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Authenticity and public gaffs

Tari's LinkedIn post 8 November 2018


Interesting that in this otherwise fascinating article, the word 'authenticity' only came up once. If you're a boss of any sort (politics or business), your first step should be to get in touch with your own authenticity and check how aligned this is with a) the organisation you lead or represent, b) expectations of your stakeholders, and c) the prevailing zeitgeist. Yes, presentation and avoiding-gaffs training can help but better still, get the thinking, the emotions and the behaviours right. The bonus is that you'll feel less nervous about making a gaff when out and about in public because you're not second-guessing what might constitute a gaff. There's a bonus in doing this: you get to lead your organisation better and your staff also get to live a culture of authenticity

Recent posts

Panic and the absence of leadership

I often borrow a line commonly used in crime movies when I see yet another leadership organisation fall from grace: "You could have done this the easy way, but you chose to do it the hard way".

Oxfam was a hitherto admired institution, having done impressive work around the world for more than 75 years, respected for its engagement with donors big and small, its courage in working in war- and disaster-torn regions, and its commitment to equality and fairness. The Haiti scandal has rocked it to its core, putting into question its ability to continue its operations, as governments are rethinking funding levels, donors withdrawing sponsorship and customers pulling out of their shops.

In other words, it is losing its licence to operate.

There are so many lessons that can be learned from brands which fail to protect their culture, vision and reputation. United Airlines CEO's response to the treatment of one of its passengers on a flight, Bell Pottinger's collapse through …

From change and transformation to sustainability

Like or hate it, Brexit will bring enormous change for businesses through transformed regulation, trade policies, labour laws, new financial management, and many other challenges. 

"...while Britain and Europe are negotiating over what happens to European Union citizens who now work in Britain (as well as Britons who work in other European Union countries), no-one is sure how these ralks will go..." (NYT Sept 18, 2017). Many employees' lives will be transformed in deeply personal ways. They may need to move to a different country, they may be working under a different regime or leadership. Their hours of work, pay scales and contractual obligations may change, their reporting lines and accountability shifted, their place of work reorganised. They may need to get used to a new corporate culture.  Sounds familiar?
Any change in an organisation needs to be embraced, lived and supported by its most precious commodity, its people. Political and regulatory environments might dict…

Think before you leap

The World Health Organisation took just a little over 48 hours to revoke its appointment of Robert Mugabe as goodwill ambassador, following worldwide public, media and institutional outcry at an appointment which, at so many levels, was so blatantly wrong.

The wrongs of Robert Mugabe is not what I wish to argue here. What I am astounded by is that such an established institution such as WHO, with its army of strategists and planners could make such a rudimentary blunder. This reminds me that too many of us really still don't get the fact that if we are guardians of our organisations' brands, we have the responsibility to protect our organisation against risks which threaten to attack those values and thereafter, our reputation.

I have previously written about CEOs and their mistakes here. Unfortunately, u-turns and apologies will never completely obliterate the original mistake. In the reputation management world, a right never completely erases a wrong. Corporate wrong-doing…

Moral authority and reputations

The world of corporate and national reputation is going through a whirlwind right now, even more so than usual. Two particular issues have rather preoccupied my mind recently.

One is the relationship between business and government and the other, going back to basics on the relationship between reputation and moral authority. 

Bell Pottinger has always been associated with the dark arts of public relations. Most of the industry, for decades now, have at least tried to be morally accountable in the way it communicates its clients' narrative and indeed, in selecting clients with whom it is prepared to work. Bell Pottinger appeared not to have ever been perturbed about representing clients who are morally questionable at best, and downright unacceptable at worst. It managed to weather several storms of exposure and criticism and on the way, continued to gather more and more questionable clients. Until that is, its recent South Africa debacle, made worse by a public spat between founder…

Why women aren't CEOs

Tari's LinkedIn post 28 July 2017

I city girl, I signed up to a self defence course for women decades ago. Apparently women find it hardest to scream and punch, so these were the first things we were taught to do. Reading this excellent article, it seems that we're still finding it difficult to push ourselves forward. Coupled with a number of other factors including the male game in corporate and political life with rules women are not always privy to, it is no surprise that achieving parity in the C-suite seems a long way away. But try we must. This is not a task for women, but for men and women, working together. It is not addressed in this article, but analyses after analyses demonstrates that a diverse leadership team delivers improved performance for the organisation. So keeping women out of the C-suite may make incumbent men feel better and more secure, but it is irresponsible, and shareholders should ask tough questions to CEOs and management teams.

Coffee, health and business

When I started to visit and work in the Arab region back in 2006, I had a lot to learn about building and doing business in a new market. I'm still learning. Working in Jordan is not the same as working in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia or Oman - just as working in Germany is not the same as working in Portugal or France.

The Arabic language is spoken with very different dialects across the region. When I spoke a few words of Arabic to my taxi driver in Muscat he smiled warmly and said: "Ah madam, I think a Lebanese taught you Arabic?" He was right. The Arab world is full of contrasts, different cultures, different modes of behaviour and doing business, and different traditions. Governments, corporations, institutions operate and perform differently.

Reading (yet another) piece of research this week that drinking coffee leads to longer life however, reminded me about one thing which is shared, in the same way, across the Arab region. Sharing a coffee together, sitting i…