Leadership is increasingly seen as coming in various forms. One newish idea is that of the person who activates networks of contacts. Amanda Staveley is a case in point
Amanda Staveley has been no stranger to headlines, in her meteoric climb to successful entrepreneur, wooed by one Royal prince, and friend to a clutch of influential figures among Middle Eastern royalty.
Or, as a besotted Telegraph correspondent put it:
Imagine having the choice of becoming a Royal princess, a model, an Olympic athlete or a self-made multi-millionaire. Imagine also that you are stunningly beautiful, Cambridge educated and a gifted linguist.
Staveley and The Man City Story
Fast forward to the first week of September 2008. The football headlines of the week were the takeover of Manchester City, and the demise of Kevin Keegan, both covered in earlier posts in Leaders we deserve.
Now let’s take another perspective and see the role played by Amanda Staveley, in these and other events.
Her network of significant contacts in The Middle East had involved her earlier in the year in the negotiations by Dubai International Capital for purchase of shares that would lead to a takeover at Liverpool Football Club. In this she had been working on behalf of Sheikh Maktoum.
This deal was to fall though, but shortly afterwards, she was hired by Thaksin Shinawatra, the beleaguered Chairman of Manchester City Football Club, who was looking for a buyer for the club. Early reports gave prominence to the charismatic figure of Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim and his audacious public claims for turning Manchester City into the biggest and richest football club in the world.
Wheels within wheels.
The BBC considered That Staveley was the deal-maker.
One of Thaksin’s key aides, who was involved in negotiations with ADUG, told BBC Sport: “Although Dr Sulaiman is the face of the new owners, Sheikh Mansour is the main player.”
Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan is a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, and his 19 brothers include the president and crown prince of the emirate.
Ah! That Sheikh Mansour, who had enlisted Miss Staveley in his efforts to acquire Liverpool Football Club.
The Network Activator
All of which reminded me of a skill particularly prominent in entrepreneurs that had been noticed by Susan Moger, a colleague of mine. She describes the skill as Network Activation, and the entrepreneurs as Network Activators.
A related use of the term is also found in Business to Business (B2B) writings.
Moger believes that business situations can be changed by the creative interventions of a network activator. She would surely add Amanda Staveley to her list.
The network activator also meets the criteria of a leader, influencing to achieve desired goals.
This may be sheer speculation
This may be sheer speculation. But one of Moger’s Network Activators would not be someone acting as a passive channel through which the wishes of the powerful are transmitted.
It might be speculated that the events described above were nudged along by someone (acting for her company PCP Capital Partners). That someone would have seen the benefits in bringing together Thaksin Shinawatra and her influential friends from the Middle East. Benefits to all concerned, including Miss Staveley.