change and improvement.

It is interesting to see the political consensus around improving efficiency. On the one hand the Treasury has discovered the smaller strategic centre – fewer targets, more focus. On the other, yet another drive is on to impose solutions such as the sharing of support services across public service, as if this area was somehow a common, inert element in an organisation’s life.

Many public service delivery organisations find this tension difficult. The ‘short- term-ism’ endemic given political horizons and the risk-averse climate within which public service inevitably operates has in the past put a high value on the fixers, the people who will ‘roll their sleeves up and get things done’. Command and control styles have tended to be more easily understood and rewarded in this context. They have therefore thrived.

Those in central leadership positions, themselves working in very transparent political environments, surrounded by advisers whose cause and focus tends to concentrate on what’s gone wrong, inevitably find it very difficult to sustain devolution and trust, or to resist the temptation to interfere – and so history has proved time and time again.

At the end of the day, whether at the local or national level, head office still finds it difficult to accept that an 80% right answer generated locally is better than a 95% right answer imposed centrally. We are not growing the leaders of tomorrow, nor are we in most places living the leadership behaviours we all know are needed.

It’s about those organisations being in control of their own destiny and not having to conform to the latest imposed centrally-driven solution.

So yes, moving forward – regulation, inspection, league tables, good practice, rewards for excellence, freedoms and flexibilities, accreditations, intervention, customer/patient choice …. these all have a place. But just because we invest in these, and they are deliverable and tangible and provide a short term response, it does not follow that we can ignore the leadership deficit we face or the local leadership issues that centre on people and local ownership rather than systems and process.

Recruitment is increasingly being seen as an activity that cannot operate in isolation from the wider leadership challenge. Parachuting in, appointing and then moving on quite understandably leaves recruitment consultants as appearing to be expensive, less well informed, slow off the mark, short term and acting in isolation of wider strategic leadership strategies.

Good recruitment support itself will involve creative work in reputation building, re-thinking direction and roles with well-though through but not overly-defined job definitions and skills, more flexible reward schemes and re-visiting the ambition and direction of an organisation’s travel.

So, I recognise the scale of the local leadership issue that remains at the heart of Public Sector reform and improvement. We can’t just complain about centralism – we have to make localism work.

Hamish Davidson is Chairman & Senior Partner of Davidson & Partners. He is also Chairman of Entrepreneurs in Action, Iris Consulting and MJI Business Solutions.

hamish.davidson@davidsonpartners.com

M: 07932 698807

Article

Are you a frustrated middle manager?

Stuck in middle management for years? Struggling to break through the glass ceiling? Can’t see a clear path into senior management? Feeling abandoned, stuck, and with no sense of how to get moving again? How do you make that transition from Manager to Head of Service, and, if desired, beyond?

In countless briefings for Chief Executive and Director roles, I have kept hearing complaints about the ‘soggy middle’ of the organisation. Now whilst from one perspective, it is entirely understandable that senior managers and Chief Executives will sometimes have every right to complain bitterly about the resistance to change from the middle of the organisation, I’ve found that this pattern is just as likely to arise from the minimal, or more commonly ‘total absence’ of any meaningful career development initiatives.

Despite their best endeavours, it is clear that talent too often ends up just sitting there – lacking confidence, under-utilised, under-motivated, and simply not having a framework, model, methodology or even just the plain encouragement to proactively seek career progression at middle management level. Why?

Take local government as a case in point. A whole host of reasons, but to take just one issue that began to emerge following the move to a Cabinet model of governance, there would appear to be fewer opportunities to present formally to and/or work with elected Councillors, or work directly at the political interface. The reality is that the ‘jump’ to senior manager roles in terms of the skills and experience needed to be a senior manager has never been greater, and quite frankly, there are increasingly limited opportunities to gain them.

Almost inevitably, whatever the organisation or sector, rising stars or those with ambition are faced with little choice but to leave and join another organisation in order to climb the ladder. This lack of investment in staff, and the consequent ‘bleeding’ of frustrated talent is incredibly wasteful – and all too often at total variance to the proclaimed values and beliefs of the organisation.

