Why there are no gay football players in England

April 30, 2013

Jason CollinsOf course there are. The more interesting question is why there is so much reluctance for any of them to declare their sexuality, at a time when American businessmen are saying that in sport at the moment “it pays to be gay”

This week, Jason Collins, an American basketball athlete spoke up and revealed that he was gay. It was treated as a monumental event. At very least it is an act of leadership, bravery or desperation.

The Daily News reported:

Jason Collins is the first active athlete in a major American sport to announce that he is gay, but ESPN radio’s Jared Max says he won’t be the last. Collins has been rightly applauded as a civil rights pioneer who will embolden other closeted athletes to stop hiding their sexuality and start living honest lives. By simply being who he is, he will also become a role model for all those kids who struggle with depression and self-doubt because of their sexuality.

It wasn’t that long ago when homophobic athletes felt free to share their anti-gay attitudes with the rest of the world. Teammates remained silent, unwilling to make waves in a macho world where homosexuality was perceived as weakness. But a new generation of athletes, ones that grew up in a world where actors, politicians, business leaders and professionals are openly gay, has taken over the nation’s stadiums and arenas, and many of them are more concerned about their teammate’s ability to turn a double play than who he is dating. There’s been a big change in front offices, too. Giants co-owner Steve Tisch was among the NFL executives and players who submitted a brief in support of gay marriage to the United States Supreme Court.

The attitude of sponsors, too, has radically changed in recent years. Nike has been eagerly anticipating the first active player to come out. Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts – who came out two years ago himself – told Bloomberg News earlier this month that Nike officials made it clear to him in a recent meeting that they would fully embrace the first gay athlete in major sport.
That’s why we are likely to see more players come out in the very near future: It will pay to be gay. Companies that cater to gay men and lesbians will shovel sponsorship dollars at athletes they believe will help their businesses grow.

Collins’ announcement, of course, won’t end homophobia any more than Jackie Robinson eliminated racism when he broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. “It won’t be all rosy,” Max says. “The part of the world that is ignorant won’t change overnight. But this is a victory for closeted athletes. It’s a victory for us as Americans.”

Irony in a supportive article

I could not help noting some accidental irony in what was a thoroughly supportive article in which one sports analyst quoted as saying that “[T]he entire National League East could come out by Memorial Day and receive far more cheers than jeers.” [The entire league. That would be a surprise]. The article also noted that “Nike officials made it clear [to Golden State Warriors president Rick Welts – who came out two years ago himself] that they would fully embrace the first gay athlete in major sport [who would come out].

Meanwhile in the UK

In the UK, there have been gay athletes who have declared their sexuality, but only at the end of their careers. In football, a vociferous section of the fans will use any form of abuse that might rattle an opponent. The most noxious racist chants are being legislated out of the game. But a gay player may still feel that the American belief that “It pays to be gay” comes at a considerable personal cost.

Update

On the other hand, in another sport loving nation, McDonalds, an Olympic sponsor is embroiled in a gay discrimination case


Antony Jenkins leads a transformational programme [‘RISES’] at Barclays

April 27, 2013

 

NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS:  THIS POST FROM APRIL 2013 IS UPDATED AS THE CASE STUDY DEVELOPS

By Nigel Aldcroft

Antony JenkinsAntony Jenkins has been Group Chief Executive of Barclays PLC for less than a year and has already made quite an impression within the company. His RISES programme is accompanied by nearly 4000 job losses

A recent article in Business Week suggests that Barclay’s self-described ‘transformational leader’ [image above] faces a number of key dilemmas.

Banking Turnaround

Amid the recent banking scandals, and in an effort to turn Barclays around, Jenkins has announced that following on from a recent strategic review he intends to reduce headcount by at least 3,700 this year across the group as part of the new ‘Transform’ programme.

He recently introduced a plan which creates the positive sounding acronym ‘RISES’ [Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence and Stewardship]. These are not values that immediately spring to mind in banking, yet progress can be seen at most Barclays’ offices.

Jenkins has taken a no-nonsense approach telling staff to ‘shape up – or ship out’ This abrupt and clear approach suggests symbolic leadership signals.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Creative Business of Music Making

April 23, 2013

Gábor Takács-NagyResearchers from Manchester Business School in conjunction with the Manchester Camerata Chamber Orchestra are showing that making music has more in common with the principles of business leadership than is generally imagined

Manchester Business School and the Manchester Camerata occupy facing buildings in the heart of the city and opposite the Commonwealth Games swimming arena. The Camerata shares the magnificent facilities of The Royal Northern College of Music. The college and business school are close enough for friendships to form in their respective eating facilities. From such chance encounters, business academics and musicians are investigating what they can learn from one another in the fields of making music and developing management and leadership skills.

