Brendan: Welcome to the Culture of Leadership. We have conversations that help you develop and become a more confident leader.
Today's conversation will put your leadership journey into overdrive. In 2022, there were 75 key takeaways taken from our episodes. Marc and I have boiled them down to 10 of the best action steps to enhance your leadership credentials.
They're timeless and each builds on the one before it. Consider each of them a step on the journey to building character, competence, and connection, enabling you to become a more confident leader. Will you just listen or will you listen and put it into action?
This is the Culture of Leadership podcast. I'm Brendan Rogers. Sit back and enjoy the conversation.
Marc: Leaders lead themselves first. It stood out to me right off the top as being where it starts. When you actually had a chat with Matty, what was the thing that made you come up with that as one of the key takeaways?
Brendan: It was the undercurrent through the whole conversation with Matt, really about self-care, self-help, looking after yourself. I think his words were something along the lines of, if you can't lead yourself, what gives you the right to lead others? That rings true a lot. There are some other words that ring true in relation to that that we're not necessarily going to speak in detail around today. But what Gary Rodriguez said about relationships and the relationship you have with yourself is the relationship you bring to others.
Marc: It's very similar.
Brendan: It's huge, and I look at that. I asked Matty a question around leaders, and do you notice anything different about people, discipline, leading their leadership style or their leadership capabilities in relation to their weight? He went about body shaming anyone or anything like that, but it was telling what he said, because that had been my experience. You can easily tell if somebody's looking after themselves or not. And if they're not, then potentially, they're lacking some discipline.
Let's put health-related matters aside. Potentially, they're lacking some discipline, and leadership is very much about discipline. I've had a crazy scenario where I've heard of even a HR person who is fair to say a quite large person, and she was leading a living healthy initiative program in the organization. I found that astounding when we're talking about authenticity in leadership and backing that up. How do you think the program went?
Marc: Not well, that's all.
Brendan: That leading self first, it's not just about health. I go to Terrigal most mornings, do some exercise. That doesn’t make me perfect, far from it actually. Speak to my wife, she'll tell you. But I've got some disciplines in place that worked for me, and it is about finding something that works for you from a health perspective.
Getting some discipline around that, being consistent with it, whether that's a meditation, whether that's some exercise, whether it's just time by yourself each day to refresh, and Gary also calls it sanctuary, then you're starting to take control of you as a person, let alone eating habits and those sorts of things, but just start, how do you look after yourself? How do you start to manage your own time?
From a leadership perspective in a business, it could be that the leader is showing up late all the time to meetings or they're running around like crazy busy, and they wonder why their team is also running around or their business seems so busy all the time. Again, the leader is sitting the show. Not being able to lead yourself, even to keep to time on things, it's not the end of the world. It's just saying, okay, we've got some room for improvement here.
They're the things that I look at about how you lead yourself health-wise, but also your actions about just your environment, how you turn up, how you show up in the world. Are you on time to meetings? That sort of stuff shows elements of respect and shows some organization? That's important. That's a foundation.
Marc: It's an interesting one because I look at it also as the inputs create the outputs.
Marc: It’s what you eat, it’s what you consume in terms of information, it's the relationships you keep, it's the conversations you have, it's the thoughts that you generate, right down to how you think about your dreams and goals. That's all the inputs. Then usually, that says an awful lot about what your outputs are going to be looking like.
Brendan: Exactly. Leading self first, having control of you, not feeling like something external is controlling you, the business is controlling you, other people in your life are controlling you. You're owning yourself, and you're doing things everyday to try and be your best self. There's a great starting point. If you can do that even on an average level, then you're setting a foundation for moving up this leadership ladder up the stairway to leadership heaven, so to speak.
Marc: The next one we have over here is leaders lead with purpose. I came from Alex Lee, which we interviewed here in person. Alex is a fascinating guy because, I'll have to say, he was so quiet. I actually had to bring his microphone up all the time, because he was speaking so quietly. He's such a gentle human being, but you could tell that he was also very purpose driven. Maybe if you can share a little bit more about why you chose that one as being your second key takeaway.
Brendan: I should mention, none of these are chosen based on the actual guests. It was really around what we said earlier, building these foundations. Alex is all of those things you talk about. He's a very humble guy, softly spoken, and just gets on with things. His purpose is literally just helping people and particularly community-driven help. He does a lot of things in the community. He leads an organization that helps drug- and alcohol-addicted people.
