Category Archives: Advisors
I enjoy freaking out my friends by telling them I like Peta Credlin, formerly Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff. Genuinely, I think she was a woman treated unfairly, that she was smart, tough and capable. Her politics, sure, were an issue.
Now she’s spoken about gender, I’m reviewing my views.
Peta is quoted as this week saying “If I was a guy I wouldn’t be bossy, I would be strong. If I was a guy I wouldn’t be a micromanager I would be across my brief.”
Superficially, she’s right – these are the disempowering labels used by people, mostly men, when they’re not coping with strong and knowledgeable women.
But her feminist* analysis of commentary of her role mischaracterises those criticisms.
Those who called her bossy didn’t mean it. They were being polite and euphemistic – they meant she was a bully, and those who bully should be called bullies, though they might claim they’re just forceful or strong or misunderstood.
Those who called her a micromanager were speaking politely, too, and colloquially, and meant much more. They, too, were being euphemistic – they meant she was megalomaniacal and a control freak, and those who are megalomaniacal or control freaks should be called on it, and mustn’t be allowed to get away with it.
I’ve never met Peta, so can’t attest to the accuracy of what’s been said of her, but I know her critics meant so much more than merely “bossy” and “micromanager”, and I know it’s possible for such criticisms, levelled at a powerful woman by the most sexist men, nonetheless to be accurate or indeed understated**.
I also know this: almost no leader who’s told they are bossy, or a micro-manager, or a bully, or a control freak, will accept it; those who operate like that almost never see it, and describe their behavior differently.
She also said “You will want to have women like me in politics, you will want to have women like me sitting in seats of authority”.
We don’t, if her critics are anywhere close to the mark.
Those in authority who are bullies, or with such megalomaniacal tendencies as control-freakiness, are terrible, and their successes are always temporary and tainted and ultimately discrediting – these behaviours should entirely rule out of leadership roles their practitioners.
We need fewer people at the top of politics or business, with these traits – not more.
She also said, which is unassailable truth:
“… you want women in places where they can make a difference, because half the policy in this country is for us, but only about a tenth of it is by us.
“And if we do not stand up and put women in the epicentre of decision-making, whether it’s boardrooms, government boards, politics, cabinet rooms, wherever, if you don’t have women there, we will not exist.”
As Annabel Crabb says: “… a powerful, cogent, controversial woman who has worked like a bastard for many years to get to the top of an inhospitable system, a flawed and complicated woman …”.
* Some of my friends insist her comments/analysis aren’t feminist.
** And some of those who have said she operates like this are women, not solely sexist men. No-one can easily claim they completely lack bias, in this instance, though.
Joseph Kony persuaded his kidnapped child-soldiers that a cross on their chest, drawn in oil, would protect them from bullets.
I’ve recently attended training sessions where trainers have taught young political activists to strategise using systems that are terribly incomplete and inadequate. Elsewhere, I’ve seen business advisor gurus press under-researched, cookie-cutter and cliché ‘strategies’, onto companies that are struggling to keep going.
With resources always short, social change organisations and businesses of every kind, need to properly plan their way ahead, or they are in trouble.
How do we avoid adopting strategies that aren’t much more than a badly-drawn oily cross?
A few thoughts for testing what’s on offer:
- The strategy must be consistent with your organisation’s future culture and values, and brand;
- The process of developing the strategy must be transparent, rigorous, demonstrably logical, and backed by diligent research;
- The objective at which the strategy is directed must be possible: difficult maybe, but possible;
- The major elements of the strategy must be both necessary and sufficient, to deliver on that objective: there can be no leaps of faith;
- The detail of the strategy must reflect all of the most difficult obstacles, and strongest opportunities, that you have identified as laying between where you are and your objective; and
- Assessments of what’s possible, and what’s necessary and sufficient, must be objective, and reflect the whole of the environment in which you operate – particularly the personal and organisational negatives that so many advisors and strategists are reluctant or unable to articulate.
Is there more? Are there better tests?