There are a variety of obvious and simple initiatives that employers can undertake to help staff gain the skills and confidence they need to move upwards. The provision of mentors can be an effective means of identifying the barriers (personal or organisational) and developing solutions to overcome them. Being mentored by a more senior colleague who has had to deal with and overcome these issues themselves can be truly ‘inspirational’ in its impact. Shadowing is another excellent way to see how things are done at the top. It seems to be an easy win if every Chief Executive and Director allowed one of their middle managers to shadow them for a day a week, for this would surely provide valuable and above all, practical insights into what it takes to be a leader and the skills needed to operate at a strategic level. Secondments, both within the organisation and externally would also help broaden middle managers’ skills and can show them how things are done differently.

The middle managers of today are the leaders of tomorrow. From those I’ve met, the raw and latent talent, enthusiasm and skills would certainly seem to be there – so maybe employers should not be quite so quick to brand all the middles of their organisations as ‘soggy’ but instead provide the development focus to create their leaders of the future.

Hamish Davidson is Chairman & Senior Partner of Davidson & Partners. He is also Chairman of Entrepreneurs in Action, Iris Consulting and MJI Business Solutions.

 

hamish.davidson@davidsonpartners.com

M: 07932 698807

 

Article

Women in Power – Why It Matters

On the 17th September 2014, senior women’s networking group Innovatus met for the sixth time. In the genteel surroundings of the Institute of Chartered Accountants (with countless portraits of bewhiskered chairmen lining the stairs), we were lucky enough, on this occasion, to have Gillian Wilmot as speaker.

Gillian is a mover and shaker: she has this year been chosen as Winner of the NED Awards in the Unquoted/Private Equity category and listed in the Female FTSE Report’s ‘Cranfield 100 Women to Watch’. Her executive career spans 30 years with leading businesses including Marks & Spencer, Boots and Royal Mail.

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Leadership

Speaking of her passion for good leadership, Gillian made the point that “boards set the tone for an organisation’s culture” – absolutely critical because “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. When boards get the culture wrong, companies do not survive.

Examples of disappointing behaviour abound: at a remuneration event the previous day, Gillian had “been the only woman in a group of 16, and not one of them spoke up to challenge the escalation in executive pay”; but “businesses need a licence from society to operate, and if they forget that they become completely disconnected”.

As an excuse when bad practices are exposed, “we didn’t know what was going on” absolutely will not wash. “Some board behaviour makes you wonder how much we’ve moved on… so much bluster and posturing is all about who’s got the biggest antlers!”

In companies where politics and power games are key elements of the culture, “people who don’t fit the old stereotypes don’t thrive or stay”. Women leaders tend to be more open-minded, and “bring in hitherto unincluded groups”.

As an aside, Gillian noticed, in the midst of crisis, that the RBS board were identical in appearance, “all dressed in dark v-neck pullovers, all saying the same things, all ignoring dissenting voices”. The zoning out when different tones of voice are asking awkward questions is common. “Good chairmen compensate for this; bad ones don’t”.

Given that “common sense tells us that the most inclusive societies are the strongest, and it can’t always be about competition”, the best organisations “are meritocracies; and you don’t get promoted unless you also mentor, coach and succession plan”.

Some men make an effort and think they’re being inclusive, but “even this week, the Chairman of two FTSE companies said that he thought women couldn’t have children and a successful career”.

Gillian is convinced that “the only way to drive change is from the inside; and it shouldn’t only be exceptional women who are exceptionally determined who get to the top”. When asked (as she frequently is) what women leaders do that men don’t, she says “senior women have been through an extraordinary process of quality control; if only everyone else had…”

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Unconscious Bias

Gillian, pointing out the same behaviour style in men and women is characterised in different ways, gave us a list of adjectives:

An “impressive” man is a “formidable” woman, the subtext being that she is overbearing; an “ambitious” man is a “pushy” woman; a “passionate” man is an “emotional” woman; “clear-thinking” and “incisive” in a man is often called “opinionated” and “impatient” in a woman.