So much of his life has just been dedicated to service, and that's what drives him. He makes decisions about what he does on a weekend, or what activities are going to get involved in, or what thing he's going to do in his spare time, or even within his business about how he's helping people, how he's serving people. Again, whether it's Simon Sinek or all these great people out there, we've got to understand what drives us. That comes down to your passion, your purpose.
For me, what drives me as an example is yes, I'm also about helping people. My focus is because of my own experiences as a leader and not always getting the support that I felt I needed through my own journey of learning, discovering, and all of those sorts of great things, then I'm super passionate about providing that support for others.
That's what drives me, the conversations you and I have about what's our next step? How do we create better content to do this? What are we not doing here that we need to do to try and do things better? We just had a conversation around some of those things. That is what drives me.
From a leadership perspective, if you've got that articulation around what your purpose is, then again, it's going to help excite you each day. You're going to get out of bed pretty enthused each day because you know what your purpose in life is, what gives you energy, what you enjoy doing, and you're going to make it happen. If you don't have that, then maybe you've got articulation about your purpose, but maybe the role that you're doing whatever it is is not aligned. Maybe it's that change.
Maybe again, the role that you're doing is okay, but you haven't got articulation around your purpose. You can't get that match or it's difficult to get that match. You've got to find what works for you or gives you energy. If you do that, then you can start to make deliberate decisions in your life.
Marc: I was just going to mention that word. In fact, this morning at a business function meeting, I brought up the fact that you recently brought up the word deliberate, how important it was, and how others related it to as intention and purpose. They're all very similar, but deliberate is a little bit more action based in the end, isn't it?
Brendan: Absolutely. Deliberate is you know what you're going to do, you know what you need to do, and you take deliberate steps. You take that action to make it happen. It's clear, there's no guessing. You're not always certain, but there's no guessing on that. It's, hey, I know this is the situation, I know that I need to do this, and that's getting some clarity about what I'm going to do. I'm going to deliver on that and be deliberate about it.
Once again, it's like culture. We talked a lot about that. I'm trying to think of the saying or the phrase that I use a bit, actually, in even some of the workshops. Weak cultures rise from neglect, strong cultures rise from deliberate intent. It's that simple. Anything we do that works well is about being deliberate.
Marc: Let's move on. Leaders ask for help. This one was one that when I read it, I had dismissed it initially, because it seemed almost too obvious for me. But you hung on to that one, and I'm glad you did. Share a little bit more about why you chose that one with Ethan Mulholland.
Brendan: It speaks to vulnerability. Really, that's probably the fancy word around asking for help. I see leaders not doing it a lot, not asking for help. They've got this thing in their own mind that they're the business owner, they're the senior leader, they're the leader of their department, they should have all the answers.
That's not it, actually. To be fair, that's probably one of the worst things you can do because it distances yourself from the team. The team's not even getting an opportunity to share their insight. They'll all have wonderful insight into whatever the problem is you're trying to solve or whatever the scenario is. That's why I felt it was really critical.
Again, building on these steps if we think about the leading themselves first, getting some clarity around that, and then having purpose. But then, being in a position to have a bit of self-confidence, asking for help, and not feeling like you should have all the answers, that to me is why it's so simple.
A lot of these things are so simple and effective, but you (again) have to be deliberate about doing that. It's like, Marc, I know you're really good at video stuff and editing or whatever. Hey, you know what? I need help with that because that's not my wheelhouse. It could be something as simple as that technically, or it could be about, hey, you're so much better having deliberate conversations around feedback from where I am. Can you help me get better at it?
Marc: Absolutely. It isn't that complicated. The hardest part about asking in my view—tell me if you agree or not—is getting into the habit of asking. It's the initial breaking of that barrier in a way that essentially puts you at ease with the habit of asking for help.
Brendan: It's a mindset. Again, I think for me, my experience says that the mindset that a lot of leaders and maybe society has driven over time is that, hey, you're in a leadership role. You're owning the business or whatever it is. You should have the answers.
Again, I would argue that even if you have a lot of the answers, the best thing is to try and engage the team, not to do it in an inauthentic way to just try and get them to come up with what you want them to come up with, but to generally have the right conversations.
