Brendan: In today’s interview, the tables have turned. Our producer Marc Charette has asked me how to stand out as a leader. To stand out is to move from an average leader to an excellent leader, and there are three actions done consistently that’ll do it.
Stay tuned to the end where we also talk about the evolution and renaming of the podcast. We also share insights into the people system which are being developed into providing leaders with a complete system to grow themselves, their teams, and their business. This is The Culture of Things podcast, I’m Brendan Rogers, sit back and enjoy the conversation.
Marc: Fuse together, I think is a brilliant way to help people go, oh I really need to be really well-connected to the other parts of the team such that nothing can tear us apart, to steal words in excess.
Brendan: That’s it. As you know, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection, a lot of thinking, a lot of stuff outside of my comfort zone as far as creation of frameworks and really unpacking some of the stuff that I do and some of the people’s material that I utilize as well as what I developed myself and my own IP. That’s come together as a people system and the people system pair was the eight essentials of business moving forward. Now, I’m not getting into the eight essentials of business, but one of those is obviously people and the people system that’s created.
Elements of the people system, it’s important for me to choose verbs around things that are actionable type items and then there are other parts of the system that I’ve been more deliberate about nouns.
For the sake of an example, practice which is an element of the people model, but there are eight practices to have. Those practices are more nouns. They’re things that we do.
In the context of this conversation, how do we stand out as a leader, to me, into various guests through the podcast, leadership is action. Good leadership is good action or the right action.
Marc: Something you can see.
Brendan: Exactly. These words chosen around how to stand out as a leader and what comes through this reflection, through this process of unpacking and creating needed to be verb-related. If only [00:02:56] about glue, glued, glue’s a noun, it makes sense about people coming together and being glued together, being fused together, but galvanize what we galvanize, we connect, we elevate.
Marc: It’s like a stronger version of it.
Brendan: Absolutely. I think that’s verbs. Again, I’m no expert on etymology, but there’s more power in it because it’s a doing word. We’re actually doing something. Again, leadership is about doing stuff. Not just reading a book and not acting on something or learning about something, but then not putting that learning into action.
Marc: It’s interesting you mentioned that you really wanted us to have this chat about three key elements in leadership. Yes, I was actually curious as to whether or not it was going to be more based off of your key takeaways. Because generally speaking, that’s what you do and you do it exceptionally well. Because you do a lot of research to be sure that not necessarily the words of what the person you interviewed was sharing, but the intent behind it is being uncovered.
Galvanizing was one of them. But there were two others then when you get into them, if you can just maybe dig in a little bit more, what comes before galvanizing?
Brendan: The very first thing to me and to give a little bit of background, you're right. There are elements of all of this stuff. It comes through through the wonderful conversations we get to have on The Culture of Things podcast. The takeaways is that reflection opportunity like listening back. What are they really saying?
Maybe it’s Tchaikovsky [00:04:23] work who was one of our guests in that deep listening expert is what are they not saying? Reading between those lines. They might be saying X but actually, you can reflect on that and it means Y. Doesn’t mean to say there’s a different meaning.
There are elements of that that have come through always, but have also considered just leaders of history. Whether that’s as recent as Steve Jobs. Again, I’m not going to argue whether he’s a good leader or not a good leader. There are good things about him and there are potentially some not good things about him.
Could be Winston Churchill, could be Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela. All of these people in history that you look back on, and whether you like or not, they are seen as great leaders.
One thing I want to be careful about is trying to give this perspective on people that I’m trying to help everyone be great in their context of those great people. For me, it’s about moving from where a lot of leaders are today, and I guess sometimes we use that word leader in leadership quite loosely because there are some leaders that at the end of the scale which is probably not desirable (can I say), and then we got some other leaders that appear that stand out from the crowd. That’s why I wanted to have this conversation with you today around how can I stand out from the crowd in a leadership capacity.
Three things stuck out for me through this whole reflection process than those leaders I mentioned. That very first one was the ability to connect with people. Hence why did I developed the people system.
I had a conversation with a dear friend of mine and she just said to me flat out, “Bredan, you always talk about people. You focus on people, you understand how important people are to business. You have to create the people system because we were [00:06:13] sorts of words fancy and smart and all these sorts of stuff and always just people.”
So connecting with people is such an important aspect of leadership. I’m going to use a weird example here because I’m not going to use an example of people.
Marc: I like weird.
Brendan: I’m going to use an example of man’s best friend. What’s man’s best friend?
Marc: Dogs, right? We mention if we actually hear a dog whining on the background today, we’ll know where it’s from because there’s a dog here.
