Tag: Women in Business

Veep, collaborative leadership and the MBA

**Warning.  This blog contains spoilers.  Read on if you’re okay with that. **


Artwork by Jin Kim

There’s no shortage of stuff to remind us that collaboration matters.  Being a good ‘team player’ is shorthand for the qualities needed to work with other human beings and get things done.  But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Mix up a bunch of people with different skills, experiences, and objectives; chuck in conflicting priorities and time pressures, and what do you get?  It’s the reason shows like The Apprentice are so compelling.  Collaboration is rarely about caring and sharing.  The fact is, proper collaboration – and leadership – is tough.

Politics is a brilliant case in point.  But let’s spare ourselves from partisan ranting and instead, focus on a perfect example of collaborative leadership gone wrong: the finale of Veep.  After seven seasons, former president Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has a shot at a second term in the Oval Office.  What stands between her and returning to the White House?  Her fellow party nominees.  The 2020 national convention is at a deadlock.  None of four candidates have the 2368 majority needed to get the party’s nomination.  The only way to get on the ticket is to cut a deal with another candidate.  They need to sort it out swiftly, or face another four years with President Montez at the helm, and their party pushed to the margins.  It’s a classic opportunity for collaborative leadership.  By working with the other three, Selina can minimise power struggles and increase the odds of a successful outcome for her party. 

Obviously, that’s not what happens.  Selina rejects the ‘simple solution’ of asking her opponent – and personal nemesis – Kemi Talbot (Toks Olagundoye), to be her running mate.  Instead, she makes a bunch of explosive choices which get progressively more divisive and dubious.  Tom James (Hugh Laurie) enters the race as a fifth candidate at the last minute, and Selina quickly rips him from the running by persuading his chief of staff to accuse him of sexual harassment in return for a top job in her White House administration.  She promises to ease fracking legislation in New York state to get the governor onside, and outlaw gay marriage to get Buddy Calhoun (one of the three remaining threats played by Matt Oberg) to back her and step aside.  She makes Jonah Ryan (Timothy Simons) – described as ‘an unstable piece of human scaffolding’ and a ‘sentient enema’ – her running-mate, to the complete disgust of her campaign strategist and Jonah’s own campaign manager Amy (Anna Chlumsky), who basically begs her not to put such a vindictive narcissist anywhere near power.  And to put some awful icing on this dicey political cake, Selina shops her personal aide Gary (Tony Hale) to the FBI, has him jailed for the misdeeds of her dodgy ex-husband to make allegations of financial impropriety go away, and has it happen WHILE SHE’S ONSTAGE ACCEPTING THE PARTY NOMINATION.


Collaboration in action: consultancy week in Vietnam

I’m not even going to try and pitch this as a morality tale where good triumphs over the most Machiavellian political operators, and bad behaviour gets punished in the end.  The fact is, Selina wins – though the top spot is pretty lonely as she’s kicked all the support from under her on the way up.  No, the point is  there’s never been more of case for collaborative leadership in 2019.  Partnerships and collaborations – especially between sectors – are vital for creating change, and creating social and economic value.  However, collaboration is HARD.  There’s no guarantee it’ll succeed, and no formula for doing it well. 

Jennie Albone (Modular Executive MBA, 2019)

Over the last two years, my Cass MBA colleagues and I have combined full-time work with intensive study.  Our achievements are a combo of results from individual assignments and group tasks.  When we graduate in July, we aren’t just celebrating our own successes; we’re recognising that we worked together to make this outcome possible.  From co-writing essays, to working with Vietnam’s first unicorn tech company on a consultancy project, group work and collaboration was a staple of the course.  You’ll be pleased to hear my experience in no way resembles the brutal hard knocks doled out by President Meyer.  Instead, I had the chance to work with a cohort who bought diverse talent, experience and views to everything we did.  Sure, there were times when it would’ve felt easier if we’d thought a bit less divergently and just got on with it.  But diversity is massively important.  Working with people who approach problems from a completely different place helps you to check your assumptions, reveal your blind spots, and reach a better result.  It’s taught me how to recognise and value the skills others bring even more, which is something I’ll take with me to the next stage of my career.  So, does that mean a Cass MBA the answer to all of our leadership challenges?  Well, no – nothing is that simple.  But opportunities to hone our personal collaboration skills matter.  And for many of us, the MBA’s been an intensive chance to reflect on our approach. 

