Archive for the ‘Comment’ Category
I saw the below in Management Today and I must confess it got me to thinking;
- What’s wrong with talented 50somethings running our biggest businesses?
- Surely accountants are usually best placed to take that objective view of these businesses?
- It is a shame there are not more women in our top jobs and boards its a waste of the talent pool not to have them leading us, but shareholders are the ones that can make the difference here by holding their boards to account on getting the best hires?
- As I am neither in my 50′s or an accountant by trade it seems I am destined to stay where I am!
Article from Management Today
Since the start of the economic downturn, number-crunching expertise has become the skill most likely to get you into the top position at Britain’s leading firms, research suggests.
More than half (52%) of current chief executives in the FTSE 100 have a background in accountancy or financial management, according to the annual FTSE 100 CEO Tracker from recruitment firm Robert Half. That compares to 31% in 2008, before the global credit crunch took hold.
In the last year alone, 10 of the 18 new FTSE 100 chief executives appointed have finance credentials.
‘The risk and regulation agenda is driving demand for those with finance skills who can oversee all operational reporting groups within a business,’ said Phil Sheridan, Robert Half’s UK managing director.
At some distance behind, 21% of FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in engineering or natural resources, 9% in retail or hospitality, 8% in marketing or advertising and 4% in technology.
The number of female chief executives has also fallen in the last year, with just three women in the top position of companies in the FTSE 100 index.
The FTSE 100 lost two women CEOs last year after Dame Majorie Scardino (BBB Note – I class act, I saw her transform Pearson during her time there!) stepped down from publishing giant Pearson, and Cynthia Carroll quit the miner Anglo American. That left just Imperial Tobacco boss Alison Cooper and Burberry’s Angela Ahrendts as the only two female leaders. EasyJet’s Carolyn McCall became the third after the budget airline was promoted into the FTSE 100 in March.
Share your thoughts?……
Following a very interesting Autumn Statement Speech from George Osbourne today, it becomes increasingly clear that the problem we face is growth. Sustainable growth in output, incomes, spending, taxes, delivery, shopping, inflation, interest etc… will act as a self-righting mechanism for the UK (and wider World) economy. I’ve collected together several views on this subject……
Mark Berrisford-Smith, Head of Economics for HSBC UK Commercial Banking
“The concern over further fiscal stimulus is that it might not work, and while at the moment the British government can borrow money very cheaply, that privilege shouldn’t be taken for granted. It would be nice if we could have a Swedish-style, export-led recovery, but Sweden did not run budget deficits in the years before recession; nor did its banking system suffer a meltdown. In any case, the deficit has to be tackled at some point; we can’t leave this mountain of debt to our children.
Getting consumers spending again will do much more for the economy. The annual rate of consumer price inflation is now falling fast, and by the end of the year should be back below the 2% target. It will then be roughly in line with growth earnings, which will mean that the savage squeeze on disposable incomes will have ended. Many people will then feel that they can start spending again. It won’t be a return to the free spending days prior to 2007, but it will be enough to make the difference between mild recession and modest growth.”
Jonathan Portes, National Institute of Economic and Social Research
“Long-term government borrowing is at its cheapest in living memory. However with unemployed workers, plenty of spare capacity, and with the UK suffering from both a creaking infrastructure and a chronic lack of housing supply, now is the time for government to borrow and invest. If the government were to fund a £30 billion investment programme by borrowing through issuing long-term index-linked gilts, the cost to taxpayers (the interest on those gilts) would be around £150 million a year. To put this in perspective, it is roughly the revenue that the Office for Budget Responsibility estimates will be raised by the ‘loophole-closing VAT measures’ in the last Budget.”
Philip Booth, Institute of Economic Affairs
“There is no evidence that increasing government spending stimulates economic activity, except in the very short run. Instead, we need spending cuts sufficiently deep to allow for a permanent reduction in taxation.
The liberalisation of labour markets and land-use planning would stimulate infrastructure spending. Infrastructure projects should be treated on their own merits in good times and in bad. It is important to ensure that private finance (and ownership) is not inhibited.
Tax breaks and temporary tax cuts are deeply damaging, as the former distort economic activity and the latter have to be reversed – and can cause damage at that stage.”