Brendan: Which is exactly why I also need to mention that. Because we’ve got Jimmy Barnes here, the friendly dog that you and Karen are looking after. Beautiful big puppy, any month [00:06:48] so.
Whilst you were sitting up here, I was connecting with Jimmy. I’m out there and I’ve learned that he loves ripping apart this plastic bone and me pulling on it and stuff like this, I’ve learned that if I hold it in a certain position, he doesn’t mean to bite but he’s far more careful with how he’s grabbing and tugging it and things like that. I’ve learnt that he’ll sit on command and he’ll shake hands on command. He just enjoys having some fun with another person.
That’s connecting. I’ve built trust with Jimmy to the point that he’ll lay down at my feet, roll over, and just be willing for me to pet him in a vulnerable position on his stomach here. For a dog, he’s quite vulnerable. That’s connection, that’s building trust, that’s developing a relationship—spending time with Jimmy.
I spent half an hour with him. That’s all it took. Concentrating on him. Didn’t have my phone there. I wasn’t sort of this and tugging with a bone. I was just having fun with Jimmy. How important is that from a leadership capacity.
Just spending time with the people who you're privileged to lead, having conversation, learning about them, being deliberate with a conversation, learning about them, creating a connection, understanding what they like, what they don’t like within the workspace and outside of the workspace. What floats their boat on the weekend, how do they spend their time. All those things, if you’ve got a general interest in people, then you'll create a connection.
There’s another example that happened to me just this morning. It happens regularly, but this person I noticed particularly this morning because she’s a little bit newer. As you know, I’d get to [00:08:27] most mornings, have a run and swim, get a coffee after that myself [00:08:32].
There’s a young lady who was at the front counter and serving and she connected with me by one simple thing. She looked at me when I’m ordering. She made eye contact. Which doesn’t seem that big, but I think in today’s society that happens less often particularly in our service type environment.
She really was focused on me, was focused on my order, we had a bit of nice chitchat, and took my order, but she looked at me. I felt that was a good connection, so much so I mentioned it to my mate. Just really enjoyed that service experience with the person. Know what I need to do tomorrow? Is tell her. Because I didn’t do that.
Marc: That’s all right. As long as you have the opportunity.
Brendan: Absolutely. I was maybe making an excuse, but I was enjoying the moment, I suppose. Again, I really felt connected with her and I was just buying a cup of coffee. But there is another opportunity to connect. She was present, she was focused on me, I was focused on her, we had a nice simple conversation, exchanged some money, and got my coffee. Fantastic but it was memorable. Great opportunities, great examples of connection.
Those leaders I talk about and those leaders in my own journey that I remember well and fondly, they knew me as a person, they connected with me as a person.
Marc: Fascinating because it really is foundational, isn’t it?
Brendan: I believe so. I agree. We know about relationships and connecting with people is foundational in relationship building. Relationships are so critical in business, in life, in everything that we do. I like to say the difference between success and failure is the quality of our relationships. And leadership is that. It is about relationships first and foremost and people relationships. Build those, then you're on a pretty solid platform. You're on a foundational platform and it’s a solid foundation.
Marc: That’s right. It’s based on the right principles, right values. As for how we go from there to that next step of once you’ve built that connection, we get into that fancy word of galvanize.
Brendan: Do we spell it with an S or a Z? That’s the biggest challenge.
Marc: I’m pretty clear that it’s a zed, or a zee depending on what part of the world you’re from.
Brendan: We’d go with zed. It seems to give the right emphasis with the zed on the galvanized. As we touched a little bit earlier, that word galvanize is really fusing together. The research out there, my own experience of working with teams, being part of teams, and also understanding a little bit more about dysfunctional teams is the best thing you can do about bringing people together that have different interest, sometimes very strong interest depending on what their beliefs and whatever are is to get them cohesive, get them galvanized around a common goal.
Now, a common goal could be something like a purpose for an organization. That can galvanize people who really want to work for the organization. That can be at a different level within a team of what’s a really meaty problem that has been around in our business for some time that we haven’t really put deliberate intent to solving? Let’s get us together and really galvanize about how do we come up with the solution or start to make progress towards a solution around these sorts of things.
Marc: I suppose that would mean that where the skillset behind galvanize, sort of like the lower level so that layers behind it, and really around communication and communication skills, which are obviously as we know, not a one-way street.
Brendan: That’s a great prompt because I should have mentioned listening in the ability to connect. But it’s also very relevant in every single one of these three things.
