Brendan: Welcome to the Culture of Leadership. We have conversations that help you develop and become a more confident leader.
Today's conversation is Marc interviewing me on what I see are the top three leadership challenges in 2023. We set the scene through the lens of change and how the best leaders aren't just going through the motions. To tackle these top three challenges, leaders must be deliberate in solving them. They won't magically solve themselves.
Are your top three challenges similar to what I think? Stay tuned to find out. This is the Culture of Leadership podcast. I'm Brendan Rogers. Enjoy the conversation.
Marc: What are the things that they can take away from this and say, all right, I learned something, I'm a leader in an industry or I'm an aspiring leader in my industry, and I've had to shift the way I work? What would be the most important thing for people to take away from that?
Brendan: I think the first thing to mention in what you've talked about, there is that dreaded word, change. That dreaded word, Covid, forced change. That's the thing that organizations, workers, going into an office was common practice for a lot of types of work. Covid was that burning bridge that said, we have to change something, we're forced to change something. Therefore, it gave opportunities for people to work remotely when those conversations were being had or those conversations didn't want to be had, because it was in the too hard basket.
To me, that's a real lesson in itself because it's people going through the motions. Leaders shouldn't go through the motions. When you find something that works and you stick with it, but you're always looking at it, there are always ways to improve stuff. Change that burning bridge. Covid was the burning bridge, and it forced organizations, leaders, people working in organizations, to think differently. They had no choice.
If you didn't think differently, you probably closed down and you didn't come back. Or you did close down, you have so much cash reserves, which most businesses don't, and they came back when all the dust settled, but who knew when the dust settled? That's the first thing.
I think for me and the conversations I'm having, granted my client base is Australia, I don't venture out of that from a face-to-face consulting perspective, there are things that come up regularly. I've boiled those down to three things, which for me are the challenges for leaders in 2023.
But it's not just Australia. We're involved in various groups. We know people from all around the world. LinkedIn is a great tool. We know that. There's stuff happening on LinkedIn from people in various countries, the same challenges happening across the board.
There are organizations out there that have been remote work since they started. We're not talking about those sorts of environments because they've got their systems in place. Covid, no Covid, it doesn't matter. They're just working through.
We're talking about organizations that had a way of working, like you said, predominantly coming into the office or coming into a place of work, and that got changed abruptly.
Fundamentally, now, going back to change and going back to going through the motions, what I'm seeing and the conversations I'm having is that there's an element of organizations and leaders just going through the motions again. What I mean by that is that people are doing some work from home still, a lot of work from home still, come into the office every now and again, working from home, come into the office again when they feel like it. There's no structure to it. There's no deliberacy see around it.
For me, that is the greatest challenge for 2023 moving forward for leaders. If leaders don't get deliberate about having conversations around what our work environment is going to look like in 2023 and beyond—that's a real strategic-type conversation—at least they're going to be going through the motions. Workers don't like organizations going through the motions. They want to progress, they want to move forward.
If they feel like they're just part of something that's just bubbling along without any deliberacy, then they'll probably go somewhere else where they can get deliberate around stuff, and they've got some real plan around what their work environment looks like.
I know that I'm going to be required in the office X days, or I know that I'm going to be able to work from home X days, or I know I can do it fully from home, or I know I'm going to have to be coming into the office all the time. Then they're able to make deliberate choices themselves about, this is an environment I want to work in and I can do the best that I can.
Marc: One of the big questions then is that whole new model for the upcoming year, especially at the beginning of the year when you probably need to set some new standards or some role. You're probably having to establish what the goals are for the year. There are going to be some financial goals, some strategic goals. Usually, that's the time that a lot of those things get implemented.
There are going to be probably a number of leaders who are not sure what would be the steps that they would need to think about. What would be some examples of steps that would be appropriate to start with? Should it be conversations with staff? Should they be doing a survey? What things could they be doing?
Brendan: If it was me in the advice I give to leaders that I'm having conversations with, and even if I post something on LinkedIn or whatever, then it really starts with that word deliberate. We have to be deliberate about wanting to solve the problem.
