How To Break The Mould Of Leadership
What makes a great leader? How does a leader develop teams of highly engaged, productive and loyal employees, all willingly giving their 100% best, every day? How do leaders avoid falling into the trap of being just like all the other rubbish leaders they've been "lead" by in the past? My guest, on episode 40 of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast would say that "it all starts with you."
Tim Roberts coach, motivational speaker and now the author of the book, "Break The Mould. Volume 1. How to be your best version of you" spoke to Andy Goram, Founder of the employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy, Bizjuicer, and host of the podcast to talk about what it really takes to become a successful leader in today's world of work. The one word that summed it all up was "authentic." True to this word, Tim talks about the inspiration for the book and shares his experiences, insights, client stories and learnings, as well as his unique perspective on the tools that can help you get there, including the now famous "Circle of Nobheads".
Below is a full transcript of the conversation, or you can listen to the whole conversation here.
00:00:00 Andy Goram
Hi there! Andy here. Before this episode starts, I just wanted to let you know that it occasionally features some mildly, fruity language as we tackle the topic of leadership. It's nothing major, but I just thought you should know.
Anyway, let's crack on! (Intro Music)
00:00:24 Andy Goram
Hello, and welcome to sticky from the inside. The Employee Engagement podcast that looks at how to build stickier competition-smashing, consistently successful organisations from the inside out. I'm your host Andy Goram and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn their lights on behind the eyes of their employees, light the fires within them and create tons more success for everyone.
This podcast is for all those who believe that's something worth going after and would like a little help and guidance in achieving that. Each episode we dive into the topics that can help create what I call stickier businesses, the sort of businesses where people thrive and love to work and where more customers stay with you and recommend you to others because they love what you do and why you do it.
So, if you want to take the tricky out of being sticky, listen on.
00:01:24 Andy Goram
OK, much has changed in the world of business over the last two years at least, but perhaps the biggest change of all has come in the recognised importance for leaders to have a more genuine connection with their people. And I say recognised, because I personally think that this has always been important, right, but recognising that leaders need to have better human skills that project a real care and concern for people in their employ, and that feels sincere, has been one of those things that I think has really come into focus over those last two years. With employees needing and demanding more from businesses and leaders that they work with and feeling perhaps, more empowered to take their talent and efforts elsewhere if they don't get it.
Now, this has brought an interesting challenge for some leaders. It's challenged the beliefs and understanding of what leadership is for many, and presented a tricky opportunity for some of them. Trying to develop a style of leadership that gets results, promotes trust in their teams and feels authentic doesn't come naturally to everybody. But everybody is capable of it, I think.
And it's that final piece. I want to concentrate on today, authenticity, and what that really means for leadership. And today I am joined by Tim Roberts from Enthuse coaching. Now he has brought his own, fun, energetic, no-nonsense style to the world of exec coaching. He's recently launched a book called Breaking The Mould, I'm going to say volume one, how to be the best version of you, which tackles the topic of being an authentic leader and busting the behavioural myths of what some might call the traditional approach to leadership. And it's all coming from a coaching perspective.
Now I've just read the book, so I can definitely say that he has a really interesting perspective on the topic of what authentic leadership actually means, including in the book the use of song lyrics instead of traditional motivational quotes. So we're going to see here today what Tim has in store with this book, and he's going to share with you the lessons and the coaching advice that's contained therein.
Welcome to the show Tim!
00:03:38 Tim Roberts
Thank you, Andy. Great to see mate. Thank you for that lovely introduction. I'm very happy that you got in a little bit about the music influence. I really appreciate that.
00:03:47 Andy Goram
Well, I think that's something that comes out loud and clear when you read the book, in that, it's a fabulous way of bringing another kind of trigger into setting up a topic, or what it means, and actually, when I was reading the book, you forget what poets these people are with the lyrics. I mean I'm one of those guys who probably doesn't hear lyrics properly, and for years sings the wrong lyric to a tune when I hear it. So actually...
00:04:11 Tim Roberts
Yeah, we’re guilty of that.
00:04:14 Andy Goram
In fact, in the book there were a few lyrics that I was like, “Oh my God!” those are the words are they? Brilliant! So, look really enjoyed that. Really enjoyed that, Tim.
I've followed you for a while, so I know quite a bit about you. Not everything and we’re going to find out some more today, but just for everyone listening how about you give us a brief introduction to you, what you've been doing and what you're up to right now?
00:04:34 Tim Roberts
Thanks, Andy. Yeah, so I'm a leadership coach and an inspirational speaker, and author! I keep meaning to remember to add that's in the list. So, I should put that first. So yeah, I ‘m the author of Break The Mould, Volume 1, So what does that mean? I guess there's hundreds, if not thousands of leadership coaching, speaker, books out there so the key thing for me is I take a no bullsh*t approach to helping people to become authentic leaders. The key to that, where I spend most of my time, is helping people to develop it by their emotional intelligence. So aligned to that is helping them to adopt a coaching style to their leadership. That's a huge part of being more authentic, is bringing in that culture element to their leadership.