I can’t sit here, I’m not going to sit here and say, hey, just connect, galvanize, and the last one we’ll reveal very soon. There is stuff underpinning that enabling you to connect, enabling to galvanize people, and enabling you to do the last step with people.
Listening is absolutely critical. Listening to them being in the moment, asking a question because you're wanting to find out a bit more information you're generally interested. But then being deliberate about your listening in that.
As you do that and as a leader, I would argue you should spend a lot more time listening, asking questions, and then listening, asking questions, and then listening. That’s a really solid way to galvanize people because you're getting the insights of people within your team. You're getting input.
If people in the group, in the team aren’t contributing, because there are different personality styles that maybe will be—it’s not that they don't want to contribute, but sometimes they need to be prompted a little bit more than somebody else who’s a bit more direct and forthright—then your ability to say, hey Marc, what do you think about this? If you are looking to solve this problem, what angle would you take? How are you looking at this? That’s all questioning and valuing the person, connecting with the person, like oh, Brendan actually cares what I think. That’s a great start.
Marc: First thing that I notice is the way in which you demonstrated the questioning skill that anyone who’s done Communications 101, Sales Training 101, Management 101 would know that the importance of the open versus close questions. But then, often things you may think you’ve asked them the open question but were so sufficiently leading, that it actually had nowhere to go but a particular direction. It may be useful in some circumstances, but figured you're suggesting something a little deeper than that.
Brendan: As a leader, you have to be careful not to lead with questioning. What’s the right term? Ask leading questions, I should say. That’s more correct. Because again, your role by nature carries a level of power, let’s say. Hopefully not being used in the wrong way, but just by nature of maybe in an organization, being the CEO or being the managing director, or being a senior leader of a department. That carries a lot of responsibility and that responsibility really rests with how you utilize that power and that role title.
To ask a leading question like, Marc, I think that we should really do this. What do you think? Is not a great question because depending on that level of trust within that team and how that person is feeling with that leader, then you might sit there and say, I agree. That’s a good way to go.
Marc: That’s right.
Brendan: When you're sitting there thinking, I would probably suggest something like this but this is the leader. They have an impact on me and I’m just going to agree.
Marc: It’s about reducing the risk of response.
Brendan: Absolutely. Thinking of those things, back to listening and questioning, and listening off the back of that. We hear Jimmy there again and he’s loving. Our studio audience is Jimmy Barnes, the golden retriever. They’re listening, they’re questioning, they’re listening, but really asking questions without giving away that this is how you think you should do it.
Marc: Exactly. It’s a skill and it takes time. It does take time.
Brendan: One of the pieces in the people system (as I mentioned earlier) is practice. Communication is a practice that we need to practice and get better at as far as being better leaders and communication involves listening, questioning, understanding various elements with communication.
Marc: Where does this lead us next? We’ve got these two really important steps of connecting and galvanizing. Where to next?
Brendan: The final piece of the puzzle in how to stand out as a leader is elevate. Elevating people. For me that’s the pinnacle of leadership. Coincidentally, the final in the people system is elevate and we run through various ways to do that and understand that, and unpack that.
But the ability to help people grow, develop, learn, move into a leadership role potentially doesn’t have to become masters of whatever they love doing. That’s a technical aspect. They may not want to be leading people, they may want to be leading in their field from a technical perspective and get fantastic at that.
As a leader, how do I help create that? How do I help make that happen? How do I elevate people so that they can aspire and also believe that actually they can achieve something?
I don’t remember who, it’s not my term. I don’t remember who it was, but a big element of coaching people and elevating people is understanding their capability at the time. Their capacities to achieve something at the time. Because if you don’t understand that, quite possibly you can put people up here to try and achieve this, what I would say is the holy shit zone. While I’m here and holy shit getting to there is such a big step. It’s that challenge zone that we want to get them to. What’s the point of this is challenging for them, but it’s not holy shit, I’m never going to get there zone?
Marc: You don’t want to create the feeling of impossibility.
Brendan: Absolutely. That’s a real critical skill. Once again, it comes back to connecting, listening, understanding, questioning, the ability to elevate people. What do they want to do? Marc, what does fantastic look like in our company today? What does that role look like for you?
You and I have these conversions at various times. We’re not talking about it every single day. But we have this conversation of what’s the next step in the journey? What is your biggest value? Where do you want to continue to add value to our partnership? Where do you think I can do that? How could that work? Let’s try things out. That’s really important in partnerships, in teams. Again, for me the pinnacle of leadership, how do you focus on elevating people?
