I heard a great phrase the other day that was used to describe a change of leadership that I have seen in a few companies recently. The term "glass cliff" refers to the precarious role many very successful women face if they are appointed to a high profile role at a time of current or impending instability for an organisation. It was used to describe the position of Baroness Susan Greenfield, who has taken over leadership of the Royal Institute at a time when public interest in their events has diminished.
The theory of the glass cliff is that male dominated organisations may choose a woman for a leadership role when they recognise they need a complete shake-up (best case scenario) or when they are looking for a scape goat in the likely eventuality that things fail ( worst case scenario). It’s a risky place to be, standing on this "glass cliff" as the woman is publicly scrutinised without a great deal of support and any move she makes is deemed representative of her as a woman. It is also the type of challenge many high achieving women, including Baroness Greenfield, relish. Like so many other things in the workplace, the motive behind the appointment, and what you do with it, is in the eye of the beholder. Have you ever been on a glass cliff?