What's the problem? The problem could be just categorized as we need to get deliberate about what our work environment looks like moving forward. We've got this thing that's a bit all over the shop. We're not clear on it. Our people aren't clear on it, but we're just moving along with it.
What does our work environment look like in the future? When we say into the future, that could be years. It could be till the next Covid outbreak or the next pandemic. It's going to happen at some point. Being deliberate about wanting to answer that question, wanting to solve that problem, is absolutely the first step.
Marc: What does that look like?
Brendan: What does it look like? What's the problem you're trying to solve? The problem I'm trying to solve is, we want to know what our work environment looks like. Are we going to be hybrid working? Are we going to have a bit of a mix of work from home, work from office? Are we going to be full office? Are we going to be full remote?
What does that look like depending on the size of the organization? If you're a large organization, you've got a leadership team, a senior leadership team, that conversation needs to start there. I' m not going to sit here and say that the conversation starts and ends there. Absolutely not. It's a broader conversation, but the senior leadership team is responsible for the trajectory of the organization. They have roles accordingly. They have to have that conversation there.
If you're a small business that has a handful of staff, maybe up to 10 staff for example, then I'll be encouraging that strategic conversation to have with everybody. Not one on one, but as a team in a meeting room.
Okay, lay the foundation. We've been working like this for some time. I know it's not very clear as an organization. We need to change that because for us to thrive, for us to move forward, and to give our workers some respect of what the environment looks like moving forward so they can continue to make good decisions and for the benefit of the business, we've got to get clear on this. Everyone's got to be on the same page with that.
Okay, what does that start to look like? Okay, what are our ideas around what our environment could look like moving forward? Again, the obvious ones I mentioned, do we go to full remote and be deliberate about that? Do we just bring everyone back into the office and be deliberate about that?
Do we say, look, we think there's a really good option of four days in the office one day remote, or completely the other way, one day in the office, four days remote? That's the sort of conversations that needs to be had. Again, not necessarily decisions made on that yet, but you're throwing out some ideas.
From there, the next stage is to really start to activate some of those ideas, discern some of those ideas. Play devil's advocate, if you will. If we did this, how would that work in your environment? Why do you think this would be a better solution than this solution? Are there areas of the organization, if we're talking larger organizations, that this is more appropriate for or this is more appropriate for?
Also, I'm a believer in an ‘it's not an all or nothing’ scenario. If we've got a big organization, and let's say that big organization is 100 people, 1000 people, 5000 people, the greater the size of the organization, the more likely that the vanilla one way doesn't work for every department.
Those conversations need to be had, again, depending on the way that communication works in the organization, then that can be structured in certain ways. I'm not a survey guy, you mentioned. They are very valuable for certain things, but I think with these sorts of stuff, then having face-to-face conversations, and having it have with everyone if you're talking to a very, very large organization, but key parts of the organization, key representatives from the organization, and you can start to get a feel for that.
It might be putting out scenarios. This is one option we're looking at. This is another option. How would this impact your environment having those conversations? Then from there, what are we going to do? What's the action? What are we deciding to do as a result of this?
Again, don't take it that that simple process is going to solve the world in one or two conversations or a few meetings. It's a trial and error situation, isn't it? What we might think is working when we've done all the best conversational-type investigation with key stakeholders, maybe it still may not work. The theory might sound sound, but in practice, sometimes it's not always the way it works.
If that's the case, what's not working, come back to a conversation. What is it about, this is not working? What do we need to change that might make this work better?
The worst thing you can do is say, it's not working. Let's throw that away and let's start again. Organizations should never do that. Organizations that are in (I guess) product development–type environments don't do that. They make prototypes and they adjust the prototype. They get some feedback, and then they adjust. They hardly ever would just throw it all in the bin and start from scratch. Again, there are going to be elements of it that work. It’s the same with this. It's like prototyping the situation.
That's why there's no one-size-fits-all. I can't sit here Marc and say to our audience that this is the solution. You all need to get back to work or you all need to go remote. Or no, the best thing you can do is three days a week remote, two days a week from the office.
