Rene Carayol

The real meaning of “taking the knee”

Many leaders are out of touch with a generation for whom inclusivity and solidarity are non-negotiable.

Since the tragic murder of George Floyd, I’ve made a short posting on LinkedIn every day about inclusion. The odd one hits a nerve.

With the European football championships, ‘taking the knee’ by England players has become the current bane of objection for a vocal minority of fans. I mentioned Gary Lineker’s provocative Tweet -“If you boo England players for taking the knee, you’re part of the reason why players are taking the knee” – and quoted the England manager, Gareth Southgate: “We encourage those that oppose this action to reflect on the message you are sending to the players you are supporting.”

Southgate has oozed class and role modelled inclusive leadership that many CEOs could learn from. He has the backing of all his players because they have his. The government and FA have shown the opposite.

Within hours, we had a febrile atmosphere but because it was on LinkedIn (and it’s not anonymous), it was better behaved than what you often see on social media, but the disagreements were real and forceful.

We have learnt the hard way that racism is not logical, and you cannot have a logical discussion with racists. The more intemperate and nasty postings started to be deleted as they caused outrage. Senior executives from the companies of the aggressors entered the fray to apologise, and protect the values and reputation of their businesses.

I was contacted by one head of people as a colleague had let themselves down with some strong, offensive views. I explained that I didn’t feel they were overtly racist, but were wise to delete their posts. They had directly apologised, claiming it was ‘in the heat’ of the moment. Businesses are having to do the job that social media companies should be doing.

This sort of boorish behaviour clearly would not be tolerated at work. The nonsense we heard online about this being a protest against the Marxist BLM organisation is a laughable cover for racists.

Some said rather ridiculously to keep politics out of sport – please, do me a favour.

From Jesse Owens at the 1936 Berlin Olympics to Tommie Smith at the 1960 Mexico Olympics. Who can ever forget Nelson Mandela at the 1995 rugby world cup final, and the impact it had on the fledgling Rainbow Nation? Should England lose, it will be Black players that will be singled out for nasty, unrelenting racial abuse online. Politics?

Speaking of politics, Boris Johnson made another screeching U-turn on his stance on England’s footballers “taking the knee”, stating fans should not heckle players. He had backed his ‘base’, saying that he didn’t support players adopting the pose. “On taking the knee, specifically, [he] is more focused on action rather than gestures,” a spokesperson said.

This is not the leadership needed. After cutting feedback from Gordon Brown and Keir Starmer, Downing Street came back: “The prime minister respects the rights of all people to peacefully protest and make their feelings known about injustices”, and he “would like to see everybody get behind the team to cheer them on, not boo”. This had an instant ‘cooling’ impact on the atmosphere on our social media.

‘Taking the knee’ is a proud show of solidarity between the England squad against the evils of racism, and the players have reiterated this. It allows Black players to feel they are supported, much like the singing of “You’ll never walk alone” does for all at Liverpool FC. Previous generations of Black players had zero support, and the racism was far more overt and crushing.

We sadly saw the Russian fans boo the Belgian players for ‘taking the knee’. That’s their usual abject racism. Let’s stop the hypocrisy and not play to the divisive ‘culture wars’ – racism is racism.

After Southgate’s strong stance, Steve Clarke, Scotland’s manager, said: “For our match at Wembley, we will stand against racism and kneel against ignorance.”

‘Taking the knee’ has tabled the debate. It affords a strong sense of solidarity for all Black players. Maybe for the first time, football feels ‘joined up’ and is making a collective stance against racism. This starts at the top, but it needs more than Southgate.

Unfortunately, our leaders in society are out-of-touch with a much more assertive generation for whom inclusion isn’t a matter of political debate or a fashionable point of view, it’s a way of life, a matter of non-negotiable human rights.

Inclusion is not just being allowed to be there but being valued for being there. We’ve managed to get to the moon, now let’s try and get to racial justice.

Original story can be found here.

Andrew Williams

How to keep grounded as a leader

As you rise through the corporate ranks, the impact of your decisions increases and your role becomes more and more important. You do not.

Failure to recognise this can lead to all sorts of problems. Leaders who think they’re better than the people they lead will lack empathy, alienate people, lose touch with the reality of their business on the ground, and become dangerously overconfident.

The best leaders know how to keep their ego in check, but is this something you can do deliberately? Andrew Williams, who’s been CEO of FTSE 100 company Halma for nearly 16 years, shares some tips.

“I went to a Cardiff comprehensive school that was… not the best. But while I may not have got a great academic education, my social education was fantastic. I’ve never been in awe of people above me, and I’ve always tried to treat people lower down the organisation with respect.