You may guide them that way because that may be the ideal best outcome as teams come through, but you're getting a level of commitment that way as opposed to just, I know this is what we need to do and tell, tell, tell all the time. Sure, there are times for that.
Marc: It reminds me of a conversation we'd had before about leading questions and how we got to be careful about those types. When asking for help, don't ask any leading question methodology, because it will become eventually obvious that you're being inauthentic.
Brendan: Exactly right. So true.
Marc: Absolutely. Moving on. We've got leaders have genuine conversations. That one to me was an easy one to choose simply because of the fact that if anyone pays attention to the podcast, they'll know that that's how you literally end every podcast, is talking about that. It didn't surprise me that you would use it, but I do want to know if you can unpack that even more than you already do.
Brendan: I'm not sure that I can, but I might need to ask you for some help. When we think about it, and again, this hierarchy, asking for help, that vulnerability piece opens the door. It levels us. It brings us all on the same page. Hey, Marc, I need some advice, I really need some help around something. That is going to start to create the opportunity for genuine conversation.
The doors, everything's been lowered, released, whatever. We're talking human to human. I need some help. That just allows for the conversation to flow in the right intent around the conversation. The intent of a conversation like that is, hey, I'm seeking some help, you understand that you know that you're really good in an area. Help me learn from you.
If I'm asking you for help, and we then both have the right intent about how that helps to live it, then that just creates the opportunity for genuine conversation. Even if you don't know each other that well, but you know that somebody's got a skill set, that's such a fast track way to build trust, build that relationship and that connection, asking for help off the back of that, having that genuine conversation around whatever it is.
The speed of trust, there's that term. The book, The Speed of Trust, works very, very quickly in regards to that. Genuine conversations, you can't go past it. It's fundamentally at the root of everything.
Marc: It reminds me if we go back to the idea of how I actually approached my selections in the list, as I was attempting to see if you could ask the question in its opposite form. That was one way. Just try being not genuine and see how it goes for you. It just doesn't work, so absolutely.
Brendan: Although again, remember, you raise the point again. This is how your weird mind works from time to time. You talked about MIB, CIA, and all this stuff. I guess the criminal side of things. Are there times where maybe you're not having a genuine conversation, but that conversation or that set up that you might need to do is in order to get the best outcome?
Again, we should preface that and say, well, I think in the environments that I'm working in mostly, which is business-related environments, I can't think of a scenario where that thing should happen, so genuine conversations should always be the stock standard.
Moments like that, where you're trying to get a great outcome from solving a crime or whatever that is, solving some Russian secret, then maybe the disingenuous conversation is a step in the process to get a great outcome.
Marc: In the end, it's still genuine because of the intent, the final goal.
Brendan: Absolutely. That's what we came to, wasn't it?
Marc: That's right. You have to be very careful about remembering not to misstep with that and to think that you've got some conniving plan, really, because that's actually unfortunate. That does actually happens a lot in business.
Brendan: So much comes to intent. It's such a strong word as well, versus intent, it really dictates so much.
Marc: It does. Moving on to the next one, leaders create a feedback culture. Now, I remember you being very excited about your conversation with Leisa Molloy because of the fact that you were very much on the same page on areas such as HR and things of that nature.
A feedback culture to me is one that, again, seems obvious. But how often do you actually have the opportunity to analyze the quality of those conversations if you don't actually have a culture that basically, because the feedback loop is repetition. If you can share more on that.
Brendan: Again, I'll go back to asking for help. Genuine conversations create a solid foundation for this next step about the feedback culture. Again, the other word that comes in, being deliberate. You can ask for help. You can have genuine conversations. But if you're not deliberate around asking for feedback, then you're not actually setting foundations for a feedback culture.
Again, it may be that, hey Marc, how am I going? When we're working together, what's one thing you really think works well for us? On the flip side, if there was one thing you think that I could do better in how we're working together, what would that be?
Again, if I'm leading a team in an organizational-type environment, it might be asking my team in one of the types of meetings that I'm having, to hey, guys and girls, I just want to get some feedback about how I'm progressing. I'm really focused on continuing to improve as a leader and as a person. If there's one thing you'd like me to change, what would that be?
I like to use the start-stop-keep method. I can't remember who I learned that from many years ago, but what do you want me to start doing? What do you want me to stop doing? And what would you like me to keep doing?
