Business as usual or time for a change? Thinking Tank 27.08.2009

Overall the group are aware of the need for a change in style in this Thinking Tank carried out in partnership with Aspire Coaching. The time for rigid leadership styles is over, in our fast changing world, flexibility is key.

  • Someone like Obama is changing what being a leader means

80% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSFORMATIONAL (traditionally female) attributes.
Communicating is the most frequently mentioned behaviour for a leader today while the need for emotional intelligence and empathy are also well recognised. Teamwork is an important aspect of this approach.

  • The key attributes are good communications, clarity of vision and purpose, high emotional intelligence, openness

The group see a growing need for honesty and openness in the way senior management deal with their teams… as well as a demand for a more ethical and sustainable approach to business decisions

The remaining 20% of comments about leadership style are about TRANSACTIONAL (traditionally male) attributes.
Despite the emphasis on transformational attributes there were also several comments about the need to be tough as a leader.

  • Leadership is a tougher job in an uncertain climate and it takes more than a sympathetic ear for staff concerns!

Some comments are about leadership in general – neither transformational nor transactional
Clarity and focus are important for any type of leader and inspiring visionary leaders are valued. Customers are mentioned in the context of the need to understand their needs in order for the business to survive

Lastly, the process of business leaders in a peer group discussion was seen as useful by many participants and there was a desire for ongoing on-line connections

  • We need some radical changes. Business and people need to be led by STRONG leaders with clear vision and the will to tackle the issues

The wordcloud for the whole debate looks like this (the bigger the word, the more it was used / supported). See full report here.results leadership 0908

Do we have to suffer to be beautiful? Health debate 07.07.09

The conversation was dominated by concerns about body weight—plastic surgery, tattoos, piercing were barely mentioned. There was a spirited defence of heavier bodies by some  and almost universal disapproval of extreme thinness and its promotion.

The beauty industry has more effect on our body image than partner, family and friends, but 40% still feel their own point of view is the most important (all statements quoted here achieved at least 70% support).

The majority of the group felt it was “crucial to act” to address the issue of media pressure on all of us to look a certain way.

  • I like that eg mascara ads now say “with false eyelashes”. Its reassuring. All beauty ads should have to declare their fakeness.

Advantages of more body image interest

The group acknowledged that interest in how we look is not all bad…

  • it is a luxury and a privilege to be living at a time in civilisation when we can afford this indulgence in how we look – not just fighting to survive
  • focus on health and fitness

Disadvantages of more body image interest

But there were many more strongly supported statements concerning the disadvantages which included increased incidence of eating disorders among children, a tendency to be superficial and an

  • emphasis on appearance rather than being

Action points

There were mixed feelings on public education about healthy eating with some wariness of nanny state tendencies. But certainly interest in a more personal approach

  • Important to be with our kids and help them interpret these messages, reminding them they have a choice (and reminding ourselves too!)

Keeping the conversation going and extending to new audiences was seen as important too:

  • make this technology available for kids to have conversations too
  • ..and people working within the various beauty industries might benefit from the opportunity to participate in this kind of conversation

LINKS

Rosa, advocacy group for women and girls

Womankind Worldwide, development agency

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