In Gillian’s experience, the brief for NEDs often plays to bias, with “gravitas” a universal criteria, and “when is that ever applied to a woman?”

Referring to a Lloyds of London article from 1992 about women’s progress towards the boardroom which has recently been reprised with a feature on the same individuals, now in their 60s, Gillian noted their ‘uniform’: a dark suit that is code for ‘serious’. We still feel the need to fit the visually dull stereotype – leaving aside the vexed question of high heels – because “people appoint people who look like them”.

In response to a question about recruiters’ role in this process, Gillian pointed out that they’re servicing the client – it’s a straightforward business relationship – and they’ll deliver what they think they’re being asked to produce. Because of this they won’t think in a sophisticated way about producing briefs that don’t preclude women and ethnic minorities.

Frequently, women have a less linear CV than male colleagues “and having a career path that’s easily understood is very helpful. Finance Directors with recent executive committee experience do well, male or female”, because their offering is straightforward.

Boardroom power shifts

Mentioning an excellent recent KPMG report (‘Cracking the Code’) that debunks many of the myths surrounding women and power, Gillian was clear that “we all agree that we need more women NEDs, in roles with real power to make decisions and make change”. The chair is the role with most clout, setting the tone and controlling the appointment process: “no-one is ever appointed that the chair doesn’t like”. More women in this role will lead to greater diversity and more meritocratic recruitment.

The CBI advocates setting targets for the number of women on the board, and Gillian concurs, having “changed my mind. I used to think not, concerned that the ‘law of unexpected consequences’ would mean the rubbishing of some women appointees as not having got there on merit….. but progress is glacial and the present situation is crap. We have to do something.

“Quotas are the best of a bad job, and if we had to set them, they would need to be 50:50. Unfortunately, however you set them, you’ll end up with problems, such as boards with a combined Chairman/CEO, or those FTSE100 businesses whose board members have been there forever and have no intention of moving on”.

Regarding recruitment, the “idea of not enough women coming through is actually about ‘I don’t know any’”. We need “to network, market information and improve collective visibility”. Being visible as a candidate is crucial: “to get from the longlist to the shortlist you have to pass a double test: recommended by someone at the headhunters and known by the client”.

To make the process even tougher, the bar is often set higher for women: “for all the progress, client behaviour hasn’t changed, and female candidates have to tick all the boxes when ‘being a good bloke’ will often swing it for a man”.

While things are different, and fairer, in the public sector “because there is proper process”, unfortunately, “the private sector doesn’t usually consider this experience valuable when making appointments”.

“There’s an asymmetric arrangement for some women I know; they get tougher assignments, and when they make a success of it everyone expresses their amazement. We worked out between us that, on average, it had taken 20 years to get from first non-executive appointment to chairing the board”.

“We’ve all been brought up to be polite… sometimes, you’ve just got to bash the bloody doors in!”

 

Article

Landing jobs in the public and not for profit sectors – a road map through their ‘Masonic-like’ recruitment processes

 [Hamish Davidson considers why it is that private sector candidates typically and dramatically undersell themselves when responding to ads for public sector jobs, and suggests an alternate methodology]