That just creates a really basic framework already for people to have a bit of a think, and, okay, he's in a real nervous start, because that would really enhance your ability to leave me. I'd love you to stop this, because I find it bloody annoying, and I don't think it helps your leadership capabilities.
Marc: It's interesting because this also makes me think about a management questioning technique that I found very useful for many, many years, which was when you would catch someone doing something that would benefit from improvement, is to not tell them what the answer was, not necessarily give a start-stop-keep and be specific, but ask them to do things differently, and allow them the opportunity to come up with that answer for themselves?
Often, that would increase the level of ownership in that change. The sustainability of that change is usually much higher. It's another means to get the similar result and really hold back on that feedback loop that creates a culture.
I still remember when I started doing that with this particular team, how many of them were like, what's this guy doing? Why is he asking me to do things differently all the time and not telling me what that is? I was very (again) open genuine conversation, to go back to that point, saying, I'm doing that, because I want you to own the outcomes. I want you to feel good about the outcomes, and then you could analyze it for yourself, because I know they're smart people. That's a way of creating another one of those feedback environments.
Brendan: Absolutely. I would say, for me, I take that as yes, one of the outcomes of that process is the ability to provide feedback and to continuously improve through giving that feedback.
Straightaway, my head goes to coaching. Okay, where do we need to get to and the skill set this person or group of people may have, and you're setting that bar a little bit forward into that challenge zone. You're not giving them all the answers. You know that they'll get there, but you're challenging them to get there.
That process is a really process of coaching. Then off the back of that, that's where that feedback loop comes in. What do you think you could have done better in regards to this? What can I have done differently next time? What really worked well this time that you've taken to the next time we do this? They're great questions.
Marc: That's right, and acknowledging when there is an improvement, really making sure that being thankful for their willingness to make the effort. Absolutely.
Brendan: Just to be really clear, not to hop too much, but on that feedback loop and why I like the start-stop-keep, because it covers all that. There's that appreciative type of feedback, and there's that constructive type feedback in that simple process as well.
It's not pigeonholing feedback into that automatic thinking where people think, I want to give you some feedback. Oh, shit, what have I done? That scenario, because that's where the mind takes, really, because people seem to use feedback in that context a lot of the time.
Marc: Yeah, unfortunately. You're absolutely right. Keeping it positive.
Marc: Moving along here, leaders focus on clarity over certainty.
Brendan: No, leaders make time to reserve culture.
Marc: You know what? You're right. I jumped one. Okay, how about that?
Brendan: You realize, if you jump one, the whole stairs just fall down completely.
Marc: Oh, my goodness. That's a good example of making sure you fill that one.
Brendan: You've missed the foundation.
Marc: You don't want to make that fall apart, because it's one that falls back pretty quickly.
Brendan: No. Absolutely. Miss that step, you stuffed.
Marc: Absolutely. Let's not miss this step, leaders make time to observe culture. That was again from another one of the in-house interviews with Matt Kelly. I called it, if you recall in our conversations, that was the sleeper.
Brendan: It's what you call it.
Marc: Yeah, because to me, I look at it as being one of those, you don't really realize that this is a very powerful management technique, leadership technique, that can be very, very powerful. Others are observing you observing. Maybe you can share how you came across that one with your conversation with Matt.
Brendan: It's got some roots in very much business improvement principles. They call it going to it again, but going to the place of work. Linking it back to the first foundational piece of leaders lead themselves first, the organization of yourself in order to put you in a position where you can go out and observe culture. That culture might be related to feedback.
Are you seeing people in your environment giving each other feedback through the course of the day? Something's working or not, hey, well done, I really liked when you did this, or, hey, perhaps we can do this a different way next time, because that's going to create a better outcome, speed, better product, whatever. Creating space around doing that is super important.
Leaders being organized in order to get out and just observe. I think it was, again, Oscar Trimboli way back when, the Deep Listening expert. Great, great guy, and a fantastic friend of the show. Listen, ask questions. Listen, ask, listen, ask. What I would put in there is observe, ask, listen, observe, ask, listen, because you can garner so much.
You can glean so much just by observing people in their environment, seeing what is happening. Is that working well? Are you seeing great interaction among certain teams? Are you seeing great cross departmental interaction? It could be any of these things, but if you're seeing some good stuff there, great.
How do you keep enhancing that? If you're seeing some stuff that's not, where you'd want it to be? How is that happening? How's that coming back and reflecting on myself as a leader? Maybe what am I doing or not doing, that's having an impact on that.