Orchestras and organizations alike

At one level it is obvious. Orchestras and organizations rely on the guidance of leaders. Great orchestras and businesses are also often noted for their charismatic leaders.

“When you look more deeply you see other similarities” explained Camerata’s chief executive Bob Riley. “An orchestra has leaders of its various instrumental groupings with the first violinist having broader responsibilities. Management theory is becoming increasingly interested in the way such distributed leadership operates. Now the same sorts of ideas seem to apply to the workings of an orchestra”.

The golden period

A press release from the Camerata indicates its innovative approach to music making and how it is entering into a golden period of music making.

Manchester Camerata is entering a golden period under the inspirational guidance of the renowned Hungarian musician Gábor Takács-Nagy [pictured above]. The Camerata’s achievements were recently recognised in a generous loan of a 1709 Stradivarius by benefactor Jonathan Moulds, President of Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s European business. The instrument will be played by leader Giovanni Guzzo while on extended loan to the Manchester Camerata. Only a handful of orchestras world-wide are privileged to have a Stradivarius of this quality for their leader to play.

The appointment of Giovanni Guzzo alongside Takács-Nagy has created a dynamic music-making partnership which, alongside the outstanding musicians already in the Camerata’s ranks, has taken the orchestra’s playing to another level.

Watch this space


Leadership lessons from the life of Margaret Thatcher

April 18, 2013

Margaret Thatcher Freedom Fighter

A post on Leadership Lessons from the life of Margaret Thatcher is under preparation. It will include an examination of obituaries and appraisals in the media over the period between her death and her funeral [April 8th -April 17th 2013].

These include the view from The Economist which concluded

This is a crucial time to hang on to Margaret Thatcher’s central perception: that for countries to flourish, people need to push back against the advance of the state. What the world needs now is more Thatcherism, not less.

Subscribers’ comments will be welcomed.


Drugs, the silk road, and new money-laundering systems

April 16, 2013

BitcoinThe market in illegal drugs continues to keep a step ahead of efforts to control it. New technology is already being applied to complement or replace older practices of money laundering

In researching the rise of new technology banking, I came across the rapidly-growing Bit Coin system. It struck me as interesting to those engaged in nefarious operations such as drug trafficking. I was not surprised to learn that the idea had already occurred to others.

According to its own website

Bitcoin is a digital currency, a protocol, and a software that enables instant peer to peer transactions, worldwide payments, low or zero processing fees, and much more.
Bitcoin uses peer to peer technology to operate with no central authority; managing transactions and issuing Bitcoins are carried out collectively by the network. Through many of its unique properties, Bitcoin allows exciting uses that could not be covered by any previous payment systems.

How does Bitcoin work?

The International Business Times offers a nice explanation of how bitcoin works

April 16-17th

Paul Krugman in the International Herald tribute writes of The fallacy of bitbugism. Further insights were provided in a BBC review.


Hawkeye wins goal-line battle in England

April 12, 2013

Goal Control technologyThe Hawkeye subsidiary of Sony wins the battle for supplying goal line technology in England, after losing out to Goal Control for the World Cup

You heard it here first. LWD has been monitoring the entrepreneurial leadership at Hawkeye, long before it was taken over by Sony. Our students have predicted its diversification into football monitoring technology since the takeover.

A surprise defeat

Last week, we reported a surprise defeat [April 3rd 2012] in its efforts to provide its well-established system for the forthcoming Football World Cup in Brazil. The victor was an even younger and less well-known German organization known as Goal Control.

After a defeat, victory

Yesterday, [April 11th 2012] The Premier League clubs announced that they would be using the Hawkeye system next season to prevent goal-line errors. The Lampard ‘goal that wasn’t’ [England versus Germany, World Cup 2012] has been mentioned as a contributing factor in the decision to accept the new technology. I assume it was a rational decision to chose the UK [Japanese] system over the German one…

On slips cups and lips

If I may be permitted another editorial cliché, there may be many a slip between the [World] cup and lip. Or at least between winning the first battles and winning the war for competitive leadership in football. Goal Line technology is seen as no more than a first-stage in the process of change in football.

Updates

This is an updatable blog. Fresh information will be supplied as it emerges.


Diana Gould, Mrs Thatcher and the sinking of the Belgrado

April 9, 2013


The life and achievements of Mrs Thatcher are being re-examined in the minutest detail. One piece of unfinished business is the ultimate fate of the Falkland Islands over which she went into battle

News of the death of Margaret Thatcher [8th April 2013] confirmed her iconic status, and the aptness of the title of the recent film about her The Iron Lady. The posthumous comments of those who knew her brought back my own fragmented memories. These include her substantial political achievements from humble origins; her wresting of power to become a formidable global figure noted for her robustness and straight speaking; her contribution addressing economic weaknesses (‘the British disease’) at home, her tireless efforts fighting to retain the status of her country abroad, and her deep suspicions over Europe’s regional direction of change.

