SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. But in my experience, there is a chasm between perception and reality. This especially since the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business

But I am just as bewildered as those who find my success in the Middle East surprising, by some of the rhetoric around women in the workplace and leadership in the UK and London specifically. A recent article on the matter pointed out that 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City were held by women, and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given that London is a global financial center, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus and if the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they simply don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment did get me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and extremely insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but still have their views be known and considered. They tend to speak less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools.  But above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanor, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. This means that instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. And contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities in this way that we could instill to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women  or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview simply as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person really is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story. Adopt a curious mind,  seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that has brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

This may seem a bit of a shock, but frankly, if you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? And if the person is onboard, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective?  If you want yes people who just go along with what you say, you are wasting your money in hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you you’re doing a good job will suffice. But if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find someone who does.

 

As featured in Women’s Prospects 

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

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COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

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GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...


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WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted?

I can’t think of many people who don’t want to love what they do and feel they matter. Yet on the other hand, we hear of the difficulties organisations have in engaging their people.

So I thought I’d create the connection between work and love to identify the ingredients that can help unlock engagement.

“Luck – when preparation meets opportunity”

Just as you are unlikely to meet Mr or Miss Right if you don’t make the effort to go out and meet anyone; a job isn’t going to land in your lap if you do nothing.

When you apply for a job, do you know what you are looking for? Do you know what skills, talents and interests you have? Do you know where and how you can best add value? Or are you so desperate you’re just looking for something that pays the bills? Likewise, when you date someone, instead of looking at the entire list of criteria they should possess, have you taken a close look at yourself to see what you bring to a relationship?

“Oh how exciting, someone wants me, they’ve asked me for an interview/date.”

The question itself seems to validate someone’s worth. They’ve been noticed. Hope rekindles.

And then the panic sets in. What questions will they ask me? What should I wear? Am I ready? All along masking the underlying question – am I good enough, will I be accepted?

So you plough through endless blogs and articles, studying the dos and don’ts, making mental notes of what to say and not to say, all along contorting yourself into a bag of knots.

The bigger question is – if you haven’t accepted yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

“It’s fine (for now)”

Have you ever known anyone who is dating someone who they’re not planning on marrying? Have you ever heard anyone accept a job offer saying they’ll look for something else? It begs the question – what’s the point? Is the other person aware of the lack of intention or are they investing in something they hope will lead somewhere?

“It’s not in what you say; it’s in what you do”

We have all experienced people who have promised the world, but have they come through? Are they a person of their word or do they come up with platitudes and countless apologies whilst still showing the same behaviours?

As human beings we want to believe what people say, believe in them and that this time it’s different. And yet we keep experiencing the same let downs. At some point, one needs to realise the common denominator to these disappointments is ourselves. Are we discerning enough? Do we look for consistencies between what a person says and does? Do we have the courage and belief in ourselves, what we stand for and represent to say ‘this isn’t for me’ and look for what is right?

Many people seem to behave like one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters – so eager to fit into the glass slipper, they’ll contort themselves into all kind of shapes and sizes to fit in and be accepted. But after a while, those feet will hurt – just as the pain of not being oneself will one day become too hard to bear. So if you want engagement, use the four-letter word rarely uttered in the workplace – love.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...


Thank you for signing up!

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in share price. So should a company adopt ethical practices as a means of improving and securing a company’s economic performance?

Risk Mitigation

According to EIRIS, studies show that ethics-related news influences a company’s share price for better or worse, revealing effects of between 0.5% and 3% of share price.

The lesson to be extrapolated from the shift in share price is the underlying knock on effects on the dynamics and relationships that enable that business to thrive, and ultimately the level of trust and confidence in management. Without this trust, stakeholders tend to limit investments, negatively affecting growth.

Although on the surface private companies may argue this doesn’t affect them since they don’t have a share price to worry about, they still have other stakeholders to bear in mind, especially customers, suppliers, employees and themselves as the ultimate owner of the asset – its value, reputation and standing.

People Taking Care of People

Employees prefer to work at companies where they will be treated with dignity, respect and fairness. Creating an environment in which employees feel they matter has a residual benefit in propelling them to create positive experiences for customers. But if employees see, hear or experience negative behaviour, it erodes their trust in and loyalty to the company, and the quality of care they feel compelled or empowered to portray to customers.

Customer Satisfaction

Companies with high levels of customer satisfaction tend to generate a higher degree of customer loyalty, repeat business and more market share in the long run. Customers may decline to deal with a business that causes them to be suspicious and afraid. Businesses that genuinely contribute to their community and maintain good relationships with other businesses tend to be more successful in the long run. On the flip-side, those who have corporate social responsibility efforts on the one hand but poor business practices on the other, are in danger of breeding cynicism into their customers, and mistrust.

Creating Value

Ethical business practices are sound business practices. Instead of being consumed by unnecessary lawsuits and other activities that detract from the mission and purpose, the business can focus on producing quality products and services that enable positive financial results for the company.

Financial Health

Beyond regulatory requirements, accurate financial records are key for sound decision-making and long-term success. Financial records provide an overview of return on effort, a tool to support business to measure its rewards for initiatives taking place in the marketplace. Sound and timely financial records are essential in determining the trajectory of the business, providing the means to course correct where and when necessary. They also provide the ability to respond quickly to opportunities that arise, without adding strain or unwarranted risk. Furthermore, a clear picture on the financial situation of the company will enable it to have the cash flow required to fulfill its commitments, a sound business practice to keep employees and maintain relationships with suppliers.

Green Practices

I was once told ‘whether you’re chopping trees or hugging trees, people look for returns.”

The fact of the matter is if you don’t keep an eye on your bottom line, the business will be unsustainable. The bottom line is affected by people’s perception, belief and likeability of your company. The internet and social media have provided stakeholders with the tools to have greater insight into the impact businesses have on our environment and society. Customers seek to do business with companies that reflect their values, and suppliers and investors would be wise to follow suit.

Unforeseen Circumstances

It is far easier to set off on the right foot in the first place than trying to course correct once calamity hits. That said, genuine errors and unforeseen circumstances do happen. The ability for a business to respond appropriately and speedily speaks volumes in the eyes of stakeholders. But waiting until a crisis strikes to instill and encourage good behaviours is a poor strategy given the time it takes to overhaul embedded systems, beliefs and practices. These changes result in delayed decisions, negative public opinion and a downward spiral in relationships with stakeholders. Not good practice for any business that needs customers, employees, suppliers and/or investors to thrive.

Some may still argue why change when some are getting away with it. Others may wait for regulatory bodies to force them to clean up their business practices. And there will be those who choose to see the tide is shifting – that the manner in which products and services are produced and delivered matters, the impact business has matters. Now is a good time to challenge the ills we tolerate under the guise ‘but this is business’ and start by acting responsibly in the first place.

As featured in Fresh Business Thinking

Headhunter turned talent spotter, Deborah creates the connect between people of character and companies with principles. The Founder of AMANI™, she is an advocate for business being a force for good. Deborah is particularly vested in the impact business has in both economic and social terms across various strata of society.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

Ideas are great but it's action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you're really creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn't envisaged? Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want -...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...


Thank you for signing up!

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and exposure to other cultures somehow adds a certain colour to our own lives, a certain richness.

What we are less aware of perhaps are the unique cultures we create in these environments we call workplaces. Just as the reality of visiting a country rarely reflects any possible depiction portrayed in a brochure, company culture is hard to convey by text printed in a company handbook or website, but rather better experienced by its essence, its spirit.

But how can we translate something seemingly ethereal into something more tangible and why is it even important?

The ‘spirit’ of a company

Just as any culture around the world is formed over time through traditions, cultural norms, societal needs, forms of communication, behaviours and attitudes, so too is a corporate culture.