Professor John van Reenen, Centre for Economic Performance
“Monetary and fiscal stimulus programmes are needed in the UK, directed at areas which are more likely to stimulate long-run growth (such as infrastructure, schools and research) rather than public sector payrolls or welfare transfers.”
What is a leader?
Leaders are not people who have authority over others. Leaders are not people who subscribe to the tens or hundreds of leadership models as their modus operandi of working. Leaders are not a select group of people with traits handed down through heredity.
Leaders are not even those people who do the right things versus the manager who does things right.
Simply, a leader has followers.
Beyond that definitions of a leader are too broad, too obtuse and the attributes sound too much like a cross between a religious icon and a comic book hero or a cross between a militaristic person and a romanticised version of an elite sportsman to be of use to people aspiring to be leaders.
The types of people I have seen in the community and in business who have been successful leaders, as determined by their followers, have had a wide variety of traits.
Some have been women who regard themselves as a ?housewife?, who have taken and excelled at leading a choir, a committee or a club.
Some have been business people with a mastery of a rather technical topic.
Some have been charismatic and of high moral character and some have been charismatic and of a moral character that many have judged to be low.
Some have been strong and lead ?from the front?. Some have been quiet yet questioning and preferred to enable their followers to achieve.
What defined them as having been a successful leader are the actions of their followers.
The leaders I have observed have been able to influence groups of people to do things to achieve a result in a more cohesive manner than they would have without the leader present.
Three elements are common to the disparate array of leaders I have observed.
They have had the trust of the followers. Trust has come in many guises. Through a respect for the leader?s humanity, a sense of discipline through a command and control structure, a respect for their knowledge of a subject matter and at times, something approaching the notion of celebrity status.
Trust, in all cases, has been built through an understanding of the needs of the followers. The common thread of the followers has been that they are the people required to get the job done.
It is not the case that the needs of all of the people in the organisation or community have been understood, just enough of those with the skills, knowledge and behaviours required.
Leaders do not have universal following. Far from it, in many cases the level in intensity of loyalty of followers is matched by an equally intense dislike by others. Leaders do not need to lead for ?all of the people? in all circumstances.
Self-awareness contributed greatly to those leaders who succeeded over the longest period of time. The leaders who maintained a consistent following even after changing roles in a community or jobs in an organisation or even to a different organisation always understood themselves.
They have understood their limitations and character flaws. This did not stop them being leaders. They did not need to be a comic book hero with every positive virtue man has espoused.
What they did do was to surround themselves with good people that they trusted and to whom they were willing to delegate responsibility, especially in their areas of weakness.
Taking responsibility for their own actions and accountability for their subordinate?s actions was common to only the best. These leaders were the ones that lasted the longest through the worst times and the best times in many different roles and many different organisations.
To summarise, for me, three things determine how many people will follow an individual, for how long, to what level of loyalty:
- The level of mutual trust developed through understanding the necessary follower?s needs
- The level of honest own appraisal of the leader?s strengths and weaknesses and the willingness to allow others to help overcome the weaknesses through delegation
- The ability and desire of the leader to accept responsibility for their actions and accountability for their follower?s actions
Learning to be a leader is a lesson in trial and error. A journey of trying, succeeding and failing that enables the individual to see:
- The patterns of actions that build trust
- The weaknesses they thought were strengths and the strengths they thought were weaknesses
- The patterns of circumstance that will determine when strengths are truly strengths and weaknesses are truly weaknesses
- The powerful message of character behind accepting responsibility and accountability
Leaders are only ordinary people doing things that ordinary people will follow.
Brought to you via the Business Beach Bum from www.changefactory.com.au.
This Article from http://www.changefactory.com.au….
“The ACNielsen poll conducted for The Age has Julia Gillard polling at an all-time low.”
“Tony Abbott has a problem with women.”
“David Jones’ strategy was doomed from the start”
The 24 hour news cycle led by opinion pieces dressed up as news and shock jocks seeking to shock rather than inform or reflect, is not a place for the faint-hearted.
Leadership needs to be of a quality that is insistent, persistent and consistent to cut through the daily babble of reframing issues to dress them as conflict and seeking of opinions to confirm the reframing.
In order to be seen as insistent, persistent and consistent, it is my observation that leaders take one of three routes.
They concentrate either on process, policy or vision and to be sure sometimes a combination of all three when it suits them.
It is also my observation that only one route works with low incidence of failure and that is having a vision to communicate to your intended followers.