“That’s important – I’ve seen as many people struggle because they can’t be authentic around their boss as I have people who get ahead and then forget where they came from.

“A good starting point is to find friends who aren’t interested in what you do for a living. I still play football every week on a Thursday night [out of lockdown], and though it’s a different part of the country, they’re the same kind of friends I had 30 years ago.

“And of course as soon as you walk through the front door at home, you know you’re not the boss any more: my kids treat me with the appropriate lack of respect.”

Original article can be found here – www.managementtoday.co.uk/keep-grounded-leader

Rabbit hole

How to escape the productivity rabbit hole

Want your staff to be more productive? Stop expecting them to do more in less time, says professional organiser Joshua Zerkel.

Management theorist Peter Drucker famously said, “Nothing is less productive than to make more efficient what should not be done at all.” For businesses, the need to boost team productivity is nothing new, however, with the rise of flexible working and the plethora of tools employees are feeling the pressure to simply “do more”. 

When businesses start rolling out new processes and tools there can be a tendency to fall down the productivity rabbit hole, focusing solely on employee output without considering whether their actions are driving efficiencies internally or just creating more work.

According to McKinsey, the average worker wastes 61 per cent of their time coordinating their work in meetings, email and chat rather than doing their actual work. This time could be better spent doing meaningful work that actually creates impact and drives the business forward. 

Read more here.

Pallet

Property giant fined £1.3m after ‘serious failings’ led to death of passer-by, 29

A property management company that failed to inspect, maintain or even notice insecure structures on the roof of a Wolverhampton shopping centre has been fined £1.3m after a tank cover broke free in high winds, striking and killing a young university worker.

Tahnie Martin, 29, was killed on 23 February 2017 while walking past Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre, on Dudley Street.  

The wooden tank cover, which had been secured to the brick tank casing by “rotten and weather-damaged” clasps, fell six storeys from the roof, causing fatal head injuries.

A University of Wolverhampton colleague who was with Martin at the time, Raman Sarpal, was also knocked to the ground by the panel, and suffered a serious injury to her leg. 

Cushman and Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung, which had been the managing agent for the Mander Centre since 2012, was this week fined £1.3m plus £375,000 in costs at a sentencing hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Read more here.

4th Dimension

The future of European rugby

Tony Copsey, director at Copsey Consultancy, shares his insight into the current dispute in European rugby.

Every five years or so there is a massive punch-up in European rugby to sort out territory, but these battles tend to produce beneficial results and periods of peace. The current confrontation has put clubs in opposition to the unions, which are clinging to their interests in the Heineken Cup. There has been discontent in England and France going back to June 2012 over how the European rugby competitions should be organised.

The disquiet from the English and French centres around the issues of qualification, structure, revenue splits, governance and the commercial ambition of the tournament. European Rugby Cup (ERC) is the governing body and organiser of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup tournaments. The ERC board is dominated by representatives from Six Nations’ national governing bodies, who outnumber the independent representatives from the French Top 14 clubs, Premiership Rugby and Regional Rugby Wales.

The current system is that only the top six clubs in England and France get a place in the Heineken Cup, whereas at least ten Pro12 outfits – including both Scottish teams, both Italian teams and a minimum of three sides each from Wales and Ireland – have automatic entry into the competition.

Of the £44 m generated by the 2012–2013 Heineken Cup, 52% went to Pro12 clubs, while 48% was shared by England and France, who want a three-way split of revenue between the Aviva Premiership, Ligue Nationale de Rugby and Pro12.

There are various interested parties including clubs/regions, leagues, respective unions, ERC, the International Rugby Board and TV companies (BT and BSkyB). BT paid £152 m for rights to broadcast English club rugby including their participation in a European tournament. ERC meanwhile have signed a four-year extension to its TV deal with Sky Sports.

The English and French clubs insist that the proposed Rugby Champions Cup should be run by the clubs, not the unions, which would go against the grain of the current European Rugby Cup structure. England and France are proposing a 20-club tournament run by the clubs rather than the unions. In addition, they would set up a second-tier competition of 20 teams, to replace the existing Amlin Challenge Cup, as well as a “development” competition, which could include sides from Spain, Portugal and Russia.

This row highlights the disconnect in governance in rugby – clubs should control their own destiny.

Because it is merit-based, the European Champions Cup, I believe, could deliver a higher calibre of rugby, and, assuming it ultimately includes all of the best clubs from the Six Nations, it would be a huge commercial force.

It would seem that in this negotiation between the authorities in European rugby agreement has been found around structure, qualification and revenue split but not governance. And there lies the problem. The unions oppose the move, and in Ireland and Scotland the clubs are directly controlled by the union. The clubs in France have indicated that they will play in the Heineken Cup, now that issues around qualification and revenue splits have been resolved.