Through a combination of day-to-day interactions we create the environments we work in, and those environments come with particular qualities regarding desired and accepted behaviours, attitudes, principles and modes of communication.

There is one main difference though – I am not aware of any society in the world that set out to create a particular culture intentionally, consciously. Rather the culture morphed through the ages. It could be said that some companies morphed in the same way, directed mainly through the attitude and conduct of the board, leaders and managers, and the behaviours that were tolerated.

But if you stop to think about it for a moment, through corporate culture we really do have quite an awesome opportunity – that through our actions, we can shape and form a mini-society that lends itself to our highest ideals, to enable others to step up to the plate and be their best, to focus on and achieve a unified purpose and direction.

And quite scary in the wrong hands…

So how do we get it right?

Setting the Tone

If you want to set the ‘right’ culture – start with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, your character, your personal conduct, value system and manner of treating others is akin to a metronome, the timekeeping device used in music to keep everyone in sync. So ask yourself some key questions:

Who are you, what do you stand for, what drives you? How do you treat others? Are you a person of your word? Can you be trusted? How do you come across – friendly, approachable, aloof, firm but fair?

How do you communicate, what is your preference – formal, structured, agenda led, walk around the floor? How do people interact with you and react to you?

What is your business ethos and how does it translate in practice?

Your people

The people you surround yourself with and the manner in which you interact with them speaks volumes. If for instance you are smart enough (and humble enough) to realise that you are not great at everything and surround yourself with people who are ‘better’ than you, you have set the scene for greatness. That is of course if you also create the environment for them to speak their mind and you are open minded enough to listen.

Measuring success

What does success look like for you and your company? Is it just about profit at all costs? What milestones do you measure and reward? Does the manner in which objectives are met really matter and are they taken into account? Are certain behaviours tolerated, just as long as there are results?

Aligning vision with practice

A lofty and noble vision is all well and good but it’s what you do in practice that counts.

Do not underestimate the impact that your individual actions and conduct have in setting the standards and the cultural tone. So ask yourself: Do you want to create an environment in which compromising behaviours are tolerated in the name of profit? Or, do you want to generate an environment that nurtures, develops and engages competence and character, to build great companies that add value to more than just their profit margins?

 

As featured in WorkLab

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

Ideas are great but it's action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you're really creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn't envisaged? Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want -...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how we maximise both.

But how?

John F Kennedy had said, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”

And we have in the large part great expectations of the next generation.

And yet, one of the greatest fuels of disappointment is expectations.

Seneca, the Roman philosopher and senator, attributed anger to frustrated expectations.

So here we have one of the dichotomies faced, not only by wealthy families but also by human beings at large.

And it is our humanness I would like to focus on for the next few minutes in determining what we pass on to the next generation and how.

Some time back, I was at a conference and was asked, “What is the responsibility of the family?”

Any thoughts?

In my opinion, the primary responsibility, regardless of your level of wealth is to best prepare your children to survive and thrive in this world, to be good human beings. You may give them lots of money, but do they have the wisdom on what to do with it? If there is a downturn in the economy and fortunes are lost, do they have the ability, fortitude and resourcefulness to rebuild it? What about if they grow the wealth or forge a path that is away from the ethos of the family? What if they are fantastic in their business but are terribly unhappy in their private life?

There is so much written about succession, legacy, constitutions, and governance that I sometimes think we have forgotten what it’s all about and left out the greatest aid in our cause – the love and respect we have for each other as family.

But do we?  Do we truly understand each other?

Do we empathically listen to each other?

Do we really endeavour to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes?

Or do we adopt an attitude of – this is how we have always been, this is how things are done in our family.

What do we really want for the next generation?

Isn’t it really about them growing into the people they have the potential to be?

Every family is different and every human being is different too.  It is not for me to tell you how you should or shouldn’t do things. My intention is rather to provide you with a framework to see where you are right now, to contemplate where you would like to be, what matters, to consider if your current strategy will get you there, and the steps to course correct.

We are all familiar with a tree. But the tree didn’t come out of nowhere. You first need the seed, you need to prepare the soil, you need to plant the seed in the right environment to ensure its roots take hold, and you need to provide it with the appropriate amount of water and sun to ensure it grows. It is the same with the next generation and it is these elements that we will extrapolate to practicalities in nurturing and developing the next generation.

There are three 3 core areas:

  • Mission & Purpose;
  • Values & Self Awareness;
  • Actions
Mission & Purpose

Most businesses have a mission statement and a purpose. It is well articulated, often hung in the reception, in the corner offices, on the fronts of prospectuses, on the website.

But how many families take the same care in developing and understanding their own family’s purpose, what they stand for, what is important to them, their raison d’etre? This is not a nice to have but a must have – a unified philosophy that instills a sense of identity and direction in the family. This is not something that is imposed by an outside adviser, marketer or lawyer, all scenarios I have heard of, treating it as a check box on the path to governance, but rather a process of exploration and discussion.

This is not too dissimilar to building the foundations to a building – do you want a shack or the ability to grow into a soaring tower? It is the same amount of depth the family and its members need to go through if they want to grow as a family and instill growth in the next generation. It is an essential process that provides an opportunity for other family members to voice their perspective, dreams, hopes and desires in co-creating the environment which is most essential for their development and growth – their home.

The Purpose & Mission become the bedrock upon which the next generation understand the character that was weaved into the family through the generations, the moral compass that will help them determine the right path to choose, in discerning the multitude of options presented to them. It provides them with a backbone, a support mechanism upon which to draw wisdom. As long as it is done correctly, with the appropriate level of exploration and discussion it requires, and deserves.

One family of noble lineage stemming back to the 800s epitomised their family philosophy in the following way: our family is like a chain along a wall, attached by a nail. Some nails are lower, others higher, holding the line of the chain. Your responsibility is to ensure you place a nail. It doesn’t matter if up or down, but ensure you place a nail. It is this simple philosophy that enabled this next generation member to muster the courage to reshape himself and move forward after losing everything in the financial crisis. This simple phrase enabled him to remember the character instilled in the family, the courage and resilience of the family, and the standing of their good name. This went on to determine how he handled the situation he faced, how he interacted and engaged with others, how he conducted his business affairs, how he severed the ties he needed to, all with the dignity, grace and integrity instilled in him along his line.

That is the power of Mission & Purpose. The ability to thrive in the face of challenges.

Values & Self-Awareness

Has anyone ever upset you, even perhaps made you angry?

It probably wasn’t the person’s intention to make you angry. But their actions or what they said happened to impinge upon one of your values. Moreover, their behaviour was also linked to their values. We see people like icebergs. Not from a temperature perspective but from a depth perspective. We only see the tip of the iceberg, the one-eighth peering above the surface, people’s behaviour. But the majority of the iceberg lies beneath the surface, in the depths of the water it occupies. And this is where we have our beliefs, perspectives and values, lying beneath the surface and façade of our actions, often lying within our unconscious mind.

Failing to be aware of, or sensitive to, what these are is like being in constant autopilot.

Imagine being in a plane, relying on the autopilot but you don’t know the controls, navigation system or even what all the parts are called. Do you think that journey will end well if something unexpected comes into sight? And when life happens, it is values and perspectives that are affected.

Let me share a story to illustrate: One family had built a significant investment company and it was understood this was a family business to be grown and transferred to future generations. Then tragedy struck. The father was diagnosed with cancer and, shortly afterwards, his wife also. They underwent treatment and, thank goodness, they survived. The experience shocked the family and all were immensely grateful the parents survived. The experience affected the parents profoundly, driving in them the desire and will to found and endow a world-class medical research facility dedicated to uncovering the causes, treatment, prevention and cure of the genetic cause of cancer and other genetically based diseases. In addition, they tithed 40% of the family business’s annual profits to fund the facility.

