Following England’s victory against Slovenia this afternoon, Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) provides a post-match analysis of the manager the nation doubted:
“England’s all-important win today is testament to Capello’s proven track record as one of the world’s best football managers. His record at club level is exemplary and, when it comes to taking charge of our national team, we mustn’t forget that it was under Capello’s stewardship that England got through the qualifying stages in the first place. Despite recent speculation about his ability, and two disappointing draws, Capello has rallied his team and pulled England back from the brink of following France and South Africa into an early exit.
“A recent survey of UK workers revealed that, despite his fierce reputation, Capello is the manager one in five of us would most like to be managed by (second only to Sir Alex Ferguson). It is Capello’s ability to command respect that has undoubtedly enabled him to put criticism and media speculation aside and lead the England team to victory, averting a shameful early exit from World Cup 2010.
“Capello may have earned himself a reputation as disciplinarian, aloof and detached from his players but, in truth, it’s evident to us that his primary management strength is his ability to provide direction and communicate his vision to the team – he’s a born leader and it shows.
“The four foundation stones of good management are strong leadership, getting results, working with people and managing yourself, and the resources at your disposal, well. The last few days have proven that Capello is a master at all of these.
“But what can managers, leaders and employers across the country learn from his approach? Capello understands how to utilise the strengths of his particular management style in order to deliver the best results from his coaching. Whether you want to work for Capello, or just be a bit more like him, the key to improving your management technique and becoming a better all-round manager is knowing what you’re good at and how to develop any weaker areas. To learn more about your primary management strengths and whether you manage like Capello visit www.comparethemanager.com.”
I invite you to watch this fantastic video about the prestigious award for business leaders called ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, run by Ernst & Young for over 20 years.
The Financial Times have reported on a leadership development programme designed specifically for younger members of family businesses. It is hoped that the initiative will encourage youngsters to take the reigns on established companies setup by their parents, instead of joining the ever-popular graduate recruitment programmes like sheep. Lets hope that this will enable these small family businesses to compete against the influence of large recruiters in attracting the best talent.
The course is called ‘The Institute of Family Business (IFB) Next Generation Leadership programme is open to anyone with over 5 years work experience (which doesn’t have to be in the family business itself). This interesting restriction will actually encourage family members to spread their wings, and hopefully return to the nest with valuable knowledge that will help grow the business under the next generation management. If this could be the leadership course for you, then take action now!
The course will take place over 5 days between 18/09/2010 and 18/06/2011. Applications must be in by 15th July 2010.
Get information directly from course provider at info@ ifb.org.uk
Getting Naked is the provocatively titled leadership book from Patrick Lencioni, the author that brought us The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and The Three Signs of a Miserable Job. The book sells itself as a ‘business fable’, and certainly sticks to that aim. ‘Getting Naked: A Business Fable‘ is told like a story. The ‘fable’ is medium-length tale narrated by a fictional partner of a management consulting firm in the USA called Jack Bauer. I found the length to be long enough to get ‘into’ the experience, but short enough that I didn’t feel the key messages were being laboriously repeated in every chapter.
The story begins as the arrogant yet insecure Jack is chosen to oversee the acquisition of a competitor with whom he openly holds a grudge. The competitor appeared so lazy, uncommited and blasé that their offices were referred to as ‘the playground’. None of this however angered Jack more than the discovery that this ‘childlike’ company had higher margins than his!
The book follows Jack as he reluctantly immerses himself in the culture of the other firm, and learns that big business can be done in a very different way, very successfully.
The theory of the book centres around vulnerability. In response to critical clients and demanding customers, most businesses set out to prove their competence and interlectual superiority. Patrick persuasively highlights that this is shockingly, the complete opposite of what leaders should be doing. He argues that his consulting firm, Table Group successfully won, wooed and retained clients extremely well due to the transparency and vulnerability he presented to them.
Patrick Lencioni writes with authority and makes some very excellent points. In my opinion, half were genuinely inspired, and half were the kind of behaviour we all know we should be doing, and therefore would benefit from being reminded of anyway! The book is most relevant to those who serve clients as a member of a professional services firm or similar, however I believe that the culture described in the book would be beneficial in any customer-facing organisation. The author neatly summarises the key message in the final chapters which adds further clarity and a surprising amount of detail.
If you’re looking for an outline of a fascinating culture that modern leaders should aspire to, I believe that you should treat themselves to this fable and see which practical tips you can apply from within its pages.