Marc: I think that there are some. I’m sure you touched on this quite deeply, is how to uncover honesty in others in a safe, I don’t want to get too stuck up on that word safe because they can be overused in many ways, but it’s an important factor of how you're going to get the truth. Because if you can’t get to the truth, you can’t get to the solution. It’s pretty hard to elevate people if they’re not being either honest with you or themselves about where are the challenges, what’s getting in the way.
It’s fascinating to think of those three steps and how they interconnect because it all comes back down to that level of communication, that what ties it all together. Communication is interesting because we think of The Culture of Things and in fact I think we’re pretty close to going through the process of doing some small rebranding. That really is tied to this idea of leadership. I think it’ll become pretty obvious to listeners.
That said, all of it has been on the foundation of the quality of communication based on effective questions, truly caring, overdelivering throughout the whole process of this podcast. I actually think really what people are going to be seeing in the future now that we’ve taken things to this level is really the ability for them to start taking nuggets of usable information. Where they’ll be able to start applying the learnings that you’ve actually were fortunate enough to uncover.
Brendan: Absolutely. I’ll link it back because all of these things come back to me through the people system that’s being developed, and there are various levels of that still being unpacked, and frameworks and IP and some process diagrams, all that stuff. So we can get people a system to help them grow their business, ultimately growing their people.
Better people become better leaders, better leaders lead better teams, better teams develop better culture, and ultimately that means better profit—growing business. Because again, business is about achieving results and profit.
I just want to touch on a point you made about that the elevating, the safe, and giving people confidence. I love to work with people to come from a place of confidence. What are we good at?
I’m in the elevate part of the people system in the model. I talk about energizing people. To energize people you have to give them confidence, you have to give them belief that they can achieve something greater than maybe what they thought they could achieve.
Does that come back to me in how I connect with people if we take that first point of how I believe you stand out as a leader. Connecting with them, understanding them, helping them frame where they want to go, how that works, how that needs to align if we’re in a business context, how it’s aligning with the business ,and how we can help them get there, motivating them. That’s some foundational pieces even around motivation and how we can create that in people.
One of the aspects is about people being really good at their job. If you got the right people, you will have people that want to be really good at their job. How do you do that? How do you come from a place of confidence with them that they’re going to be willing to try stuff, be willing to move into that challenge zone.
I don’t think I could ever be argued or somebody could change my mind on something about how to grow people, is that you have to believe in them. They have to believe that you believe in them. If you got that as a foundation about how to elevate people, then it’s amazing what we can do.
Brendan: Just having that person that believes in you that you can do this, and if your relationship is strong enough that they don’t want to let you down. They want to believe what you believe. That’s powerful stuff.
There are things you can do to elevate people like all of that stuff, but fundamentally if you have that belief in someone and you want to help them become better, there is that other shit just works itself out. We don’t need to be smart about it, just how do we make this better, what do I need to provide you, to help you, support you become better at whatever you want to become better at.
Marc: Exactly. I think this is going to be a good opportunity for us to lead a foundation for where the future of the podcast and the work that you do, the professional work that you do, because obviously there’s a relationship between the two—quite a strong one—but also allow people to know, really, what is the long term goal that you're actually attaching yourself to with regards to this podcast.
It started off, as you recall, you doing a couple of interviews and buying these basic microphones and the sound quality was wondering why you had these challenges. Then we partnered up and we started to work on getting the quality bar a little higher. From there, you already had the ideas of where you wanted to take things.
Again, you're actually sharing right now with me that lack of clarity that can become clear over time because the work has been put in. Because the time and the conversations have been honest enough to say, I’ve pushed back on you many times. You’ve pushed back on some of the ideas that I’ve had. We’re both leveraging that. But the idea is on the long haul making basically the opportunity for people to learn more about how they can be better leaders absolutely.
Brendan: That’s exactly right. I guess that’s the evolution of the podcast itself. We’re going to change the name. We’re going to move from The Culture of Things to The Culture of Leadership.
Again, through your insight and saying, hey, you're always focusing on leadership, you're always talking about leadership, even your takeaways seem to just evolve to leadership. It’s like deer in the headlight moment.
You're right. It gives a bit more context to the conversations we’re having moving forward, because I’ve gotten far more clarity around the work that I do, I’ve always been clear about with clients, where I had value on how I can help business.
What I haven’t had is that in a system. Something that the client can look at and know where they’re at and where they need to go, elevating them to this is where I’m going. We can move forward at a pace that they’re comfortable, not just at a pace that I’m comfortable with. It’s a two-way street.