That is how values are shaken and reshaped – when life happens.

Actions

The third is Actions. All the goodwill in the world, all the lovely statements and words will do no good if we do not follow through with our actions. We are pulled in a million and one directions with many demands on our time, and mostly looking forwards not back. We have all heard the expression ‘with the benefit of hindsight’.

So it is the ultimate hindsight I would like to touch upon – the topic that is rarely talked about – and that is death.

It is ironic that as human beings we avoid the topic. How many times have you heard a patriarch, even yourself say, “if I die…”? We love guarantees, certainty, and yet we shy away from the ultimate deadline. But through this lens, we can glean much insight into what is truly important to us: Where we focus our time and efforts; What we put off for another day; Who we say no to; What and whom we say yes to; What we don’t say waiting for the right time or holding on until the other makes the first move.

Consider this if you will – imagine you had a week to live:

  • What would you do differently?
  • How would you behave differently?
  • Who would you choose to share time with?
  • What conversations would you ensure you had?
  • What can you now see that you couldn’t see before?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What really matters?
  • When you are no longer here, what do you want to be remembered for – the empire you built, or your character, how you conducted yourself, how you treated others?

One family’s experience that resounds in me is the story of a beautiful woman, now with children and grandchildren of her own. She is a humble and soulful lady, doing her best to be a steward for the wealth as well as being a loving wife, mother and grandmother to her family. In sharing her story she revealed that her father worked very hard, committed to the company and what he was creating. His focus on his work, as well as his belief that women had no role in business, meant that he shared very little time with his daughter, to the extent that she learned who he was and his accomplishments through a book. On the other hand, he did share a lot of time with his grandchildren who can now forge their own path instilled with the grandfather’s philosophy.

Nelson Mandela said “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being.”

So in considering what we leave the next generation and how, I would impress on you the importance of focusing first on the foundations. This enables the next generation to have the capacity to delve within themselves to grow and have the impact they are capable of. It also enables us, to understand and embrace what matters and to be the best we can be. For it is in our own life’s example that we leave the ultimate testament to our legacy.

Deborah has profiled many of the world’s top talent, identifying the secrets to their success as both business people and human beings. She has a successful track record in building teams that last and helps transform cultures for people, businesses and communities to thrive.

If this insight has prompted some thoughts and you would like to explore more, please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

Ideas are great but it’s action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you’re really creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn’t envisaged? Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want – not just what you think you may want…

What is your Ambition?

I am not talking about your ambition for the year but rather the ambition for who you want to become. Remember and reflect on what Nelson Mandela had said: “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being”

Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

  • What is driving your ambition?
  • Does your ambition include who you are becoming as a person?
  • What behaviours will you display in getting there?
  • What benefits do others gain through you reaching your ambition?
  • How does your ambition for this year fit into your overall theme of what you stand for and what you believe in?
Keep Your Attitude in Check

It is pressure and time that develops diamonds and so it is with character. As lofty and beneficial as your ambition may be, the likelihood is there will be challenges along the way. Integrate them into your plan and have a strategy on what to do if and when the chips are down. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pick a mentor or support team
  • Find an activity that picks up your spirits
  • Adopt principles from martial arts, yoga and other practices
  • Write a letter to yourself from a position of clarity and strength to provide yourself with the courage and insight you need to pull yourself through.
  • Learn to breathe properly 🙂 – we tend to panic or get stressed when things aren’t working out according to our plan, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain, further compounding matters.
  • Build the capacity to identify lessons and opportunities – turning lemons into lemonade
  • Have the wisdom to readjust and fine-tune along the way
  • If you see challenges as rough seas and waves – learn to surf! Find your own personal way to embrace the challenge and see how you can go with it, harnessing what is put in front of you.
Take Action!

All the ideas and ideals in the world are no good if you don’t act upon them. Imagine your outcome and break it down into the steps you need to take to reach it and turn these into daily do-ables. Here are some suggestions:

  • Include the action in your daily to-do-list
  • Review your actions at the end of every day
  • What went well?
  • Where can you do/be better?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are you going to integrate into the next day?
  • Set milestones
  • Create celebrations
  • Enjoy the process!

You will be amazed what can be achieved when you set your mind (and heart) on a focal point and I am looking forward to hearing about the beautiful surprises that will come your way as all the pieces come together. So take the first step towards realising your ambitions, the rest is there waiting for you to step up.


Headhunter turned talent spotter, Deborah is the Founder of AMANI™. With a drive for business as a force for good, she works with investors and innovators to optimise impact, aligning values with value creation.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure.

Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its role, its composition and its effectiveness, and we are ever more aware of the importance of independence and ethical guidelines. And when one looks at the composition of several boards, there are general rules of thumb that are followed. But looking across a number of organisations, it can be seen that although some companies’ boards have the “right” mix in terms of backgrounds and skills of the individual directors, some have more of an impact than others.

So, if it is not structure, what is it that makes a good board? Research documented in the Harvard Business Review stresses that the key ingredient is the social element as opposed to the structure per se.

Just as the chemistry in a well-functioning, successful team cannot be quantified, it nonetheless is a key, determining component that is present in effective boards.

There are five key elements that can help a CEO foster the optimum environment in which the board, and each member within it, performs at their best: creating a climate of trust and candour; fostering a culture of open dissent; harnessing the mix of different roles; ensuring individual accountability and performance evaluation.

Climate of trust

Creating a climate of trust and candour is a virtuous cycle whereby board members develop mutual respect, therefore developing trust, and hence enabling the sharing of difficult information. The CEO needs to be transparent and open in information sharing, providing documents with ample time for them to be read and digested. This will enable all members to have the same level of information and so allow for more balanced discussion and a better- informed decision process.

The CEO should also give board members free access to people who can answer their questions, such as creating opportunities to meet key company personnel and inspecting company sites. Encouraging different board members to engage in this kind of activity and spending time together creates more unity and minimises the exposure or risk of factions. Providing free access to information and key personnel also eliminates the need and/or desire of individual members to create “back access” to information leading to them breaking away from the team and creating possible factions.

Open culture

In an environment of trust and mutual respect, healthy debate is encouraged where assumptions are challenged. This ensures issues are thoroughly discussed and each member has the opportunity to voice his viewpoint.

The CEO should not punish or discourage rebels or nonconformists, but instead use the opportunity to learn. It is through these interactions that people’s perspectives are challenged and horizons expanded. The CEO should leverage the knowledge and wisdom of the members of the board. Having a thorough understanding of members’ positions and their justifications opens opportunities to new conclusions and stronger decisions.

Research conducted by Eisenhardt and Bourgeois, found that the highest-performing companies have extremely contentious boards and regard dissent as an obligation, treating no subject as a taboo topic.

Roleplay

CEOs, along with other board members, should encourage members to play a variety of roles thereby giving them a wider perspective of the business. Viewing a scenario from a different perspective and developing alternative scenarios to evaluate strategic decisions not only broadens the number of possibilities and opportunities but also inhibits members developing a rigid point of view. Hence, members should be encouraged to play devil’s advocate, at other times delve into the details of the business and also be given the opportunity to act as the project manager. A case that demonstrates the impact this can have on a business was at Pepsico in 1997 when the board decided to sell the various components of its well-run restaurant group.

CEO Roger Enrico had previously turned around the unit which had been the brainchild of two of Enrico’s predecessors and must have had great pride in the division. Yet, he eventually convinced all that the restaurant unit should be sold and so that it could flourish freely beyond the controls of the parent company. It proved to be a brilliant idea.

