Karren Brady on...being a good boss

March 14th 2015 / Anna Hunter


Are you a lamb or a lion in the boardroom? Karren Brady CBE tells us the myths and mantras of management success

Baroness Karren Brady CBE knows a thing or two about what makes a good business, and a good boss for that matter. As former managing director of Birmingham City F.C (she was first appointed age 23), she’s widely known as “The First Lady of Football”, having been appointed vice-chairman of West Ham United following the sale of Birmingham City F.C for a whopping £81.5 million. In addition to her sporting success she is also (deep breath) a politician, broadcaster, newspaper columnist, author and novelist, as well as an ambassador for Pantene #ShineStrong, a £20,000 UK fund created to give practical help to women and assist them in the pursuit of their dreams.

As chair of an expert panel of judges for #ShineStrong, Karren will not only be identifying and championing women in business, society and beyond, but she’s also unearthed some very revealing insights into women’s hopes, fears and challenges in the workplace through her partnership with Pantene. In the first of a three part ‘success’ series, Karren gives us her view on what it takes to thrive as a great manager.

Trust your instincts

“As women we’re natural nurturers of people. We want people to understand what’s expected of them and to make sure that they have the skills to be able to deliver what’s expected of them. We are prepared to give people feedback and we’re inclined to give them time to adapt. I think that all of those things make you a very strong manager of people as opposed to bosses that set unrealistic expectations or no expectation at all and then sack staff because they haven’t done what they didn’t know to do!”

Have method in your management

“Sometimes you need to be the lamb, sometimes you need to be the lion. You need to be able to motivate people by telling them what’s expected of them, communicate to them where the company’s going, how it’s going to get there, what their individual role is in that journey and if the business is successful, what’s their reward? You equally need to be able to stand up and make the decisions, because in any organisation someone needs to be in charge. That’s an important process to learn as well”

Sack off the stereotypes

“For the first time women under 40 are earning more than men and we have no all-male boards in the FTSE 100 index. More women are running companies and working in business than ever before. I think that when we focus on women in business we’re thinking of my era or my mother’s era, but now we have a younger generation of women who don’t see a barrier to ambition, or have no fear of ambition. They have role models and they look at them and think “yes, I could do that”. We found out through working with Pantene, and through our research, what holds women back. It’s not a lack of ambition; it’s education (25% of women think that more qualifications would help them to attain their dream role), childcare issues and confidence (22% state that a self-esteem boost would get them back on track). In my mind, those things are easier to overcome than a lack of ambition. Lots of women look at other women as mentors, but some men look at women and see stereotypes. Given that women under 40 are doing so well, I think that those stereotypes are becoming less and less prevalent”

Stats sourced from Pantene #ShineStrong UK-wide survey of women and men aged 18-40

Judging for the Pantene #ShineStrong fund took place last month and the 5 bursary winners will be revealed here shortly. The five winners will be awarded within the following categories:

#ShineStrong in Business (start-up or up-skilling)

#ShineStrong in Education (academic)

#ShineStrong in Life Skills (voactional training for a new career of life change)

#ShineStrong in Science (work and excellence within science)

#ShineStrong in Helping Others (charity or volunteering)

What do you think it takes to be a great boss? Do you agree with Karren? Comment below or tweet us @GetTheGloss #GetTheJob


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