Category - Broader Reading

Inclusive Leadership in Law Firms – The Practice of Conversational Intelligence

This is a quick discussion of leadership in law firms – mostly as experienced by those below partner level. Something to think about if you are a partner, and something to think about in choosing who to work with, if you are not a partner. Most of the work inside law firms comes via conversations.

Continue reading →

Conversational Intelligence

Judith Glaser’s book, Conversational Intelligence, produced mixed reactions in me. On the one hand it is just a tiny bit self-promoting. Her suggestion that conversational intelligence is right up there as a new intelligence, alongside IQ and EQ, is a bit over the top. On the other hand, despite this reaction, there is some great

Continue reading →


Strong skills as a lawyer, and being seen as a consummate professional are two constructs which fit well together.  Think of one of the best lawyers you know, and the most likely adjectives to come to mind will probably include disciplined, hard-working, forensic intelligence, client focused, and self-controlled. It seems there will always be a

Continue reading →


When “Bill” began work with us in a career transition service he had been the CEO of a listed, mid-sized manufacturing and distribution organisation with a strong public profile.  He had been energised by success and had worked hard; the decision by the board to replace him with a new CEO came as quite a

Continue reading →

Managing Change with Humanity

Throughout Australia currently, public servants in a number of contexts are losing their jobs.  Funding is shrinking, restructuring is being imposed, and some areas of services are being outsourced or quietly abandoned. Much the same has been happening in the private sector for the past five years or so. However in our experience, the support

Continue reading →

How would you advise your son or daughter…

How should you as a parent and law firm partner advise a young adult looking at studying law today? A first response might be “with great caution”, because how can anyone anticipate what careers in the future will look like?  It would be very hard to draw wisdom from a past career in guiding someone

Continue reading →


We have published a number of short papers on the challenges facing law firm partners contemplating a career change.  Most recently our paper: Creating New Careers in the Changing Law Firm Landscape looked at emerging new practice models, and the opportunities these present. Here we reflect more on the bigger picture partners need to consider

Continue reading →


Unplanned career change brings with it a sudden array of pressures.  These can include dealing with the uncertainty created by the loss of a formal position, financial concerns, and family instability, as well as the need to articulate capabilities and begin to exploration and capture a new career. At the same time, as a wise

Continue reading →

Meauring Quality in Career Transition Services

Career Transition services are generally secured to acknowledge a duty of care to individuals displaced by organisational change and as a critical element in reinforcing an organisation’s brand and reputation. An employer’s reputation or “brand” is built through what existing and former staff says about the organisation. It is not built through brochures or through

Continue reading →

Creating new careers in the changing law firm landscape

In recent years a variety of new law firm practice models have emerged.  These are presenting challenges, and opportunities, across the sector for those aiming to win clients and build careers.  Large law firms will remain with us, and will most likely continue to capture most of the international work, and high level activity for

Continue reading →

What do good leaders do heading into caretaker mode?

Right now many government departments are moving into caretaker mode as an election looms in three eastern states.  “Here we go again…” is the feeling.  New initiatives need to be mothballed and a period of uncertainty begins. At the same time the expectation of widespread change looms as does the prospect of absorption into the

Continue reading →

Bringing about significant complex change in organisations

At a recent AHRI conference, during a day focused on the public sector, a number of speakers addressed issues involved in leading significant change. A range of insights, checklists and imperatives were provided by subject experts and various leaders. We heard of the importance of strong leadership, effective project management and of the need to

Continue reading →

Evaluating Service Suppliers

Career transitions for senior people are significant events. This may be the first time you will professionally take stock of your career, truly reflect on new directions and make informed choices about the next phase of your career. The period immediately after leaving an organisation can be initially a little challenging. Continue reading…..Evaluating service suppliers


In a second survey of senior managers and professionals across Australia ran late in 2009, Macfarlan Lane focused on what senior managers and professionals actually experience in career transition services – and what is needed for such services to deliver value, in their eyes. Our first survey identified five elements considered by middle and senior

Continue reading →

Who’s got the Wheel?

