Amanda Staveley, celebrity broker

December 3, 2014

Network Activator

Network Activator

Paul Hinks

The celebrity entrepreneur Amanda Staveley is involved in a consortium of investors bidding for three leading London hotels: Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley

One report suggests that the bid is from Middle East investors.

An earlier LWD post traced her background and rise to business success. Staveley, a former girlfriend of Prince Andrew, and one-time beauty model as student at Cambridge University, has a credible reputation for broking billion dollar deals through her networking skills. In 2008, she was instrumental in negotiating a £12 billion investment in Barclays Bank using money from Abu Dhabi and Qatar, before helping broker the purchase of Manchester City Football Club by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour .

Doing well what bankers do badly

Members of her network of wealthy contacts invest not only their cash, but also invest their trust in Staveley’s council and advice. The London Evening Standard speculates on important qualities that help her to deliver successful outcomes for her clients:

So how does she do it? As a woman, Staveley is negotiating uncertain terrain. She attributes her success to luck and an ability to assess and evaluate information quickly. “I can see an opportunity or a problem faster than any lawyer,” she says. “I can see a document and find a hole in it, or I can understand what I can put in to make the contract work.”

Private-equity veteran Guy Hands, who has known Staveley for years, says: “Amanda acts as a confidante to some very wealthy individuals and funds in the Middle East. She finds opportunities for them, which fit what they are trying to do. She has a very good track record and she realizes what her place is; she doesn’t tell her clients what they should want, instead she distils their wishes for them. She does what most investment bankers are bad at — she listens.”

Courage in adversity

The enviable story of success conceals personal misfortune. The Daily Standard also reports that Ms Staveley has been diagnosed as carrying the gene for Huntington’s disease, a degenerative condition which will progressively restrict her career. She has responded with courage and determination:

“It definitely gets me to the gym every day. When I have done all my exercises, I work with a therapist doing balance exercises, and I inhale antioxidants. I also shout at God occasionally.”

The author

Paul is a regular contributor to LWD on sporting, business and technology stories. His post on Apple Foxconn is the most visited, since its publication in 2012


Social Media and the diffusion of unrest

August 10, 2011

Susan Moger

Rioting in England appears to have spread contagiously across London and then to other cities in August 2011. The process calls for new thinking about the nature of leadership and the activation of social networks

Riots in London and around the country over the last three days [August 8-10, 2011] have seen widespread looting and buildings set alight. Dozens were left homeless after a night of riots on the streets of Tottenham on Saturday after a peaceful demonstration over the death of Mark Duggan a local resident, who was shot by police a few days earlier [Thursday Aug 4th].

One part of the debate centres around the concept of a trigger event as the single cause or tipping point for future actions. If we examine a historical pattern of events , comparisons have been drawn with the rioting some twenty five years ago which were triggered off by police actions in the same social housing complex (the Broadwater Farm Estate) from which the victim came.

The disturbances in London have illustrated how quickly a latent focus for unrest and mistrust can be ignited, or reignited with tragic consequences.

Urban guerrilla warfare

The situation has been particularly difficult to deal with because of the rapid spread of information that can help organisers to mobilise, operate and retreat before the police and civil authorities were able to respond. The unrest is a type of modern urban guerrilla warfare.

How social networks operate

Work on how social networks operate reveals the importance of individuals known as network activators, who have skills at mobilizing the efforts within their social networks. Our studies began with evidence from entrepreneurs who seemed able to create localized gains in social capital resulting in personal and organisational innovations and change.

The concept of network activation can be extended to actions observed within the change processes occurring in the era of social media, whether these contexts are considered desirable or not.

Structural embeddedness

The suddenness of the escalation of the riots in London and elsewhere suggests that a trigger event can produce a cascade effect. Taking the historic perspective we may consider that that the conditions for change are contained (or structurally embedded) in localised conditions. This helps explain the reappearance of patterns of behaviours in the same geographical area.

In the era of social network sites

Texting, the use of mobile devices such as a Blackberry, and the development of social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter, place the authories’ response to social disorder at a severe disadvantage. They are dealing with multi-focal events happening very quickly over a short period of time.