Accountability

Ensuring accountability is probably one of the toughest challenges a CEO faces. In a survey conducted by the Yale School of Management and the Gallup Organisation, 25% of CEOs claimed that their board members did not appreciate the complexity of the businesses they oversaw. In recent history we have seen cases of individuals blaming others, proclaiming ignorance, Enron being a case in point.

Directors should take their duties seriously and encourage others to do the same, setting the tone for acceptable behaviour and performance.

Behaviour breeds behaviour and although the CEO and chairman of the board can assign tasks to get individuals fully engaged, peer pressure will play a major influencing factor in further enforcing positive behaviour.

Tasks can take on various formats and could involve collecting external data, meeting with customers, anonymously visiting plants and stores in the field and cultivating links to outside parties critical to the company. The exercise will then require members to impart knowledge and findings to the rest of the board and allows them to become better versed in strategic and operational issues the company faces.

GE’s board members for instance, dine with the company’s largest suppliers and distributors the night before the annual meeting while Home Depot’s board members are expected to visit at least eight stores outside their home state between board meetings.

Evaluate performance

Not giving feedback to a team is self-destructive as there can be no learning without feedback. Findings from a combination of research and surveys show that directors rate their board’s effectiveness significantly more positively at companies where individual members are evaluated. Although, when individuals are in an interdependent group such as on a board, it is better to conduct a formal evaluation on the performance of the overall group rather than its individual members.

One reason for this may be that, as it currently stands, board members are typically replaced for performance reasons only in extreme circumstances (e.g., criminal misconduct, conflict of interest, active disruption, very poor attendance/participation record) – and if they are replaced, they are rarely given an early warning and a chance to improve. In most cases, boards wait for under-performing directors to retire, a more reactive than proactive approach. Since the Board is in effect a high-level team, no matter how good it is, it is bound to get better if  there is an evaluation process in place.

A good first step in director evaluation is to have directors assess only themselves. After two or three years, a peer assessment can be introduced, with directors evaluating one another. A simple pass/fail along several dimensions will ensure that the process is not too time consuming. The evaluations can be handed over to a trusted board advisor, such as outside legal counsel, who summarises the findings and provides individuals with their results. A next step is for the assessments to be turned over to the committee charged with director nominations, so that under-performing directors can be identified and action taken. Overall, this is good way of identifying who is truly adding value to the organisation, as well as making performance expectations clear. In evaluating directors, ask yourself the following questions:

• Do they understand the company’s strategy and business?

• Do they keep up to date with issues and trends affecting the business?

• Are they willing to challenge management when necessary?

• Do they have special expertise that is important to the company?

• Do they have an appropriate level of involvement in CEO succession and assessment?

• Do they attend boardroom meetings and discussions?

• Are they readily available for committee meetings?

• Do they contribute to board and committee agendas?

• Are they well prepared for meetings and discussions?

• Do they actively participate and contribution to the committee and boardroom deliberations?

• Are they available outside meetings to advise management?

• Do they effectively inquire about major performance deficiencies?

Although there are guidelines in how to formulate a board, the attitude a CEO takes towards the board is key in the tone that is going to be set. If a board is to truly fulfill its purpose of monitoring performance, advising the CEO, and providing connections with a broader world, it must become a robust team. Its members need to be actively engaged in seeking the truth and challenge each other to broaden their perspectives and viewpoints. The CEO should work in collaboration with the Board and all its members as opposed to viewing it as an obstacle that needs to be managed. Adopting an approach of transparency, honesty and respect will go a long way to building and nurturing a strong team, and a robust and effective board.

Deborah has profiled many of the world’s top talent, identifying the secrets to their success as both business people and human beings. She has a successful track record in building teams that last and helps transform cultures for people, businesses and communities to thrive.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Succession has been of concern for families for generations, and never has there been a more crucial time to take a closer look at the issues. Despite numerous financial structures on offer, in 90 per cent of cases family wealth is not passed beyond the third generation. This reflects not poor investment decisions, but rather a lack of cohesion and communication between family members, where the family fragments, and with it the wealth.

Many families find themselves in a position to look at how to take their business and their family to the next level, and feel a need to consider succession planning, the next generation and legacy.

The next generation attend the best schools and universities across the world. And yet, they are still not properly prepared to tackle the challenges that face them when they return home. Each phase of life presents its own unique set of challenges. Families need to ensure they are doing their best to equip themselves and the next generation with the skills and knowledge they need to move ahead quickly and sure-footedly in their professional and personal lives. Awareness and specialised education are key.

To demonstrate the pitfalls and considerations family members need to take into account, let’s take a closer look at some of the key stages and situations.

Challenges Facing Young People

Imagine a young person getting ready to embark on higher education, perhaps abroad. We are all aware of the challenges youngsters face through peer pressure and a desire to fit in and make friends. These challenges can be enhanced for someone from the Middle East. Sadly, it is common to hear of individuals bragging about their family’s wealth as a way to gain acceptance in a new environment, or of people making assumptions based on origin. If a young person is not properly grounded and prepared, this can make them easy prey to be taken advantage of by supposed friends.

In such cases, there are two common outcomes. The first is that the young person becomes surrounded by parasites, taking advantage of their wealth. The second is the young person succumbing to peer pressure, taking on behaviours or habits that would not be condoned in a Middle Eastern family environment. Although both examples are factors every family, regardless of origin, needs to be aware of, these two scenarios seem to be greater challenges for families from the region, due to the perception of wealth from the Middle East, along with the differences in culture and traditions between the Middle East and non-Islamic societies.

Who Should Succeed?

Succession does not guarantee success, and being the oldest does not make a person best suited to take over the family business. The Middle East has an additional layer of complexity with the cultural transition that is taking place in the female role in the family and society. Traditionally, families in the region have leaned towards the oldest son being the natural successor. However, history and excellent examples of female leadership have shown that this is not necessarily what is best for the family or the business.

Transition from one generation to the next can be challenging at the best of times, but the speed at which society is changing in the Middle East can add a different dynamic to succession. Alignment between personal values and family values can be perplexing, but adding traditional, cultural and religious values can add a further dynamic, especially in times of cultural and societal change. Ultimately, the person who succeeds should be the best equipped to ensure the long-term sustainability and longevity of the family wealth, to support current and future generations.

Shared Vision

The need to create value to support a growing family is not the sole responsibility of the patriarch, but of every member of the family moving together towards a shared vision. Each member of the family must also take personal responsibility to ensure that they work in the family enterprise only if they add value. Failure to do so jeopardises the wellbeing of not only the family enterprise, but also the whole family system. No two people have the same combination of skills, talents, interests and aptitudes, so each needs to hone their skills to make them fit for whichever role best suits them, if any.

Consider the Olympics: being the son or daughter of a great athlete doesn’t make you a great athlete. You need to have a certain aptitude, talent and interest. You then need to have the resilience, tenacity and passion to develop and sharpen your abilities to be fit, to be skilled and to have the stamina to win. It is hard work being successful. It is imperative for families in the region to bear this in mind, to support them in passing the baton on to the family members who are best equipped to carry forward the legacy, as opposed to the traditional eldest son.

Ensuring Sufficient Value and Growth

How does a family ensure there is sufficient value and growth in the family’s wealth to sustain a growing family? With increased longevity, there are now more family members across generations alive at any given time. In the Middle East, this figure is amplified by cultural traditions, creating larger families than other societies. Some families have around 30 family members across three generations. This increases the pressures families face in terms of having enough wealth to pass on to maintain an equivalent standard of living. In addition, there are greater challenges in inspiring cohesion and shared values among the family members. This makes the danger of wealth dissipation a starker possible reality.

