to focus by gaining an external perspective
from the Sunday Times 29/9/97 - and still valid
in the 21st century
agree it's good to talk and some excerpts from the
culture of lengthening hours and increasing workloads
has made corporate life a lonely and stressful place
Stoker, deputy director-general of Oflot, the national
lottery regulator, says he too felt "the need for
someone to open up to on issues to do with working
methods, style and approach." While rising in the
ranks of the civil service, people don’t expect
you to talk about yourself, and in a social environment,
people don’t expect you to talk about work,"
arranged sessions with Valerie Wark, of Ashridge.
"The good thing was that I could be selfish about
it: I could talk about and analyse myself, because
it was supposed to be part of personal development
to someone helped me to get an objective view of my
strengths and weaknesses, and challenged my assumptions
about how I came across. I learnt that I was more
authoritarian than I’d realised, and to be more
open to other people’s ideas."
advises: "If the company gives training, consider
one-to-one work rather than another mid-management
Brown, co-director of a programme at Ashridge for
men and women, says the need is for comrades in adversity.
"A lot of people at mid-management level feel rather
lonely," he says. "They’re asked to be positive
and confident and to show initiative when they’re
feeling deeply uncertain and uneasy over changes in
the organisation. The use of an outside coach or mentor
is growing, as people use them to handle stress."
I was Personnel Director at ICCH, I know that the Group
Managing Director found it invaluable to be able to discuss
– in complete confidence (this cannot be emphasised
enough) – ideas and concerns that he had about
his board colleagues and senior management team, which
it was not appropriate for him to discuss with anyone
else, particularly within these peer groups.
a Management Consultant, I find that Chief Executives,
Managing Directors and Business Owners all appreciate
the opportunity to bounce ideas off someone with no vested
interest in their company who will be objective about
the personalities and strengths/weaknesses within the
senior management team. The sense of isolation mentioned
in the above article applies even more to those at the
top of an organisation. Highly visible, they are often
under pressure from below for decisions on people issues.
With no-one else to discuss the situation with, sometimes
‘gut feeling’ can be discounted when faced
with a logical but biased argument from a self-seeking
manager. Talking things through with an objective mentor
who has vast experience of similar situations in other
companies and a specific interest in team dynamics and
individual personalities can give you confidence in the
decisions you are making or perhaps help you avoid a ‘faux