00:05:13 Andy Goram
Yeah, we come from or are cut from the same cloth on that front, my friend. There's nothing like, I don't think, running or participating in those sort of leadership development programs where you see people, and it is awful, 'cause it sounds like I'm from Pop Idol or Britain's Got Talent, they go on a real journey. And being part of that, and seeing all those little sparks that happen throughout that programme, is one of the best things we get to do in life, right? I think that that's a tremendous thing. A privilege.
00:05:42 Tim Roberts
Yes, I think you're absolutely right. I think when I look back at my time doing that, so different when I was on, if you like, the other side of the table. And now, as the facilitator, as a coach I believe a big thing that comes from that is delayed gratification, which I think all leaders have to have. I think from an authentic point of view, we have to have that ability to see it, like you said, but without making it like X-Factor, it is a journey. There's a part in the book I refer to, you're on this leadership of journey (I think Tim meant, “Journey of Leadership”) and then you retire, you know, nobody really masters leadership. But I think the key element for me in that leadership journey is that I want them to come to the end of it as themselves. So, one of the big challenges, and to use the language in the book, I talk a lot about people fitting the mould. I think one of the challenges at the moment with leadership, well not just at the moment, it has been forever with leadership challenges, we put people through these training programmes and we get them to fit the mould, as in, here's somebody else’s leadership style. Here's somebody else’s model. Here's somebody else’s success story. And then, at the end of that journey they've had a great time yet when they then go back to the real world and they’re faced with the same challenges, it's very hard to think,
“Oh! What would Belbin do with Angry Bob, who I manage?”
“What would Simon Sinek tell me to say to negative Rita who's moaning about the air conditioning again?”
00:07:05 Andy Goram
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
00:07:06 Tim Roberts
Or, I’ve got Sue over here, that all she wants to do his work all day with the camera off, how’s John Adair going to help me with that? Now look, I love all those people that I've just mentioned, and they absolutely deserve their place in leadership development. The key focus for me is enabling them to leave that journey and go “Right! I know how I'll respond to Bob.” “I know how I can engage with Sue.”
I can look at this now from a point of view of understanding why Rita is miserable and create an environment where she can still be at her best and I can feel confident as a leader. And that's the key message for me, really. It's about being your true, authentic self 'cause that's what will help you to be confident on that journey. And most importantly, that's how you could really enjoy that journey as a leader. Because many people become leaders and then suddenly don't enjoy what they do, and it's a bit,
“Well, I'm here now. I can't step down, you know, I've got to keep doing it”
for whatever reason that is and they just see it as this negative burden. Whereas it's absolutely if you lead as your true authentic self, you see it as an opportunity. You see it as your ability to enjoy what you do, as well as helping others to enjoy what they do.
00:08:15 Andy Goram
100%. And I think that comes through loud and clear as a strong theme in the book, as does the whole bit around, “Look, being yourself is a lot easier than trying to be somebody else”, right? It's a lot less tiring. It's a lot easier to do and people see through this crap of not being yourself, right? That's the biggest thing I kind of took from the book.
And as I've said to you off-air, you know, I am a slow reader. I think there's some dyslexia and all sorts of bits and pieces going on there, I'm sure, but I sit there and I have to read a book with all the voices, otherwise it just doesn't work for me, and luckily I know your voice, so I was able to put your voice in there. But it comes through loud and clear and you can really feel that is the whole essence here it is, to overplay the word already today, it's an authentic description of, you know, what leadership’s about and finding your own way and that or those words “your own” is what's important.
00:09:12 Tim Roberts
Yeah, and thank you. I'm really pleased that came through from the book. A few people who know me, have said to me, “I couldn't read it without your voice in my head.” To me I'm like, “Oh God! I'm really sorry about that”, and they’re like, “No! That's a good!”
00:09:24 Andy Goram
It is good.
00:09:25 Tim Roberts
Because, you know they were saying obviously it gets the message across. So yeah, I'm very grateful that people see it that way. But yeah, you picked up on , I think, what I'd say was a key challenge for me when I was writing the book. I was really, really keen that the book feels like something that when you're reading it, it's holding the mirror up to you. So yeah, OK, guilty as charged. I’m a coach, so that's what I do for a living. I want to hold up the mirror to people. And that’s something I was really keen to do. That's why there was a really big focus for me on not telling lots and lots of famous success stories, or fitting the mould of using somebody else's success as an example, because I want somebody to read the book and be able to go, “Yep! I've done that. I felt like that. I work with people who do that” and make them think about OK, either “How do I make sure...” one of the terms I use in the book is
"How do I make sure that I'm not one of the d*ckheads?”
