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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

The Future of Human Leadership

Updated: Aug 3, 2022

What are the future requirements of successful leadership? The world of the last 3 years is almost unrecognisable. Many things we took for granted, or had never imagined have either changed or happened. When you think of it like that, is it any wonder that the celebrated concepts of leadership, that have been commonplace over the last three decades are now looking outdated and out of place? Couple that with the generational shift that's taking place in the workplace, and the differing needs of today's workplace, and I think there is clearly a need for a good deal more humanity for leaders to be successful going forwards.

In episode 45 of the employee engagement and workplace culture podcast Sticky From The Inside, host Andy Goram, speaks with the author of 3 best-selling books on teams and leadership, and motivational speaker, Caspar Craven, and the pair exchange views on what traits are required to be a successful leader of people in the future. The conversation covers mistakes the pair have made, why the command and control leadership model is inappropriate today, emotional understanding, tattoos, sailing around the world with 3 kids under 10, their aversion to phrases such as "soft skills" and "feminisation of the workplace" and how unresolved trauma may be a hidden inhibitor of team success.

This is a full transcript of that conversation, but you can listen to the full episode here.

Two men discuss what makes a successful leader and human leadership
Andy Goram (right) and Caspar Craven (left) discuss the human skills required to be a successful leader of the future

00:00:10 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.

00:01:10 Andy Goram

OK, there's no doubt the world has changed quite dramatically of late. We've been hit with Covid, remote, hybrid and homeworking are now more commonplace. The climate change issue is playing out right before our very eyes. Social media is more prevalent and seems to be a major contributing factor to the increased polarisation we see in society, and in generational thinking, actually. On top of all that we're also beginning to get more comfortable talking about and recognising mental health challenges, and two years of the Pandemic have allowed us to sit, think and consider what really matters to us. The Great Resignation or Great Reflection has seen, and is seeing people take more control of choosing what they really want from a work and home life.

Is it any wonder then, in the face of all that change, that the old style of command-and-control leadership is now more unsustainable or inappropriate than ever before? So what does the future of leadership look like? Look, I've long since talked about the need for more humanity from leaders on this podcast, but what does that practically look like and how do we affect that change?

Well, with me today is Caspar Craven. He's a leading authority in achieving big bold goals through high performance teamwork, and the author of three best-selling books on leadership and teams, “Where The Magic Happens”, “Be more human” and his latest work, “Big Bold Goals.” Now as a serial entrepreneur, he's built and sold a tech business for a 7-figure sum, worked as a CFO and at KPMG. And not content with that he has twice sailed around the world. The first time as a team leader on a trophy-winning yacht race for the BT Global Challenge, and then the second time as captain and team leader of his family team, in around 2014/2016 with his wife and three young children under 10 years of age, which I think is just incredible.

And today, literally I cannot wait to talk to him and hear his theories and practical advice on what the future of successful leadership really does look like.

Welcome to the show, Caspar!

00:03:21 Caspar Craven

Andy, thank you very much, and thank you for those kind words. Goodness me! There's an expectation that I don't know who that person is you just described?

00:03:29 Andy Goram

Well, I'm hoping it's you, buddy. I'm really hoping it's you.

00:03:33 Caspar Craven

We'll give it a go, shall we?

00:03:35 Andy Goram

Fantastic! Look, I would be daft if I didn't ask you a couple of things. First of all, just give me a rundown of what's going on in your life right now. What are you focused on? What's really sort of exercising the old grey cells at the moment? And then perhaps, let’s have a little, quick chat about taking three kids under 10 around the world on a yacht. I mean that that sounds incredible.

00:03:58 Caspar Craven

Yeah, well, what’s exercising my grey matter, is thinking very much about how we lead our teams going into the future. What are the things that we need to do? So, you know I've had a whole bunch of different experiences and that's given me a lot of different insights, learning at extremes. And I’ve taken that and then just sort of looking at all these things that are changing in the world. You know, that

definition of insanity “doing the same thing with expecting different results”.

When everything is moving around you, and keep doing the same thing, it ain't gonna work. So yeah, what's exercising my grey matter is how do we really rethink what's going on at the moment? And you know, help our help teams and organisations around the world to be able to get to grips with some of those challenges, those changes. As you said, that there's a lot changing at the moment. So that's what's really exercising me. Sort of talking to people, sharing thoughts and ideas around that.

