‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves’

Has the ‘Shine Theory’ crossed the Atlantic?

The ‘Shine Theory’ suggests that women can appear to ‘shine’ more when in the proximity of other successful women. Rather than seeing these females as rivals, it’s beneficial to team up with them.

So Ladies don’t claw your way to the top …. work together.

The term is frequently used by US podcast hosts Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow.  Ms Friedman¹ makes the point that it is much more advantageous to support your female colleagues than to compete enviously for recognition, praise and career advancement.

Even if this theory is not scientifically proven, it is interesting to observe……..

In the US Senate, the current President has surrounded himself with an increased number of women aides in his second term – when he took office his cabinet was overwhelmingly male. Female officials report the use of ‘amplification’ – repeating each other’s suggestions to ensure that they are being heard and crediting one another to prevent others claiming the ideas as their own – to influence decision-making. The amplification strategy is linked to the ‘Shine Theory’².

Theresa May’s Government, has a cabinet where women constitute a third of ministers. For the first time in our political history, women now hold half of the so-called Great Offices of State. So the dynamics in their meetings must be fascinating ……

The ‘Shine Theory’ emerges on management training courses

Impellus, one of the UK’s leading Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) approved training providers, reports that the ‘Shine Theory’ is often apparent during group exercises on its courses. On the occasions when a delegate table (typically seating 6 people) is fully occupied by female managers, their participation and contribution is very collaborative and supportive. However, where there are mixed tables, the females become much more competitive overall – not just with their male counterparts but with the other women on the table as well.

What do you see in the workplace?

In roles and industries dominated by men, women can be hesitant to voice ideas and thoughts and may feel daunted. Having the support of other females helps to grow friendships and confidence. The ‘Shine Theory’ suggests that people are often judged by the company they keep and that success breeds success.


¹  Ms Friedman’s article in 2013

²  BBC News, 14 September 2016

Once upon a time …..

… there was a land where the majority of business leaders were too consumed with statistical targets and missd the fairytale outcome …


Fancy a simple way to get the people in your organisation to achieve objectives? Tell them a story.


Don’t worry, we haven’t lost our marbles. Here’s proof:

  •  Advertisers have long since acknowledged the importance of storytelling when promoting brands
  •  Parents rely on storytelling to develop comprehension and learning
  •  Teachers value storytelling to kick-start creativity
  •  Even numbers-led investors like to know the story, right?

So, how come we forget about it in the workplace?

Managers spend a lot of time pouring over figures, defining statistical targets and communicating to their teams the numbers that are required to achieve business objectives.

Many fail to tell a story to demonstrate how they can all get there. They forget about enabling their people to visualise the journey and miss out on the benefits of getting their colleagues to FEEL a part of what they are doing.

A recent research study¹ indicates that storytelling is receiving increasing attention and suggests some of the ways it can be effective:

  • Building credibility and trust – reveal your humanity at work. Share stories of where you have grappled with difficult decisions or made errors
  • Developing a joint understanding of your organisation’s purpose and vision – are there stories that illustrate the strengths of your business and how it has adapted to earlier challenges?
  • Stimulating engagement and genuine commitment – share tangible stories of how the organisation is achieving its goals, how it makes a difference to real customers and how it accommodates the needs of employees
  • Managing change – have you read or heard about examples of change similar to those that you want to bring about? If they were successful, why? Would sharing these stories help alleviate fear or uncertainty?

Are you already ‘telling stories’ or are you a leader who has not yet recognised the strength of storytelling in motivating and engaging employees, especially when change in the workplace is required?

If so, try putting your story before your numbers and the fairytale ending is perhaps more likely to happen……..


¹ Roffey Park Institute has recently published research report entitled ‘The Leader as Storyteller’ citing more examples of how storytelling can help address many of today’s key leadership challenges.

Who’s coming up behind you to make you succeed or do you need a kick up the backside?

This week two young GB Paralympians will return to school after excelling at Rio 2016. They were both inspired to overcome their disabilities and enter competitive sport by watching their idols during London 2012.

Hannah Cockcroft was unbeaten in her T34 wheelchair field for seven years until she came up against Kare Adenegan in London last September.

Hannah’s shock defeat gave her (in her words) the kick up the backside that she needed ensure she trained harder for Rio 2016.