00:10:25 Andy Goram
00:10:26 Tim Roberts
And conversely, “What do I need to do to be my true, authentic self? How do I demonstrate that to me, first? And then how am I able to get that over in the impact they have on others?” And that's key thing, I really, really hope, from the book point of view, that when people are reading it, they're nodding along and thinking, “Yeah, I can relate to this. I could see this.” And it's very, very easy in what I do to lose sight of the fact that all these successful CEOs, or you know, amazing athletes that we talk about. And again, by the way, I love... they are a very, very small percentage of leaders. The reality is most leaders have become leaders without really choosing that, or without knowing that’s the path. Most leaders get promoted to lead the team that they were part of. To lead a team but still doing the job that they're an expert in. And that's my wish, really, that the book talks to those. Talks to the millions of leaders around the world that have those kind of challenges, that maybe are absolutely inspired by those successful stories, yet on a day-to-day basis I want them to be able to break the mould and go into work every... Well, first of all, to want to go to work and to be able to turn up as their true, authentic selves. To be able to recognise the thoughts and feelings that they have. The perceptions that’s creating and then be able to say, “OK. For me to overcome those challenges, the first thing I need to do is be my true, authentic self.”
00:11:52 Andy Goram
I mean, as I said, that definitely comes through in the book.
It's always a fine line when we're talking to somebody who's got a book out, or has done something, that you don’t want to give everything away, right? You want people to read it and take it in. But, and I know you sort of covered this at the start, but your inspiration for writing this book, Tim. Do you want to just share that with us, before we start digging into some of the concepts that are in there?
00:12:15 Tim Roberts
For me the inspiration, it always starts with you. So, the inspiration for me, comes from my own experience as a leader and comes from all the mistakes that I made. It comes from the unhappy times when I can see that I was trying to fit the mould of when I allowed myself to not be authentic and think that I had to wear this work mask, and think that they have to be like everybody else. And I had this perception in my mind, that there's a professional Tim, and a personal Tim, you know? Which is absolute, let’s be honest, is b*llocks, isn't it? You are the same person whether you're at work or whether you're at home. Yet, I know from my own experience that led to nothing but unhappiness. Sure, I progressed. I got promoted. I climbed the corporate ladder, as they say. Yet, to me, it was resulting in mainly being unhappy and a team that wasn't really performing.
Yeah, we’d do all right and we’d react when the crisis was there and be able to do things. And I can look back and I was paying lip service to a lot of things, let’s just do an appraisal once a year. Let's not give anybody feedback. Yeah, let's stop worrying about personal development, it's all pink and fluffy. And then I have, luckily for me, I have the that experience where I broke the mould, and I was introduced to emotional intelligence. I got to work with the most inspirational leader I ever worked with. I got switched on to self-help books, personal development books, leadership books, whatever category or label people want to put them into. So, to me there is that... when I look back on my career, there's many, many years of fitting the mould. And then these, I would say, the last 10 or 15 years of breaking the mould. And that was a big inspiration for me. Because if I'm honest with you Andy, I think, “Well if I can do it, anybody can do it.”
And the reason I say that is, 'cause how I've broken the mould, to be happy in my role, to have a purpose, to become a coach, an inspirational speaker. It’s down to emotional intelligence. It's down to my ability to recognise that,
“OK, I don't have to do everything that my thoughts and feelings tell me to do.”
But what people actually want from you, is for you to be authentic. Is to be your true, authentic self. Is to be your best version of you. They don't want you to fit the mould that the CEO sets for you. They don’t want you to fit the mould of the culture of the organisation, or of what people define as a leader. They just want you to be yourself. And the realisation for me, is that you can do that and still be a better leader never mind a leader, you can be a better leader. From that, that led to a lot of hard work for me. Being you know, qualified, accredited, experienced in what I do now, and you know, went on that journey at a time in my life where probably a lot of other people are thinking,
“Well, no, I’m settled now. I’m alright now. I'm in my job, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing. I'll just keep at keeping my head down and fitting the mould.”
So, I went absolutely... and there’s a great coaching question I like to ask people, is that
“What would happen if you did the opposite of the people around you?”
00:15:26 Andy Goram
Yeah, great question.
00:15:28 Tim Roberts
And that's what I can see I did. I was encouraged to do it. I took that opportunity. So, a lot of the inspiration comes from my own experience. Because I also know that there's many other leaders going through what I went through, and they just haven't yet had the opportunity to recognise, “OK, I can choose how I respond to my thoughts and feelings. I don't have to do what everybody else does and that will still enable me to be a leader. It will allow my team to perform. It will build relationships.” 'cause we're often terrified of being different, aren’t we? So, we fit the mould.
