The 'Tightrope Walkers' are fostering power with integrity in London’s business community
The City of London not only helps drive the UK economy but has a power and influence that is felt around the world – a power that is built on the quality of its people, the services it provides, and crucially on its reputation for integrity and fair dealing.
Unfortunately, several scandals over recent years – from PPI-mis-selling to Libor-rigging – have damaged the City’s reputation. Furthermore, the City has failed to move with the times in embracing diversity and gender equality as illustrated by too many high-profile stories of gender bias and sexual harassment.
Better corporate governance and even government intervention may have their place. But to build a culture of integrity across the City, and London’s wider business community, change must also come from within organizations and from the bottom up. In the case of the diversity issue, previously bias was seen as a throw-back to an older soon-to-retire generation, but this excuse doesn’t hold now when senior executives in their 40s are themselves the children of the 1960s feminist generation. These are the people within City organizations that need to lead this change.
Over the past five years a growing community of senior managers from across London have committed to a journey of ‘power with integrity’ to equip themselves to do things differently and to be leaders of change. Through sharing stories and gaining insight, this community, The Tightrope Walkers, have become pioneers of new possibility in their respective organizations. Meeting in various formats, under the inspirational guidance of Justine Lutterodt, their aim is to inspire a broader cultural shift within the City and to be a model for the UK business community as a whole.
The journey of tightrope walking is about balance. The City is a challenging place to work. From the dealing-room to the City law office people are well rewarded but in return put under great pressure, as too are people in London’s competitive creative industries. In this environment balancing the power needed to thrive with the integrity needed to uphold ethical values is hard and requires a sense of moral purpose allied to strong interpersonal and leadership skills. The Tightrope Walkers aim to help each other achieve this by walking together.
Held in the offices of City firms such as Thomson Reuters, Allen & Overy, BNP Paribas, Linklaters and the BBC, Tightrope Walker seminars offer a sophisticated deep dive into some of the key challenges faced by organizations that need to exercise power with integrity. Over the past few years the community has addressed issues relating to mental health, unconscious bias, organisational politics, cultural change, and boardroom decision-making. Recent seminars include:
In order to grow as a leader, you must be willing to face your fears. This seminar featured live case studies with three remarkable leaders – showing how the desire to be liked, right or in control had propelled them to some of their greatest accomplishments and also to critical moments when they had to overcome their fear of exclusion, judgement or the unknown in order to move forward. This was part of the Inspire Like a Man / Lead Like a Woman series, which has raised the debate around gender balance at work to a sophisticated level, acknowledging the impact of stereotypes on both sexes and the resulting challenges posed to ethical leadership.
Outrage to Outreach
We live in a time of outrage – whether over Brexit, Windrush, anti-Semitism, or the doings of Donald Trump. But at work – from small put-downs to gender pay issues – outrage happens any time. This seminar looked at the triggers of outrage and its impact on a personal (emotional) and organizational (strategic) level, and at how to make outrage drive change, suggesting a route from the unproductive to productive outrage that requires space to feel outrage and space to decide what to do.
The design of the Tightrope Walker community and the collective wisdom it provokes are guided by research. Most notably, the Mindful Exclusion study, which leverages insight from interviews with over 200 employee network leaders and D&I leaders to reveal how networks can be activated to become effective agents of change.
The Tightrope Walker community is the brain-child of Justine Lutterodt, the founder of the Centre for Synchronous Leadership, a company dedicated to redefining leadership in the corporate sector by aligning business and societal interests.