Investments

Certain investments that may seem able to produce sufficient returns may not align with traditional Islamic principles. The fallout from the financial crisis has created a lack of trust and uncertainty in frameworks and asset classes we thought we could rely on before. But this may not necessarily be a bad thing. One could argue that, as leverage is not allowed under Shariah, those who employed financial strategies based on traditional Islamic principles would have weathered the recent storm better than others, and hence fared better at safeguarding the family wealth. In looking at how to grow and secure family wealth, one needs to balance risk and reward appropriately, aligning the strategy with long-term sustainability, as well as with principles.

Value-creating Enterprises

One way to provide sustainability is through value-creating enterprises. This makes sharpened entrepreneurial skills even more essential in the Middle East. But this is where the shifting traditions, mentioned previously, can be a positive influence to the continuity of family wealth in the region. With more Arab women tapping into their entrepreneurial capabilities, the region and its families have greater potential in wealth creation, further safeguarding the family’s legacy and wealth for future generations.

Hence, embracing the changes in society and the shift in traditional views, and supporting the role of women in business, is a way to benefit all parties.

Managing Transition

Transition is never easy, and, for the patriarch, handing over while finding new direction and purpose can be challenging. Over the years patriarchs have gained precious experience and wisdom, and often still want to feel needed and useful. That said, transition also offers an opportunity for patriarchs to harness their wisdom, experience and interests for a new chapter, exploring and undertaking new ways to continue their legacy. But, as with all change, this has its challenges. Entrusting someone with your life’s work is no mean feat. The region has changed so much over the years that this can add an extra layer of difficulty for patriarchs from the Middle East.

Patriarchs have also seen a shift in the values that are being fostered in the next generation and the society we currently find ourselves in. The next generation, coming on board with a fresh pair of eyes, is eager to take on new frontiers. Managing succession requires all parties to understand the two perspectives, and finding balance between them is key. Passing on the legacy is a gradual process that comes over time, but eventually there is a need to let go. Leaving the transition to the last minute is likely to leave the next generation ill-prepared, with a greater chance that the wealth and legacy will be dissipated.

The Process of Succession

Ninety per cent of wealth, globally, does not go beyond the third generation, and the dynamics of families in the Middle East could increase that number even further. The poor statistics demonstrate the intricacies of navigating the phases of a succession process. And there lies the key: it is a process where the better prepared you are, the greater the chance of success. As Kierkegaard said, ‘Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.’ It is all well and good understanding how an enterprise got to be, but, to succeed through the generations, it must be handed over to the appropriate stewards in a timely and responsible manner. This is not merely about setting up structures to ensure that wealth is passed on, but about creating a process to instil the next generation with the skills, tools and aptitude to succeed for generations to come.

Stewardship, education and entrepreneurship are key.

 

Deborah Webster is dedicated to inspiring and engaging people to do meaningful things. She helps shape people’s thinking, enabling them to harness their competitive skills to identify and fulfill their aspirations.

Facing similar challenges to those highlighted in Wealth Transition and would like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

Ideas are great but it's action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you're really creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn't envisaged? Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want -...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Succession has been of concern for families for generations, and never has there been a more crucial time to take a closer look at the issues. Despite numerous financial structures on offer, in 90 per cent of cases family wealth is not passed beyond the third...

MORAL COURAGE AND CORPORATE CULTURE

MORAL COURAGE AND CORPORATE CULTURE

It is not in calm seas that our character and integrity are tested but in times of crisis. It is at these times that mistakes are likely to happen. When people think of ethics and social responsibility in the corporate context, they perceive it as a simple matter of...

USE YOUR RESOURCES TO OPTIMISE YOUR IMPACT

USE YOUR RESOURCES TO OPTIMISE YOUR IMPACT

For the last few years the topic of regulation has played a key role in our economies. From debates about stronger regulation for banks to curb future debacles that led to the financial crisis, to regulations for tech giants and what to do with private data. What I...


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MORAL COURAGE AND CORPORATE CULTURE

It is not in calm seas that our character and integrity are tested but in times of crisis. It is at these times that mistakes are likely to happen.

When people think of ethics and social responsibility in the corporate context, they perceive it as a simple matter of determining what is right and wrong. Since we do not live in a world where decisions are a matter of black or white but more in shades of grey, steering the right course is not always a clear cut decision. With increased diversity of cultures and nationalities in the workplace, the topic of ethics and social responsibility becomes ever more complex, and one that should be treated with attention and focus.

Every company in hiring executives seeks people with integrity and good moral standards, but how do these translate to the corporate culture?

Every organisation has a value system. But is what the company says it stands for and the value system communicated, aligned with desired behaviours, practices and reward systems? There is little point in having formal policies and procedures that prescribe one mode of behaviour, if people are positively rewarded for achievements where an alternative and ‘non-desirable’ behaviour is applauded in terms of raises, bonuses and promotions.

Sharing the value system of an organisation enables the individuals within it to look within themselves and align their values and subsequent behaviour with that of the organisation, making them stronger people and better corporate citizens. Making this a topic of continual attention in an organisation has a resultant impact on the level of openness, integrity and trust amongst colleagues. Research has shown that in organisations with such systems, people within the organisation are motivated to not only be stronger representatives but better enabled to handle turbulent times such as change or crisis management. Continual attention to ethics in the work place sensitises leaders and staff to how they want to act consistently. And this comes from the top – leaders who lead by example will set the tone for the whole organisation to follow.

Ethics programmes have also been shown to support employee growth and development. A study cited in the Wall Street Journal found a direct correlation between the level of emotional health of an executive and the results of a battery of tests on ethics.

Having ethics as part of the organisation’s agenda better prepares employees to face reality with the resultant effect that they feel more confident and ready to deal with whatever comes their way.

Another benefit is the impact ethics can have on a company’s public image if people perceive those organisations as valuing the manner in which business is conducted more than profit. Recent years have seen greater attention to this factor, with more companies reporting on their social responsibility and analysts making it part of their agenda in their valuation of company stock.

In the meantime, we need to ask ourselves how are we contributing to the sustainability and longevity of the local economy? How are we ensuring that our actions have a positive contribution for the next generation and beyond?

Deborah is an advocate for business as a force for good, building businesses that add value – financial and societal.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Succession has been of concern for families for generations, and never has there been a more crucial time to take a closer look at the issues. Despite numerous financial structures on offer, in 90 per cent of cases family wealth is not passed beyond the third...


Thank you for signing up!

USE YOUR RESOURCES TO OPTIMISE YOUR IMPACT

For the last few years the topic of regulation has played a key role in our economies. From debates about stronger regulation for banks to curb future debacles that led to the financial crisis, to regulations for tech giants and what to do with private data.

What I find particularly intriguing is that private enterprise bucks what they see as interference from governments in favour of free enterprise. But have these same private companies shown the level of maturity that can allow them to proceed freely? Do they have the ability to curb their voracious appetite for profit to do what is right? Have the politicians for that matter?

We seem to live in an age in which we operate through justifications or blame. ‘Others are doing it’, ‘there isn’t a law that covers it’, ‘that’s what the markets want’. Does anyone have the moral fibre and backbone to buck the trend and consider the long-term implications of our current actions? What happened to our internal compass or have we, in this age of globalisation, subcontracted our ability to think, reason and decide to some unknown entity?

This is somewhat akin to frogs – if you put them in hot water, they will jump out but if you put the frogs in cold water and slowly heat up the water, before they realised it, they are cooked!

Whilst these debates go on, users and customers around the world continue their every day habits and transactions with little thought or consideration of the consequences of their actions – somehow trusting the kinks will be worked out – always of course by somebody else.

The younger generation needs to realise the level of influence they have.