This topic goes pretty much to the heart of what we do.  We work with, and provide resources to senior individuals as they build, navigate and adapt their careers. The challenge The past decade has seen a number of big shifts in work environments and career building: In many sectors, jobs, roles, assignments and careers

Continue reading →

Moving on from government service as a business of one

Career resilience means independently leading your own career development, taking up opportunities in an organisation – and sometimes creating them – coping effectively with unplanned changes and working to a broad plan which best suits your evolving interests. Career resilience sometimes means moving into periods of self employment, and perhaps building portfolios of activities. Moving

Continue reading →

Enabling senior level career transitions

Government Departments are under pressure again, and this time it does seem that the next career moves for many public servants will be to the private sector. For those at the Executive Officer/Senior Executive service level, how can departments ensure exits from the public sector are treated in a dignified way, which uphold strong values

Continue reading →

Career transitions from the public sector to the private sector

Government departments and agencies everywhere, in both Federal and State contexts, are facing major budget constraints currently. Many are faced with pressures to reduce headcount. What does this mean for those directly affected: those whose roles may be disappearing? Most particularly, how should a senior public servant with perhaps extensive service in the public sector,

Continue reading →

Senior Public Service Appointments – testing for capabilities

The Capabilities Framework developed by the NSW Public Service Commission is an interesting exposition of what will now be required in senior appointments in this sector. The framework provides some 16 capabilities across four broad groups: Personal attributes, Relationships, Results and Business Enablers. There are then another four capabilities in the People management group, for

Continue reading →

Career Development for People and Culture Leaders

People and Culture leaders are ordinary mortals (!), and need the same mentoring, opportunities and challenges as they seek to establish for others in their own career development. Here are some of the big questions we think have a place in planning, and achieving rewarding careers in People and Culture.  These assume your aim is

Continue reading →

Moving from Transactional to Strategic HR

In a talent management study in 2008 by McKinsey & Co, 60% of the line managers interviewed agreed with the statement “HR is an administrative department, not a strategic business partner”. Disturbingly 51% of HR professionals agreed with the statement. This finding is not surprising, given that in Australia, with the increasing amount of regulatory

Continue reading →

The door many partners find hard to open

What comes next, when the work of a partner in a law firm or a professional services firm begins to lose appeal, and fails to generate enthusiasm – when the “R” word begins to swirl around in one’s consciousness? For many partners, retirement is not an attractive prospect for a multitude of psychological and practical

Continue reading →

The Fertile Time between One Career and the Next

Successful careers – for some – culminate as a CEO or as a Partner in a professional services firm or as a leader in government.  Careers like these can bring great rewards at a number of levels.  However, as we all see from time to time, career success can come with costs, in terms of

Continue reading →

A challenging decade for People and Culture professionals

What are we seeing? Since even before the GFC of 2009, this really has been a challenging decade for People and Culture professionals. Their challenges have included: A prolonged period of organisational stress with downsizing, continuing business caution, and a focus on cost containment and “survival” rather than on growth. The shortened tenure of CEOs

Continue reading →

Interim or enduring self-employment can be a liberating, creative career path

In the current difficult business environment, active exploration of self-employment can be a constructive area to explore. For the most part, the senior people we work with focus on capturing another regular appointment.  However more than a few invest some of their time to focus on new, self-employed ventures – and this is often a

Continue reading →

Navigating changes as partners in law firms

Partners of law firms face a multitude of challenges right now.  Unease within partnerships can have both external and internal dimensions.  Externally, the worlds of clients of these firms have become more difficult: budgets are being cut, support for new investment can be hard to secure and transactional activity continues to be subdued.  The internal

Continue reading →

How Netflix reivented HR

Netflix HR – HBR Article  –  People find the Netflix approach to talent and culture compelling for a few reasons…..the most obvious is that Netflix has been really successful. Watch the slideshow:-          

Is the tide running out beneath your career?

For many partners in professional services firms, it feels as if the tide is starting to run out beneath their careers…. Is the tide running out beneath your career

Leadership and the art of plate spinning

Senior executives will better balance people and priorities by embracing the paradoxes of organizational life…..   leadership_and_the_art_of_plate_spinning (McKinsey)

The successful appointment of a CEO

The successful appointment of a CEO The business media, analysts, investment funds boards (and those they represent) and of course staff in organisations all have a strong interest in the capabilities and likely success of CEO appointments. CEOs are sourced most usually amongst previous or current incumbents in similar roles external to the organisation, from