  1. Failure to do enough research on the role and organisation in the first place – be this through failing to obtain/download the briefing/information pack that is almost invariably offered, or failing to bother to do any additional research. This leads to…
  2. Failure to put together a sufficiently comprehensive application. A one page covering letter and two page CV just won’t do. It is not how the public and not for profit sector recruit
  3. Failure to follow the response instructions contained in the briefing pack, but then, if you were daft enough to fail to access or read the briefing pack in the first place ….
  4. Failure to appreciate that you have until the closing date to submit your application. Getting it in within the first few days just simply will not help you, and indeed, will not allow you to do the prior research that is needed, or allocate the time needed to prepare a sufficiently comprehensive application
  5. Failure to convey the human dimension of why you are interested in a role in the public/not for profit sector, or have a real, genuine and personal interest in the type of organisation/activity that this role would involve. It’s the type of stuff that you might well not normally include in your private sector style application – but you do need to in this instance
  6. Failure to include in the CV where you have been involved in socially minded/community type activities, be these voluntary, Non-Exec or community related. And yes, this is still more of the type of stuff that you would not normally feel minded to include in your private sector CV
  7. Failure to address all the appointment criteria noted in the person spec and noted in the briefing pack, but then if you never got the briefing pack in the first place …
  8. Even if you got the briefing pack, failure to do as they requested and address each of the appointment criteria in turn – either because you are too stubborn, or you just cannot believe that they are serious and actually do want you to do as they have requested, preferring instead to submit your one page covering letter and your two page CV
  9. Failure to put yourself in their position and wonder why, if you really are that good, would you want to work in the public sector in the first place. Honestly, they will be curious
  10. Failure to remember that prejudice works both ways. After all, if I, as a lifelong public sector employee applied out of the blue to work for your private sector organisation, what would your instant reaction be? How hard would I have to work (both in my application and on meeting) to prove that I could make the switch in sectors? So, why shouldn’t public sector react the same when you apply to work for them?
  11. Failure to appreciate that talent exists everywhere – even in the public sector. So don’t patronise them in your application, and don’t assume that everyone in the public/not for profit sectors are useless, and that they desperately need people like you, don’t they?
  12. Failure, if invited for an initial interview, to appreciate that this is the real thing and you need to do extra research and prepare now, not after the initial interview, as might be more typical in the private sector

So, here are some hints and tips

  • Get the briefing pack
  • Don’t be put off by poor briefing packs. So what if it’s poorly put together or seems to go on forever. At least its something – which is better than the big fat zero that the private sector typically gives you up front
  • Always, but always ring up for an informal discussion if offered, but…
  • Never ring up and say something naff like ‘can you tell me more about the job please’. Rather say ‘I’ve seen the ad, got the pack, had a read and think I might be interested. If I tell you a bit about myself, can you tell me if I might be of interest’. ie Do a trade
  • Follow the response instructions – point by point. If they want you to fill in a 17 page application form, do it. If they want you to write a 500 word essay before you’ve even been longlisted, do it. Get the job – and then change the rules
  • Address the appointment criteria in the person spec, point by point, REPEAT, point by point. Even if there are 32 of them, half of which appear to duplicate each other – just do it. Assume that there will be a matrix grid used to assess you application
  • With the latter in mind, give ‘evidence’ against each of the key appointment criteria that you are asked to address – preferably from different phases of your career
  • In your supporting letter, bring some breadth, depth, and metaphorically speaking, colour to you application. Turn what will otherwise be a boring, workmanlike application into a three dimensional person. Make me want to see you
  • And one more thing as regards your supporting letter/statement. Imagine yourself on the receiving end of the application. Say to yourself ‘fairly or unfairly, reasonably or unreasonably, might there be, could there be any potential anxieties that they might have about your application, and if there might be, tackle them, not aggressively, but assertively. Don’t let the reviewer of your application raise questions that you haven’t addressed. Spike their guns.

You should now have produced a series of documents:

  • A covering letter saying please find attached the following docs:
  • A supporting/motivation statement. This is the place for your emotion and passion, why you are interested, why you are available, and why you are the right person etc
  • A document that addresses all the appointment criteria, point by point
  • A CV, that you have just re-written to fit and align itself with all the documents that you have just written above
  • A monitoring or equal opportunities form, if they asked you to complete one to capture all the base data like gender, disability, where you saw the ad etc
  • Finally, but only if they required it, an application form

Bottom line is this:

  • There are some fantastic, amazing, challenging and hugely rewarding roles in the public and not for profit sectors
  • They really need many of the skill sets that are more prevalent in the private sector
  • The recruitment process may feel overly bureaucratic, but remember that given it’s public money (ie. yours and my money), there is a need ensure some rigour in the process and justify the decisions taken
  • If you really want to break into this sector, play by their rules and not your own (at least, until you have got the job)
  • Producing this quality and breadth of application is obviously much more time consuming than would be the case in the private sector – so do fewer applications but make them count
  • Produce an application of such focus and power and quality that it dares them not to see you
  • Follow the hints and tips above, and you’ll stand a very good chance of getting through for an interview

Good luck

Hamish Davidson is Chairman and Senior Partner at Davidson & Partners. He is also Chairman on Entrepreneurs in Action, Iris Consulting and MJI Business Solutions

Contact him at hamish.davidson@davidsonpartners.com or 07932 698 807

July 2014

Article

I can’t take credit for this, but it seems like a good lesson in life.