And then a second part of the inspiration is of course to help other people. You know, a big purpose for me is to inspire people to be their best version of themselves. And I'm very lucky in that I love what I do. I love my job. You know, some people hate it when you say that. Well, sorry, I've been in jobs that I hated, and I now love what I do. So, you know, I want to give people the opportunity to feel the same, whatever job they do. I want them to wake up in the morning and want to go to work. So, a big part of me, you know, being able to do what I love doing is to create a business that gives you the chance to work with people. And a big ambition of mine. My only lifelong ambition, actually, after playing for Manchester United, being a rock and roll star, which by about age 14 I was never going to be a Premier League footballer, or yeah I think Rockstar. I can’t sing or play an instrument, so I had to let them go. So, the only lifelong ambition that stuck with me, was to write a book.
I remember being even in primary school thinking, I really enjoy writing. It was always this thing in the back of my mind. So, I thought, “Well why not?” You know, why not. And then the inspiration from that comes from if I'm going to write that book, I've got to make it authentic. You know, as soon as we've chosen the title with the publisher, and it's about breaking the mould, the book has to break the mould.
00:17:13 Andy Goram
Yeah, yeah, and I think it does, my friend. I think it does.
00:17:17 Tim Roberts
00:17:17 Andy Goram
I think in the way that you tell the stories, and particularly I love the point that you make around telling relatable stories. Because we can all tell stories of famous races or famous businesses or sports guys that've done amazing things and triumphed against adversity, but how do I apply that to my day-to-day life? And so, for me, stories like Steve's story in your book, about losing his way, and finding his way back to being him, in a completely relatable everyday context, to me those are really powerful. I mean, I'm sure you're the same, but if I'm stood up in front of a group, trying to help them find their leadership style, it's often the stories of me being an absolute ar*e and making masses of mistakes in the past but get the biggest reaction and get the most helpful comments back from people saying, “Oh yeah, I could really understand that. You made that really, really clear.” Yeah, look, I've got a catalogue of mistakes, but I'd like to think I've now moved on from, but it is those relatable things that make a difference.
If people can see that I can apply it to what I do, I think that's the key. And the book delivers that in spades, my friend.
00:18:31 Tim Roberts
Yes, thank you. Do you know what? You picked on a really important point there, that you're right. When you're working with leaders, It never fails to amaze me, when I'm working with them as a coach, or as an inspirational speaker or when I'm facilitating leadership programmes and I'll share that, you know, this is a mistake I made, you know one of the stories I referenced in the book, is that I famously got punched by a young girl after dismissing her. You know, that's certainly not what I wanted from being a leader. And when you share those kind of stories, people are saying things that like, “Oh, I've made that mistake. Oh right! OK, yeah, I know about that.” And you're right, it’s helping them to see everybody makes mistakes. So that's the key authentic part of it.
You know there's a key message there that too often as a leader we fit this mould that, I've got to be right. If I'm wrong, it's weak. And if I'm wrong, they'll challenge me. And if I'm wrong no-one will believe me or do what I want to do. And know, the complete opposite is true. When you break the mould as a leader and hold your hand up and go,
“I’ve c*cked up there guys. I called this wrong, I’m sorry.”
... and asked them for feedback and engaged with people, that is much more powerful than pretending it didn't happen. Blaming others. You know, almost ignoring the fact that you got something wrong and giving yourself a chance to learn from it, will always have a bigger impact. And I knew for me, when I set out writing the book, I've read, you know, I don't know, hundreds if not thousands of Leadership books and some stories are repeated.
00:20:08 Andy Goram
Yeah, of course they are.
00:20:08 Tim Roberts
You read another book and you think,
“Oh here we go. This is the story of Netflix or Blockbuster again. Here we go. This is the same experiment that they did in this University.”
And look, they all have a place. They're all inspirational. What I wanted to do with the book is allow people to sit there and really think
“Yeah, this is different. I've never read about this guy losing his sh*t in an ice-cream queue before. I've never heard about somebody being given feedback about talking to the back of your head, before.”
So, to remember that, and yes, the authentic stories that are in there. I'm very lucky. I'm very grateful that a number of my coaching clients allowed me to share parts of their stories. So, Steve that you mentioned, that's the story that ends the book. I couldn’t think of anybody more fitting. And then there's a number of other real stories in there that I wanted to invite them to demonstrate this is where I was when I was fitting the mould, and I had these challenges and actually now I've become... now I've gone back to being my true authentic self. This is now where I'm at and I hope that people take confidence. I hope they read those stories and believe.
“Yeah! I can relate to that. I want to change that for myself.”
