Once upon a time working in the public sector was considered a service to, well the public. Some people considered it an honour (and in due course some senior people received them).
Others saw it as a duty to their fellow citizens; others of course just saw it as a job for life. And it often was.
Pay wasn’t always great but there was that thing called job security and a tidy pension with a lump sum if you stayed the course.
Times change and most people are lucky to have a pension. But people at the very top in the public sector are very well paid having had they pay levels linked (incorrectly in my view) to private sector pay levels.
But what is increasingly common is the sense of infallibility. No matter how badly things go – it’s not their fault. I’m so tired of hearing that “Lessons will be learned”. How long have we been hearing that particular meaningless mantra?
I’ve posted on this before (See Leaders without any shame) and sometimes feel no-one in positions of authority really cares that public are let down, lives lost unnecessarily or young lives blighted.
The most recent case in point is the Oxford grooming gang. Just as in Rochdale and elsewhere, the local authority and the police knew about it for years but did nothing. In fact a joint police/social services task force wasn’t set up in Oxfordshire until 2011.
Both the Oxfordshire County Council Chief Executive Joanna Simmons and the Thames Valley Chief Constable Sara Thornton have faced calls to resign but neither has yet done so. Simmons says she’s asked herself some hard questions. Thornton has said “I accept responsibility and, as I’ve said, I am very sorry that it took so long to take this case to court but the focus has got to be on moving forward.” They’re obviously following the example set by Sir David Nicholson.
For some reason the Prime Minister has rejected calls for a public inquiry into these scandals in children’s homes in Rochdale and Oxford. Where’s the sense of duty, honour, and accountability?
New research shows that women undervalue themselves when part of a male team but are happy to take credit when their colleagues are female.
The researcher, Dr Michelle Haynes at the University of Massachusetts, who wanted to see how women viewed themselves in teams, feels that this damages their earning potential and stops them getting to the top.
She set up experiments where participants worked remotely with people from typical male roles such as a managing supervisor at an investment company.
There was no other person involved however but the participants didn’t know that and they were then asked to both give and receive feedback about their team’s performance.
When they did this the women gave more credit to the supposed male team-mate and took less credit themselves. When their supposed team mates were female however they were happy to take credit for the team’s performance showing that they didn’t undervalue themselves in that setting.
Dr Haynes said “This finding is critical because it debunks the notion that what we found is simply a function of women being modest in groups” and “if women view their own contribution less favourably than they regard the contribution of their male co-workers, it is likely to impact how women view their efficacy at work and the degree to which they are likely to to vie for competitive projects and promotions”.
This study was published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
Other research about women working in teams has found that:
Women perform worse after receiving feedback in a mixed team
Adding women to a team can increase the group IQ level
And do women actually like working in teams?
The issue of men and women working together is a rich area for research.
Throw children into the mix and you can get some surprising results
Influencing is a key skill for leaders and everyone in management positions.
It is seen by some as manipulating people but I believe you can make a distinction.
I regard influencing as an ethical use of skills with a positive intent.
Manipulative behaviour is that described in my post “Leadership – the Dark Side” or as offered by some NLP practitioners training gullible people ie men, in sure-fire dating skills!
Robert Cialdini is one of the most respected experts in this field – and, as suggested by the title of his book; “Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion”, he does see it as a science with evidence to back up his theories.
He believes there are 6 universal principles of social influence. These are:
- Reciprocation – we feel obliged to return favours
- Authority – we look to experts to lead the way
- Commitment/consistency – people want to act in alignment with their values
- Scarcity - the less available something is the more we want it
- Liking – the more we like people the more we want to say yes to them
- Social proof – we prefer to behave in the same way as others
Cialdini and his co-authors set out techniques based on these principles in; “YES! 50 secrets from the science of persuasion”. If you want to know why charities send you small gifts, how hotels can persuade guests to recycle towels, or how waiters can improve their tips, read this book. You can also watch a Youtube presentation here.
So you don’t have to be a mentalist or a master of the black arts of NLP to be a more effective influencer, just try these evidence-based techniques to make a difference in an ethical way.
Updated from original post June 2010