Marc: You can say you heard it here first that you're not Elon Musk.
Brendan: I am a believer. Unfortunately, I don't know Elon personally. But Elon, you don't get that money at your disposal and be stupid. He's a pretty smart fellow, I would say. I think with some of the decisions he's making, he's pretty smart. Probably the difference between him and people that don't have that money, he's probably got the balls to match.
He's just made a call, and he said, this is one way that I can start to adjust my culture really quickly because time is money. Get a message out there. I'm not saying I'm agreeing with the way it was done or whatever, but he's a smart guy. I'm sure there's deliberacy to what he's done.
Marc: I think a big part of it is that he, as a leader, is prepared to pay the price and understand it as an opportunity for learning and to make those adjustments.
Brendan: He's just taking responsibility, hasn't he? He's put it out there. He's committed. He's not about trying to be everything to everyone, because that's often the worst thing you can do. But he said, this is what I think is best for this business moving forward. He's the owner. He's got his prerogatives to do that, and he's made a call. He knows some people are going to love him, and some people are not going to like him at all.
Marc: Absolutely, and that's normal. That's like that for any business that grows to any size. They use that as an example from an industry perspective, I think, is a good one. If you think about car manufacturing, you can go all the way back to the days of before Ford turned it into something, where it was actually a production line. It's always something that you have to physically go on-premises to do the work.
You can't build the car, really, for the most part, in and of itself without being on-premises. Except that nowadays, we're dealing with a workforce that's very technology-driven. If there's a car that's technology-driven, that's a good example of a technology-driven car in terms of not how it drives, although that's also how it drives, but it's also how it's designed. That has an impact in terms of that.
What happened in society is we've moved more, and more, and more towards the capacity to do certain tasks in a remote fashion. That opportunity changes the scope. As I mentioned before, again, prior to starting recording, I had experienced what remote work was like for a lot of people for a long period of time.
I was one of those people who was not surprised and somewhat knew what to do, and fortunately was in a work environment where being self employed as I am, I can do that. It wasn't a major shift. In fact, very little as far as that goes with the exception of obviously not being able to go on-premises to do commercial photography. Obviously, you have to be on-premise to shoot the place. But it helps.
The reason why I'm bringing this up is that it's understanding how much of the work has no other choice but to be done on-premise or not. Then there's that variation of, okay, now that it doesn't have to be done on-premise, what are the benefits of it still being done on-premise? What are the gains and losses?
What do the stakeholders' advantages and disadvantages look like? Maybe you can talk a little bit about that, because I think that's part of that next stage of deciding, how's it going, the measuring of the shift in the culture that managers have to make?
Brendan: I would go back to the process that I explained a little bit earlier. They're the questions that if that's relevant to the industry you're in and the environment you're in, you have to ask yourself as part of trying to get the best outcome. Because who goes into a conversation or some problem-solving session like this or any trying to get a bad outcome? They don't. They may not always consider all of the scenarios and all of the questions that need to be asked, which is why it's important to have the right people in the room around various conversations. And in something like this. absolutely.
It's really about saying, well, our environment is X. This is what it was pre-Covid. This is the impact of Covid, pretty simple, pretty black and white, and this is where we're at today. Where are we at today, is that the best thing for the business? Is that the best thing for the environment? Are we actually working better from a cultural perspective, which can drive improved performance?
Is that better now than what it was before? Maybe, maybe not. I would even say, even if it's not, doesn't mean that you say, well, back in the office, because my experience in a smaller scale around the clients that I work with, is that a lot of that comes back to the leadership capability to manage remotely or to manage a more hybrid-driven workforce. That's all I would say for that.
I don't think it's right for me to sit here and say, here's the scenario, and this is what it looks like. It comes back to that famous thing of questions and listening. That famous thing for leaders is pretty important. It's actually one of the most important things we can do. Let's ask questions. Let's listen. Let's ask some questions off the back of that. Let's listen. If we're interested enough in seeking to understand enough, then we'll get to a level where some confident and competent decisions can be made.