And I hope that through reading the book it enables them to do that.
00:21:23 Andy Goram
Well, if I take a sort of paraphrased approach to even your definition of breaking the mould, it is getting back to that being your true authentic self, right? That's what we're really talking about here. Let's try and dig into some of the, I guess, the concepts or advice that you try and give in the book.
But contextually, where do you start to sort of see people falling foul of the traditional leadership approach? What do you see? What are you warning against, and how do we fight against it?
00:21:56 Tim Roberts
Yeah, so in that. It's about being your true authentic self. So, the key part of breaking the mould, or how to break the mould is making positive choices to respond to your thoughts and feelings. So as a human being one of the biggest challenges that we have is that your heart and mind will generate thoughts and feelings triggered by your emotions.
00:22:20 Andy Goram
00:22:20 Tim Roberts
I write about that in the book. You can't change the fact that you are an emotional creature. So yeah, your reaction to the world will always be based from an emotional point of view. That emotional reaction triggers those thoughts and feelings. When that happens, you never have to say “OK, brain, now think this” or, “OK heart now feel this.” It just does it naturally for you. The danger for us there is that that is an emotional truth, it's not always the factual truth. And what happens to many, many leaders in particular, is that they have those thoughts and feelings, and they believe that that's reality. They believe that they have to do what that tells them to. So, where they fall foul of that is, I guess, potentially where we might feel a bit insecure. We might feel a lack of confidence as a leader. Many leaders share with me that they go through that challenge of them thinking that I'm not good enough for this and I'll get found out. Many leaders have used that. Same for me. But OK a lot of people talk about it being impostor syndrome. And yeah, that's exactly part of it. I’m suddenly this leader. I have been promoted to the team I was part of. They were my mates, now I'm their boss. How do I deal with that? Or it might be that we get promoted and join a different organisation as a senior leader. And again, there's that level of,
“Am I good enough for this? Do I know what I’m talking about?”
So that then triggers certain behaviours. So, leaders might try to wing it. And they might just go into complete blind ignorance and just start going into command and control. Many leaders who do command and control is because it’s driven by fear. Driven by insecurity. So they simply go into authority.
“I’m the leader. I’ll tell you what to do. Don't question it, or I'll give you a hard time.”
And they micromanage. And that's absolutely part of that fitting the mould, because the mould comes from your perceptions of your world triggered by your thoughts feelings.
Other examples of that would be where you've got the the opposite side of it. If you like and which would fall into the d*ckheads category for me, is where leaders experience those thoughts and feelings of frustration. Of that people are not thinking like them. That people are not as ambitious as them. They don't work as hard as them, but they don't get it. You know, that they've spent their career working really hard and being promoted. Now they’re the leader of the team of people who aren't like them. And that frustration can lead to them taking that out on the people around them, you know, and speaking, whether it's patronising them, bullying them, just simply pushing them aside and not engaging with them in any shape or form. That leads to a lot of narcissism. And I share quite a lot of that in the book, that I’ve experienced that first hand. Or, what also happens to these, in terms of fitting the mould, is that they go into self-preservation. So, they think, “Well, I have to do exactly what the organisation tells me to do.” Then what happens is they have very awkward, difficult conversations. And the person sat opposite from them is sat there thinking, “This isn't you.”
00:25:27 Andy Goram
00:25:28 Tim Roberts
I shared an example of me where I was told to not put depression on my return to work form, even though that's what I've been off with. That's what I’d shared? And I know the person who said that to me, they don't believe in that at all. That is not their..., that does not come from their human values. Because I know that person, or I did when I worked with them. Yet for me they were fitting the mould of the CEO, telling them what to do. And almost being afraid of having to go back and say,
“This is my team. They've got these problems.”
So, they fit into that self-preservation. So, there's many, many things that then become about all the classic things that you see for leadership point of view. Communication fails. They don't lead change. Zero trust exists. Engagement is low. Productivity is very bad. They don't give feedback. They don't encourage people. All of those attitudes and behaviours that come from those thoughts and feelings.
So, where the book and where I work with leaders is enabling them to build their emotional intelligence. It's about being able to recognise, “OK. I am experiencing these thoughts and feelings of insecurity or fear because I'm new to this role. I've never done it before. Everybody’s looking at me different because I'm now being promoted.” And then giving them a chance to stop and say, “Well what's the reality of this?” What's the response that you want to choose to those thoughts, feelings. And at the heart of that has to be your true, authentic self. Has to be an ability to go, “OK, that's how I'm feeling. Well, my values are based on trust, integrity, honesty. So what I'll do is, I'll go and have conversations that are aimed at building trust. That give me a chance to be honest. But and the most important thing is that I would have demonstrated integrity. And I'm going to choose that as a response to those thoughts and feelings.” Because the other opposite is, “Well, I'll just focus on results. I'll just tell them what to do. That's not my problem, that's their problem.” And those thoughts and feelings don't go away. They actually intensify all the time. So, you're able to then choose a positive response based on who you truly are.
