Monthly Archives: December 2013

The art of new world leadership

High performing leaders share a number of common traits. With only small shifts over time, it’s interesting to observe a recent move in the number one attribute.

Virginia Mansell, Executive Chairman of Stephenson Mansell Executive Coaching, says “For the vast majority of organisations, change has become the new norm. This means we need leaders who are agile, flexible and able to manage through ambiguity. They also need to be courageous enough to take risks.

Stephenson Mansell’s The Art of Leadership study found the top five leadership competencies we need to develop for this ‘new world order’ are:

  1. Agility to manage complexity
  2. Strategic thinking
  3. Communication skills
  4. Influencing skills
  5. Ability to lead and develop talent

Through our Search assignments across all industry sectors we have seen the same trend emerging in the profile for high performing talent.

What’s your Point of View?

Posted in The world @work

Keating’s straight men, fixers and maddies

Could you fit our business leaders into the same frame as Keating’s view of Politicians?

“Politicians come in three varieties: straight men, fixers and maddies,” Keating declared in the final part of Keating, The Interviews on ABC television, insisting the ‘maddies’, including Margaret Thatcher, are those who “charge in and get it done”.

But the former Prime Minister said his unorthodox ways were minor compared with Winston Churchill, who read the papers in bed, had his butler draw a bath and returned to bed until midday while he was running World War II.

We meet all types in our line of work and could even name names. Can you?

The ‘straight men’, are the ‘safe pair of hands’ the leaders who maintain a healthy status quo, don’t rebuild what ain’t broken, provide constancy and trusted processes. We think of them as modern day patricians.

The ‘fixers’ take an engineering and scientific approach; they’ll dismantle what is broken and carefully reconstruct the organisation or even a sector, bringing people with them for the ride. They’re the Roman architects of durability, utility and beauty.

The ‘maddies’ are a whole other category. Perhaps they’re the so called ‘one-offs’ of the corporate world. They direct proceedings from their command and control HQ, with insights and visions held uniquely by them alone. Results can be brilliant or bankrupting.

Paul Keating has confessed to being a ‘maddie’ as a political leader, saying the inspiration for many of his biggest projects came from getting as “high as a kite, mad” listening to symphonies on a Saturday morning.

We’re sharing our view of a few names from history and today. If you don’t know them by name, look them up and let us know if you agree. And who you would add?

Patricians: Anthony Horden, Leigh Clifford, Don Argus

Architects: Angela Ahrendts, Madame Clicquot, Andrew Bassett, Sally Walker

One-offs: Steve Jobs, Al Dunlap, Gina Rinehart, Gerry Harvey, Dick Smith, Keith Rous

What’s your Point of View?

Posted in The world @work

Quotas are not a women’s issue. They are a socio-cultural statement.

Our view at Slade Group is that a 33% quota on boards would be a great start. Why? It’s the maths. Let’s start by reconfirming that approximately equal numbers of men and women graduate with qualifications in Accounting, Law, Commerce and MBAs, which are the most likely professions from which Company Directors are drawn.

Continuing trend data shows that when women go on to have children, around one third remain full-time in the paid workforce; around one third take a more flexible approach to paid employment – part-time, contract, self-employed and consulting; and one third become full-time home makers.

We can figure out that of women over 40 years of age (the most likely age at which to be nominated for a board position) two-thirds (or 35 of this share of 50 women) should be able to be considered for board positions.

Our equation continues like this: if 35 of every 100 employees over the age of 40 are female, then doesn’t it follow that we’ve come to a very rational approach to quotas of 33%.

And why quotas? Because it’s a universal truth that change is resisted most by those with most to lose. In this case it’s the top end of town whose lives are easier if the status quo doesn’t change. By that we’re inferring that maybe language, culture, rules of the game, networks and tradition may have to give way to a new way of working.

According to Tim Hall at Blackhall & Pearl, the debate about diversity is at an inflection point and he’s provided some interesting facts about gender on company boards.


Amongst the ASX 200 currently there are about 16% female directors. Female directors in Australia get paid more than male directors on average, because there are fewer of them and they are concentrated in large companies which pay more. Across Super funds in Australia female directorships are greater than 22%.

Western democracies

In Canada there are about 13% female directors across the TSX.

In the US across Fortune 500 companies female directors compose 15% and across FTSE 350, 14.6%.

The UK has a target of 25% of FTSE 250 by 2015; currently it is 17.5%.

France does have a 40% gender legislation by 2016:

  • This applies to 40 large French firms only, or private firms with turnover greater than €50M in three consecutive years, or more than 500 employees
  • The reality in France is that females comprise 20% only on the CAC 40 (that’s only 40 companies)

Europe is often lauded as a leader in gender diversity issues

The truth is a little different:

  • Belgium 7.7% female directors
  • Germany 8.2% female directors
  • Italy 6.2% female directors
  • Netherlands 9.2% female directors
  • Norway, often heralded as a bastion of female equality, claims 32% female directorships on large boards and 36% on another study of large companies. Dig deeper and the numbers are based on 25 companies only.

You have a better chance of being a female director in the USA, UK, Canada or Australia at this point.

What’s your point of view?

Posted in The world @work