  • You have access to resources generations before you didn’t.
  • You have a laptop / computer / mobile.
  • You have access to hoards on information through the internet.
  • You have these incredible platforms of social media.
  • You had the privilege of being educated and know how to read!

Use your resources wisely and instead of being addicted to endless hours of brainless surfing, or the inevitable, click-like-share (other than this article of course 😉 ) get curious as to what is going on around you. Let your voice be heard. To reiterate the words of Steve Jobs, a key architect who helped make our current reality a possibility, “the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Make sure you are changing it for the better…the foundation for your future is being cast today.

 

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

FIND YOUR HARMONY – UNLOCK YOUR POTENTIAL

finding your inner harmony

Imagine a violin – its beautiful lines, the warmth of its colour, the depth of its lacquer, the tactile feel of the wood. Such a work of craftsmanship, and yet, the beauty of the violin is wasted if hidden, nestling in its velvet lined case. Its true beauty comes when it is picked up, brought in to the light, balanced in hand, tuned and the bow kisses the strings creating pure harmonies. An exquisite amplification and showcase of the player’s unique skill and technique.

This is a simple allegory for human potential, looking at our talents that, like the violin, are hidden until we pick them up and employ them. Talents need to be tuned, artfully brought out and harmonised for the myriad of possible repertoires and circumstances.

The other beautiful analogy of the violin, or any other musical instrument, is it can play many tunes, many harmonies, in solo, as a duet or leading an orchestra, both syncing and syncopating the melody and harmony to the others. The same is true of us, applying our talents to personal goals, relationships, team environments and wider organisational missions, listening to the music and tuning in.

Some pieces of music are better suited to some instruments than others – and that’s ok. You don’t see a violinist or flautist upset because a part of the composition doesn’t include their instrument at that moment. Musicians understand and love the beauty and harmony of the piece, and are happy to play their role in weaving it together. They trust the conductor, each other and themselves to do the piece justice, to woo the audience and transcend them to another place, filling them with the emotions the composer intended.

Now consider an organisation, built on great values, with a shared mission and goals. Each team member needs to play in harmony for the organisation to achieve. An environment where each person is knowing, confident and passionate about their particular talents and how they mesh with others to create beauty and harmony. Unusual words in an organisational framework, and yet, it is music to our ears when we hear positive feedback on our work, when we satisfy our customers, when we have content employees, when our shareholders are happy.

So be like the great conductors and get your orchestra to play in harmony. Lead the way in doing things differently.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE

Within every person lie moments of significance, experiences that shape us, change our perspective, carve our character and drive us to a deeper part of ourselves.

A few years ago I had one of those moments. It took the form of a terrible shock – the sudden death of someone I loved deeply, his last breath in front of my very eyes. I would be lying if I said, as I reflect on that moment, that my heart doesn’t hurt, that my own breath doesn’t stop for a moment. But just as I choose to ride rollercoasters, with the gut wrenching squeals that come with them, if I’m honest, I choose to reflect on that moment. Not to experience its sadness, but rather to encapsulate a sense of purpose, of urgency, of peace, of joy, of life itself.

The fact of the matter is a) I can’t change what happened b) it could happen to anyone of us at any moment c) our own time on this planet, whether we choose to admit it or not, is finite.

So I find it focuses my mind to what really matters in life, knowing all too well that this could be my last moment. As strange as it may sound, I choose to see it as a gift.

I have held back from sharing this openly with people, in a way fearing putting myself so much on the line, fear of being judged, fear of being labeled as morose. But those who know me can attest that I have a love of life and a love of humanity. And it is because of that love that I am doing this, because maybe the lessons I learned through my experience could in some way make a small difference to someone, and that in a strange way will make the experience worthwhile.

No Unsaids

If you love someone, tell them. If you need something, ask. If you’re stuck, own up. Don’t be afraid to share your dreams, your wishes, your aspirations. Don’t worry about airing your fears, they don’t seem so bad when they’re brought out from the dark recesses of our minds. Be fearless in challenging perspectives (especially yours). Be honest. Be truthful. Be honourable.

Connect deeply

Put down your phone, your iPad, your laptop. Ignore your emails, messages and put your phone on silent or off. Get the person you care about most in the world and look into their eyes, hold them, feel their breath, take time to listen – to the words and the silence in between, the magical doorways that lead you to their essence.

Be present

If you’re at dinner, be at dinner. If you’re having a conversation, be in the conversation. If you’re sharing a moment with someone (even yourself) be in that moment. Absorb everything every moment offers you. Just as you would savour every morsel of a gourmet meal, so it should be with moments.

Have the courage to love deeply

The only thing that hurts more than loving someone is not having the courage to love at all. Love with all your heart, with abandon, with fullness, with gusto, with no holds barred.

You can’t have a rainbow without some rain

Don’t be afraid of shedding a tear and definitely don’t bottle it up. See tears as a way to transform what may seem as a sad or painful experience. With light shed on it and the right perspective even that moment can bring beauty and joy into your life.

Gratitude

Be thankful for every moment – to have an extraordinary life one must take pleasure in what may seem extra-ordinary.

Tend to what matters

It is easy to get distracted, to listen to the drum of others. Take some time to figure out what truly matters to you and make sure your daily actions reflect that.

Just do it!

Don’t wait till tomorrow, till next week, till you have more time, till you have more money, till whatever excuse or reason blocks your way – today, right now, this moment. Tick tock, tick tock. You have but one life – live it!

 


 

Headhunter turned talent spotter, Deborah is vested in the impact business has in both economic and social terms across various strata of society. She is the Creator of AMANI™ and a catalyst for business being a force for good, 

 

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

WITH LOVE FROM THE BOARDROOM

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would to someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want to...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

AMBITION – ATTITUDE – ACTION

Ideas are great but it's action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you're really creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn't envisaged? Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want -...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...


Thank you for signing up!

WILL YOU CHOOSE TO MATTER?

There is a great talk and initiative by Angela Maiers entitled “You Matter”, and how these two words could positively impact our lives.

It really puts into perspective and simplicity the manner in which we conduct ourselves in our daily interactions, with great relevance for the corporate world and our business dealings.

Consider Customer Care for a moment. How many times do you interact with representatives who simply do not seem to care, let alone make you feel that you matter.

Or of trying to have a conversation with someone who is affixed to their computer or mobile, or looking elsewhere.

Or simply not being acknowledged.

Do these make you feel that you matter?

For if we are making people feel they don’t matter, we make them feel insignificant. And since what goes around, comes around, the deeper question is, do you feel you matter?

For me, these two words “You Matter” have brought to the forefront of my mind a simple code of conduct – going through each day, being present, truly engaging with and caring about people we come into contact with, even people we come across in the street – a simple smile, offering a helping hand, being kind. Isn’t this what being human is ultimately about? I cannot fathom why many people stop being human as soon as they walk into an office building and hide behind “but this is business”.

We have a tendency as humans to complicate simplicity, coming up with words that become so overused they become jargon and meaningless: employer of choice, corporate social responsibility, ethics – all very noble in their own right and when done with the spirit the words themselves intended. And yet ‘You Matter’ for me personifies many of these. If every interaction we have, every decision we make, are centred around these two words, how different would our days be, the people around us, our families, our businesses, our communities. How different would we be? How different would you be if you felt you mattered?

I believe everyone has a purpose and yes, each and every one of us matters. I believe now is a good time to let go of our past, our titles and our pride, and be someone who matters by making someone feel they matter. Will you choose to matter?


Headhunter turned talent spotter, Deborah creates the connect between people of character and companies with principles. The Founder of AMANI™, she is an advocate for business being a force for good, vested in the impact business has in both economic and social terms across various strata of society.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

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SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Succession has been of concern for families for generations, and never has there been a more crucial time to take a closer look at the issues. Despite numerous financial structures on offer, in 90 per cent of cases family wealth is not passed beyond the third...