Continue reading →

When the platform shifts

When the platform shifts Achieving standing as a CEO, or as a divisional or function head in a large firm is a terrific achievement. From an outsider’s perspective, the path to this point might look straightforward, but for those in such appointments a great deal has usually been invested into bringing this period of leadership

Continue reading →

Sideways to the Top insights for leaders

Sideways To The Top Insights for leaders Macfarlan Lane has recently published a book Sideways To The Top – 10 Stories of Successful Women That Will Change Your Thinking About Careers Forever (published by Melbourne Books). The book captures the career decisions and choices made by a number of successful and high achieving women. Their

Continue reading →

Dealing with unease in the face of change

Dealing with unease in the face of change In many government departments, the cool (perhaps arctic!) breeze of change is in the air. Budget cuts and consolidation is all around. The work of recent months and years can be suddenly sidelined as the time consuming machinery of government process grinds into action – with meeting

Continue reading →

Shopping for career transition services

It has become a practice in recent years for some organisations to prompt senior people experiencing retrenchment to choose between different suppliers to select a program of support following their exit from the company. The practice is well-intentioned. HR directors have told us that they are at pains to seek to ensure that executives retain

Continue reading →

Distilling the wisdom of CEOs

Distilling the wisdom of ceos summary: IMAGINE 100 people working at a large company. They’re all middle managers, around 35 years old. They’re all smart. All collegial. All hard-working. They’re all good communicators. Which of them, when the time comes, will get that corner office?

Better strategy through organisational design

Better strategy through organisational design Corporate strategies, according to the classic definition, consists of the actions a company takes to gain competitive advantage. Executives invest enormous energy into product designs and long-range strategic plans, though many of these initiatives become obsolete as markets and competitors adapt, social norms and regulations evolve and technologies advance.  Yet

Continue reading →

Know what growth stage your organisation is in

Know what growth stage your organisation is in:  Key executives of a retail store hold on to an organisation structure long after it has served its purpose, because the structure is the source of their power…the company eventually goes bankrupt….

Sloan MIT the importance of analytics

Sloan MIT the importance of analytics: How the smartest organizations are embedding analytics to transform information into insight and then action. Findings and recommendations from the first annual New Intelligent Enterprise Global Executive study.

HBR – The new psychology of strategic leadership

The new psychology of strategic leadership: Cognitive science sheds fresh light on what it takes to be innovative.

Creating certainty in uncertain times

Creating certainty in uncertain times : Information to help leaders and managers deal with uncertainty and help their people do the same. Overview – Findings from LMA’s latest Leadership, Employment and Direction (L.E.A.D) Survey reveal a potentially unhealthy disconnect between leaders and managers and their employees on some critical issues. The extent of disconnection threatens to undermine performance

Continue reading →

Challenging conventional wisdom on sales incentives

Challenging conventional wisdom on sales incentives : Some things in life we know are true.  The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And, the best way to motivate salespeople is by offering them commissions.  But, what if we are wrong, at least about the last one.  What if paying salespeople commission is

Continue reading →

Defining and developing reputation

Defining and developing reputation: Most executives say reputation is a CEO priority and that attention to reputation will increase in the future, yet the results suggest that companies have room to improve in understanding and appealing to a broad set of stakeholders.Most executives believe their companies’ reputations are equal to or better than those of

Continue reading →

Using evidence to address myths about keeping talent

Using evidence to address myths about keeping talent: Despite extensive scholarly research and organizational interest in employee turnover, there remains a gap between science and practice in this area. This article bridges this gap and replaces several misconceptions about turnover with guidelines for evidence-based retention management strategies focused on shared understanding of turnover, knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships, and

Continue reading →

The professional career on the right track

The professional career on the right track: A study on the interaction between career self-management and organizational career management in explaining employee outcomes. This article explores the relationship between organizational career management and career self-management and addresses the impact on employee outcomes.

How knowledge workers manage their energy on the job

How knowledge workers manage their energy on the job: In this paper we explore how individuals sustain an important human resource—their own energy—at work.

Marketing strategies that really work

Marketing strategies that really work: Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The additional benefit

Continue reading →

Why women still can’t have it all

Why women still can’t have it all: “It’s time to stop fooling ourselves”, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed.  If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change….