Going into the September 2015 race, Hannah acknowledges that she took it for granted she would keep winning. In Rio Hannah won all three of her races and fifteen year old Kare followed closely behind with one silver plus two bronze medals.

Ellie Robinson took up swimming after her namesake, Ellie Simmonds, became a medal winner and an ambassador for disability sport. Ellie Robinson competed several times alongside Ellie Simmonds and other world champions bringing home a gold and bronze medal.

How do you get your team to feel the energy and passion that Ellie R and Kare felt when watching London 2012?  Do you get on with your day job and take it for granted that you will stay ahead of the game?

Although Ellie Simmonds and Hannah Cockcroft are not ready to hand over their batons yet, leadership succession planning is clearly already in hand within Team GB to maintain world championship status when the time comes.

The questions this begs of you

Who’s coming up behind you and who’s ready to succeed in your position when you’re promoted? Are your leadership skills helping you put plans in place to ensure a competitor doesn’t steal that lead?

And perhaps more importantly…

If you have nobody coming up behind you to kick your backside from below and make your team succeed, are you going to have your backside kicked from some other place which will hurt you far more?

Our Organisational Leadership Skills and Managing Performance and Efficiency training courses equip managers with tools and skills for succession planning.


10 top tips to improve your staff appraisals

Do you love doing appraisals?

If not, it may be because you find them a little awkward and uncomfortable.  Not knowing what the employee is likely to say can lead you to be nervous of what issues might come up.  You may also be aware that you have to deliver news that the employee won’t be happy with and you will be worried about their reaction.

My first rule of appraisals is to separate them from pay discussions.  Read more

Ethical behaviour comes from the top

We have all come across many examples of good, honest, hard-working people frustrated in their organisations by those in authority who do not work with the best interests of the business in mind.  I came across one recently where a senior manager was convinced that the MD (who was in charge of two sites) was happy to let the one he was involved in collapse because it was in difficulties.  While the MD, of course, would still have his position at the other site, many others would be out of a job if it failed.  His apparent lack of interest in the business’ long-term future was undermining the work of all the other staff who were trying their best to make it into a success. Read more

I’m right and he’s wrong!

The original source of every argument lies in the certain knowledge that I’m right and he’s wrong.  ‘Of course I’m right, I can prove it.  And what’s more, there’s logic behind my point of view.’

Been there? Of course we all have.

The really annoying thing is though that the other person is thinking exactly the same thing.  Read more

4 things to do in the quiet of August

If you are holding the fort while others are away on holiday in August it can be frustrating that everyone you contact is away, decisions can’t be made and everything seems to slow down.  But just as in the natural pause around Christmas time, it is as well to embrace the quiet period that happens in August.

So what can a business leader do to make best use of this time?  Rather than turning into a ball of frustration, why not take time out, break your own habits and do something different?  Here’s some suggestions: Read more

Leaders – The things you shouldn’t know…

Dear leader.  Please remember that you don’t know everything about the way your business is run.  The knowledge lies with the company as a whole.

So when you discuss issues with your senior team you should not be telling them what to do, because in their area of expertise they should be the expert – not you.

Take for example a situation I saw recently where a company had a sudden and urgent need to change a software platform.  Read more

Managing volunteers: Herding cats or a great team spirit?

Management theory is normally developed around commercial organisations leaving the charity sector to interpret it to their own needs. But some charities are large organisations with many staff to manage, and they too can benefit from some of the lessons of good management thinking.

Recent discussions with people running High Street charity shops highlighted to me the different challenges that they face from the commercial sector.  Our view of the charity shop may be of a slightly messy down-at-the heel retail space, but for the charity it is often a major source of income, and with other income streams becoming ever tighter, there is greater pressure on making the shops a successful venture.  However, the charity shop is likely to be largely staffed by volunteers coming from all walks of life, and you probably can’t be too choosy about who you take on. Read more

Food for marketing thought

Today I’m going food shopping.  I need to buy bread, milk and some groceries for a dinner party at the weekend.  Where shall I go to buy my food?  I have a choice of going into town to Marks & Spencer or using Aldi on the by-pass, or I could head out of town to the farm shop in my local village.

So what is going to inform my decision about which way to go?  There may be issues about parking and convenience, but beyond that I am making a decision about which philosophy I choose to follow. Read more