Thank you for signing up!

IN SEARCH OF WEALTH

I recall being at dinner with the Chinese Ambassador in Malta some years ago. My boss and mentor had invited me, so as they were in the throws of a discussion about power and money, I sat listening.

The conversation was leading down a path where there was no delineation between power and money. That money gives you power and being in a position of power brings you money.  I still recall the unease within me – the restlessness that comes with knowing there is another truth.

Not being able to hold my tongue any longer, I posed a question “Did Mother Teresa have power?”

They looked at me stunned, and then smiling, the Chinese Ambassador nodded at my boss.

I don’t know about you but discussions of this nature have always intrigued me, and how we all too simply assume that one brings the other. Of course, this is very much the truth in some cases, as can be seen amongst some of the regimes and heads of state that exist around the world. But it is not the whole truth.

A similar debate ensued with a group of Russians, some of which were sons and daughters of oligarchs. This time the discussion was around the difference between being rich and being wealthy. If a person is rich, are they necessarily wealthy? If you have lots of money but are not happy, are you wealthy? If you don’t feel free to do or be what and who you are, would you feel wealthy?

In my opinion, wealth goes deeper than the number of digits behind a dollar sign and is more closely linked with the quality and richness of life. By this I do not mean just about how we create a quality of life for ourselves by buying things. Rather how our character, way of being and manner of doing things impact the quality of our experiences internally and externally. In a way, wealth is more closely linked to legacy, purpose and our role as members of the human race – humanity.

Nelson Mandela had once said, “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being; humility, purity, generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve your fellow men – qualities within the reach of every human soul.”

In doing your own search for what is important to you, here are some things for you to think about and consider:

  • If you were to find out a product you buy was produced in a way that conflicts with what you deem to be moral, fair and ethical, would you still buy it?
  • Do you care enough to ask the extra question and find out?
  • Do you consider and understand the ripple effects of your decisions and the impact they have?
  • Do you have the courage to speak your truth and not follow the status quo?
  • Do the means justify the ends, and how do you balance these?
  • Where do you draw the line about what and who you care about and what you are willing to do about it
  • In the final count, is wealth perhaps about our ability to enrich the lives of others?

 


 

Deborah has the ability to sense the underlying potential of people and their ideas. Previously a successful headhunter, she is a catalyst for business as a force for good, and works with founders, entrepreneurs, successors and innovators in building businesses with purpose and profit.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

inSight - Salty not Sweet

1 + 7 =

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

SALTY NOT SWEET – THE POWER OF WOMEN

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment, when people hear I love working in the Middle East. This for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR ETHICS

In order for a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel and oftentimes they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience...

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

ENABLING THE NEXT GENERATION TO THRIVE

I love studying, working with and sharing stories about the next generation for it is a subject that encompasses defining wealth, the impact of our actions and indeed our purpose. In a nutshell it incorporates the purpose of our wealth…the purpose of our lives…and how...

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

WEALTH TRANSITION IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Succession has been of concern for families for generations, and never has there been a more crucial time to take a closer look at the issues. Despite numerous financial structures on offer, in 90 per cent of cases family wealth is not passed beyond the third...

IN SEARCH OF WEALTH

IN SEARCH OF WEALTH

I recall being at dinner with the Chinese Ambassador in Malta some years ago. My boss and mentor had invited me, so as they were in the throws of a discussion about power and money, I sat listening. The conversation was leading down a path where there was no...


Thank you for signing up!

YOUR EXPERIENCES MATTER

We often admire the big names, the personalities, the people in positions of influence. But in so doing, we sometimes forget our own significance.

I am currently in Malta. My mother’s native country. A place I have had a varied relationship with throughout my life, and a place I have come to love and appreciate deeply. Last night, I went to the church my mother used to take us to as children. I had gone to say hello to a dear old neighbour of ours – she always had gentle wisdom to impart, oftentimes in the form of a smile. The choir was in the middle of practice and as I sat there I was greatly moved, not only by their voices and the amount of effort and practice they put into the songs, but by the passage of time. This was the church with so many events: first holy communion; confirmation; the baptism of my cousins; the funeral of my mother and countless confessions. In those moments I was overwhelmed with and grateful for the journey of life.

As I observed the ladies in the choir I was reminded of another facet. These were the ladies whose doors my brother and I used to knock on as children doing ‘bob-a-jobs’, little errands to raise money for the scouts and other countless initiatives we got involved in at school. These were the girls who were with us in our religious classes. It reminded me and brought home that regardless of our background or our upbringing, we are all doing the best we can with what we have and see in front of us. No-one is better or worse than anyone else. We have nothing to prove. Only to be and do the best with what has been bestowed upon us. I wonder if all those people realised what an imprint they had on our lives as a family, me as a person and the role they played in nurturing our spirit.

My mother was an extraordinary woman, with strong values and the courage to live by them. As I get older, I understand with greater depth the lessons she used to impart, and with every passing moment I smile, realising that there is very little she did that wasn’t a lesson.

One particular summer when we were living in Saudi Arabia, I asked my mum to teach me how to knit. An odd thing to do in summer in the blazing heat, granted, especially in my friends’ eyes, but I wanted to know how to knit. So my mum, with all her patience, started to teach me the craft of knitting. I was making a sweater, black, with two cables on either side. From time to time, my mum would take over, reviewing the work I had been doing.

“Deb” she used to say, “be mindful, you keep dropping a stitch. Make sure you have all the stitches.”

So at the end of each row, I would go back and count all the stitches, ensuring I had not dropped anything along the way.

There I was thinking I was learning how to knit, which of course I was. But I learned something else too. I first needed to decide what I wanted to knit – the shape, the size, the colour, the thickness and so on. I had to choose the type of yarn and quantity that would enable me to create what I wanted. And I had to have the skill and tenacity to follow through. I also had to overcome the cajoling from my well-meaning and fun-loving friends :-).

These traits are no different from the traits we need to establish in the lives we want to create for ourselves. In our rush through lives and our focus on a particular outcome, we sometimes forget elements that are important to us – our loved ones, our friends, our health. We even forget experiences that shaped us, that developed our strength, our character. We can forget certain skills or gifts that we have. We can even forget what matters.

So in planning your life, your career, your education, or whatever it is that is important to you remember these steps, and please, above all, don’t drop a stitch.

VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

We have all seen a myriad of company websites touting a list of values they stand for:

  • Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence;
  • Integrity and honesty in everything we do;
  • High performance and great behaviours driving exceptional rewards;
  • Respect, trust and integrity; the list goes on.

And yet, it is no good saying what you stand for if the actions of the people and the company operations are not in alignment with what the values presumably set the bar to be.  Values are not mere marketing, nice to have fuzzy words, but rather guiding principles that are supposed to be the bedrock and governance practice of every individual within the organisation. The values listed above are those of notable organisations.  Companies that until the recent past were held in high regard until they were linked or associated with fraud, corruption and the manipulation of the truth.  One would hope that by now, we would be wiser, smarter and behave more responsibly.  But alas, this is not the case.

Countless people are talking about values but how many people in any organisation are aware of what values the company supposedly stands for?  And if they don’t know what they are, how can they be behaving in alignment with those values?  Do we brandish certain values to the outside world, whilst we create compensation and rewards structures that promote behaviours that are contradictory? Values are not drawn up by a single individual or, more worryingly, by a marketing company who then presents some nice fluffy document or prospectus.  Values are determined by the people building and driving the organisation – by individuals who are committed to a vision and have the courage to develop a set of principles they are committed to living by in order to meet that vision.  Everyone in the organisation is responsible for acting in alignment with the values.  But let’s take a closer look… The following is an extract of some values of a financial services organisation.  This is for example purposes only and is not meant to single them out per se, but rather to show the potential complexity in adhering to values and knowing what truly will be ‘rewarded’.

