Today is my birthday and so, according to tradition, a higher number is now my age.
I am now unequivocally middle-aged, almost certainly closer to the grave than the cradle, but I don’t mind too much. I like being middle-aged, it suits my personality: being young was fun, for sure, but it was a chore compared to the don’t-mess-with-me-I’m-over-50 vibe that comes with the middle-age gig.
This is not just me making the best of the unavoidable march of time.
I have come to appreciate that the best things in life: good conversation, good wine, good books, are not so available in the noisy discotheques of my youth where I anxiously tried to fit in and appear attractive to women. Now I can relax and enjoy the conversation, the wine and the books and not get all antsy about looking idiotic dancing to Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick” at the Chocolate Factory.
This, according to the phrase coined by NASA administrator Daniel Goldin in 1992, makes me “pale, male, and stale”: a self-deprecating description cooked up by a middle-aged white man to make the point that filling your top jobs with middle-aged white men, year after year, is a myopic leadership strategy.
Goldin didn’t describe the individuals as “stale”, just the organisation’s leadership as a whole, but the “stale” tag has become a synonym for “middle-aged” when used in conjunction with “pale” (meaning white) and “male” (meaning man).
This is a bit annoying.
Continue reading “Pale, male, and pissed off at being called stale” →
As a Leeds United fan, I was horrified to see a tweet by the club contributing to the online abuse directed at football pundit Karen Carney.
Carney had expressed the oft-repeated view that Leeds might not be able to keep going with their fast-paced game throughout the whole season.
She went on to opine that, in the previous season, the Covid-lockdown break had insulated the team from burnout by allowing them time to recharge their batteries and come back to the last ten games full of renewed vigour: “I actually think they got promoted because of Covid in terms of it giving them a bit of respite. I don’t know if they’d have got up if they didn’t have that break,” she said, with ex-Leeds striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink nodding along beside her.
Continue reading “Equal treatment doesn’t always lead to equal outcomes” →
This is a great article from HBR about creating great places to work – in my opinion, one of the most interesting challenges in the workplace for leaders and managers.
The list chimes with most research about motivation: people being engaged in meaningful work, being respected and allowed to focus on what they’re good at … that sort of thing (rather than things like pay, holiday entitlement, and the frequency with which the manager buys donuts on a Friday), but I think the article misses one key point: great managers.
This is implied, but I think needs to be explicit.
To deliver on the six factors they identify, you necessarily need great managers and leaders – but it works the other ways around too. Without great managers, this list becomes hollow, a list of stated ambitions that sound clichéd but don’t change anything – so yes, great list, very worthy, but start with the managers … get that right, and the rest will plop into place with the right guidance.
Continue reading “To create great workplaces you need great managers” →