For an example of a leader who concentrates on process, we need look no further than our current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. The Prime Minister peppers her speeches to parliament, citizens and her backbench alike with key words such as accountability, transparency and integrity. She has stated on many occasions that diligence and good processes will deliver good government. She has declared that she is not for turning and that no matter how negative Tony Abbott’s attacks become, she will persevere with what she knows is right. The Prime Minister concentrates on process as the 24 hour news cycle relentlessly looks for headlines.
Ted Ballieu, Premier of Victoria on the other hand, appears to be concentrating on policy. He and his government do not communicate much to the Victorian public. His government has, however, been busy churning out policy change after policy change from that of the previous government and even the government’s pre-election promises. The Premier’s web page lists ten pages of implemented policies covering areas ranging from the economy and state finances, a particular focus, to aboriginal affairs. The Premier almost ignores the 24 hour news cycle in favour of churning out policy decisions.
Neither of these leaders, however, have made a connection with the public. In the Prime Minister’s case the connection is so poor that she gets no credit for an economy with numbers during a global economic crisis that Peter Costello and John Howard would have been proud of in what were considered to be global economic halcyon times. Neither of these leaders have told us what kind of world Australia will be like to live in as a result of the concentration on process or policy. To make that connection they do need to have the “Vision thing”. They need to paint the picture of what it is like to live in Julia’s Australia and Ted’s Victoria.
Paul Keating was a leader who communicated the vision he had for Australia, its challenges and opportunities. In his speeches he communicated what the outcome of policies and process would be and why he believed those outcomes would be for the benefit of Australians. The policies and processes were a means to get to the outcome he painted, not an end in their own right. Policies and process could change, even be reversed, but the vision would not.
What is a vision?
So what is this “Vision thing”?
If communicating a vision is the means by which you can be seen to be insistent, persistent and consistent and provide leadership to your people what is it that you have to communicate and how?
State of being
A vision is a state of being. In communicating a vision, listeners should be able to visualise what life is like. They should be able to visualise the transactional dimensions as well as the emotional dimensions.
Technically, it is written in the present tense, not future tense. It should describe what you will feel, hear, think, say and do as if you had reached your vision now.
It describes an outcome, the best outcome you can achieve. It does not confuse vision with the business goal and objectives for a particular period of time. A vision statement, therefore, does not provide numeric measures of success.
It helps build a picture, the same picture, in people’s minds.
Connects with its audience
It evokes emotion. It is obviously and unashamedly passionate. However, it separates the hard aspect of vision in what we see, hear and do from the soft aspect of vision in what we think and feel.
It is in the language of the intended audience. It uses unequivocal language. It does not use business speak or words like maximise or minimise.
Translatable to action
It is translatable into action by those who read it or hear it and have a responsibility for its achievement.
So what does that mean for me as a leader?
Your own 24 hour news cycle
We are not all subject, as our more public leaders are, to the demands of the 24 hour news cycle. You are exposed, however, to the daily and weekly requirements of communicating with your teams. The modern trend of immediate and constant gratification when it comes to communication has found its way into mainstream business. Generation Y, in particular, have been identified with needs including but not limited to:
- Thriving on immediate feedback, so leaders need to keep them up to speed on their own and the company’s progress
- Being idealistic, hence they have expectations of communications which may be unrealistic
- Lacking confidence in their ability to succeed and as such need more nurturing.
In addition, many of your people from all generations will distort and reframe your messages to meet their own prejudices and fill in the gaps in communication with opinion dressed up as the truth.
Creating a vision allows you to concentrate on a future goal and being able to change policies and processes as needed, following a path of continuous improvement towards the vision. It allows you to be consistent in your messages and provides a platform from which you can be persistent and insistent about the actions your employees take and the way they behave. This creates a clear sense of purpose for your employees.
Creating a vision
If your business appears to be pretty much everything to everyone and is built upon taking diverse opportunities as they come along, then you will find it difficult to create a vision. To help clients having difficulty in creating a vision, I find it useful to use an analogy. The analogy I use is for them to think about what they want their children to be when they are grown up. To think about what their children do, what their values are like, what they want to achieve and how they behave. Try using this analogy to create your own vision for your business.