That just looks different for every business. I would even say, even if you're in a service type environment, you may be an accountancy business in a service type environment, just because you're in the same industry doing similar services, you've got a different culture as well. How you operate remotely versus in-office can be different.
It could mean that just because two businesses are in the same industry and doing the same stuff, doesn't mean that the solution should be the same for those two businesses. Because once again, one could have a very, very competent leader today who is good and has adjusted themselves to manage in a hybrid type environment, and the other one hasn't yet learned how to do that. It's not that they can't, they just haven't yet learned how to do that. They haven't sought the right help or they haven't educated themselves in a way that is starting to move themselves forward.
So many factors can impact this. But ultimately, leadership is a big driver of what culture looks like in an organization and how the business is fundamentally being run and being driven and what the people think of the organization as well.
Marc: This is obviously going to have an impact on who wants to be the followers in the group, the staff, because we talked and we were somewhat joking about the whole issue of how leaders need followers. Because otherwise, how do you have leaders? You still have to have that. Really, that's what that is, is often their staff or their team.
Yes, you want to have the right people on the bus, as I've said. Some people are going to want to leave, some people are going to stay. I think that maybe thinking in terms of the impact that it's going to have in terms of the change of the staffing, and who it'll attract, and what opportunities does the model bring, both the in-office, in-house, or hybrid, or fully remote.
What does it attract? Maybe talking about that would be good, too, because I think that that's one of the things we really want people to think about. Who are you actually going to be impacting and how will it either bring new people, bring new blood into the organization, or possibly create a shift, hopefully a positive one?
Brendan: Once again, this is one of the challenges for me in 2023, fully. It's a challenge now, staffing, getting the right people, getting what is deemed as good people for that organization, because good for one organization doesn't actually necessarily mean good for another organization. That's very dependent on what they value from a behavioral perspective, especially.
If you're looking at that, the ability for the leader to know what they're looking for in people, the ability going back to point one about what the work environment looks like—really important to have clarity around that, being deliberate about what that looks like—are just a couple of factors.
If you've got that even as a starting point, then people will either be attracted to that because this is the environment that I want to be involved in, this is the purpose that this organization lives for, demonstrates, and I want to be part of that. Or it could be as shallow as a full remote organization. I want to work for a full remote organization or it's three days in office or three days out of office, whatever.
Again, if an organization is not clear on that, how can they sell themselves to new people? In Australia, unemployment is very, very low. I know in other countries, unemployment is very, very low. Also, in other countries and Australia, they talk a lot about the great resignation, the quiet quitting is coming, and all that stuff.
Once again, I'm a massive believer. I've never ever met a person that has left an organization, because they love their leader. Now, I'm not saying that people will leave or won't leave organizations, because their leader is so great. There are other development opportunities I want to take up whenever I get that, but they will think a lot lot harder and for a lot, lot longer around, hey, this is a really good environment, I really respect, I follow my leader respectfully, I'm not following them reluctantly because they're in a role of power of superiority, then people just generally don't do that.
If leaders are leading people in a way that people feel valued and cared for, they are very unlikely to leave. That is just a fact. The research says that it's factual. I look at my own experiences. I've left organizations because leaders are not leading. And people would have left me, absolutely, because I've not been the leader that I thought I should have been, could have been, or would have been. Hopefully, every day I get better and better at that.
The whole staffing thing, finding good people, good people are out there. We know that. Great people are out there. People aren't really selling the organization, and they're not understanding what works for their organization as well as they could.
Frustrated leaders over the time said to me, this remote thing doesn't work. We just got to bring everyone back in office. I don't say no. to that. All I say is, how many staff are you prepared to lose?
Marc: It’s a question you ask?
Brendan: Absolutely. How many staff are you prepared to lose? Pretty much the answer is I generally don't want to lose any staff. Sometimes I could lose one or two of the bad ones, but that's another topic.
Generally, they don't want to lose people. If you make a decision like that, I guarantee there's a chance of having a reasonable percentage of your staff leave. Maybe not immediately, but over time, it will have an impact. Why? Because people expect what has been happening for the last 2½–3 years. It's not a it's not an added bonus now, this work from home stuff or work out of office stuff, whatever you want to call it. It's just common practice. It's the new standard.