Taking the time out to observe is so, so important. What happens most of the time? We won’t do it. We just get so busy being busy. We miss stuff. We don't take the time to reflect. We don't take the time to observe and see things. We just get caught in the busyness.
Before you know it, the busyness is taking you away like crazy. All this stuff's been happening under your nose, you've just not created the space to see it. If you created the space and deliberate, again, about creating the space, there's so much opportunity to solve things so much more quickly before that proverbial crap hits the fan, so to speak.
Marc: It's fascinating that that particular word is used when you used it the way that you did because I think I've mentioned to you before in my years of training, one of the models that we worked with was PESOS—prepare, explain, show, observe, supervise. It was built-in, therefore, we had to culturally have it part of our process. If we didn't take the time to observe, then we really wouldn't be able to go back to the drawing board and retrain where we had failed as trainers, because we had to take responsibility for that.
The learner isn't really usually the problem. It's usually the trainer that fails that understanding their learning style or something of that nature. A lot of that came down to being able to observe. It's a nice place to be able to utilize that in a very functionable way.
Brendan: Once again, so many of these things are simple, powerful, effective, get when done right and make space to do right.
Marc: Exactly. I'm going to get back on track this time, so not skipping ahead.
Brendan: Okay, good. I'll keep you on track, don't worry.
Marc: Please do. Leaders focus on clarity over certainty. That came out of your conversation with Scott Farlow. I was surprised by that interview because I was expecting a politician's conversation, and it's not what it ended up being. It was far more telling about the skill set that he brought as a political leader. But that is also the challenge, the complexity, especially with the topic, because we were dealing with the topic of Covid at the time.
Let's face it. The decisions that he was going to be making were not going to always be popular. In fact, they were more likely to be unpopular, yet he had to make the right decisions, given the data he was given that he had to work with. You're picking that one out and really stood out as being a great fit. I want to hear more about that from your point of view.
Brendan: Scott is an absolutely fantastic guy. The focus on clarity over certainty again, I've got to make sure I reference it well to Patrick Lencioni. I stole his words there. It rang true so much. I'm not sure they’re his exact words, but he speaks about clarity over certainty quite a lot. In relation to Covid-19, it was exactly that.
Information was flowing. But you can imagine in government circles, they're getting information from all sorts of part, trying all sorts of areas, trying to discern that into what may be valid, what maybe not, what might be scare tactics, whatever, and then having the responsibility that you have in parliamentary type of roles for the community.
You're making decisions with uncertainty. But the clarity of having everyone on that same page about, okay, we've had a conversation around this, we've really got the information, as much information as we can gather in the time that we needed to make a decision, we're on the page, we just got to go with it. Some of the time, that works out. Some of the time, it doesn't work out.
What I would say in relation to business, in relation to teams, that once again, in my experience, if you have a group of people who are absolutely clear, have a level of clarity about what our next step is, how we're going to move forward, what we're trying to achieve as an outcome, then they will walk over hell and high water to achieve the outcome that they've committed to. Even if they took some bit of a windy path to get there, we are such resourceful human beings. Human beings are so resourceful. They will get there and do that.
That certainty is that analysis paralysis. It leads to that like, oh, we need more information, we can't make that decision yet because we need to know this. In the meantime, 10 other companies have created that product and taken on the market or whatever is happening in relation to your business, but you've been left behind pretty much.
It's more important to get clarity about what the next step is, either individually or as a team, get everyone on that page and move forward than being absolutely certain, because what do they say? The only one or they say the only certainty in life is change. If that's the only certainty, then why are we trying to be so certain about everything else that we do? It just stops us from doing stuff. Clarity, that's what it's about.
Marc: Absolutely. Interestingly, I look at it also from the point of view in the world of photography. You actually have to focus on the key topic, key subject. If you're not sure as to what that is, what are you going to shoot? Anything? Not really, right?
There are lots of places where the analogy can be placed very, very well. Sometimes, having some visuals for someone to see how that applies, can be particularly helpful. That's the way I look at it. I put my face to the lens, and I'm taking some shots. I'm working on how I can isolate the topic of the subject.