The English Premiership has reaffirmed their stance that they are out and will not consider playing in a European rugby competition until issues such as governance are resolved. The Welsh regions have backed the idea of the revamped European competition proposed by the English and also support the view on governance. But what will they now do?

The Welsh regions could replace any lost revenue from the current European competition if they enter the English Champions Cup, but any talk of an Anglo–Welsh league would be extremely difficult, given the agreements around the Pro12 and the threat of being disciplined by the WRU if they rebelled.

This row highlights the disconnect regarding governance in rugby. I believe that clubs should control their own destiny without interference from the unions, which have an important but separate role around national teams and development.

It may take a while to happen, but I do expect that this spat will eventually be settled and that a new elite European competition with a revised format will emerge. In doing so, it will be a stronger proposition for sponsors and a more valuable television property.

The English have taken a hard line but I expect others to follow, starting with the Welsh. This sort of confrontation may not be an ideal way of doing business, but it certainly gets things done.

4th Dimension

Nelson Mandela 1918–2013

Like many, we are sure, we were very touched by the passing last week of one of the world’s great leaders, possibly the greatest – Nelson Mandela.

One of Nelson Mandela’s first actions on becoming president of the newly democratic South Africa in 1994 was to establish the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund. He committed one third of his presidential salary for five years to ensure the continuation of the Fund as his charitable legacy for children.

“The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund is the embodiment of our belief that children need to live in an environment where they can flourish.”

Nelson R Mandela – August 2007

All those touched by Nelson Mandela and his death we would urge to make a donation to his charity – The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund – that does such excellent work.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund UK is a registered charity in the UK whose main purpose is to fundraise for and publicise the work of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in South Africa. They also work with schools throughout the UK as part of their advocacy and citizenship programme.

To find out more: www.mandela-children.org.uk
To donate: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/donate/makeDonationForCharityDisplay.action?charityId=1000776

4th Dimension

A change in the mindset

In this insight we discuss some of the common themes that emerge during client engagements.

Our approach is centred on focusing the team to achieve operational excellence. Core to this is to bring about a change in mindset: getting team members away from quick fixes to root-cause problem solving.

Engagements start with a diagnostic analysis – the core tool used to identify the biggest issues, prioritise actions and map the journey. Once the facts are proven, select the appropriate solutions from a well-established tool kit.

From diagnostic to implementation: hands-on approach to kick-start the change process and build momentum. Team members need to become engaged and stay involved. This is achieved with some initial team building games, followed by working on actual processes with immediate impact. Constant communication is vital, a combination of the informal at the workplace and more structured team briefings. Support this stage with simple measures to track progress.

The first signs of success are the new dynamics in the team: leaders emerge, showing technical and project skills and – most importantly – energy, enthusiasm and drive. Identify problem solvers who find ways to break down habitual barriers and overcome negativity.
Outcomes of project engagements are not only measured in financial terms, which typically show 20% or more in efficiency gains, but also in the positivity of a team working together and communicating effectively. With this essential shift in the mindset, stress caused by constant quick fixes and fire-fighting activities can be reduced and efficiency maximised.

Recent projects have included designing and installing a new warehouse and stores to support rapid growth for a client in electronics, value stream mapping and process improvement from customer enquiry to release into production.

Find out more on our Industry and Performance Coaching pages.

 

4th Dimension

60 minutes in and it is a 9-point game

At this year’s European Cup Final, we witnessed an inspirational example of team performance when it mattered. Losing 6-15 against Clermont 60 minutes in the game, Toulon went on to win 16-15.

Imagine a similar scenario in a business environment. How good is your team in a critical situation concerning the daily output or a project that seems to stagnate where it should progress? Who can you bring in ‘from the bench’ to turn around the result?

Whether you are a coach or a manager, you are on the bench, looking in. You are involved but detached enough to be able to see what is going on in the team. You discuss what needs to be done in order to change a situation for the better. Sometimes a fresh player, an outsider who can see the opportunities, can slot seamlessly into the team and turn the whole dynamics around and move the situation forward. Sometimes you need a change of tactics or a new viewpoint to develop your team and help them to work together more efficiently and successfully.

Copsey Consultancy’s Elite Performing Team programme has transformed the way my operations team interact, projecting a united front in their restless pursuit for excellence.

Are you looking at your team in the same way? Have you developed a total squad mentality in your business? Is everyone trained in the techniques and processes to allow for seamless changes, provide extra support and cope with increased capacity? Here are some key elements to focus on so you can get your team in top shape:

• Develop the support team as well as star players
• Provide systematic training
• Standardise processes
• Encourage a team trademark
• Adopt review and response methods

If you are in a similar situation and want to improve your team’s performance, please get in touch for an informal chat to see how we can help you and your business.

