Category Archives: White collar fraud

The Guru Factor: Where are the women?

The Guru Factor

Something’s got to give
Earlier this year, somewhat bewildered by our leaders and their actions (or lack thereof) over the previous few years, I wrote a post “Playing without the Queens“. In it I expressed surprise at the notable lack of public reaction as bankers and financial service leaders decimatad our global economies, while the populace merely ” whimpered ” from the sidelines. Our medieval forebears would certainly have revolted and literally broken the “banca” in protest. However, only a few months later in the Middle East and North Africa populations took to their streets and now in the U.K. certain sections of the community are doing the same. Unfortunately, I am still just as bewildered.

Change required
In London there is currently a period of crisis management, but I feel sure that before the door has closed on the broom cupboards, the blame game will undoubtedly start. For me there is one overriding message. Tony Robbins words echo loudly ” If you do what you always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. Something has to change.

We have seen in recent years “Masters of the Universe ” bankers such as Fabulous Fabrice Tourre in their designer suits, caught, through negligence/ dishonesty/ incompetence or a combination of all three, vandalising global economies to the tune of …billions, getting off pretty much free and easy, with barely a dent to their 7 figure bonuses. According to Sky News the bank bail out will cost the average British tax payer £3500. This week, yobs in hoodies from Hackney, will almost certainly receive custodial sentences for vandalising shops, nicking trainers and mobile phones to the tune of… hundreds. Political figures will take the moral high ground and preach to us, while many, only last year, were even tacitly, part of massive expense scams. Organisations are struggling to keep up with, and adapt, to changes outside the workplace. Unemployment amongst young people is reaching all time highs in many developed economies. Whole countries are bankrupt.

Lost in thought?
Courtesy of Lee Carey I came across this organisation
The Thinkers 50. The 2011 Thinkers 50 will be unveiled on November 14 in London at the first ever Thinkers 50 Summit. Now as you know I’m not crazy about the composition of think tanks in general, but in 2009 there were only 3 women on the list and one of those was part of an INSEAD duo.

This ” definitive global ranking of management thinkers is published every two years. The 2009 winner was CK Prahalad. The ranking is based on voting at the Thinkers 50 website and input from a team of advisers led by Stuart Crainer and Des Dearlove. The Thinkers 50 has ten established criteria by which thinkers are evaluated – originality of ideas; practicality of ideas; presentation style; written communication; loyalty of followers; business sense; international outlook; rigor of research; impact of ideas and the elusive guru factor

No women
The words elusive guru factor caught my eye and surreal images of Simon Cowell type “guru factor judges” and ” guru factor auditions” came into my mind. However, I also wonder if this is the time to stop thinking and start doing. There is a reason for the phrase ” lost in thought”. But mainly we need to do both differently. People clearly want change. Women are not only visibly absent from the financial services leadership group that caused many of the underlying problems, but also from the “thinking” list that was issued when it was all going on. Draw your own conclusions, but it’s not rocket science!

If as one definition of guru is a ” recognised leader in a field”, perhaps we need look no further than a modern-day leader such as the courageous, elderly woman in Hackney who confronted London looters, maybe not in the language of the board room ( be warned, very strong if you do watch) but at least there is a badly needed underlying morality.

Women and communication: a salutary personal tale

Wanted for White Collar Fraud

Dorothy and the suspect search consultant
On average, women use twice the number of words per day than men. Women maintain eye contact while speaking for twelve seconds vs. a man maintaining eye contact for three seconds. Women supply detail to build rapport , men speak directly in short sentences going straight for the bottom line, supplying detail as a necessary illustration to their focal points. Women need to deliver their story (as I am doing now , otherwise this post would be one sentence and how much fun would that be?) in order to get to their bottom line. We build relationships. Generally we don’t need solutions ( although perhaps exceptionally I like that) and we also need to be heard! A lot!

Communicating like a female: the story!
I was recently contracted to support an executive search consultant on a global  project. He had worked for one of my major clients and had now set up his own business. In my female brain he was already someone I knew,  so  I didn’t make even rudimentary background enquiries before starting on the assignment.  I know…I know ..big mistake.

The sting
Even the most basic research, which is something I carry out on a daily basis for other people and would certainly advise any coaching client  to pursue, would have revealed a sub-text of  erratic professional performance. This should have raised a number of  brightly coloured red flags, complete with their  poles.  After some extremely inconsistent and suspect behaviour during the course of our collaboration, leaving me feeling profoundly uncomfortable, I realised that now he ran his own company, we actually had divergent business models and professional standards.  

How did this even come about because as you know I’m not a shrinking violet ?  After much reflection I finally wondered that it was possibly because he had always communicated with me in a female way! I was going to say like a woman, but was strongly reprimanded by Marion Chapsal. This is not a derogatory comment, but just a different style that we women seem to connect with.

The detail
My ex – associate ,   I suspect not unintentionally either, successfully focused on building a rapport with me over a long period, until I perceived him as a trusted contact and foolishly believed that we were in an ongoing business relationship –  when actually this wasn’t the case at all!  The relationship was with his previous company, so nothing concrete had been done to put him personally into that category.  With 20/20 hindsight (what a gift!) I could see that in many of our networking chats over the years,  initiated on the pretext of staying in touch,  I had essentially provided a free consulting service.  When in typical John Gray  style my generosity wave came crashing down with the force of a tsunami ( I even coached him on Twitter!) I finally supplied a fee schedule.

No communication
Where are we now?  He is MIA owing me a reasonably large some of money! Emails are bouncing, business addresses no longer exist, telephone numbers have been discontinued. He has even blocked me on Twitter (go figure… is there NO shame in this world? ) Lawyers and debt collectors have been consulted and a police report filed. But no doubt …  I have been conned! It would appear that it’s illegal to smoke in a public place, put makeup on in the car while in a traffic jam (true… I was fined for such an act! ) – but it’s not illegal not to pay your bills.

The moral of the story is that all business relationships have to be scrutinised and thorough due diligence carried out, regrettably even with people you think you might know. My instincts are now sadly blurred. Today I’m going through a phase of viewing everyone with suspicion and caution. An acquaintance emailed me to ask me how I was doing and my first instinct was to wonder why they wanted to know. I even asked someone I normally work with on a basis of trust, to confirm a proposition in writing. Last week his word would have been sufficient. I know I will get over this reticence and revert to openness and trust, but perhaps not on the same level. It’s been an unpleasant lesson, but one I intend to learn from.

Is this all as much fun? No sadly it isn’t .

What do you think?