Posts Tagged ‘reputation’

Power Abusing Power

Friday, October 26th, 2018

Am I alone in thinking that when a senior politician seeks to exert their “parliamentary privilege”, it says more about exerting their ego than their principles? This week we have another high-profile legal process (Sir Philip Green) usurped by a British politician (Lord Hain). In the court of public opinion fanned by the media, the defendant is guilty until proven right. Why? Bad news, whether factual or not, sells papers. Irrespective of the legal resolution, his reputation is trashed. That cannot be fair and the foundation of a healthy democracy.  

Just An Illusion

Thursday, March 24th, 2016









Is this a shot from your evening last night, soon to be posted on your instaGLAM account? Today a great many executives, managers, investors and board members are busy trying to be someone that they are not. Fact. They are instantly recognisable by the disparity between the image that they project and what others see.

At a small intimate event last night in London with David Nish, the past CEO of Standard Life and this week appointed as a Non-Executive Director at  HSBC, we discussed the dynamics and consequences of this behaviour.

The dynamics and behaviour are largely the same in businesses of every size. Individuals are prone to projecting views without hard evidence or strong anecdotal information (shout loudest). They are poor listeners (routinely ignore vital feedback). They lack sufficient self-worth in their own talent and judgement (resort to bolstering their credentials with references to famous names). They have a poor level of self-esteem (they are dismissive of others success). They are prone to passive aggressive behaviour to project superiority (constant one-upmanship). They are prone to excessive exaggeration or downright lies about their own success (false claims in bios, CV’s/Resumes). We’ve all met them at various points in our career.

The consequences differ based on the size, priorities and complexity of the organisation. Here are some observations from my own experiences:

An inability to effect a management buyout of a small or family business, where the Founder’s behaviour results in management never acquiring the skills, traits or expertise to run the business in his or her absence.

A loss of respect for a private investor’s judgement amongst their peers and future co-investment opportunities when they make wild, unfounded claims to be invested in the “next unicorn“. Ridiculous, of course but sadly all too often true.

Raging management distrust in the Board when a non-executive director relays unsubstantiated “insider” claims from a key client, institutional investor or employees about the manager’s negative performance without hard evidence or strong anecdotal information.

A destruction of goodwill amongst analysts and the media when the newly appointed CEO of an investment bank, self-invested with “superman” powers, promises near instant changes to the business model that his predecessors have taken decades to create.

The world is littered with people trying to be someone that they are not. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter couldn’t survive if that human need dissipated. We all have a reputation that precedes us in the hyper-connected world we live in. Reinvention, acquiring new skills and educating others is something that we must constantly commit to but without absolute credibility (tangible results and visible behaviour), it is just an illusion.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

It Is Who You SHOULD Know That Is Important

Monday, October 13th, 2014

If you were asked to name the three most impressive people you know today, would they have been the same individuals you would have listed last year and probably the same three next year?  What is their key attribute (content knowledge, expertise, experience, interpersonal skills, special skills, contacts etc)?

I was reminded of this question in a discussion with friends about an individual, who has risen to the top echelon of a large global bank. When we tried to pinpoint the “cause” of his success, it was harder to point to one skill or event that dramatically changed his fortunes. Indeed, we concluded that his expertise lay in playing the political game. He continually knew or developed relationships with the “right” people.

My point here is that we make judgments about others that often don’t warrant the accolades we bestow upon themselves. Equally, we make judgments about our own lives that often belie or ignore our own success and the increasing or decreasing interest to others.  This is important because understanding who we are and how we might adapt our “past” (experience, expertise, accomplishments) to transform our employer or the clients of our employer’s “future” (stronger brand, increased sales, improved image) is essential to understanding and articulating our own self-worth. Almost everyone in the corporate arena in mid and large sized organisations has a need to reinvent or recast their worth as their firm’s strategy evolves. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests over 70% of people are so immersed in their own day to day work activities that they don’t reflect on their increasing/decreasing value to others, largely ignore who ideally has a need for that value and how to attract those individuals to them. The consequence is that they hit “unforeseen surprises” during their career (overlooked internally, for a promotion or an interesting work assignment, externally, a client give  or worse, let go from the firm). Yet many of these instances are entirely predictable.

How do you avoid these troubled waters? Give thought to the following:

1.  What are the three most impressive accomplishments, experiences, skills developed or victories and setbacks I have learned from in the past year?

2. Who has the highest need for individuals with those qualities (internally and externally)?

3. Where are they located?

4. What do they read, listen to, watch?

5. Where do they hang out (social gatherings, events, conferences and so on)?

6. How can you meet those people and when you are in their presence, how do you make an effective and enduring connection?

Forget the corporate appraisal process. Think about your answers to these questions and set yourself the task of identifying, building and exploiting these connections. Schedule time in your weekly and monthly calendars. If your three most impressive people you know are the same as last year, and the year before that you might very well find that you have ceased to become an increasing object of interest to the people you should know in your organisation and elsewhere. Don’t allow others to decide your future, do something about it yourself.

©   James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.


The Real Repercussions of CEO Indiscretions

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Why do the revelations of a CEO’s affair with one of his subordinates tell us more about his lack of respect and good judgement than the titillating events themselves? If the CEO is hired to profitably grow the business, then his first priority is to increase the probabilities that his key constituents (customers, shareholders, employees and others) will see their best interests served by his actions and his beliefs. I have assumed a “he” here because the overriding number of transgressions are from male CEO’s.

Some will argue that in this decade, the personal and professional lives of CEO’s are “separate”. Does that point of view have merit particularly where the CEO’s actions directly impact one or more key constituents?

The CEO position in mid to large-sized organisations has over the past 40 years become a powerful brand in its’ own right. That brand is built  on trust, fairness and equity.

  1. “Trust” in the form of putting the organisation’s  interests ahead of their own (corporate vs. personal risk and rewards).
  2. “Fairness” in the form of showing respect to their peers, subordinates, customers, shareholders and others they serve (leadership decisions consistent with the organisation’s core values and beliefs).
  3. “Equity” in the form of displaying good judgement commensurate with others and the position they are entrusted with (reward, recognition, ownership and so on).

When association with the CEO’s indiscretions has a negative impact on the organisation’s brand, all individuals concerned must be held accountable by the Board. When the Board elect to turn a blind eye, they are in fact diluting by proxy their own power and influence, not just the CEO’s, and their ability to positively impact the organisation’s future (results). That outcome is NEVER positive for any of the key constituents.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.