Again, not necessary for every industry. It doesn't work. Manufacturing might be one of them. Warehousing might be one of them as well. But for a lot, it can work. We've just had a head in the sands and not needing to have that conversation. Once again, Covid's brought that conversation to before. We're well and truly down that path. It is the new standard.
How do organizations embrace that new standard, whatever it looks like for their organization, back to challenge one. The number one thing from now, if leaders have not decided—when I say decided, generally some engagement with parts of the team or the size of the team—if a fundamental decision has not been made about what our work environment looks like in the future, you need to do that.
Because then, when you do that, then you can start to see yourself as an organization of what that environment's looking like for people. People in your environment today can make decisions as well as to what works for them, and is this a long term environment for us? That's the thing that has to happen.
Marc: It's interesting because that brings in the whole issue of what makes people feel like it's the right place for them. Often—I'm sure you've experienced it, and I have many, many times—along with leadership—I say along with because it's not necessarily their role, because as you know, I just spent many years also in the training industry—it's not the role of the leader to do the training all of the time, but they shouldn't be able to. But when they are bringing in a training team or involving education or development, then they're doing it in unison or in congruence with the model that they're working under.
Most of the time, training, especially communications-based training, does benefit from being in person, for the most part. You get the body language. There's so much more that you can learn from. You also get the cooler talk that takes place between sessions, too.
Really, I see this shift towards whatever new model gets agreed on and focused on as a great foundation for developing the training programs, the upskilling, or the self-development programs that can be implemented within an organization, so that they can do all of the things that they need in terms of whether it be just the functional aspects, or for that matter, the training of the next layer of leaders.
You probably have seen and experienced this. Some of the best leaders that I've worked for, and you've probably also, are the ones who thought of you in a succession plan way of hiring. They hire with the intent of, would I want to have this person take my role? If I had to step down, would I be happy to work for them? And how do I ensure that they've actually got what it takes to add value to the organization in that way? So training that next layer of leaders.
What are your thoughts in terms of how to implement that, how to bring that in as part of an important element in the coming year? It's going to be one of those things that people have to eventually get to the point where, okay, we've got the new strategy. We've got the new hours of operation when you're in the office and all that. We've got the right people on the bus. Now, we want to make sure that they're getting better.
Brendan: There are two parts I want to touch on. The first one, just to park, so we don't forget is the human systems of business. Human systems are only able to be implemented in a way that works for the business when decisions around how the business, how the environment is going to work down to values, and how we behave and what we value, all that sort of stuff in an organization. Human systems have to come off the back of that. I can unpack that a little bit more.
One of the points you just mentioned at the end about succession planning—I think we've got to be really, really careful around succession planning in my book—is that, often, when we're talking about succession planning, we're talking about it in exactly the way that you refer to. What's the next move? What's the succession of this person? Would you like to take my role? How do we build you into that?
That's fantastic. That's a key element of succession planning, without a doubt. But the reality is, there are people, and we want people to not be looking at succession in that frame. Succession, to me also is, how do I be so good in my role? How do I be better in my role? That's an element of succession. If I'm here today, my succession plan is, how do I even be a bit better tomorrow?
Marc: It's almost like being a better follower?
Brendan: Absolutely, a better employee. How do I add more value to the organization? How can I do that? People have to engage in all these great words that we're using the leadership spaces. Important words, but maybe overused at some times, that they're looking to do that.
Again, the research says it's pretty clear that those that feel like they're getting more out of—they're learning, they're growing, and they're developing in their role, whatever that looks like for them, whether that's moving up, moving sideways, enhancing their current role—they will stay a long time in organizations as well. Their needs are being met.
I just want to clarify that point. I don't want people to think succession is always up. Yes, it is up, but it doesn't necessarily mean up into another level of leadership or moving from an individual contributor role, let's say. I must move into a leadership role. I must have some followers, leading a team, or whatever that looks like. So just being clear on that.