Communicating to your employees
In communicating with your employees, it is important that you use multiple channels to communicate for two reasons:
- To allow employees to self-select the channel that they prefer
- To reinforce messages through individual employees non-preferred channels.
In the environment of expectations built around the 24 hour news cycle, the channels you choose will need to include social media channels that provide instant feedback from you to your team and from your team to you.
When using face-to-face channels, create your messages formally but deliver them with passion. Use your tone and pace of voice to create the appropriate emotion of your message. Don’t fall into the trap of our current leaders of divorcing themselves from communicating what they are passionate about by using a monotone delivery. It bores people and evokes a sense of disinterest in the topic and the audience when repeated endlessly.
Use words, fonts, colours and images that convey the facts and emotions when you are using disassociated channels.
Design your messages with objectives of what you would like your audience to feel, then think and then do.
Measure your ability to communicate. The responsibility of what the audience actually hears is the communicator’s alone.
Measurement should include but not be limited to:
- What channel they heard the message through
- What the message was that they heard
- What they felt about the message, how relevant it was to them
- The appropriateness of the frequency of the message
- What they thought about the message
- What actions they have taken.
Measurement may be completed by using surveys, asking your managers to seek informal feedback or setting up formal feedback sessions.
Adjust the content of your message and variables such as channel, frequency, presenter, style and tone based on the feedback you receive by your measurement activities.
Don’t be afraid to make changes if your messages are not getting through and don’t lay the “blame” for not “getting it” at the feet of the receivers of your communication. Take responsibility for making changes necessary for all of your team to understand your vision and their role in it.
The 24 hour news cycle has made life difficult for our political leaders who cannot communicate their vision for their community. The expectations of rapid feedback characteristic of the public news cycle and the desire to distort and reframe to make headlines are now flowing into general business. To survive your own 24 hour cycle, create a vision for your business and communicate it relentlessly.
Would you Adam and Eve it, according to the Office of National Statistics retail sales were up in February (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17781525) and this was hot on the back of the news that unemployment went down as well.
However the panic buying experienced in the UK towards the end of last month (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17569091) has been ‘blammed’ for some this.
Really, petrol must have been a tiny part of this. There were several other key factors not least to good weather, an early Easter and I think a genuine desire on the part of most to make 2012 a better year than 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011! For my part I have been helping the economy by getting married this month!
Off to the beach for the weekend now…..enjoy the Rum Punches!
I am sure you’ve seen the widespread attention given to Peter Cruddas’s promises to a Sunday Times ‘sting’ team that access to Policy Committees and the PM can come for a mere 100k per year. This is no price at all for many businesses and could be seen as good an investment as any other in today’s climate, where all businesses are seeking that killer competitive edge so they can ride the wave of the impending recovery.
The solution offered to this is public funding for the main parties and 50p per year per voter (in addition to a 10k ceiling on individual donations), suggested by a report by the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The politicians are unable to support this on the basis that ‘the voters’ can’t afford it during these austere times.
Aren’t we paying it anyway? These donations are just part of a cost base (one way or another) that go to make up the price of the goods and services we buy? So it would be cost neutral in the macro economy.
No it is simple, corporate sponsorship brings with it far to many fringe benefits for the average career MP for change to feel beneficial to them.
Must get back to the Beach, need to pour several Lib Dems more mojito’s before they sober up!
Unemployment has risen to 8.4%, the highest it’s ever been since 1995. Inflation is high as well, having risen 6.3%, taking the average household expenditure up with it.
The infographic gives helpful tips in the realm of saving money on the everyday essentials. Some friendly advice includes having your car consistently serviced and in good health, helpful information on optimal home upkeep, and even food and recreational guidelines to help you live in a crippled economy. Give it a read, I know we all can use a few helpful tips from time to time.
As I write this it is Sunday, children are playing in the snow outside, roast dinners and casseroles are being cooked and hot chocolate is being sipped accross the nation.
However after the freeze that will surely come tonight, tomorrow will bring more frozen armeggedon than even Bruce Willis could cope with, including;
1. Trains will come to a standstill and milions of commuters will panic in cold stations, instead of calmly getting a full day’s work done at home.
2. Almost noboddy will use conferencing technology to complete the day’s meetings but will instead get stressed about geting behind.
3. Everyone will lose their sense of proportion and then on Wednesday will wonder what all the fuss was about.
Still, I am lovin’ the snowballs today