When one reads the title to this article; immediately the thought of politics will be aroused. What will come on the minds of many who are politically inclined was Presidents Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy of peace through strength, (strength being leadership). President Reagan quite frankly was a political genius as he thoroughly understood the surrounding political dimensions of his environment and what it took to reach peace through leadership. He understood the factors of communications that imbedded the concepts of persuasion and his skills of conveying his perceptiveness about the issues before, during and after his time as he was a man of great foresight. What many critics of his time did not realize was his true drive for Peace. And, so therefore, President’s Reagan was extremely aware that in order to bring peace to the world and America his leadership style had to be conducive to meeting the ultimate goal of peace. It required boldness, courage, tenacity and intellect. He had to reach deep in his heart to find all the necessary skills of leadership such as: delegation, economic prudence, and be a world peace maker. If one closely reviews the decade of the 80’s they will quickly see a time of progress as never before. It was the technological boom, the cold war to an end without a major conflict a revitalized economy that solidified our comfort level for at least twenty years past his time.
So now one may ask what does this have to do with me; I am not a President. Well I can tell from experience as a former Assistant Dean to a Medical School, a California constitutional Gubernatorial appointee of a major State department, educational administrator and entrepreneur; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed to seriously utilize my leadership skills as an executive to reach for peaceful outcomes to seek the results we were seeking. Before, one can reach peace one must demonstrate the skills and the art of being a leader. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “In this movement we are all leaders” Dr. King was all about leadership based on peace. The movement of non-violence and peace have been premier vehicles and tools used in leadership development to seek peace.
It is rare to be in an executive position whereby one will not need to exercise leadership skills if peace is what the executive is reaching for. Executives, managers, and businesses need to interact daily in organizational behavioral matters that require a sensitive yet bold decision making. Peace is typically at the very heart of the desired result. Because without peace there are no productive progressive outcomes and so therefore there is no leadership. Typically with leadership and peace come progressive performances.
Guest Post By Author Dr. Richard C. Baiz, D.B.A.
‘The Fast Subject’ is a concept that many managers struggle to really get their head round. Chosen as one of the best in class, I’m proud to publish this fine example of a leadership essay from one of the top universities in the UK.
How the concept ‘fast subject’ (Thrift, 2000) embodies the idealised cultural image of success for management in the 21st century.
Thrift’s (2000) paper portrays a very distinct idea of the modern Western world; both as a whole and the world of work. It is key to remember that management feeds from the wider cultural environment – the world; it is not standing alone by itself. We need to know what is going on in the world to see what is going on in management, for example, assessment centres could be seen as the ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ of the world of work. Thrift also describes the ‘fast subject’, i.e. the manager that is capable of functioning effectively in this world; the author uses language such as “knowledge”, “creativity”, “innovation” and “younger” in relation to the fast subject and “faster”, “uncertain”, “performance” to describe the habitat of this modern subject. When discussing the fast subject, it is important not to overlook the environment in which the subject lives/works; it had been argued that managers are “the products of (increasingly engineered) circumstance” (Thrift, 2000 p. 677).
The ideal of the ‘fast subject’ embodies success in modern Western culture, according to Thrift’s (2000 p.678) paper, “the fast subject is a ‘style’ that many managers often want to attain”; advertisements for graduate careers and jobs have specific ideals so people aspire to meet the criteria. These job adverts are made by people like us for us; fast subject to fast subject. The advertisements speak to us, these people that companies are looking for are management’s idea of success, so this is what we strive for, this is the reason we go to university and get part time jobs and internships – it’s the ideal of work (and life) in the future.
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers guide is the perfect collection of evidence of the idealised cultural image of success for management in the 21st century; the companies and jobs are portrayed using the language of the fast subject, they give the idea of mobility, youth, being trendy and modern. The three following examples have been taken from this guide.
The first example, taken from The Times guide is Lidl’s (p. 30) Graduate Management Programme advertisement. This advertisement uses all the language and buzz words of the ‘fast subject’ and 21st century culture, such as “star qualities”, “lead and inspire” and “world-class”. Thrift (2000 p. 680) makes the point that management events are “making the ‘invisible visible’” i.e. trying to measure and teach these intangible “star qualities” such as leadership and creativity. This gives the idea that these personality traits that make up a successful person can be taken on by a company, measured and nurtured, and will enable continued or increased success. This is attractive to the ‘fast subject’ because of the intangibility; other people in the world do not possess these qualities, only the elite ideal that management has created has the potential to have these traits inside of them. The fact they cannot be defined, taught of learned as well as simple things such as how to work a piece of machinery makes them special and anything that sets you above others in our culture is something we have been brought up to strive towards.