And that's where the key things I talk about in the book when I work with leaders, is that, we have to remember as a human being, that when you go to bed at night and you put your head on the pillow, what helps you to have a really good night’s sleep, isn't that you hit a KPI, or that you filled the position by recruiting somebody, or that you cleared your inbox, or you went to 20 Teams calls, or you answered every one of your bosses phone calls for the day. Whoopee! It's that your heart and mind can subconsciously say to you.
“You lived up to what you stand for today. You demonstrated attitudes and behaviours that you want to be associated with, that align with the impact that you want to have on the people around you.”
So even though you have faced pressure from other people, you chose to respond in a way that lives up to what you stand for. And whether that's responding to the CEO and saying, “No, I'm not going to do that.” Or it's taking that order from the CEO and going back to your team and having the open, honest conversation, you know... The depression example, it's very, very simple way to do that. You just respond based on what you stand for, and you say to the other person, “What do you want to put on your return to work form? Don't worry about it, it's your choice.”
00:28:56 Andy Goram
Listen, my friend, you mentioned guys like Covey in your book, from the stance of let's not just repeat Stephen Covey again, but I mean you can't argue that the Seven Habits is a tremendous book, right? But everything kind of comes down to a choice at the end of the day. So your word “choices”, I think, is incredibly important. I mean, there's so much to unpack there. The use of emotion. I mean, one of the things we have to be really careful about is, I think sometimes we talk about this stuff with leadership development... 'cause in one breath we're talking about emotion being an incredibly powerful driver to get people to come over the top of the trench with you, and follow the cause, and all that kind of stuff. And at the same time, it can be a complete de-railler when it comes to making objective decisions about stuff, right? So that emotional intelligence of tuning in, working out, you know, when is emotion is a force for good, and actually when do we need to kind of just cool the Jets a wee bit, I think, is a key skill. And some people say... I think some people just take it for granted. And it's a muscle you've gotta work out, I think, to sort of build and understand and test.
One of the things I really like is your use of, I think you've got this sort of "map of the world." Which is really about tuning into what that authentic self is. What those values are, and finding... to me is that centre of gravity for you. And you know... when you know where your centre of gravity is, it feels good and natural and everything is easy. When you know when you're to the left or to the right of it, everything feels a bit unstable. And I think this whole thing of using your values to find an anchor. Your authentic self is so important as a leader. If you can't manage yourself, how the hell could you lead other people?
00:30:41 Tim Roberts
Absolutely! You’ve articulated that probably better than I do. I talk about it always starts with you. My message in the book is that you have to sort your own sh*t out first, before you can help anybody else. And yeah, the map of the world is absolutely central to that. A key benefit of the map of the world and why I encourage every coaching client that I work with to do that and many leaders that we run the leadership development programs with, is 'cause it helps with that self-awareness. And self-awareness is the superpower, the only superpower you can have as a human being. If we've got that heightened self-awareness, 'cause it allows you to make the choices. That awareness is where those choices come from. Because if you don't have the awareness of how you’re feeling, the impact you're having, what you want to happen, your choices are going to be very hard to be positive ones.
00:31:29 Andy Goram
00:31:30 Tim Roberts
And you’re right, it helps with the internal self-awareness. So your map of the world is ultimately what determines your emotional reactions to it. So absolutely, Andy, like you said, if you're working with people whose values match yours, or they at least know what your values are, you know there's and you agree how that's going to work together, that's when you feel comfortable. You feel confident. You’re self-motivated to be your best version of you.
Conversely, if you work in a culture or a team whose values don't align with yours and they conflict, and you don't have those open conversations, you're going to have negative emotional reactions to it. And starting with that is what enables you to recognise,
“OK. When I'm dealing with this person, it's not because they're different or they’re right, and I'm wrong, or vice versa.”
It's recognising that they're not giving me trust, for example, or they're not demonstrating integrity and that's what's making me frustrated.
I know for me, one of the leaders I worked with, Incompetent Ian, in the book, was one of the most nicest people you'd ever meet. I genuinely believe he really had a... he was caring deep down. He had no integrity whatsoever, and he would just change his mind all the time with zero awareness of the impact that had on people around him. And he literally had people who worked with him who were just exhausted, frustrated, fed up. And that's the the big thing for me, isn't because of his incompetence. It’s when I look back he had no integrity. And integrity is one of my huge values. And being able to understand that, allows you to choose a response. And I urge you to recognise, I don't have to allow Ian to p*ss me off. His behaviour and his attitudes are his problem. What I need to do is choose to demonstrate integrity in my attitude and behaviours. This is something that's really, really important, because what happens to many, many leaders if they're working with a... let's just say their boss, who conflicts with their map of the world, the temptation is to take it out on your team. The temptation is to go,
“Well, I get it in the neck, so I'll come and kick you lot.”
