Friday, 20 October 2017

The Next.

After an important victory in North Africa during WWII, Winston Churchill cautioned Parliament with this statement.  “…This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning…”

Churchill had an appreciation of the importance of the victory but he remained focused on the ultimate objective which was to win the war.  Battles count, but only the final battle really matters.  There was much more to be done and he was not about to get ahead of the game and assume victory; it had to be earned.

I see a lesson for all leaders in Churchill’s statement.  You have done the academic preparation; you have worked hard to excel in your position of responsibility; and you have gained the experience necessary to take on the next role.  When it comes, there is a certain amount of self- satisfaction that the culmination of your efforts has been recognized and the promotion realized.

But the warning is that you are not at the end or likely even close to it.  The same effort and drive that brought you to this place is now doubly critical if you are to succeed.  There will be much to which you acknowledge that ‘…I don’t know what I don’t know…’  This is true of all promotions.  It simply means that you must continue to grow through education, experience and effort.  The hill may have been climbed but the mountain remains unscaled.

There are many elements that can get you to the next level. This list is hardly exhaustive but it provides you some clues.
  1. Lean on predecessors to learn from their successes and failures.
  2. Continue formal education at a post graduate level with a primary focus on your area of responsibility.
  3. Find a mentor willing to share experiences, ideas and insights based on their own past and their knowledge of your capabilities.
  4. Join a peer group that is willing to honestly and constructively build into each other.
  5.  Hire a consultant with appropriate expertise to provide a critical assessment of the situation and then come forward with recommendations.

Most of all remember that you were not hired or promoted because you necessarily have all the answers.  Rather, your appointment in a signal that others believe that you have the potential to find them.  Your new position is not the end, nor the beginning of the end.  It is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.  And if you take this approach that a battle victory is not a war won, you have the foundation upon which you can fulfil your personal potential and expectations.

No leader is infallible. No leader has all the answers.  The best leaders acknowledge these truths and work towards improving, knowing that perfection is a goal that, though unattainable, is still worth pursuing.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Missing Ingredient


Since the year 2000, 20% more women than men have graduated university/college with a degree.


Women now represent 40% of MBA graduates and that number continues to climb.


Women graduate at a much higher rate in fields like marketing and strategic planning.  These are typically the drivers for success in a company as opposed to finance or IT which tend to be male dominated but are seen as support functions in most organizations.


Women represent only 6.4% of CEO’s in the Fortune 500 list…

I am dumbfounded by this last statistic!  What it tells me is that there are far too many senior executives still living in the Stone Age and continuing to practice cronyism. 

The ‘old boys’ networks need to be dismantled.  Search firms and search committees need to re-evaluate their criteria.  I especially blame search firms for their failure to seek and present qualified women simply because it is safer, in their minds, to stick to the ‘tried and true’ practices of the last century.

If your organization does not have women represented at positions of significant influence and responsibility, chances are you are missing out on some incredible insights.  Furthermore, you are likely losing share to those who have ‘seen the light’ and pursued a practice and policy of gender representation in their firms.

I am not pushing for a quota or even a specific minimum percentage.  Companies and their industries differ and the talent base of women varies in every case.  But the mindset that suggests that women are ok to a certain level- but not executive level -is simply archaic nonsense.  Those in the 6.4% referenced above come from industries as varied as auto manufacturing to network and software development to banking and energy.

Open your minds to the possibilities and you will open your company to the latent potential that resides therein.  Fear not the fact that women are as competent as any male.  Rather fear the fact that you are not part of the revolution that is occurring.

Just as Amazon has disrupted the retail market space and made obsolete many of the traditional retail models, women in positions of responsibility will bring a new and overdue perspective to the companies that welcome them.  Trust me, the future will be defined by those firms that empower women rather than those who continue to be threatened by that prospect!!!