The human processes side again, absolutely fundamental. It's a bit of the stuff I referred back to. How can an organization sell themselves? When I say sell themselves, how can they put it out there if you're used to putting job adverts out there (let's say), and there are various ways to do that in better ways than what standard today?
But if you don't know what your organization values, if you don't know what your work environment in your organization looks like, if you don't know the technical skills—that's a real simple stuff, really, normally; we don't know the technical skills—how can you put this stuff out there in a way that somebody finds it and is attracted to the organization?
Again, people get more attracted to that why. The Simon Sinek, why are we doing what we do, that's that emotional attachment side. That clarity around those sorts of things again, you got to be deliberate. There's that word again.
This isn't difficult stuff. It can be time-consuming because you have to put deliberate time in, you have to have deliberate conversations. You don't just solve things in five seconds around this sort of stuff. You've got to go through a process and really talk it through to really get to the bottom of, why do we do what we do or what are these behaviors that we really value filtering out decisions through things?
You might test that, stress tested over a period of time, and come back to it. But when you've got that level of clarity, actually, you're not having, generally I find, to attract people, they're attracted to you. Why? Bloody hell, most organizations don't do that.
You actually stand above the rest really easily. Even if you've got 50% of that clarity, you stand ahead of the others. Then all it is, is (say), well, if that's recruitment, if that's how we're attracting people and how people are attracted to us, how do we bring that into our human systems? How do we put that in?
I'm not a fan of hundreds of pages, policies, or anything like that. It might be just a one page or three or four bullet points of the key things of this is how we operate here. Here's the checklist. This is how we run our interview process here. Hopefully not too standard, interview 30 minutes, yeah, you're hired or not and whatever, getting to know and relating your investigation of that person, their fit of the organization, and your fit of them. How does that work through questioning through unpacking different scenarios?
Again, all that can only happen if there's a level of clarity at the top end around, well, what do we value in this organization from a behavioral perspective? That's where the human processes come in super important, absolutely. If you think about how most organizations seem to work—certainly once, I've been involved for a long time from an employee side—there's not that level of clarity with the left hand. But then you're getting the right hand, which is normally HR—good, bad, or ugly—to try and write some human processes. It's just a complete misalignment.
They wonder why they're attracting people that don't always fit. It's like Russian roulette. It's like spin the dice, and hopefully, we get a good one. A lot of the time, you might. A lot of the time, you may not. And it's always the person's fault. It's always the person-coming-in’s fault.
There's often a time where you've sold in an organization that's actually not what they're not clear about who they are anyway, so how could I get clear about I'm really going to like this organization? Let's face it, most people need money to live. Most people don't have enough money to not work. That's going to be a bit of a driver, so they'll take it. Then they'll realize, if it's not there, I'm not really enjoying the role expectation a bit different to what I had, and they start looking.
They quite quit, like they're saying. They don't necessarily give you real feedback. They tell their friends the real reason why they left, because Brendan's a tosser to work for or Marc's just a pain in the ass, and I just couldn't handle it anymore. I really liked my colleagues, but I can't stand Brendan or I can't stand Marc, and they impact my life every day. I'll go somewhere else. There are enough opportunities out there in the world to find jobs.
Marc: Especially right now. That's one of the things that if there's anything that I think we've noticed in the world of retention, is it's far shorter than it's ever been. Turnover is amazingly rapid.
Brendan: It's interesting to know the numbers on that stuff nowadays. I don't know what they are.
Marc: I think that's one of the things that kills a business. If you actually look at how little retention an organization has as an employee, as someone looking for work or looking to make that change, or to become an employee, if you don't actually have a high level of retention in the organization, what does that say about the organization as a whole?
It's funny because I just came back from speaking at the Zoho conference. One of the things that everyone that works for Zoho for the most part, especially the ones that comes from India, they all talk about the fact that they've been there for 7, 8, 10, 12 13, 14 years in a tech company that started in the late 2000s, roughly, which is a long period of time. They have high retention, and it's an unusual thing, and that makes them attractive to work for. They actually probably are one of those few organizations that have that success because of that. Other reasons too, sure, but that's an example of that.