And we start to blame other things, or we start to blame the organisation. When you break the mould, you’re able to recognise,
“I’m frustrated with my boss because they conflict with my map of the world. That is not my team.”
What I can then do is choose to be able to say,
“OK. I'm still going to behave in a way that represents who I am and what I stand for.”
And that’s then the external self-awareness because you consider the impact you have on others. Because, if you imagine a leader that, I don’t know, let's just say, for argument's sake, upsets their team, and three months later he gets to the point where they’re apologising and they’re saying, “Oh! I’m sorry. That’s because Ian put me under pressure.” Your team can sit there and go, “That’s not my problem. I apprecaite that. I empathise. What goes on with you and Ian isn't my fault. What I want is you. I want you as my leader to be your true authentic self.”
So that map of the world allows you to really understand who you are, what you put in your of the world is what you bleed if I cut you in half. It's what you would bleed. It enables you to really have that awareness, and then bring it in to the way that you work the team. So with the book there's a digital workbook that people can download. And it has space in there to create your map of the world, and also a worksheet for you to do that with your team. So something I always encourage leaders to do is get to know your own map of the world, and then go back and do that with your team. Because the values of you and your team are not what's written on the office wall and not what's on your job description. You might relate to some of it, and yes, some of them might match up. Even if you choose to work on organisation that says our biggest value is trust and trust is a big value of mine, it might mean different things. Because trust means different things to different people.
So, leaders having that open conversation. That Steve, the story you referred to earlier, that's the big thing that inspired me about him, is he went and did that with the people that he led, those three leaders he worked for a long time and he said, “I found out things about them that I never knew”, and he said,
“Now we understand this is why they don't speak up in a meeting. This is why they find dealing with those people really difficult, yet I find it really easy.”
So, having that much greater awareness allows you and the team that you work with to make those positive choices. To be able to go, “OK, this is how we'll respond as a team.”
00:36:15 Andy Goram
Absolutely I think one of the powerful bits of that particular story is the sharing of the values, right, with the team. And then the request to hold each other to account to those things. I think that's really, really important and I come back to your point around working cultures. I get frustrated, as people who listen to this podcast will know 'cause I bang on about it too often, but there is a misconception that successful cultures are all happy, lovely places. And they're just not, right? These places are full of candour and challenge, and people kind of getting stuck into stuff. It's not about happiness per se. That might become as an output. This is about groups of people coming together, solving difficult sh*t and making stuff happen, together. I think that's where it works. And I fundamentally believe that that alignment, not saying they're the same, but understanding an alignment of of values and holding each other to account, is a principal part of making a team or making a culture function properly. I really, really do.
00:37:28 Tim Roberts
So yeah, it's absolutely fundamental that leadership teams, in particular create that environment, but it's based on your human values, not what's on your job description. You are not your job title. You are you. It's not based on what the organisation gives you as values, it's based on who you are as a human being.
00:37:46 Andy Goram
100% and look we are restricted by time today to enable, you know, not to let us get into all of the brilliant models, including let's be honest, everyone is interested in the “Circle of Nobheads”.
00:37:57 Tim Roberts
00:37:58 Andy Goram
That... that'll be that will be a … I'm not going to get... I'm just to let people find that out in the book, right? But that is a piece well worth well worth reading. And definitely put some joy in my heart thinking about that and thinking about two things. All the nobheads that would appear on my list, but also how many other people’s nobhead lists I would have appeared on at certain stages in my career.
00:38:20 Tim Roberts
Yeah, cdo you know Andy, that's exactly the point of it, yeah. The circle of nobheads is about building relationships, and it's about being authentic and having a bit of fun with it. And you're right, it's given people a chance to go.
“Yeah, why am I wasting my time and energy on that nobhead? I don't really need them. They don't help me, yet their behaviour is creating these thoughts and feelings that's making me spend all this time and energy over here.”
And, yeah that's one of the key questions in the book, is stopping and going,
“I wonder how many circle of nobheads I’m in?”
00:38:51 Andy Goram
00:38:52 Tim Roberts
And “Who’s circles do I need to be in?” you know, with my team, with my peers. So yeah, I really am looking forward to people feeding back on that. Do you know what’s funny about The Circle of Nobheads,is when I first came up with that, everything inside of me was screaming, “Don't call it that!” You know, it's telling me that, “That's not right.” All those things. You know for me to break the mould, I had to go “No. I believe in it.”