That’s been part of the journey of the creation of the people system, the eight business essentials and how it all comes together. There are a few systems out there. Things like the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) is one that comes to mind straight away.
There’s one I’ve learnt recently called Metronomics. I know a bit about both. It’s the same stuff wrapped up a bit differently, but really good systems and relevant for the right people.
In saying that, I haven’t found one yet that focuses so much on the development of the individual. Because if we get the individual working well and moving forward and if from a leadership capacity perspective, then the influence and the impact they have on the rest of the group is absolutely massive.
What I found over time is if we jump to the ideal result too early, like team work—I’m a massive believer in the power of teamwork—a lot of leaders don’t have the confidence to engage their team as a group early on. I’ve learned that and said, actually, we need to focus on the individual development.
It makes sense, but I wasn’t doing that a lot of the time in my early stages or my consultancy business. I’m like leadership is the ultimate. Teamwork is the ultimate. Let’s get there as soon as we can, rather than build the confidence of the leader, elevating them so that they can work confidently one on one with the individuals in the group.
If the leaders got this bigger view of the world and the organization they’re at, then they’re still guiding the individual in alignment with where the business needs to go. But that builds confidence in them, then they move that forward, and then they’re better equipped to work with teams.
All of these things, even if we filter our guests and have conversations, then we were filtering, but there’s even more deliberate focus on what value does that individual bring in relation to the people system and the eight essentials of business. A lot of the conversations we’ve had previously, I believe—I’m biased—very good conversations. Unbelievable learning from fantastic people. It’s fair to say that a lot of those would fall into the experience back at people system.
The E is educate and there are various elements. One of the elements of educate is learning from experiences. We focus a lot on that. Unknowingly in relation to the system, but a lot of experiences, very good, great learning, powerful stuff. But there’s some other stuff that we need to get down to some down and dirty bits of leadership that we need to make sure we’re being very deliberate around. That’s what we’ll continue to do from this moment forward in The Culture of Leadership, which will be the new name.
Marc: That’s right. We’re going to see a shift to a little bit more clarity on that topic, which is actually quite I think probably helped listeners understand really why they’re there. Does it really align with what they’re trying to achieve themselves or learn or grow.
Brendan: I think so. That is some of the feedback we’ve had from our listeners. They’re enjoying the conversations and experience conversations and through my takeaways at the end which will continue that the link is being made to leadership.
What I haven’t done as well as I need to and what you’ve pushed me on various times where we’ve got to today and through the people system process, is let’s link it back to some fundamental elements of leadership.
Now, again, a really important thing. I can’t [00:28:07] at the top of the show where we’re talking about before we hit record. This is not about that move, Jim Collins’ famous phrase from moving people from good to great. It’s fair to say that there are a lot of average leaders out there.
What we want to make leaders better than average, we want them to stand out. How do we make leaders stand out? We’ve got a system, the people system and how that powers the eight essentials of business. That’s fundamental to moving people forward, making progress, and just helping them be more confident leaders, feel like they’re more established leaders, feel like they can work better with the individuals in their team, connect better with the individuals in their team, grow their team, and get better results, and then stand out. Become much better than average.
Marc: That’s right.
Brendan: But don’t scare people off with the word growth. I think great links back to some of those leaders I’ve mentioned very early on. They think, I’m not sure I can ever be that great. I can never be [00:29:06]. I don’t believe that people can be. But that’s a big holy shit zone. That’s a challenge up here. How can I be better than what I am today and how can I stand out as a really good leader.
Marc: I think it’s also fair to think about—and I’d like to know your thoughts on this too—is standing out is not about standing out for the sake of look at me. It’s stand out to say that you have a sense of pride, that you’ve made the changes yourself, that you’ve earned your way there—things need to be earned—and that’s what standing out comes from. As opposed to that of a selfish perspective.
Brendan: Absolutely. Funny enough, that’s some of the conversation and some of the information and education within the people system. The mindset around leadership, what actually is leadership. More responsibility focused on serving others, versus hey, it’s a reward-centered focus, and that’s not what good leadership is about in my books.
Marc: I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress over the next set of episodes. I think we’re going to see a bit of a shift. If you’re watching this now, you're going to probably be seeing a little bit more of a focus on leadership. The questions are probably going to be more driven towards that and I think you're going to get even more. It’s going to be wonderful to go back and look at some of the old episodes and see the progression, but also looking forward to where things are going to be going.
Thanks for taking the time to share a little bit more about the future of the program.
Brendan: My pleasure, mate. Thanks for being so inquisitive and asking good questions.