A leader for our times?

Even today, I find my executive students mostly admiring of her no-nonsense confrontational leadership style. Admiration seems to grow, the further you go from the UK. Japan, China [with muted reservations in Hong Kong], India, and The United States would provide examples of different cultures recognizing her unique leadership characteristics.

“Where there is discord…”

Her first speech as Prime Minister on the steps of Downing Street has been replayed many times in the last twenty four hours. It was allowed to speak for itself. Her choice of quotation from St Francis seemed as inappropriate from her as it might have been appropriate from the New Pope: “Where there is discord let there be harmony…” For me, the speech captures a shadow-side of Mrs Thatcher and her mask of command, and an insensitivity to the ironic. At her death she remained a deeply divisive figure in the UK.

Missing in dispatches

In nearly one thousand posts mostly on leadership issues, I have hardly written about Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. From time to time I collected notes intending to assemble them into a broader examination. Here is one from an article in The Independent

It was 1983 and the run-up to the general election. In the Nationwide studio at BBC TV Centre, Sue Lawley was hosting a live phone-in with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was confidently looking forward to a second term of office for the Conservatives.

Then Diana Gould, a 58-year-old geography teacher from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, came on the air. Her disembodied voice asked: “Mrs Thatcher, why, when the Belgrano, the Argentinian battleship, was outside the exclusion zone and actually sailing away from the Falklands, why did you give the orders to sink it?”

Thatcher replied: “But it was not sailing away from the Falklands. It was in an area which was a danger to our ships.”

Revealing a geography teacher’s precision, Gould persisted. “It was on a bearing of 280 and it was already west of the Falklands, so I cannot see how you can say it was not sailing away from the Falklands.

“When it was sunk,” said Thatcher, “It was a danger to our ships.”

“No,” said Gould firmly, “You just said at the beginning of your answer that it was not sailing away from the Falklands, and I am asking you to correct that statement.”

Rattled, Thatcher blustered about the exclusion zone, but Gould came back with the “north of West” bearing and would not let it drop until Gould was faded out. She became an overnight heroine: the woman who stood up to Thatcher, virtually accusing her of a war crime.

Thatcher was furious, and relations between government and the BBC were soured through the 1980s.


Leadership Lessons from HBOS and the new social class of Loads of Money Elites

April 8, 2013

Loads of moneyThree previously much-lauded leaders from the banking group HBOS are severely criticized in a parliamentary report in the UK. There are powerful lessons to be learned. Insights from a new social class indicator are also worth noting.

This week a popularization from an academic study suggested a new model of social class in the UK. One category is being considered to be at “the top” of the seven classes, and receives the meretricious label of the elite group. Equally clear is the group occupying the least desirable social niche, the newly identified Precariat.

The abuse of labels

One of the lead researchers, Professor Mike Savage of the London School of Economics is quoted as saying

“It is striking that we have been able to discern a distinctive elite, whose sheer economic advantage sets it apart from other classes… At the opposite extreme, we have discerned the existence of a sizable group [the Precariat] – 15 per cent of the population – which is marked by the lack of any significant amount of economic, cultural, or social capital.”

Is it a simple linear scale?

My reading of the popular reporting of the study is that the seven categories are being placed along a “top to bottom” spectrum as if a simple linear scale exists through which individuals may or may not be socially mobile. But that is a different and more technical story.

My main point is that the bankers at HBOS serve to illustrate the new social concept labelled the elite ‘class’. Weber used such classifications as idealized descriptions of his sociological concepts. Here they are value laden. The elites are “top” people, because we attribute positive connotations to those with loads of money. They are seen as the worthy wealthy. Our Chancellor, George Osborne, is among those vocal in identifying the undeserving and feckless at the “bottom” of the social pile.

The HBOS Three

To return to HBOS, the three members of the elite class named and shamed in the report are Former HBOS chief executive Sir James Crosby, brilliant Harvard graduate Andy Hornby recruited by Crosby, and who replaced him as CEO in 2006, and Lord Stephenson, chairman of Halifax [the H of HBOS]

Let’s cut off their honours

The commission report recommended social sanctions on the three leaders, withdrawal of honours, and prohibition from posts involving financial dealings.

The Guardian unsurprisingly was indignant:

“Primary responsibility for these failures should lie with the former chairman of HBOS, Lord Stevenson, and its former chief executives, Sir James Crosby and Andy Hornby,” concludes the report. It is astonishing that, almost half a decade after the implosion of HBOS, a parliamentary commission with a roving brief has provided the first official account of what went wrong.

Royal Bank of Scotland will always hold top spot in British banking’s hall of shame by virtue of its sheer size and the ludicrous top-of-the-market purchase of ABN Amro, but HBOS stands alone “as a home grown failure in traditional banking”, as the report puts it. The commissioners have killed stone dead the notion that HBOS was, in some vague sense, an innocent victim of the hurricane in financial markets around the time of the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.