00:39:22 Andy Goram
So pleased you did call it, like you did call it, because that wouldn't have been authentic my friend. I think again when people read the book, particularly towards the end, your focus on the use of really powerful coaching questions, and what all this stuff adds up to is being able to ask really decent coaching questions right through it. And having those tougher conversations, but always coming from a good place. And I think that to me is another theme from the book about authentic leadership, is look, having expectations of people, but instilling in them that you believe that they can get there, and that's why you're challenging them and that's why you're pushing them, right? And your use of coaching, well you’re a coach, is loud and clear in there.
I'm not going to go into more of the book in detail because I want people to get it. I want people to read it and take their own stuff out of it. Do you know what Tim, it's a bit like The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 and 3/4 for me. And I say that 'cause that was the book, as a guy who struggled with reading, that got me into reading books originally. And your book has got me back into reading business books. It really has.
00:40:36 Tim Roberts
00:40:37 Andy Goram
I've just started reading a Culture Code, by Dan Coyle as a result of your book, which is another great book. So look, I'm not trying to gush too much, I'm just trying to sort of say people need to go and have a look at this. It's a very fresh take on leadership. It hits a lot of my buttons, which is why I'm so effusive about it, but I would love people to sort of go and check it out.
Tim, I have this part of the show called Sticky Notes right which is my attempt to summarise all the flipping things we've talked about, or not managed to talk about on three post-It notes that people could take away. They appear on the Instagram feed of the podcast so it will be immortalized in, I don't know, dusky pink or yellow, whatever your choice is. But if you were to leave the listeners today with three pieces of advice on how they can break the mould, what would those three pieces of advice be, my friend?
00:41:26 Tim Roberts
Number one has to be, “It always starts with you.” You are not your job title, you are you. So, the big thing with that is focus on being clear on who you really are. Particularly as a leader, get clear on the impact you want to have on yourself and those around you. One of the key things I always talk to people about is in the good times and the bad times people remember you for how you behave. You know, I often challenge people on that is to say, that if I asked a group of people to fill a flip chart with all the great business results that leaders have got, they’d struggle. Whereas if I say “Fill that flip chart with all the behaviours and attitudes and impact that leaders, have had on you” they’d need an entire wall. So really, be clear that it always starts with you. You always have a choice in that. The way other people behave is not your problem. Your only problem is choosing the impact that you really want to have on others.
Second of all, leadership is not about someone else's theory or style, it's about you. So, stop looking for the answer using somebody else’s model, or theory. Really look for you. And as one of the stories in the book which is Steve shares, go back to being you.
Third and finally, remember that people want authenticity. We are naturally attracted to authenticity, so break the mould by choosing a positive response to your thoughts and feelings. And within that remember that emotional intelligence will get you further in life than anything else.
00:42:55 Andy Goram
There's three brilliant pieces of advice there. And they sum up the book beautifully. So talking of the book, Tim, where can people get hold of it my friend?
00:43:07 Tim Roberts
Amazon, unsurprisingly. Is the first one, and as my publisher tells me, you live or die by your sales and reviews on Amazon. It is literally the world biggest bookstore. So yeah, they can search it, it can just simply go to Amazon and search my name in books also break the mould in books.
They can get it from my resource website which is italwaysstartswithyou.com. So, I sell the fancy pants version of it. Where if you want the signed hardback with some Enthuse goodies and access to the digital workbook, including that, then you can buy it direct from me. But the easiest way, when this podcast finishes, just go to Amazon, search break the mould and you can buy it on their Kindle version, or you can get the older paperback delivered to you.
00:43:51 Andy Goram
Brilliant! Well, I encourage everybody listening to go and check out break the mould. I think it's a fantastic book and told with a really fresh perspective.
Well, thanks very much for your time, Tim, I really appreciate you coming on. It's great to speak to you. Great to see you and yeah, very best of luck with the book sales, my friend.
00:44:08 Tim Roberts
Thanks a lot, Andy. I’ve really enjoyed our chat. Keep smiling. Keep being you.
00:44:12 Andy Goram
Thanks, my friend.
OK, that was Tim Roberts. If you'd like to find out a bit more about him and about the book, please check out our show notes.
00:44:25 Andy Goram
So, that concludes today's episode. I hope you've enjoyed it, found it interesting and heard something, maybe that will help you become a stickier, more successful business from the inside going forwards.
If you have, please like comment and subscribe, it really helps. I'm Andy Goram and you've been listening to the Sticky From The Inside podcast. until next time, thanks for listening.
Andy Goram is the owner of Bizjuicer, an employee engagement and workplace culture consultancy that's on a mission to help people have more fulfilling work lives. He's also the host of the Sticky From The Inside Podcast, which talks to experts on these topics from around the world.