00:04:56 Andy Goram

And are you seeing this is becoming, or has the world woken up to all these changes in the impact of from leadership, 'cause you've been talking about leadership and teams for a good while now? Is there now more momentum perhaps than there has been before? Or is it always been this way?

00:05:13 Caspar Craven

So like, I think there's definitely more momentum. So, I mean one of the themes I always talk about is the fact that we'll have two teams. A work team and a home team. And neglect either one at your peril. I know that from harsh experience, having done that. And I think that COVID rammed that home to everyone, and some. So, I think that there's definitely more awareness of things like that. And as the world, sort of drifts, and moves to a different state, I hope we remember that, and the humanity of how do we operate? But look, I think across all the different organisations that I'm lucky enough to speak to, I think there's definitely a lot of people moving in this direction. Not everyone. But I think the the best talent and customers will migrate to the people who, you know, really take care of people, planet and so on. So, there's a movement underway, I would say.

00:06:07 Andy Goram

Well, that's good to hear. It's good to hear. It's still quite a confusing thought, for me, for people who rally against this thought that, you know, adding humanity into leadership is a good thing. It's not going to harm the numbers, from my perspective, it's going to accentuate those numbers. But it's still curious to me. But before we get into all that, I have to ask you, I mean, taking three kids under 10 around the world. I mean, around the supermarket would probably freak a lot of people out! But no! Let's stick 'em on a yacht and take them around the world.

I mean, clearly you are a... I'll use the incorrect term, a sailor, a yachtsman. You know how to do this stuff. But still, that's a challenge, right?

00:06:53 Caspar Craven

Yeah, at this point, most people probably think I'm a little bit crazy, right? Look, I'll précis it. Five years of preparation in order to go and do that. Yeah, it's a story that we wrote together as a family. Clearly my wife and I lead the discussions, saying,

Let's go and experience and see the world together.

And so, yeah, we came up with the idea. And I said, we have five years of planning to think through every single eventuality that we could imagine. And most people told us what could go wrong. So it wasn’t too hard to find those different things, and then find ways to mitigate all their challenges.

But, you know, the draw of it was, you know, spending time with our kids. Seeing the world with them, because I remember sort of, you know, working 16-18 hours a day, and not seeing my kids. And so, what's the point of having kids if you don't see them and share what's really important with them? Yeah, that was kind of the motivating factor. And I know what we did was probably at the more extreme end of things, but yeah, it was an incredible experience.

00:07:57 Andy Goram

I was gonna say, what an experience and something that you... to share as a family. I mean, that must have brought you some incredible memories, much, much closer, stretched yourself. There probably will have been some scary moments, I would have thought within that as well. And what that's done for you as a family, I'm sure it's amazing.

00:08:15 Caspar Craven

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, there's definitely a really sort of strong bedrock of experiences there, of highs and lows. Because yeah, when you take two years... any two year period of time, and you’re going to have a bunch of those highs and lows, and tantrums, and laughter and everything else in between.

00:08:33 Andy Goram

That's just the parents!

00:08:34 Caspar Craven

Exactly! You know it’s funny. You're saying about the, anything with kids. It’s like you know, driving down to Devon for four hours in the car. It's like, you know some child's gonna have a tantrum, don't you? It's just a question of which one it is and or how many it's going to be, so it's...

00:08:49 Andy Goram

Absolutely. I always found those long road trips with kids fascinating. Some of the smells that would come from the back seat particularly are very strong in the memory, I think, as we go forward. But that's not really what we're here to talk about today. So let's park that OK, and let's think about this thing about the future of leadership.

So, we've talked about there seemingly being a change in momentum, or at least building some momentum going forward. What’s really changed, do you think? And we mentioned a few things in the intro. What have those things done to the whole sphere of leadership from your perspective? What's changed?

00:09:31 Caspar Craven

Yeah, no that's a great question. And by the way I'll have a tilt at this question, and then I'm going to flip this back to you and get your take as well, because you obviously speak to lots of different interesting people and will have an interesting perspective on this.

Let me have a tilt, you know, what's changed? I mean clearly you know, COVID is very fresh in our minds. And you know, there's definitely something that's shifted there and brought a great realisation, I think of, you know, how we work and how do we live? So that's definitely one. But I mean, I think the biggest one of course has to be sustainability and climate change, and thinking about, you know, the types of organisations that we want to work for. The ones that actually, you know, are going to make a difference to something that's going on in the world.