Using evidence to address myths…

Academy of management talent management evidence based research: Despite extensive scholarly research and organizational interest in employee turnover, there remains a gap between science and practice in this area. This article bridges this gap and replaces several misconceptions about turnover with guidelines for evidence-based retention management strategies focused on shared understanding of turnover, knowledge of cause-and-effect relationships, and

Continue reading →

A developmental network and relational savvy approach to talent development

A developmental network: The need for more and better internal development of talent.

Keeping your headcount

Keeping your headcount – Academy of Mgt Journal April 2008: Keeping your headcount when all about you are losing theirs: downsizing, voluntary turnover rates and the moderating role of HR practices. Although both downsizing and voluntary turnover have been topics of great interest in the organizational literature, little research addresses the topics’ possible relationship. Using organization-level data

Continue reading →

CEO’s guide to re-energising the team

CEOs guide to reenergising the team: In today’s tough and fast-changing environment, CEOs must help their top leaders to work through fear and denial and to learn new rules. When business conditions change as dramatically as they have in the past year, CEOs need to be able to rely on their best leaders to adapt

Continue reading →

Which way should you downsize in a crisis?

Which way should you downsize: Managers have been inundated with advice on the dos and don’ts of laying off employees. But the truth is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to downsizing.

The power of reconnection

The power of re-connection: The world of networking continues to expand. For years, people have been encouraged to build a strong, wide personal network to get information and keep connected. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other Internet sites have made everything about this task easier than ever…..

Are you a high potential?

Are you a high potential: Leaders at your company are constantly wondering that about you, whether they own up to it or not. Here’s how to get them to answer yes.

Disrupt yourself

Disrupt yourself: Four principles for finding the career path you really want.

The many colours of success

The many colors of success: What do executives want out of life? The variety of replies demonstrates that success is a metaphor for many things, made up of different combinations of patterns, values, and ideas…..

Managing yourself – why you didn’t get that promotion

Managing yourself – why you didn’t get that promotion: You’ve been passed over for a key promotion despite stellar results and glowing reviews, what’s going on…..    

Ensuring that restructuring and downsizing actually works

Ensuring that restructuring and downsizing actually works: One of the most common reasons why companies that downsize perform so poorly is that they often are successful at anticipating and preparing for the employees who are to be released, but they may not be prepared for the low morale and lower productivity experienced by the survivors

Continue reading →

Marketing strategies that really work

Many people feel uncomfortable about the word networking, or undertaking networking activity. We often hear from executives we coach who express reservations about networking as being pushy, looking needy or coming across as insincere. So we prefer to describe networking activities as marketing. Marketing is about intelligence gathering and exploration, it is not selling. The

Continue reading →

When they don’t call back…..

When they don’t call back…. Despite the prevalence of technology in our lives, career progress requires real interaction with real people. Technology is a helpful tool but you can’t shake hands over the Internet. But what happens when you put yourself out there and the world doesn’t respond? You apply online for a job but

Continue reading →

Creating energy at work

Creating energy at work: This paper discusses what grows and sustains energy in people at work, and how to generate vitality and enthusiasm at work.  

Effectively guiding the transition of retiring partners

Effectively guiding the transition of retiring partners: The issue of managing the transition of partners into retirement must be handled in a sensitive and dignified way. This paper shows you how…..  

Performance appraisals and shareholder value

Performance appraisals and shareholder value:   We know many conventional performance appraisal processes fail to live up to expectations.  Learn how organisations can make appraisals work, from a neuroscience perspective.  

Shopping for a career transition provider

Shopping for a career transition provider: Human Resources often provides employees with a choice of career transition provider.  Find out why this may not be in the interests of the individual. There is a better way…..  

Career Resilience – the business of one

Career Resilience – the business of one: Developing career resilience is an essential competency for success in this environment of uncertainty and change. Here are some tips on how to develop it…..  

In the period before retrenchment

Are you going or are you staying? Read how you can navigate through this difficult and emotional time and come out looking professional, composed and in control. In the period before retrenchment

Understanding the territory of the CEO role

Do you have what it takes to be considered CEO material? This paper discusses the likely career path, and skills and capabilities that will get you there… Understanding the territory of the CEO role

Resilient Leadership – What it takes in tough times

With on-going cuts in both the private and public sectors, and continual threats of restructuring, mergers, reorganisations and downsizing, many executives are experiencing stress. Resilient Leadership – What it takes in tough times