There are short-term steps to restoring social calm including technological fixes and more rapid and emphatic police action . However, understanding and addressing the underlying mechanisms of how such disorder arises and is sustained must also be a priority to achieving social stability and equity.

Notes:

Susan Moger is senior fellow in leadership at Manchester Business School. She has researched and written extensively about the processes of leadership, social networks and their activation. Her recent studies are to be published in the upcoming edition of the Handbook on the Knowledge Economy.

Image of Tottenham riot fire

Ironically, the first fatalities during the riots were from a hit and run driver. [Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir]. Haroon’s father Tariq Jahan became a powerful figure pleading for community restraint [Aug 11th].

See also Clifford Stott’s analysis challenging ‘the mindset of a mob mentality’


The Posh and Becks of Banking: Diana and Roger Jenkins

July 21, 2009

Roger Jenkins

Sanela Diana Jenkins

Roger Jenkins, celebrity socialite banker is to start his own consulting firm. His story, and that of his wife Diana, illustrate the glamorous side of international finance

Barclays avoided any government bailout in 2008 by raising £7bn, mainly from investors in the Middle East. A key player was the arbitrage figure Roger Jenkins. Now, regulation of the bonuses of such celebrity bankers may have influenced him to quit and start his own consulting firm [July 2009].

According to City rumours picked up in the media,

The top executives of Barclays have given up their bonuses, but do not expect Roger Jenkins to forgo his…Mr. Jenkins, who runs the hugely profitable tax arbitrage unit of Barclays was the matchmaker between the British banking giant and Middle Eastern investors who put £5.8 billion ($8.6 billion) into Barclays. His looming reward, perhaps more than £30 million (almost $45 million), underscores how much cash-constrained institutions must reward the deal makers crucial to their survival — even at a time of austerity and caution in international banking.

The article goes on to mention a similarly richly-rewarded financial figure of Amanda Staveley who figured in an earlier Leaders We Deserve post as one of the most successful network activators in the business.

In a short space of time, the rumour was confirmed.

It should not come as a surprise that Mr. Jenkins plans to set up his new venture close to his family. It was his wife, Sanela Diana Jenkins, who introduced him in 2006 to Sheik Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the prime minister of Qatar and director of its sovereign wealth fund. Mrs. Jenkins is a prominent socialite whose friends include Mick Jagger and Paris Hilton.

A picture emerges of an energetically ambitious couple, the Becks and Posh of banking maybe.

[Note: Becks and Posh aka David and Victoria Beckam, is becoming a short-hand term in the UK for an extreme celebrity liferstyle]

The glamour of banking

Glamour and bankers are not particularly strongly associated. Except maybe in the old idea of the intoxicating effect that loadsamoney has on loadsapeople.

Yet both the Jenkins partnership and Staveley are often mentioned as glamorous figures.

Both are considered to be essential deal-making intermediaries through their skills at winning the trust and friendship of mega-wealthy Middle Eastern figures. They are the superstar performers of banking, and their rewards are those of superstar entertainers. In more humble leadership theory, they have vital skills of network activation.

Acknowledgements

Image of Roger Jenkins from Bad Idea

Image of Sanela Diana Jenkins Sanela Diana Jenkins from UCLA Law School site . but not downloadable from her own website when I tried, [July 21st 2009]


Creative Leadership is Linked to Team Effectiveness

August 28, 2008

Researchers at Manchester Business School have established a clear link between effective leaders and their skills at encouraging creative change. They propose an explanation based on the introduction of benign structures which help shape team behaviours and innovative results

Since its inception in the 1960s, Manchester Business School has been engaged in applied studies into creativity and leadership. The School provides an unusual laboratory for studying leadership behaviours. Its approach, known as The Manchester Method, is one in which teams of business students engage with real-life business projects for an organizational client.

The Project Team Studies

Over the period 1980 to 2000, approximately 4500 participants, in 700 teams have been studied. From this work, a general principle of creative leadership emerged. Year after year, the tutors found three levels of project team performance, which they traced to a team’s leadership.