Brendan: If I understand that, you saying that, if you've got a bit of clarity around what the bigger picture is, what the story is, or whatever the clients are engaging you to tell, then the certainty around what shots you got to take or what clips you got to do and stuff, you could sit around all day trying to do that, but you just got to get clarity around that, and then take the shots, and then it starts to come together at the end in the post production stuff.
Brendan: It makes sense. It’s really like our sitting here today. We've got no idea what we're going to say. We're clear about we're going to produce an episode.
Marc: We're just following the sheet as much as we can.
Brendan: We'll just get you to piece it all together at the end of the day.
Marc: That's right.
Brendan: I feel like I'm in the perfect chair. I just come and talk rubbish, and you go away and make it sound decent.
Marc: I wouldn't call it rubbish.
Brendan: Yeah, maybe we should edit that.
Marc: Maybe, maybe not. Maybe we'll leave it in. All right, moving along. Leaders focus on high value activities. That came out of your conversation with David Meerman Scott. That one was an interesting one for me in the sense that knowing what David's about and how he helps people become better leaders. His focus is obviously on a much larger scale and much grander scale. But being able to focus on high value activities is sometimes rather difficult to do, because there's a lot of noise out there. That was something that you picked up on that he was very good at doing and helping others to do. Maybe you can share more about your thoughts on that.
Brendan: In relation to that episode, specifically, what I really took away from David—it's really why a person like that gets to the level he's at—is that one of the high value activities for someone like him and his entrepreneurial journey was content—creating content, creating thought leading content, really thinking deeply about certain things, and putting his own thoughts around that. But not just thinking about it, actually taking action to write stuff about it and share it with the world.
That just resonated with me so much about our own journey and what we're doing, and the content creation piece, and making sure that you're thinking about things critically and providing, hopefully, value to the audience around these things. The high value activities in different businesses, different industries will be different. But what we really need to make sure as leaders is that, are we doing things that really only we can do, should be doing, or our role?
If you can put that lens on it initially, then there are probably a lot of things that a lot of business owners are doing, a lot of leaders are doing, just through progression of the business that just happened that way. They started the business or whatever rather than saying, well, hey, now I've got a team of people. One of the high value activities I should be focused on is, how do I make this the best team that I can?
How do I help upskill people in this group to know as much as me or even better, much more about me. They're running the business. My role is to make sure this team is working cohesively, and I'm really pushing their buttons to get the best out of them. That's a high value activity.
I would argue very strongly that all these 10 points we're talking about today are high value activities that a leader should be focused on in their own leadership journey. If they do that, as we said off-camera, if we use this as a bunch of high value activities for a leader in their own personal development journey as a leader, then they're going to be going very, very well compared to most leaders out there.
Marc: Absolutely. One of the things that I also, to go back to David's approach, is the fact that there aren't that many business books out there. Like The New Rules of Marketing PR, they get new editions over and over again. Why? Because he's focusing on what are the new best activities to take, because some activities you don't want to be doing again, because you don't want to suffer from, we've always done it that way. This is one of the things that I think, really, where he stands out and does exceptionally well, and his books speak to that.
Brendan: Absolutely. I'm seeing it was version eight that we were talking about specifically. I think that's a great example of like, hey, if we're in the space that he's playing in, especially that marketing-PR space, things are changing. This technology that underpins a lot of that change as well. If he sat there as an example, thinking, well, I can't write about this yet, because I know it's going to change in 12 months, he would never write a book.
Brendan: You're just like, this is how it is now, I'm going to get this out, boom, and I'm just going to create edition two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, as I need to. Some of those he said in the interview, I think he's written substantial amounts differently based on the technology. Others, he just tweaked a little bit because he liked to do something or say something a little bit differently. It wasn't fundamental, the heaps of change. He just tweaked it a little bit more or saw things a little bit differently.
Marc: Absolutely. That was a particularly fun interview to watch because of the fact that it was a different spin on the normal kinds of leadership conversations that you'd had. Yeah, definitely.
The next one over here we have is Leaders choose accountability over popularity. Now, this is the second time that we have one idea over another. I want you to maybe touch on that if you can, because it's that old thing of comparing ideas.
In this situation with Dan Cockerell, he's the guy who has an amazing role that he's had with Disney, amazing responsibilities that came along with that. I remember him sharing a lot of the challenges that he would be having to face just simply by walking around. I think it ties back into the whole observing. He had to do a lot of that, too.
But choosing a countability over popularity also has a similar feel to the idea of clarity over certainty. Maybe you can share a bit more about how that's different and the same.