It is clear that quite a significant amount of thought goes into graduate recruitment, as management want to get the best people into their company and at the moment, the ‘fast subject’ is that person, and they respond to specific known language and images. Graduates are the future of management and at the minute the people coming out of universities are educated to be the way management wants them to be, i.e. Thrift’s subject. They have the most current and up-to-date knowledge and education on what management wants and are either taught the skills or are taught how to perform as though they possess them. It is probably that Lidl know that culturally, young and modern members of generation Y will not have them as their first choice employer, it will be somewhere trendy like Apple therefore they have to offer the chance to develop the skills that management as a whole wants, i.e. ‘fast subject’ skills.
The word “star” suggests that Lidl are looking for someone special, in modern day society we are obsessed with stars and celebrities; this advertisement says that you can be the “star” of the business world and gain all the associated benefits such as money to fund the lifestyle of this creature, but also the social benefits such as respect and interest from others.
Cadbury’s (p. 91) graduate jobs advertisement in the guide shows a reminder of the popular gorilla television advert for the firm’s products. This image links to our culture, what is cool and modern, again showing the link between the world of management and society overall. It is also recent, showing that it is aimed at young professionals who can do it all; they can gain a good degree whilst also being aware of what is going on socially around them. Along with using the expected language, the text includes the word “brand” which attracts prospective employees because they want to work for this company so when they tell people where they work, the people will know where it is and be interested.
At the bottom of this advertisement, it says “we love what we do. We think you will too”; this is typical of the view that the ‘fast subject’ holds of work, it is no longer simply a job, it is something you want to do when you get up in the morning. The job will not necessarily be as good as it sounds, but the words and pictures used appeal to the ‘fast subject’. Even those graduates with no interest in the world of management would find this appealing as the language used spills out into the rest of our culture as the language of a successful subject.
In modern society, there is increasing focus on the self; the improvement of the self, with models such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and reaching self-actualisation. We want to succeed at work, but to also have time to have a social life and spend the money we earn – this is one measure of success; we want to have time to have everything. Cadbury promises a graduate scheme that is “individual” and “personalised” therefore that must mean the ‘fast subject’ can not only thrive at work but they can also go out into the world and show it how successful they are, with their cars, homes and technologies. The text itself actually says “you’ll succeed”, which implies Cadbury (like the rest of the world) knows the measure of success and that it is applicable to all ‘fast subjects’.
The final point to make is that there is a disclaimer at the top of the page, stating “no gorillas were harmed in the making of this advert” which is an obvious point, so why make it? This goes back to the cool and trendy culture that we live in where we appreciate humour and making things that little bit less serious. This says, Cadbury is cool and who would not want to work there, if everyone wants to work there then those that do are successful; the successful ones are the ones that speak the language – the ‘fast subject’.
The final example has few, but still significant, words. Sky (p. 209) wants graduates to “discover your ideal habitat” which is a word frequently used when it comes to the ‘fast subject’. This new, mysterious creature needs a habitat in which to work, so Sky is saying they can offer this; it is not an office, it is not a workplace – the language draws the audience in; it is why the ‘fast subject’ finds it appealing. As management initiated the creation of this so-called ‘fast subject’ and the necessary traits and attributes it should only be right that management provides the perfect place for this new being to prosper.
The page gives no description of what Sky are looking for; it is implicit with the word “habitat”, this signals that they are looking for something different and unique, else they would have simply used the world workplace as essentially, that is what this so-called “habitat” is. Sky are looking for management’s creation of a successful human type that is so intelligent and culturally aware that they will know Sky wants them, so there is no need to explicitly state what is required. It gives the impression that Sky is superior, as it does not have to list what it wants from its applicants therefore the people that apply will know the appropriate language to use if they are a ‘fast subject’ so these are the people to consider as they will be suited to the “habitat”.
The phrase “make great leaps” obviously goes with the picture of the frog but to the ‘fast subject’ says Sky will allow you to become even more successful in your work life by quickly progressing, possibly onto promotions; showing that you are successful. As a culture we value language like this as it is a little bit different, not as mundane and ordinary as saying ‘you could get better and get promoted’.
The image itself gives the impression of being High Definition as it is very colourful and detailed; something a ‘fast subject’ comes to expect as they are successful in life therefore can afford such luxuries as HD televisions. The colours catch peoples’ attention, which is necessary to catch the interest of the ‘fast subject’ as they have so much potential inside of them, they want to be wanted as they could work in any of these fast paced environments. Regardless of where we begin in life, we all want to be successful and happy; no one grows up aspiring to live in poverty while watching how the ‘other half’ of society lives their lives. Sky understands what the ‘fast subject’ wants from life and work and therefore offers it in a way that would appeal to them, as management has created them this way.