Subject: TO ALL MY FRIENDS

I’ve learned….

That life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.

That we should be glad God doesn’t give us everything we ask for.

That money doesn’t buy class.

That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

That under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

That the Lord didn’t do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?

That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

That love, not time, heals all wounds.

That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

That there’s nothing sweeter than sleeping with your babies and feeling their breath on your cheeks.

That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

That life is tough, but I’m tougher.

That opportunities are never lost; for someone will take the ones you miss.

That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

That I wish I could have told my Dad that I love him one more time before he passed away.

That you should keep your words both soft and tender, because tomorrow you may have to eat them.

That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

That I can’t choose how I feel, but I can choose what I do about it.

That when your newly born child holds your little finger in their little fist, that you’re hooked for life.

That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.

That it is best to offer advice in only two circumstances; when it is requested and when it is a life threatening situation.

That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

Article

MY PHILOSOPHY OF MANAGEMENT

 Lots of people have put forward their thoughts on the philosophy of management and practice, but here are the ones I, personally, best resonate with:

–       Life is full of ambiguity, so I manage by principle and values, not procedures

–       The marketplace and our customers dictate everything we should do

–       In recruitment, the candidate is king, and the candidate experience is everything

–       I’m a big believer in strong, competitive strategies and plans, teamwork, payoff for performance and ethical responsibility

–       I look for people who work to solve problems and help colleagues.  I steer away from staff who are closet politicians (small ‘p’)

–       I am heavily involved in strategy: the rest is yours to implement.  Just keep me informed in an informal way.

–       Don’t hide bad information – I hate surprises.

–       Don’t try to blow things by me.

–       Solve problems laterally; don’t keep bringing them up the line

–       Move fast.  If we make mistakes, let them be because we are too fast rather than too slow

–       Hierarchy means very little to me.  Let’s put together in meetings the people who can help solve a problem, regardless of position.  Reduce committees and meetings to a minimum.  No committee decision-making.  Let’s have lots of candid, straightforward communications

–       I don’t completely understand the technology.  I’ll need to learn it, but don’t expect me to master it.  So, you’ll have to translate for me from time to time

–       ‘Get the Moose on the Table’.  If we don’t talk about what the real, underlying issues are, we end up with gossip and politics.  So lets front it out, however uncomfortable and painful

–       Take responsibility – if something needs to be done, get on and do it

–       In order to be seen to be worthy of promotion, you should already be acting like you are at the next level

–       Loyalty and trust are everything to me.  If I can’t trust you, I can’t work with you

–       My reputation, and that of my organisation is everything, and I will do anything I can and have to in order to sustain and enhance it

–       In order to work with you, I have to respect and trust you.  I don’t have to like you, though it helps.  If, however, I respect, trust, like you  .. and we share common values, then miracles are possible.

Hamish Davidson is Chairman & Senior Partner of Davidson & Partners.  He is also Chairman of Entrepreneurs in Action, Iris Consulting and MJI Business Solutions.

hamish.davidson@davidsonpartners.com

M: 07932 698807

 

 

Article

Personal statements are about you. CV’s are about you but only in a professional/career context. Metaphorically speaking, your ‘personal statement’ is an opportunity for you to give your application or your cv/whatever some breadth, depth, colour and ‘personality’ – and is the institution/employers’ first chance to get to know a bit more about you. That said, there are still some general ‘do’s and don’t’ tips you may wish to consider:

 So, noting that the following advice relates to ‘personal statements’ and not to cv’s we ‘suggest’:

 DO NOT:

  • Plagiarise, exaggerate or lie.
  • Overuse buzzwords like ‘passion, dedicated, motivated, effective’ etc. or make sweeping statements like ‘I am a highly motivated …’; let the examples do the talking; remember your statement comes in partnership with your CV and ‘motivation’ is easy to demonstrate without explicitly stating it 100 times.
  • Use clichés, such as ‘I am a people person’.
  • Include irrelevant personal facts like your date of birth (you can put these in your CV if you wish to include them). Of course, if you are specifically asked to provide these details, then do so.
  • Include quotes from other people in place of your own thoughts (especially famous quotes!), unless there is a very good reason.  On the other hand, quotes from referees may be fine – just don’t bombard the reader with such.
  • Include random lists of books you have read, music you have listened to or countries you have visited on holiday – unless you perceive there is some very specific need and benefit in doing so.
  • Waffle.
  • ‘List’ your interests. Instead, demonstrate them, such as ‘I volunteer for a domestic violence helpline’ rather than ‘I am interested in domestic violence issues’.
  • Bore the reader. If you get bored when you re-read your statement yourself, then you need to revise it and make it more interesting.
  • Use slang or too many acronyms.
  • Exceed a specific word limit/length, if you have been given such.

DO:

  • Use language that you use day-day. It’s better to be you (within reason – no swear words or street slang, please), than to be fake or present yourself as referring to the thesaurus/dictionary every 5 minutes. Your personal statement needs to be as ‘authentic’ as possible – it should reflect the ‘real you’ such that when the reader of your statement finally gets to meet you, there is no surprise, shock or disappointment.
  • Apply the ‘so what’ rule, as you write. If you can’t answer it, leave it out.
  • CHECK your spelling and grammar, especially if you’re using Microsoft Word, which defaults to US English; take a break and look back over it the next day.
  • Print out and read your statement (out loud, if you can!). You will inevitably spot errors that you didn’t spot on the screen. And if you can, get someone else to check it over it too; but don’t get too many people to review it, as you’ll then have too many conflicting comments and opinions, and just end up confused and frustrated.
  • Be as clear and as obvious as you can be. Make it easy for the reader to get a glimpse into what you have done and what you have learnt.
  • Embed hyperlinks (if you mention or refer to any writing, projects or portfolios that you have authored/created) in the text; the reader is most likely to review your personal statement digitally – if they can get immersed in your work, then that will do you favours.
  • Be honest and reflective where appropriate. What is it about this role/opening/study place that you are applying for that will help you grow, and develop? This is the only chance, before an interview for an institution or potential employer to get some context about you – it’s important to not just show off (positively) but to show how they can help you.
  • Be specific and use statistics that demonstrate your work/achievements to date. Generic statements, vague claims and bland examples will not make you stand out.
  • Take a break from writing it. After your drafting stage, put it away, and re-visit it a day or two later.
  • Reflect on your whole life and career, not just the most recent aspects. If a lesson/skill from school, college, university, club, volunteer activity or workplace is still applicable and important to you, then mention it. Your life is a story of facts – you just need to put them into context.
  • Mention all of your voluntary work. It shows your commitment, passion and the skills you have developed.

… and finally …

…., for all the advice we have given above, or that anyone else might offer or seek to give you, always remember that it is ‘your’ personal statement.

At the end of the day, you need to own it and believe in it.  So, having taken account of all the advice, write it the way that you want to – and in such a way that it sounds like and reads like the ‘real’ you.

Good luck,

Leon Ward

leon.ward@davidsonpartners.com

Twitter: @LeonJWard

www.davidsonpartners.com

June 2014

Article

From September this year all 16 year-olds who have not achieved a GCSE in maths or English at grade C or above must continue with those subjects in order to gain the qualifications or improve their grades. To handle the increased numbers studying for these GCSEs, the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) is leading a drive to recruit new trainee teachers into the sector in the areas of Maths, English and Special educational needs and disabilities. ETF are looking for high quality graduates with a real passion to teach who have a degree in those subjects or related areas.

The Government has put together some attractive bursary packages to attract able and committed graduates. The highest value bursaries are in maths, with a trainee maths teacher with a first class honours degree in maths qualifying for a bursary of £20,000. There is also a Golden Hello scheme, launched today, worth £7,500 ( £10,000 for those who go on to train in special educational needs) aimed at retaining existing teachers of maths in the second year of teaching.

