CMI chief exec awarded honorary degree

17 July 2015 -


Ann Francke was described as “a transformational leader” as she picked up her degree. Read on to find our her five rules for being a good role model.

Matt Scott

CMI chief executive Ann Francke has been awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Business Administration by the University of the West of England Bristol.

The university described Francke as “a transformational leader with vision, pace and proven ability… and an expert on current challenges facing women in the workplace”.

She was awarded the degree at the Awards Ceremony of the Faculty of Business and Law in Bristol Cathedral in recognition of her achievements in management and leadership.

Noel Burchell, pro vice-chancellor and executive dean of the Faculty of Business and Law, said: "We have been struck by the strong leadership, energy and passion Ann applies to the improvement of management practice. In particular we applaud her work as a champion of diversity making good business sense." 

Upon accepting the degree, Francke took the opportunity to encourage the graduating students to be ‘real world role models’.

”The real world is full of challenges and as we enter it I believe we have to try to be real world role models - and help make it a better place,” she said. “That is easier said than done.

“At CMI I am CEO for this reason. I spent my working life in many major companies, holding global executive positions at P&G, Mars, Boots and Yell. I saw many real world role models of good, and many more real world role models of bad, and also shared the experiences with many of my colleagues.

“I can tell you that nothing drags you down more day-to-day than a bad boss. And equally, good bosses can help make working life very wonderful indeed. People work for - and leave - other people, not jobs.”

Ann Francke’s Five Rules For Being a Good Role Model

1. Be inclusive, not exclusive - get diverse, get ethical and get happy

Diversity delivers better results in all endeavours. Make sure you don’t fall victim to group thinking by surrounding yourself with people just like you. Branch out. Gender diversity, age diversity, cultural diversity, sexual diversity you name it - it’s good for you. It broadens your perspective and empathy and helps reduce the risk that group thinking creates.

There should be no separation between your personal and professional values. And yet our research shows people often leave their care ethic at home when they do their daily commute. That means they are less human to co-workers. So always ask yourself - would I want my kid/mother/dog to be treated this way? If the answer is no - don’t treat your co-worker that way either!

I’ll never forget early in my career when I was super-focussed and task-obsessed with a major career-defining product launch and had three talented young people working for me. One day they came into my office and shut the door. They said: “You always come in head down, and storm into your office and shut the door. You never acknowledge us or say hello, except to inspect our work. You make us feel devalued.” Whoa! What a wakeup call. I changed my style and we became a great team who delivered a highly successful launch. By the way - I never deliberately set out to be mean, I simply didn’t appreciate the impact of my own behaviour on others. That’s all about the ethic of care.

Lastly, happy people are 12% more productive. The founder of one famous high performing UK firm defined his purpose as “the happiness of his co-workers”. Who was the founder? John Lewis. Happiness at work is never knowingly undersold.

So, enjoy what you do, be aware of how what you do impacts others and be yourself at work in the real world

2. Try to coach, not control – no one likes a control freak

If you Google ‘my manager is…’, one of the first things that comes up is: ‘my manager is a control freak’. This is a bad – but incredibly common – habit. Don’t fall into it, and if you find yourself working for a control freak – point it out to them. You will be doing them a favour.

Again, coaching managers deliver much higher productivity. Even Google agrees with that. Having studied the eight top characteristics of good managers, Google found that valuing employees as people (rule number one) and coaching (rule number two) were the top two on the list. The last one on the list? Technical competence.

Being a good manager is all about behaviour. Job satisfaction is 2.5 times higher, as is growth, in coaching cultures. And remember coaching is about regular feedback, so please - if you are a manager - sit down once every one or two weeks and have a conversation, and if you are in your first job, make sure your manager has regular conversations with you at least twice a month. Insist on it!

3. Clarify, don’t confuse – never use jargon

Check that people understand you and you have understood them. Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of friction and bad management in the workplace. And good communication skills were rated the number one ask by employers looking for new managers in a study CMI did with a Dr. Harrington.

How to communicate clearly? Use one-syllable words. I recommend the 10-year-old test: if a 10-year-old cannot understand it, then chances are others won’t either.

4. Embrace change, don’t fear it – change is the new norm

Nine out of 10 organisations change every year, yet 75% of people still fear it. Don’t. Embrace it, and the risks and rewards it brings.

Accept that change will also apply to you on a personal level. Your career will have many twist and turns, unexpected opportunities and setbacks. You will choose the wrong job, join the wrong organisation, and get fired. I know I have, more than once!

Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is absolutely necessary for success and builds resilience. You will always learn more from failures than from successes, so celebrate change and celebrate failures.

5. Collaborate, don’t just compete - collaboration is a wonderful way of working

Increasingly in our tech enabled world collaboration is the way forward. Open source has changed things forever. If you look at coding culture, collaboration is deeply ingrained - as it is in many tech-enabled cultures.

The internet has made community, transparency and sharing much easier, so please try to work that way as well. It’s more rewarding and often more successful. And if you don’t collaborate but continue to bully your suppliers and customers, you end up with horsemeat where the beef should be. Or huge fines. Plus, you won’t be making the world a better place.

At CMI one of our strategic cornerstones is to work in partnership – as improving management and leadership is far too big a task for one organisation to tackle alone.

Read Ann Francke’s recent interview with the London Evening Standard: Bringing equality to the workplace and cutting out the accidental manager.

You can also purchase her book, The FT Guide to Management, from the CMI bookshop here.

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