Chess provides excellent leadership lessons in the 2013 Candidates Tournament

April 6, 2013

The qualifying battles to become world chess champion in London this year showed why chess is considered an excellent metaphor for the processes of strategic decision-making

Magnus CarlsenI have often blogged about the merits of chess as a metaphor for strategic thinking. The last three weeks [March 14th – April 1st 2013] reinforced my beliefs.

The Candidates Tourney

London hosted the qualifying competition, with the winner going to a one-on-one shootout with current world champion Vishy Anand of India. In the UK, news coverage prior to the tournament was extremely limited. In contrast, chess enthusiasts had excellent live streaming of all games on specialized sites.

Watching live

For those with time to spend, you could watch the battles live in the afternoons (starting time 2pm local time). The format was our matches each day played simultaneously, with all eight contenders in action. This made it easy for the expert commentators (mostly grand-masters) to chat happily about moves played and about to be played, working their way from match to match. The technology did not quite work, but the commentators coped with the gliches well, particularly in the last hour of the last day, when the result still depended on the remaining two games. It seems an estimated million chess players world- wide had seized up the servers.

The Chess Federation [FIDE} website captured the tension of the last round of matches:

Magnus Carlsen [image above from wikipedia: Ed] won the FIDE Candidates’ Tournament in London on Monday after a bizarre finish of what has become a historic event for chess. Both the Norwegian and the other leader, Vladimir Kramnik of Russia, unexpectedly lost their game in the final round, and so they remained tied for first place and Carlsen won on the second tie-break rule: higher number of wins. This means that in the next title match, World Champion Viswanathan Anand will face Carlsen.

Marketability

The few popular news stories concentrated on Carlsen’s extreme youth, and marketability for himself and the game of Chess. “No problem with finding a sponsor for the World Championship” one commentator chortled.

Bizarre end

When the technology was restored, the rest of the chess world learned that Carlson had lost a game in which he had played weakly his standards as the highest rated player in the World. He could still be overtaken by former World Champion Kramnik who also seemed to be losing. After a nervous wait, Kramnik resigned, and Carlsen was declared winner.

Chess lesson

I am still reflecting on the lessons for strategic leaders offered by the players and their commentators. Carlsen, utterly fatigued at the press conference immediately after he had learned of Kramnik’s loss added one new lesson [for me, anyway]. “We were all tiring in the last rounds. My sense of danger weakened.” Worth remembering by business leaders needing to deal with their dilemmas…


Goal Control wins first battle for football’s goal-line technology leadership

April 3, 2013

Goal ControlGoal Control is an unexpected winner which has emerged in the battle for Football’s goal-line technology

The German company Goal Control won the battle for installing goal line technology in football over the earlier favourite Hawkeye.
The decision was announced yesterday [April 3rd 2013] by Football’s international governing body FIFA.

According to the Guardian:

The British-based company Hawk-Eye has been frustrated in its attempt to supply goalline technology at the Confederations Cup in Brazil this summer, and most likely at next year’s World Cup, after Fifa surprisingly awarded the contract to the German company, GoalControl.

Its system, GoalControl-4D, uses 14 high-speed cameras located around the pitch and directed at both goals and was selected by world football’s governing body ahead of three other Fifa-licensed technology providers, including Hawk-Eye. While losing out on the contract represents a blow to the British firm, it still aspires to provide goalline technology to the English domestic game and is one of four companies still in talks with the Premier League and the Football Association over the potential introduction of a camera-based system as early as next season. It will compete again with GoalControl, GoalRef and CAIROS for the honour to provide a system for the 20 Premier League grounds and Wembley.

Bouncing back

Hawk-Eye has expressed its disappointment at losing out on the contract. “Sport teaches us many lessons, including accepting defeat graciously and having confidence in your ability to bounce back strongly,” it said in a statement. “Hawk-Eye wishes Fifa and the appointed goalline technology supplier every success at the Fifa Confederations Cup 2013.”

Declaring an interest

Regular subscribers to LWD will recall that we identified HawkEye as a fine example of a high technology company with an entrepreneurial leader. We also speculated on its future after being taken over by Sony. Students studying the case pointed to the football market as a promising future development for the new company.

What happens next?

The statement by Hawkeye is heartedly upbeat. Meanwhile, we will now dig more deeply to learn more of the story of the late-entry by Goal Control which claimed victory in the first battle over goal line technology. The company website is less than helpful in this respect.

Update

The Herald sun of Australia noted that

FIFA, through its rule-making panel known as IFAB, approved goal-line technology last July, when Hawk-Eye and GoalRef passed the rigorous testing process. Those systems were tested at the Club World Cup in Japan last December, before Cairos and GoalControl had even been licensed.