A small proportion of weak teams (‘teams from hell’) struggled to reach any effective result on the project. The majority of the teams (‘standard teams’) achieved the goals set them to the satisfaction of the client. Only a minority of teams performed beyond expectations (‘dream teams’).

What Constitutes a Dream team? Establishing Benign Structures for Change

Researchers Tudor Rickards and Susan Moger concluded that the dream teams they had observed were characterised by a capacity to go beyond the project brief in a creative way which added unexpected value for the client. They documented their findings in Handbook for Creative Team Leaders.

Later, the work was reported in several scholarly articles outlining the theory , and practical findings.

The key findings were summarized an article in The British Journal of Management

We propose that theories of project team development and of creativity can be integrated into a new conceptual framework. The framework proposes two structural barriers that bear on team performance, and modifies the well-established team development model of Tuckman. Creative leadership is suggested as an important means of breaching the barriers. Its differentiating feature seems to be its effectiveness in establishing protocols that sustain the creative efforts of team members. We have designated the protocols `benign structures’. Empirical evidence is provided from a range of studies of project teams in industrial settings.

Benign structures: An explanatory metaphor

A physiotherapist identifies that you have developed unhelpful ways of sitting in front of your computer. Your standard procedures can be improved. She suggests a series of procedures or rule you can follow to break old habits and develop ones that are more beneficial for your health.

She has introduced you to benign structures, which if you accept and follow will improve your future behaviour and health.

Benign Structures in Teams

In project teams, benign structures can again be thought of as procedures or rules introduced by the team leader. As with the structure provided by the physiotherapist, these also increase chances of improved performance and team climate or health.

How does a Leader Provide Benign Structures? The Two-Barrier Explanation

For many years, Organisational Behaviour texts describe a theory originally proposed by Bruce Tuckman, in which all teams develop progress through a series of stages labelled forming, storming, norming, and performing.

The Manchester researchers suggested a modification to this theory. They propose two barriers to team effectiveness. The first barrier defeats the poorest teams, probably at the storm stage of team development. Standard and dream teams progress beyond the first barrier but then the second barrier arrests progress of the majority of the residual teams.

The second barrier is at the norm stage of team development. Only by breaking out of its accepted norms is a team able to establish new norms. Then we have the conditions in which team is able to exceed the expectations of its corporate sponsor, but also its own assumptions about the project.

This modified theory has now been studied in Russia, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and the United States as well as in the United Kingdom.

Leadership, team barriers, creativity, and benign structures appear to be a universal feature of effective leadership practices. The results have been found far beyond work in the business-school projects.

Benign Structures take a team ‘Out of the Box’

It has become a business cliché to describe creativity as out-of-the-box thinking. The cliché takes on more specific meaning if we relate it to the process whereby the dream teams successfully challenged their project briefs. Their creative outputs were novel, unexpected and yet relevant.

Development of Creative Team Leaders

The studies offer ways of developing creative leaders, and supporting the production of benign structures. Within the MBA courses, various possibilities for benign structures are introduced. These include a creative problem-solving approach developed from the well-known Parnes-Osborn treatment. Another structure draws on Edward de Bono’s celebrated Lateral thinking methods, including Six Thinking Hats .

Other ways of structuring creativity include ways of dealing with unconscious rejection mechanisms towards new ideas in teams. The team leader is sensitized to the importance of developing a positive ‘Yes And’ approach to replace a negative ‘Yes But’ one.

On-going Studies (1999-2008)

A long-running project now approaching its 10th year is tracking the progress of highly successful business leaders for their creative leadership characteristics. One of the findings is the identification of a process described as Network Activation.

Conclusion

In the past, creativity may have been considered distinct from the skills needed for success as a leader. This view is likely to be revised in the future, as leaders are recognised as achieving added-value through the introduction of creativity-supporting interventions (benign structures) which help groups overcome self-limiting assumptions, in a wide range of social and economic contexts.