I think about how leaders can think in terms of, what are they offering in terms of that development program that demonstrates that it's worth sticking around, so that upskilling that's going to take place, that becomes the carrot, the opportunity, or the reason to stick around for a little longer, even when things don't go right. As you mentioned earlier on with the whole thing of being deliberate, every time you said the word, it made me think about the other version of exactly the same word, which is to deliberate.
You have to have a deep conversation. You have to deliberate about what you are deliberate about and work through whether or not those shifts or the changes were, in fact, correct through good measure. Then, by making those adjustments and demonstrating to the team that you are aware of your successes and your failings, that that and in of itself (I think) is one of those things that creates a higher level of retention.
It's really developing your team and developing yourself as a leader is one of those things, that feedback model of usually, when the business is doing well, not just in financial numbers but also in call it a happiness index of the staff as much as it is the customers, I think it's a really good indication of where you're going.
Brendan: Retention, I think, it's like any measure. There's a context that has to be added to the measure. As a basic rule, retention as a measure is a good measure. That's my belief. When's a time when it may not be a great measure? In today's environment—in Australia, specifically, a very, very low unemployment rate—it's probably a good measure because it's not that difficult for good people to get a job.
In times of higher unemployment, and people are a little bit more risk-averse and scared of changing things, I think retention can be one of those measures that still may be okay, but there are other contexts that need to be considered.
Marc: Absolutely, well said.
Brendan: There are other factors. Pay can come into that. Again, I'm a big believer. I know you know this, that finances are a very, very short-term motivator. Earning a lot of money generally means you spend a lot of money. You live to your means. You might get that extra $5000 bonus or $5000 increase for the year or whatever, but the niceness, the warm, fuzzy feel, that wears off a bit, especially if you're working in a crappy environment.
The culture is not aligned with your beliefs. The leadership, the people that you're supposedly looking up to, and they're there to help and support you, isn't competent. Those sorts of things are the bigger factors in the long term than finance. Retention is a really good measure most of the time, I think, but there's always context that can change that.
Marc: And that could easily be misunderstood very easily.
Brendan: I think it's data. We can present data. I love data, but it can be presented in any number of ways. You can snip it from here to here to make anything look the way that the narrative you're wanting to get across at any given time.
Again, that stuff can come in the power of questions and listening, and questions and listening, and trying to seek to understand and get to the bottom of situations, and then putting the context around it. From that, hopefully, some reasonable decisions get made about whatever is being decided, whatever action needs to take moving forward.
Marc: It's going to be an interesting year 2023. It'll be a very telling year on many, many fronts. We've got so much going on in the world. You mentioned how you're playing around now with a new AI tool as part of your toolkit set for writing blogs. That's coming into play. That's going to create a level of displacement to some degree.
We've got the world of AR and VR, which is still growing. Yes, it's slowing down in some areas. Some people are seeing how Meta is maybe not doing as well as it used to be. Mark Zuckerberg is basically being caught in the weeds of the Meta world. But I see that all of these things, we're going to be getting an awful lot more clarity as to what the next seven to 10 years are going to look like as a result of (I think) next year.
I think it's going to be a year to not just plan and do all these other things, but to be very aware, to just raise our level of awareness. Conversations like what you and I are having now and the conversations that you'll be having, I'm looking forward to with your guests over the next coming years, I know that you've got a couple of people already lined up.
Brendan: We've got a jam packed schedule for Q1, 2023.
Marc: It's quite a bit. With that coming into play, I think there's going to be that opportunity for people to listen up, find out how we can maybe dig a little deeper on the three key topics, and then to recap a little bit more. Today was more about, where do people work? That whole thing.
Brendan: It's the environment. Really, to summarize, it's getting deliberate about what your work environment looks like, particularly, obviously in relation to work from home, work from office, hybrid situation, what that looks like, and the context. The nuance of that is dependent on what works in your environment. There's no one-size-fits-all. That's one.
Marc: And then next, obviously, was the people.