I went to a talk actually, at my son's school two weeks ago. And his lady who runs Microsoft in Europe, and she was saying how their plan is to actually counteract all the emissions that Microsoft has put out into the world, going right back to the day that they were founded.

00:10:36 Andy Goram


00:10:37 Caspar Craven

And It's like,

Oh, OK. I like that. That's a good bold statement.”

And of course, you know, organisations like that, they make you say, “Well, maybe you could give further as well,” and sort of, you know, who else because I think it's that you know, why shouldn't organisations take a big lead on this? So I think that's definitely changed. And I think the, you know, one of the other big things I see, as well are the challenges that we have around our mental health. How do we deal with those? You know, we're all living in a very, very different way these days. We're all sort of, you know, connected to one of these sort of on a continual basis. And you know, it's rewiring our brains. It's changing our brains. So, I think that recognition of that. I mean there's many more, but those I think, are probably the first three things that I would tilt at.

Well, what would you add to the list? Andy, what do you see?

00:11:26 Andy Goram

Uh, I think one of the things that I've noticed the most is this generational shift. So I liken it a bit to the Alex Ferguson football years, because I think he's quite an interesting study. And look, there’ll be loads of people listening to this going,

“You don't know Alex Ferguson!”

OK, this is my impression. OK, I'm sure he fostered amazing team spirit, real belief, all those kind of good staples of leadership, but he was no pushover, right? If there was command and control, my impression was that there was a lot of that with him to a point. And I think, a range of players came through of a different generation, where I think he finally sort of realised that his approach to leadership didn't work with them as well as it worked with previous generations. He couldn't rule with an iron fist, perhaps like he had done before. They were looking for something different, and they rebelled against that kind of leadership. And I think we're seeing that in the workplace.

I think people are definitely looking for more from work. I think they're less interested in hierarchy. So, the sort of flattening of, “Well my boss said it, so therefore it must be true.” I think there's a lot more curiosity and questioning going on. And when I left my last corporate job on that sort of day, apart from blobbing everywhere because I was thinking, “What am I doing?” The CEO at the time very nicely said to me, “Andy’s proof that good guys can succeed.” And I've always had this thing in my soul that is, I'm very much about relationships and collaboration and care. And for me that's just a natural leadership trait. I just think it's becoming more of a leadership trait of choice, because I think it speaks to a lot more people nowadays. That's my take on it.

00:13:21 Caspar Craven

Yeah, no, it's really interesting, actually. Just sort of hearing you say that has sparked some other thoughts. Well, I mean the whole thing about, you know, the relationships. And it's like I look back on the businesses that I've built. And one of the businesses I built, and we sold that, for me that was all about the creating business success and driving sort of, really hard for that. And you know that, frankly, that was about money. And that was painful, growing that. But actually, I looked back on the times and what was the most valuable thing, although I definitely didn't appreciate it at the time, was the relationships. The people you spend time with. And so, I made that classic mistake of valuing sort of profits, over people. Which is why, I’m so passionate about flipping it around the other way and really sort of appreciating it's like who you're actually going to spend time with... a chunk of time with and, you know, make sure you enjoy it. Make sure it's a meaningful relationship. Make sure you're curious. Make sure you learn from each other. Make sure you help each other out.

And I think, you know, one of my fundamental things, you know, sort of, it's a happy team is a fast team. Rather than just sort of a fast team is a happy team. So it's you know, really yeah, enjoying those relationships being more of them.

00:14:26 Andy Goram

I think it's true. I mean I do look back. I mean I was no saint. Let's be really clear about that. I definitely made mistakes. I think you... the thing is you realise it. You know, when I... it was silly little things for me. Like when I moved from open plan sitting with the team, into an office. Marvellous, right? All the trappings of having an office. But then I would come out of my office, to try and engage with the team, and I felt like an awkward Dad at a teenagers disco. Like just waiting for a conversation to sort of bring me in and allow me to sort of like contribute. And I just felt awkward. And I knew I was losing my grip at that point, and I'd lost sight of what was important, for sure.

So that's what I think. And it's the same today. Relationships are really important, and 'm not really up for veneer relationships. I think it has to be meaningful. And again, I don't want to sound overly worthy and all sort of hippy about the whole thing, 'cause I'm far from that. But I just think results come when you have all these things sorted out. You know, if you go to the Lencioni 5 dysfunctions of a team, you know that you might as well... My daughter keeps saying to me,

You ever going to get a tattoo, Dad?”

and I’m “No!” I'm not the kind of person to have a tattoo. But if I was gonna have a tattoo, weirdly, I might have his 5 dysfunctions of a team - the pyramid is as a tattoo. , because I think it's a metaphor for lots of things in life. And building trust and enabling to challenge each other, I think are the absolute fundamentals of teamwork and leadership.

