Shall I be Mum?

Over the past few weeks the role of women in the workplace (and more specifically on the Board) has been in the news. Our recent Women in FM event with Dr Mirella Visser created a huge debate about what success really is – and many agreed it was not necessarily being in a ‘senior’ role.

Whatever your take on success, I want to share with you a recent conversation with a woman who does want to be appointed Board director. She has been frustrated at being passed over several times for promotion. Here’s a shortened version of our conversation…

Me: What’s in the tin?
Her: Cupcakes, I always bake them for the senior management meeting
Me: Who else does that?
Her: No-one else, but they’re all men!
Me: (can you see where I’m going with this?) Tell me what happens in those meetings, from the time you get into the meeting room.
Her: We have coffee, the MD goes through the previous minutes…
Me: Let’s back track – what happens with the coffee?
Her: (After a bit of digging), I usually say, ‘shall I be Mum?’ and pour the coffees
Me: How does that word ‘Mum’ define you to the people around you?
Her: Aha!

When we promote someone to be part of ‘our’ team, we want them to be like us – which is why good advice is ‘dress for the next job you want’ – it’s about being a good ‘fit’. By labelling ourselves, whether it’s ‘Shall I be Mum’, ‘Middle Manager’, ‘only an FM’ or whatever, we are limiting ourselves through poor use of language.

If you want to be accepted, start acting ‘as if’…as if you are already on the Board if that’s what you’re aiming for. Behave as they do, be one of the team.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

To find out more about us, contact Liz Kentish, The FM Coach on Tel: 01778 561326 / 07717 870777 or email:

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