Excuses, excuses…

© Lori Martin | Dreamstime Stock Photos
© Lori Martin | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I’ve been having a “bit of a moment” over the last few months where the superficiality of leadership in business in general and government specifically has caused me lots of tutting and fuffing.

It’s finally dawned on me what’s bothering me and wondered if my conclusions made sense to anyone else?

I realised a while ago that one business driver in the health sector was the sheer complexity of information around the provision of health care now. The volume of data available to inform decisions is so vast and disparate that we cannot expect an individual to consider it all when reaching decisions about care journeys and pathways. When things go wrong it is always easy for others to point to yet another set of data which “should” have been considered.

Hence the growing traction of “expert systems”, that are attempting to assist front line staff in their decision making, and “management systems”, that are attempting to assist front line staff in…well, just keeping track.

But what sort of systems are available to our business and government leaders to help them to consider all that is under their jurisdiction and to keep track of it? Nothing…they are reliant on their staff to provide them with an objective view of what’s happening and they need to be asking the right people, the right questions…even down to what they are actually spending.

Now, in my experience neither of these things happen with any rigour, if they can be avoided, as it’s all takes too much commitment to basic information gathering and analysis, when there are fun things like self-promotion to be done.

The result of this failure to gather information is that whole businesses and departments can be so badly off track before those who are leading them have any idea that things might not be as they seem.

The reaction of the leadership and their staff is to spin the real reasons that the situation is so far out of control…shock, horror…thereby maintaining the status quo and protecting both set of jobs.

We’ve seen it in government departments and the private sector…in banking it seems to be part of a standardised cycle with fines every year. It is a useful technique to master if you are a business leader who wants to avoid being saddled with responsibility…

…the alternative, which seems to have fallen out of fashion is “the buck stops here”.

Skills for the Job?

© Lisa Turay | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Lisa Turay | Dreamstime Stock Photos


On the drive to work my traffic stream was halted by a huge truck reversing round a corner into the tiny domestic driveway. I gazed at the scene without registering it…thinking about my day and what was waiting for me at the office.

Suddenly the scene snapped into focus and realised how amazing the skill of the truck driver was, reversing while turning 90 degrees, with inches to spare on each side, at some speed so as not to disrupt the rest of us for any longer than necessary.

I realised that the thought of making the same manoeuvre would have brought me out in a cold sweat, especially as it would have had to be performed in front of a host of impatient drivers cursing me for holding up their day.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not a bad driver. I can pretty much get into any vehicle and drive it. I can park parallel or otherwise, although my concentration slips sometimes and I have done that thing where you set off on a familiar journey and on arrival at your destination, don’t remember how you got there.

The driver of the truck was a man (I’ve never seen a woman truck driver in the flesh, although I’m sure there are many, so please don’t get on your high horse) and that fact took me back to my early staff management training when my lecturer told me that men are better at some tasks and women better at others.

His reasoning was that the male/hunter brain was able to focus on a single task without being distracted by anything else, whereas a female/social brain was programmed to cope with many inputs at any one time. He was telling me this to justify his opinion that women are better at repetitive production line tasks and should be restricted to this type of work, but hey,…it was the 80s.

So, the truck driver can reverse with total focus, while I am programmed to be distracted?

Is this true? Surprisingly, according to the BBC research finds it may be so.

Whilst I believe that there is probably a continuum for brain performance traits with “male” and “female” at either end, I don’t think that all male traits are a male preserve and similarly for females.

Have women and men evolved to perform some specific task better than others? In a business environment which tasks would they be, then?