For an interesting primer on the four areas that make for an effective collaborative leader, try this.  

Find out more about opportunities to study an MBA in London or Dubai and continue your leadership journey here.

Jennifer Albone
Modular Executive MBA (2019)

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – HOW I SUPPORT WOMEN IN BUSINESS

In a climate where there is considerable interest in wider issues relating to women in business and the relevant drivers, I believe that International Women’s Day is a day for us all to reflect on not just women but the growth of our nation as a whole and its relationship to the world. Understanding what is good for women is to understand what is good for business.

Healthy societies equals healthy workforce which is key to good business and astute decisions being made with integrity. Women entrepreneurs are acknowledged to be effective in enhancing the economy generally, and evidence indicates that women-owned businesses have a beneficial community impact.

Unlocking this potential for myself holds a poignant moment of reflection on this year’s International Women’s Day. This year I have been given the opportunity to develop my own potential by beginning my MBA with Cass Business School and its Modular Executive MBA.

In taking this on, I am delighted to have been awarded Cass’s ‘Women in Business’ award. Not only does this help to reduce my fees but allows me to advocate for the role of women in business. All the world’s a stage, and it’s up to us to decide how to use it.

I feel an MBA will help me to  find better solutions and business models to bring business, local Government and Charity together to find effective ways of social financing to support corporate social responsibility which is good for business and community.

One issue and one message I wish to impart on International Women’s Day is to highlight the growing driver of maternal mental health. As Executive Director for the organisation Parent Infant Partnership (PIP) UK and as a senior parliamentary researcher my day job is concerned with mental health and in particular the minds of women in the antenatal and postnatal period of pregnancy, birth and parenthood. It is a growing concern to many about how well we are supporting this driver of the wellbeing of parents to be in the workplace and community life.

In the context of mental health shocking statistics show a far reaching impact for women and their families, and indicate why this is truly everyone’s business:

  • More than 1 in 10 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy or within the first year after having a baby
  • Over a third of domestic violence begins in pregnancy
  • Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for women during pregnancy and the year after giving birth
  • Taken together, perinatal depression, anxiety and psychosis carry a long-term cost to society of about £8.1 billion for each one-year cohort of births in the UK

Attitudinal change is required to tackle this issue

This is not just about supporting parents to be in our workplaces but reducing the impact upon the next generation who will equally be the future workforce in our business, corporations and stock markets. Mental health in the marketplace matters and perhaps no more for women in particular in the perinatal period.

Earliest relationships matter for future workforce matters and it is why supporting women and their families in the perinatal period is key to tapping into workforce potential. James Heckman, the Nobel Prize winning economist advocates through his research at the University of Chicago which promotes models for growing human potential – that the biggest bang for your buck lies in investing into our earliest relationships.

Leading economists have joined forces to advocate for business investment through social responsibility into community ventures which nurture the earliest years for the future workforce. It is in the interest of each business to get on board and strategically position its social responsibility to reap benefits from human potential and growth in its future dividends.

It is relationships that matter to the marketplace – why not begin by investing into early relationships in which the earliest foundations of our minds are laid which grow potential for a business mind of innovation, ingenuity and productivity.

I believe women are key to sustainable and productive communities – growing their potential grows relationships and community potential. Business must offer further flexibility and see within their profit making margins that the image of healthy relationships equals a healthy society equals good for business. This is how I am going to use my stage.


 

Clair Rees
Modular Executive MBA, 2016 Cass Business School

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