Time to hit pause

When the concept of reputation management first became fashionable it was always the banks that topped the list.  Dour bank managers (with a dose of Scottish Presbyterianism thrown in) were held up as the pinnacles of trustworthiness.  After all, you trusted them with your money.  And now look what’s happened.  One minute we’re asking them if they could possibly see their way to extending u...

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Time to rethink communications

Not long ago I went to a talk on the Future of PR.  It was so poor that when I left I was quite surprised not to see gas lamps lighting streets full of horse-drawn Hackney carriages. The discussion was all about the importance of getting PR recognised at board level (yawn), reputation management (that wonderful oxymoron), and whether social media really changed anything.  It was as if PR existed ...

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The entrepreneurial employee

Gore Vidal once famously said that each time one of his friends succeeds a little part of him dies. Recently I saw an article in the Times about a business run by an old friend of mine which gave me the opposite feeling.  In ten years he has built a hugely successful business that not only employs a couple of handfuls of bright and brilliant people but also that wins awards for being amongst the b...

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Beware those who wish to be leaders

The US presidential race has officially started.  The Republican Party has kicked off its search for a nominee with, as is its custom, the Iowa caucus.  The state – the size of England but with a population close to that of Wales – can now get back to normal as the coachloads of media and campaigners head off towards New Hampshire.  The presidential hopefuls have spent weeks parading their w...

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Is this the right room for an argument?

In the seminal Monty Python sketch, Palin’s character says that an argument is “…a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition” to which Cleese replies “No it isn’t”. Palin continues “Argument is an intellectual process.  Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.”  “No it isn’t” Cleese again replies. Many...

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Asking not telling

Giving advice is an art form in its own right.  Knowing what to say requires a mixture of wisdom and diplomacy and a high degree of emotional intelligence.  People ask others for advice everyday and few, whether consultants, counsellors or friends, are usually backward in coming forward with ideas and suggestions.  In fact, telling people what they should do or how they ought to act seems to be ...

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Time to find other ways to engage

As the conference season for UK political parties draws to a close some are beginning to wonder whether they have now passed their sell-by date.  What was once a cross between rah-rah events for the faithful and serious policy-making forums has now become little more than made-for-tv events that take place in front of an audience of bused-in supporters and lobbyists.  And to ensure that there is ...

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The true nature of leadership

I recently took part in a discussion about leadership.  A top research organisation was presenting some initial findings of whom members of the public considered to be leaders and what they thought the characteristics of leadership actually were.  Many of the usual suspects, like Churchill, figured highly as well as a few less likely people such as Princess Diana.  And given the public’s ideas...

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Adults at work

One of the most fulfilling of my many roles is mentoring.  I act as a, often unofficial, mentor to a number of people and have done so throughout my career.  Giving people the confidence to see issues differently is, I like to think, one of my key strengths. A number of recent conversations have all had a common theme and have led me to relook at a book I first read 20 years ago.  In the book, ...

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Team work, leadership and the Rugby World Cup

It was Bill Shankly who famously said that football was not a matter of life and death.  It was, he added, more important than that.  I’ve never really understood the round ball game; I don’t see why they can’t just pick the ball up and run with it.  Well, the arrival of the rugby world cup means that for the next five weeks we rugby fans will be fixated on events in New Zealand.  For the...

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