Brendan: Yeah, can do. Once again, I've chosen or stolen similar words from a person I follow a lot, Patrick Lencioni, because they were the words such as I don't know he speaks those words. Those words just ring in my ear when I'm watching Dan speak, and when I'm reflecting on the interview, or when I'm starting to look at my takeaways. It's just so important.
Popularity in leadership is like the Antichrist, really. If you're going into a leadership role and wanting to be popular, then you're going to fail. You're setting yourself up for failure. One of the things that rang true in Dan's interview, particularly, and is true all the time, is that you may not be the most popular person as a leader if you're choosing accountability over popularity. But 100 out of 100, people respect you, mostly after the fact.
They may not have appreciated it as much during, but after the fact they reflect on it and say, you know what? Marc was hard to work for. He was hard, but he was fair. I performed really well under Marc because he kept me accountable to stuff. That's a glowing endorsement from a leadership perspective. That's the feeling that you want to leave and that's what you want to achieve with people.
Accountability doesn't just happen. Again, it's about being deliberate with this stuff. You've got to be clear as a leader around what your expectations are. What do I expect from Marc in this role? Then from there, having a conversation around those expectations. Let's align our thinking. Let's get some clarity around what this looks like in this role, so having that genuine conversation.
From there, it's observation. Back to observing culture. Observe when you need to to make sure the expectation is being met. If they're not, then there's the feedback loop. One side of the feedback loop, okay, hey, this is what we spoke about, this is what I'm observing. What's happening? How do we change this behavior? We need to move in this direction, not this direction.
Or the observation is, hey, I really appreciate what you've done, you're obviously very clear on the expectation, the role, we had that conversation. Well done, spot on, keep doing what you're doing. Awesome. It's that loop again, and that's the accountability.
Accountability, people think it's black magic. I'm not sure about the science and how to get there. It's talked about so much in leadership circles, and it seems to be so elusive. Fundamentally, set expectations, have a conversation around it, and observe that the expectations are being met. If you can do that and have genuine conversations around that, then you can't go too far wrong. The results are going to start to happen in a good way.
Marc: The words that come to my mind that coined this term very well is trust is earned. You also can get to the point where that level of accountability is something that you recognize not necessarily the way others see your results, but the way you feel about what the outcome and your clarity on your outcomes really is.
You have to be able to have the guts to say that not everyone's going to like what I have to say. It's not going to make me the popular person in the group, but I will have earned their trust, because I was able to point out, blah-blah-blah, whatever the problem might have been in a meeting or in a situation.
Brendan: That's one of the things we referred back to when we were going through the 75–80 odd takeaways in 2022. One of those takeaways I had from one of the conversations was that leaders make tough decisions. We thought, okay, well, actually, tough decisions fit into genuine conversations, fit into accountability over popularity.
It underpins so much, which is why we didn't choose it on itself. There are times where leaders need to make those tough decisions. They need to have the boldness to do those, to make those decisions, follow it through, and hold people accountable to it.
Marc: That's right. It's the fact that leaders make tough decisions. The challenge behind that is that you may be seen as unpopular, and do you have the guts to actually survive that? Yeah, absolutely.
We're at the last one. We've actually covered nine already.
Brendan: Matt's is pretty good too, isn't it?
Marc: Amazing. I can count to 10.
Brendan: We haven't even put numbers next to it.
Marc: I know we didn't actually have to this time. Leaders learn from their experiences. Now that goes back to literally, I think, it was possibly the first interview of the year that you did with Taras.
Brendan: I think you're right.
Marc: Yeah, it was actually. At first, it was probably not one that you would have picked up on. But to me, it was an obvious one and unlikely obvious because of the reasons why he talked about that and what you actually picked up on, which was essentially the opposite of good behavior. But often, that's where we learn the most. We learn from whether it be our own failings or others. Maybe you can share why you picked that one.
Brendan: Taras, again, another fantastic guest. It's so good to have a chat with him and just get his perspective on his experience at Google. Again, my role wasn't to judge or take sides. It was just to get some more information from Taras so that we could share it with the world.
He had an experience at Google that wasn't pleasant for him. There was, fair to say, value misalignment, behavioral misalignment around what Google valued as an organization and what Taras thought about that—and eventually, the two-parted ways—where I was probably less about Taras in that experience in regards to this. Yes, it came out through my thinking in gathering the takeaway. But in topping the tree of the 9 points and making it the 10, all of these things we've spoken about have experiences attached to them.