Brendan: Absolutely. The staffing, the finding good people, the learning how to find good people, good in respect to what works for your organization, what you're looking for. Absolutely critical.
Marc: Finally, it's the ideas, the thinking, and the upskilling. Upskilling is a good word for it, but it's that whole thing about education and training, self-development.
Brendan: It's what I would call leadership competence. There's a lot of technical competence in the workforce, very, very good technical competence, very, very smart people. Fantastic. It's the leadership competence we're talking about.
Again, what I've seen, the conversations I'm having, refer back to point one about the environment being deliberate about strategic intent of what our environment needs to look like moving forward, how to attract good people in the employment side of things, the hiring and retaining good people, retention of good people, all that stuff, that happens far better if the leader has a level of competence about their leadership.
You mentioned the word, aware. Awareness of, hey, I know, this is not as good as what it could be, I know that I can be a better leader. I just don't know how to be a better leader. Okay, well, if you don't have the awareness, you won't even start to seek information out to try and help you. It might be just a book. God knows, there are hundreds of thousands of them. They're all very good, mind you, but there's so much content out there. It's not funny.
It might be a YouTube channel. It could be our YouTube channel. But search whatever you're looking for on YouTube, and they'll come up. You can watch a video. If that's one thing that you want to work on for a week, a month, or whatever, then do it. But that's the awareness you have to have. We probably shouldn't use the word leader if they're not always looking to develop themselves. If they're a person who's leading people, and they're not looking at developing themselves and they shouldn't be leading...
Marc: That's a manager.
Brendan: Yeah. Probably. Let's just assume that people who consider themselves leaders, they're always looking to evolve, develop, and improve themselves. Upskilling is super important. They do that, and they're always on that wheel of improvement, self-mastery, continuous improvement, then points one and two will start to fall in place. There'll be so many other things that will start to fall in place, whether that's how they manage change in an organization, which is a constant, how they run their various types of meetings that they have.
We've touched on strategic type meetings today, but it could be a one on one performance type meeting. It could be a one on one learning and development type meeting. It could be a tactical meeting with the team looking at the operational functions week to week around the performance of the team. I think it might be a project management-related meeting. There are so many different types of meetings.
But all of those sorts of things, if you're not really clear on what that should be or how that should work, and you're just reacting to situations, then that's not showing very good leadership competence in my book.
Leaders don't have to be reactive. In fact, the best leaders aren't reactive. They're very proactive. They know when they come in each day, each week, each month, they're seeing—for want of a better word—the future. They've got their eye on the future, whether that be succession planning or trying to help their people grow and develop into other roles or even be better at their current role themselves, succeeding at what that looks like for them.
The organization as a whole, the teams, the product for their customers, all that stuff, they've got their eye on all of those balls. They're not necessarily doing that all the time. They're not necessarily responsible for that. They have other people in positions doing that. But if they've got their eye on those things, they're considering those things, and they're developing their leadership competence, which is fundamentally will make a significant difference to the quality of the organization, the quality of the people in the organization, and the quality of the output, whatever that looks like for customers.
Marc: It's going to be an interesting year, 2023.
Brendan: For us, it's going to be super. We have a super year planned, not only for the podcast, but for some of the online learning we've got under development at the moment, some of the systems, some of the signature frameworks, all that stuff. But some of the speaking stuff, we're going to be doing, and more of this stuff as well.
I think we really only did our key takeaways for the year, and had our top key takeaways for the year last year. We're going to be doing that again this year, but there are lots of exciting stuff to go.
Our focus is definitely to help create confident leaders. We're very much focused on that. Hopefully, we keep moving on that path, achieve that in 2023, and moving forward always with that lens. What can we do? What conversations can we have? What resources can we develop to help create confident leaders?
Marc: Well done.
Brendan: Thank you, mate. It's always a pleasure sitting down and having a conversation with you.
Marc: Same here.
Brendan: Thanks for listening to The Culture of Leadership. You can access the show notes at thecultureofleadership.com. If you enjoyed the show, please follow, rate, and give a review on your favorite podcast platform.