The ‘fast subject’ links to the performance society we live in, these images, amongst others show us what the ideal model of success is and even if we do not fit this model, we can create a part of ourselves; a performance that does meet this given criteria. For example, we believe working for Lidl will make us successful, Lidl wants us to be “self-confident individuals” so that is what we are to them. This is the reason that we have come to the stage in society that we have; management knows what it wants and puts that out to the world, there are very few people out there that actually fulfil all the conditions so people pretend to be that; they perform. Eventually, with this happening so much, many more people aspire to this ideal which seems to be so good, however it is probably so impressive as it is all an act – it is like striving for perfection, even though we know we will never reach it.
These examples were chosen from the same book and are of the same media, so it is possible to compare them. They are all different, but possibly equally effective at attracting a ‘fast subject’ and potentially allowing them to reach a successful level in life. As a whole, the advertisement produced by Lidl is quite simple but it is straight to the point; it is ‘fast’ and the language is very important. Language however, is more important in the Cadbury advertisement, as there is more of if; therefore there are more of the buzz words and promises, however it would take longer to read than the other two. Finally, Sky are obviously aware of the language that society views as the language of successful management and use it. The image is clean and simple in the Lidl piece, whereas Cadbury’s is busy and the one from Sky is quite striking.
It does not matter what the design of the advertisement is like; the point is how or why they take off and are deemed as the image of success within western twenty first century society, culture and management. One thing that all these illustrations have in common is that they are all about “you” (the subject) not “us” (the business); they want to help you develop and become successful and in modern culture that is what we want, we think constantly about the self and could possibly overlook what we are expected to do for them. But this does not matter; success is about working for that well known company, taking on responsibilities and being where you feel you should be.
The idea of the ‘fast subject’ is merely a concept put forward by Thrift to explain what has happened within business and management this century. Brooks on the other hand, questions and mocks the myths of management with a sarcastic tone; it could be argued his viewpoint of the creature within the world of management is of the complete opposite of Thrift’s.
Brooks (2004) gives his opinion on what Thrift would call the ‘fast subject’ using very similar vocabulary, but a very different tone. “They are obsessed, they are passionate, they are driven, and they are totally nuts” (p. 216) and that “what matters is energy, discipline and focus” (p. 218). Brooks then goes on to tell a story about a modern businessman’s attachment to his mobile telephone (pp. 234-5) which is much less glamorous than the picture Thrift paints.
In a previous book, Bobos in Paradise (2000 p.104) Brooks describes “Latte Towns” which is where the ‘fast subject’ (or as Brooks describes them, “new upscale culture”) would live. The descriptions, such as “magnificent natural settings” makes the place sound very appealing and is where we as a culture would want to live if we could afford to do so, i.e. if we were a ‘fast subject’ and therefore successful. Although this is said with a negative tone, it is Brooks’ description of the ideals in the twenty first century world.
Overall, the idea of success within management has made its way out into the wider cultural context of the 21st century; what management views as a successful person is now what we in society believe to be a successful person. The vocabulary and images such as the high flier with the modern gadgets and the cool career in a well known popular branded business are no longer simply within the world of management.
Management has, over time, created the image of the ideal person to work in the increasingly fast paced business environment; they created this being so they know what it wants. Profits are the most important thing to most companies therefore if they can find a group of individuals who are motivated, dedicated etc. they have gained knowledge and the potential to increase profits. Management puts out this ideal, which Thrift calls the ‘fast subject’, to the world so the world begins to see this ideal and believe that is what successful looks like. In modern society, right now, the ‘fast subject’ is what we aim to be; it is the embodiment of success in the world of management. It has to be considered though, when we will move on and when the era of the ‘fast subject’ will end and whether it will end well. Thrift (2000 p.675) does not ignore the fact that ‘fast subjects’ “may well turn out to be fragile subjects, held together only at a cost”; all that is left is for the rest of the world to realise. Management created this subject; it is entirely possible that management will destroy it or the image too.
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Brooks, D. (2000) Bobos in Paradise , New York: Touchstone
Brooks, D. (2004) On Paradise Drive, New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2009-2010 (2009) High Fliers Publications
Thrift, N. (2000) ‘Performing Cultures in the New Economy’ in DuGay P. and Pryke M. Cultural Economy, London: Sage