Making some time back to leading yourself first, making some time for some reflection, and how am I going with this, what can I improve upon, those sorts of questions come out of your experiences. This was a really good experience that I was able to do. How could I continue to do that and make time for this? This didn't work out anywhere near as well as what I thought it was going to work out in my own head. What was different? How do I need to change that?
They're all experiences that we're having as leaders each and every day. There are so many interactions. That's what I felt. From the lens you were looking at some of this, this is where it came in and said, hey, how can you not have this topping the tree and bringing a feedback loop back? Hey, learning from those experiences, how does that have an impact on me and then start the process again?
Experiences drive so much. A lot of the conversations we've had on The Culture of Leadership podcast have been unpacking people's experiences. From those experiences, they've developed thought-leading content, they've developed some frameworks, they've developed some methods, they've written some books.
They've speak keynote, speaks to hundreds of thousands of people across the world globally. Lots of opportunities like that all through experience. How can we leave it behind? How could I leave it behind? Thankfully for you, you may not leave it behind.
Marc: I'm glad I did. Where that one really stood out for me is it was out of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, habit number five, seek first to understand, then to be understood. Yeah, that's all, because what happens is that, when you're actually doing that over and over again, that's a habit, and that's how you learn that habit. You have to actually practice it.
That's how you learn from your experiences, you have to do it because you can't really learn unless you do something at least sufficiently repeatedly so that you can, again, go back to watching or looking for patterns. That's where the experience teaches you, then go, oh, if I do this, then that happens. Is that a good outcome? Do I want more of that or do I want less of that?
Brendan: Absolutely. The other lens I went through with this—you and I spoke about it the other day—is that with the people system which is a system that I've developed through the consulting client work that I do and all of these things (there's more), fit somewhere already within the people's system, which is fantastic.
It was a nice check and balance that the work I'm doing myself, the work I've created off the experiences I've had from client engagements and all of those, from doing podcasts and talking to fantastic people, all came into this package.
As I'm on this journey with you supporting this whole process of helping to create confident leaders, and the people's system is the how to create confident leaders, it was a nice check and balance saying, you know what? I feel we're on a good path. We're able to help create those confident leaders through some of this information we're sharing.
Marc: Absolutely. The beauty about this is I would actually encourage listeners to not just listen to this podcast in its entirety, but to keep it on their shortlist. Maybe grab a link and pop it into your to-do or task list. Review it maybe, possibly one or two do these every month so that you can see how you're progressing on them, because that's a good way to check to see, am I actually practicing these leadership activities? Am I actually sticking to that model, which, as you're developing the people model, people will pick up a lot more about how that fits in.
Really, being able to go back and revisit this and see how you're going. How are you going with that? You can somewhat, to some degree, not that people should self coach, but there's an element of you can self-coach yourself a little wee bit, a little bit more if you have a good guidepost to measure yourself against. This is a really simple, easy set of top 10 ideas that we've been able to gather from wonderful interviews of a year's worth of great genuine conversations.
Brendan: Exactly. It's like we spoke about earlier, it's timeless to me. This list of 10 is timeless. If you use this as a foundation for your own leadership journey, whether we're part of that or not, that's not that relevant. It's more, here's some information that you think resonates with you. We're certainly going to be creating a lot more content around these 10 and getting it out into the world through blog, through some other videos, through various potential infographics or whatever, but things that are going to be able to help people refer back to this stuff and get on a journey.
This might be the next 12-month journey for somebody to take in 2023 that underpins their own development as a leader in creating a more confident leader in themselves. They're being more proactive, less reactive, and moving on a journey that they're more comfortable with. They're understanding leadership the way they want to understand leadership, and it resonates with them.
Marc: I would challenge people to say don't deliberate on this list. Be deliberate about this list.
Brendan: And don't be certain, just have clarity. That's the 10. As you said, great conversations we've had, they've really helped spark different thoughts around these things, you've helped create into some foundational framework.
I referred to a little bit like Maslow's hierarchy of needs from a leadership perspective and the ladder of the leadership staircase. If people choose to follow these things because they believe it's going to help them on their leadership journey, then I'm very, very confident they won't be disappointed.
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