Those who are interested can find more information on the ‘FE Advice site’: http://www.feadvice.org.uk/next-steps/funding-information-and-incentives

Article

“Carry On Networking!”….

…. We were very pleased to host Margaret Hodge at the latest Innovatus Networking Event on 8th May.

Please see the attached summary for pictures and details.

 

Innovatus review – Margaret Hodge

Article

Are you wondering whether to apply as the internal candidate for a role?  If so, follow this link for sympathy (some) and good advice (lots) from Hamish:

The nightmare of being the internal candidate

Article

 

Historian and politician Baroness Ruth Henig was guest speaker at the latest Innovatus networking event at the Institute of Directors. Her theme ‘women and equality – so near and yet so far’ highlighted the dilemmas and challenges women often continue to experience in the workplace.

Please see the linked review for details and pictures:  Innovatus – Baroness Henig

 

Article

Comment from John Callaghan, a recent Successful appointee as Principal and Chief Executive at Solihull College:

“The simple and clear application process made it much easier to apply for the post.  Added to that there was an opportunity for long listed candidates to have an initial interview and this was incredibly useful.  It gave both the candidate and the partners the opportunity to find out a lot more and enabled both sides to explore questions arising from the initial application.

The two day interview process was rigorous and challenging but the built in reflection time and a comprehensive tour of the college helped to enable candidates perform to their maximum potential.

Employers seeking to fill senior posts should seriously consider appointing Davidson Partners.”

Article

 Chris picture from website profile-cb

The Senate at Northampton University has endorsed  Christine Bamford as Visiting Professor in Leadership.

Christine will be guest lecturer on a range of undergraduate, Master’s and Doctorate degree programmes.  She will cover a range of areas of expertise including

  • Leadership
  • Organisational Change
  • Politics
  • Effective Teams

She will also contribute to the development of a Masters in Coaching and Mentoring, as well as supporting local Business Leaders in their personal and organizational challenges.

Congratulations from the rest of the team at Davidson and Partners !

Article

For some interesting thoughts on the subject of Leadership from our chairman Hamish Davidson please see the attached article:

From laughing warriors to Elizabeth I

Article

The third dinner organised by the Innovatus women’s networking group was held on 20th November – with a great talk by Elizabeth Reddish.

For more detail please click below:

Innovatus dinner – 20th November 2013

Article

HR in the Public Sector: An outspoken, and at times opinionated, talk by our Chairman Hamish Davidson earlier this year to the Public Sector People Manager’s Association has now been issued as a full article – see if you agree with his views:

HID paper on Raising HR’s credibility October 2013

Article

For the second Innovatus event, and once again over a very pleasant supper at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, we were lucky enough to have Dame Helen Ghosh, Director General of the National Trust.

Dame Helen spoke about a project very close to home – her own career and what she’d learned about herself – as well as the challenges of leadership in the public and not-for-profit sectors…..

 

Click here to find out more – Innovatus dinner – 2nd July 2013

Article

No doubt the pure private sector professional is staring back at this title and thinking that I am crazy.  “What on earth can someone from the public sector add to my commercial enterprise?”

Continue reading, Public sector expertise is vital in a private sector company……… Really?

Article

Following a distinguished career in the Civil Service, Nicky Roche joined the Dept for Culture, Media and Sport in 2004, to do her “dream job” as Director of Sport. She worked on the Games, from the bid to the end, an experience she described as the greatest privilege of her professional life, remembering with particular […]

Click here to find out more Innovatus – Launch Event 18th April 2013 copy

Article

With specific content aimed at a variety of business sectors this is a new newsletter from Davidson & Partners.

View the latest editions »

Article

Are misguided ‘savings’ needlessly limiting the diversity of candidates likely to submit their application?

Continue reading, Discrimination is live and kicking – all in the name of ‘austerity’

Article

Hamish Davidson discusses the merits of panels in the interview process in an article published in the MJ.

Continue reading, The problem with panels

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