4th Dimension

Tony Copsey shares his views with Rugby 247

Ahead of the new season, Copsey Consultancy director Tony Copsey spoke to Rugby 247 about his views on the state of the game in all of the home nations.

With the Lions currently touring Australia and celebrating 125 years of being in existence, it is a good time to reflect on the health of British & Irish Rugby. Certainly the up-and-coming tests in Australia will serve as a good barometer of playing strength when the best in British & Irish Rugby stand against some of the best the Southern Hemisphere has to offer.

Off the field this year’s tour is set to be the most successful in the illustrious history of the Lions. Despite costs of £14m, it still promises to be the most profitable tour yet, with revenues up 30% on the tour to South Africa in 2009. This is somewhat heartening, given that, when the sport went professional over a decade ago, the mere existence of the Lions was in severe doubt.

So what of the home unions and the clubs themselves?

Despite having fewer players on this tour than there have been in a while, the sport of rugby in England could be on the verge of an upturn in fortunes – an outlook that is not shared by the Celtic nations.

Starting with Wales, who have the biggest contingent in the tour party, the WRU announced back in September 2012 its best ever financial results, with a turnover of over £63m and profit increased to £27m. This certainly built upon the on-field success of the national side – reaching the semi-finals of the last World Cup and having won four Six Nations with three grand slams in the last nine years.

Unfortunately the Welsh regions of the Scarlets, Ospreys, Cardiff Blues and Newport Gwent Dragons are not faring so well. On the field the regions have had success in the Pro12, but very little in the Heineken Cup since Cardiff made the final in the first ever year of the competition way back in 1996.

Off the field matters are even worse. The recently commissioned report from PricewaterhouseCoopers by the WRU & regions stated: “The historical financial performance shows the four regional businesses are not sustainable on a standalone basis in their current form without continued additional funding from benefactors or alternative funding sources.”

Nothing new there, you may say. However, the report went on to say that the funding gap rose from £2m in 2008 to £5.2m in 2011. This gap currently met by benefactors is seen as totally unsustainable. The projection for 2013 is a surplus of £0.5m which was largely budgeted due to the implementation of a salary cap of £3.5m. However, those close to the game feel that this is extremely optimistic.

The current standoff between the regions and the WRU over funding, management and control of the elite end of the game in Wales is of great concern. The deadlock centres on the formation of a Professional Regional Game Board and its running. One meeting took place in December, however, since the deadlock, no more have happened.

The regions are struggling and, with Cardiff FC now joining Swansea FC in the Barclays Premiership and the success of soccer right on their doorstep, face some of the most testing times ever. They will need firm direction and action now or face the threat of extinction.
What of the other Celtic nations, Ireland and Scotland?

In Ireland concerns are largely centred on the return of the on-field success of recent times and the further development of their regions – this, however, against a backdrop of not only the toughest recession the country has ever seen but also an Irish government initiative that could see all rugby shown on terrestrial TV rather than pay-per-view. Projections show that this would wipe off some €12m of revenue from the union – a 20% loss in revenue.

Scotland, with only three players in the starting squad for the Lions, is suffering from a current lack of success on the field from its national side and regions. The relatively new board and executive team at the SRU face a huge challenge as they try to deliver on their strategic vision published last year. This stated an aim of winning the World Cup in 2015, further reducing their debts and increasing revenues, attendances and participation at all levels.

As for England, the financial landscape is good. Despite announcing losses of £6.3m in November of last year, the RFU still turns over £119m (the largest of any union in the world) and made profits in 2011 of £8.7m. These last results are reported as expected and the £76m upgrade of Twickenham has gone ahead. The RFU have the 2015 World Cup to look forward to, which is a huge opportunity to not only maximise revenues but also grow the sport substantially.

Premiership Rugby is equally in good health with the recent renewal of the title sponsorship with Aviva. In 2010 the company paid £20m for a four-year deal, and this three-year extension is understood to show a 20% increase. Premier Rugby’s lucrative £152 million four-year deal with BT Sport to show Aviva Premiership and European matches eclipses any previous TV rights deals in Rugby Union.

This latter deal with BT Sport sent shock waves through European rugby and caused a serious rift which has yet to be resolved. The English clubs will leave the European Rugby Cup (ERC) set-up at the end of the 2013/14 season. They are seeking an alliance with the French clubs as well as the leverage of broadcasting games from that territory. This will severely increase the English clubs’ chances of initiating widespread changes throughout the sport in Europe and further increase their revenues.

So England may not have the lion’s share of the starting team for the first test against Australia, but it would appear that they are about to enter a period of all-round growth which their Celtic cousins can only look upon in envy.