Hazard – Glass Cliff ahead!

Posted: Friday April 3 2020

By: Guest Bloggers

Do you know what it is or perhaps you have experienced it?  I’ll be brief as this blog is less about the details and more some tips and advice from someone who has been there. It is used to describe the phenomenon when women find themselves placed in senior positions during a crisis and typically in an impossible situation that is not sustainable. Think, Theresa May and Brexit – nightmare!

Have you heard people talking about the Glass Cliff?

Natalie McMillan Coach MMB working mum and working dad magazine

By Natalie McMillan

I took on a Chief Executive role in a time of crisis and at very short notice and this is my candid and honest advice. I want to share my learning and reflections to help others who find themselves in this situation too.

Here are my top tips to avoid being faced with the Glass Cliff:

1. Recognise your own worth and value. You have not been asked to take this on because no one else would, you are not a fraud and you have the skills, experience and ability to do this role. Make sure that you are being paid appropriately and in line with the responsibilities of the role.

2. Remember ‘self’ during this time. It can be easy to step into the ‘rescuer role’ and place the needs of the business, its people and customers first. Hands up all those martyrs. (Yes, my hand is up right now too). You are important too, so you need to take a step back and consider what support you need in this role.

3. Now ask for it! Typically, this is a time of crisis which means it is going to be tough and the business needs you to help it turnaround and transform. Be explicit, direct and clear about what you need and how this will ensure both you and the business can perform at your best. In my experience, men are much better at doing this (I salute you!) than women.

4. Change the mindset of feeling lucky that this has arisen. This leads to an unhealthy sense of gratitude to those who gave you this opportunity. You gave yourself the opportunity, no one else.

5. You do have a choice. A recurring theme is women usually feel a sense of duty to take on these roles or feel they can’t say ‘no’. There is always a choice.

6. Reflect on the skills you will bring to this role in a time of crisis. Be confident in your leadership style and remain consistent and true to this.

Finally, good luck and just in case your missed it, practise some self-care along the way.

Natalie McMillan Managing Director, McMillan and Associates Ltd