  • Our clients’ interests always come first.
  • Our goal is to provide superior returns to our shareholders (…significant employee stock ownership aligns the interests of our employees and our shareholders.)
  • We stress creativity and imagination in everything we do. (…We pride ourselves on having pioneered many of the practices and techniques that have become standard in the industry.)
  • Integrity and honesty are at the heart of our business.

One could argue that it is these same values that drove this organisation and its people to develop and market complex financial instruments that were a factor in the lead up to the financial crisis, with the exception of course of the last principle – integrity and honesty.  But when a reward system is based on short-term gains and organisations are under pressure to post quarterly results, people choose to hear what they want to hear, making them feel that they are acting honestly. Back in 1990, in an article by Amar Bhide and Howard H. Stevenson entitled Why Be Honest If Honesty Doesn’t Pay, published in the Harvard Business Review, they had highlighted that unfortunately, treachery can pay, and that without values, without a basic preference for right over wrong, trust based on such self-delusion would crumble in the face of temptation.

The recent events have proven this.  Suffice to say, no one person is exempt from knowing, honouring and living the values, regardless of rank, position or title.  People in an organisation and serving an organisation have a fiduciary responsibility to balance results against the backdrop of ethics and purpose.  The real challenge is for each and every one of us to have the courage to do what is right, to think, speak and act with the highest intention, and to have the courage to say no, to break away from the crowd and not be lulled by what the proverbial Joneses are doing.  Failure to do so will inadvertently lead to a more disturbing economic climate than we are experiencing currently. So how is this done?  The key word here is alignment.  Imagine a compass setting for a moment.  If the heading is North, everyone first needs to know the heading is North.  We then need to determine what behaviours are in alignment with the North heading.  And then they need to be tested, creating scenarios that will test their applicability – the what if scenarios.  Just as any sailor knows, the seas change, the winds shift direction, but the heading is there and the skills and tenacity to navigate the course are what determine the true leaders.

 

Deborah has profiled many of the world’s top talent, identifying the secrets to their success as both business people and human beings. She has a successful track record in building teams that last and helps transform cultures for people, businesses and communities to thrive.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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THE DISCONNECT BETWEEN PEOPLE AND COMPANIES

If you speak to a young person about their job search, many will say they have applied to a number of companies through their online web portal but have never heard anything. And those that get rejected are disheartened because they never got to speak to a human being. They don’t know why they got a ‘no’ so they can’t even learn along the way. I think most of us hate to see anyone lose their confidence and enthusiasm in their search for a meaningful role, let alone those just embarking on their professional lives. What should businesses that care do to prevent this?

Purpose, Vision and Values

Many companies have their purpose, vision and/or values listed on their site, but are they compelling? Is it a purpose and mission that truly reflects what the company aspires to and not just spin? Purpose, vision and values are important, but more critical is the true culture of the organisation.

Given that cultural fit is a key component in determining the suitability and longevity of a person within an organisation, it would be beneficial both for the company and the applicant to have a good understanding of the character traits they look for in determining cultural fit. These should be clearly communicated on the website and you should even give tips to young people as to how these could be demonstrated. You could have candid biographies of your current star talent at different levels of the organisation, podcasts, even call ins for applicants who want to ask questions. Fostering a human touch will improve not only the caliber and breadth of applicants but also your standing as an organisation in the community.

More than a CV

Do you think a CV is a true reflection of who you are and your capabilities? Some exaggerate their capabilities whilst others play them down, but for some reason we still use this piece of paper as a major screening tool. How does a CV highlight an individual’s attitude, personality and character? Whilst aptitude, capabilities and skills are important, there have been countless studies showing that it is much easier to teach a skill than it is to transform an attitude.

We need to encourage applicants to show more of who they are – as human beings. It is often personal experiences that demonstrate resilience, character and determination – the golden nuggets for employers. Companies need to create the environment where people feel safe to be themselves.

Get the Business Lines Involved

If we were looking for widgets to fit into a machine, I would understand the current systems. But if today’s applicants don’t become our employees, they are tomorrow’s potential clients, investors and partners. Anything we do to help foster goodwill is a good investment, for today and the future. Let’s all take it upon ourselves to do our little bit in helping guide the next generation and not leave it to a web portal or HR. If nothing else, update your LinkedIn profile saying you are willing to take a call or an email. This in turn will say a lot about your character and who knows what doors could open for you in return?

Deborah is an advocate for business as a force for good, building companies that create value, in both financial and social terms.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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STARTING OUT – TIPS FOR FRESH GRADS

Any youngster facing the myriad of career choices and plethora of advice may be forgiven for being overwhelmed at how to go about finding a job. Whilst there are emerging trends that the younger generation don’t want just any job (wanting to make a difference, to work for a company that has strong values, that does business with ethics, a job where they feel they matter being amongst some of the wishes) every youngster (and person for that matter) is different. What is consistent however is that every individual will thrive in a different environment.

Finishing university or school is just the beginning of our learning experience. Our work is a great way to expose us to new environments and new challenges that enable us to become the best version of ourselves, with great skills and a great character.

But in order for this to happen, we need to find the environment that is most conducive. So if you are young and looking for work, how should you go about it?

Know yourself

You have only just graduated so you may think you haven’t got much to say on a CV or a job application. But having spent around 24 years on this planet, there are experiences you have had, observations you have made, things you have learned, views you have started to form. Write them down. Reflect upon them. Figure out what makes you tick, what doesn’t. Discern your likes and dislikes. Find your highs and your lows. What you are proud of, where you could have done better. Identify experiences and lesson you would still like to have. Find your story.

Get curious!

Youngsters in this generation are so lucky – you have access to mounds of information on various industries, sectors and even the businesses themselves. Instead of spending time on Facebook pressing like and share, you might be better off doing some research to see what appeals to you. Make a list of companies that interest you. See what appeals and what doesn’t. Look up the people who work their. Does anything / anyone resonate?

Be brave (and vulnerable)

Reach out to the companies and people you have identified to learn more. It may seem daunting picking up the phone or sending a mail to a complete stranger but the world we live in is intimately connected. Jump on LinkedIn and track them down. See if you know someone who knows them. Create and leverage your network. Once you get hold of them, ask them about what they do. What they love about it, what they don’t. What types of people they look for? Do you fit? Don’t hold back from telling people your aspirations. Even be brave enough to tell them you don’t know and you’re exploring. You will see that people are pretty kind and are willing to lend a helping hand because you know what, we’ve been there, we know what it’s like and we want to help and encourage you to find the right path. And we will appreciate your honesty.

Listen

A mentor once told me, “You have two ears and one mouth use them in that proportion (and engage the grey matter in between)”. Ask smart questions and listen intently. Listen to what is said and what is not said – sometimes more is shared in the spaces in between. And also listen to yourself – some call it their gut, others their intuition, this will help you figure out if something is right for you or not – the package may be tempting, but are these people you want to spend your time with?

Do It!

Don’t be surprised if you are offered an opportunity along the way. Don’t overthink it. At some point you must take a decision, and once you do, do it wholeheartedly. Just make sure you can learn from your boss and s/he or someone else in the organisation will take you under their wing.

Deborah has profiled many of the world’s top talent, identifying the secrets to their success as both business people and human beings. She has a successful track record in building teams that last and helps transform cultures for people, businesses and communities to thrive.

Did this resonate and you’d like to know more? Please get in touch for your confidential one-to-one.

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Thank you for signing up!