00:15:58 Caspar Craven

And you know with that, you know that to me brings the whole sort of, you know, the vulnerability, the humility. And that’s probably the single best reason as well for making sure you've got the right relationships. 'Cause none of us will ever have all the skills that we all need and therefore it's without question the most important thing to, you know, build on the strengths of other people. Appreciate where you're good. Appreciate where other people are good. And to say, you know what, there’s this thing over here. You know, I've tried really hard doing it, but actually I'm just not very good at this. Yes, I could get better, but I might get a 10-20% improvement. But you're amazing at this thing. So, you focus on doing this thing. I'll focus on doing this thing here. But again, you can only get to that stage when you sort of, have that vulnerability to really start sharing with people.

00:16:45 Andy Goram

I think I think that's a great point and I think for years we've had this myth of the shell that you must protect yourself with, to sort of say,

I am rock solid. I'm granite, I've got it all. Come with me. I'm the leader of choice because I won't let you down. I've got all the answers.”

And I just think that's out of date. And I've mentioned it before in this podcast, and anybody who's been through any leadership stuff with me will know this. You know, as a human you've got an innate desire to help other people. But if you can smell that they don't need help, you move on to the next person. So, as a leader, if you're saying, “I’ve got it all covered”, you are going to really struggle to get engagement long-term, you know?

00:17:28 Caspar Craven

But essentially, I think about, you know, one of the first people to really shine light on this was Carol Dweck, with mindset. And I look back on the way that, you know, I developed in sort of early career, and I was 100% classic, fixed mindset. And it was presenting a story, and presenting an image. I even remember sort of going to work, sort of had my home face on, and then, here's the corporate face, and go and do all that sort of stuff, and do the things that I thought I was meant to do seriously, but never really tapped into sort of the the talents, the creativity, because I was trying to project this thing the whole time, which actually wasn't that accurate. Yeah, it's opening up those conversations, so we can be more real, isn't it?

I mean, there's lots of language around this, authentic leadership and so on, but I think fundamentally it's not being afraid to, you know, be vulnerable. But I know in some workplaces that, you know, there’s a phrase often around it, “Psychological Safety”. Some people don't feel safe to do that, which is why I think it's so important for for leaders to lead... take the lead on this, and to share the things where they're not great. To show that humility and to make it OK for other people to do that. And certainly as a number of organisations who I work with, where, you know, there's still that fear there. And it's like, you know, it's going to be tricky. You're going to struggle to adapt to the changes, because you're not unleashing the best talent inside the business, because maybe you feel unsafe.

00:18:57 Andy Goram

I think that's true. And I think, as leaders now, if you take the metaphor of the the iceberg model, you know lowering the water level on that iceberg allows you to see a lot more things. Make a lot less assumptions. Know a lot more things. And when you can see this stuff, you can start to fix it. You can start to do stuff with it and that's where I think this openness, this vulnerability, whatever you want to call it is really important. And I think that's one of those factors that draws people in, as opposed to putting them off. And as a as a leader, I think you want to draw as many people in as possible to your clan, and make the right moves going forward.

00:19:36 Caspar Craven

So when are you gonna get your tattoo done then?

00:19:38 Andy Goram

Yeah, it's not going to happen. It's not gonna happen. I mean, I really...I mean I think I have the ultimate dad bod. There's no question about that. I'm just not. I would just look weird with a tattoo, Casper. Are you a tattooed man yourself?

00:19:52 Caspar Craven

No, no. So, actually, we were sailing across The Pacific, there was a place where tattoos apparently, sort of originated from, the Marquesa Islands, and that was the closest I got to it. But I thought, “No.”

00:20:02 Andy Goram

I just would look like a fool, you know? I might go for a henna tattoo, at a festival. Try and like be part of the crew. But I know that's going to like not be there in a few weeks’ time. But now that's another generational shift. It seems like you've got to ink yourself today to sort of, you know, be yourself. But it's just not my thing, not mine.

00:20:21 Caspar Craven

It really does, doesn't it? So, it's a yeah, no, actually funnily enough, I know we’re going completely off topic here, but I did actually get a henna tattoo done while I was sailing. I'd forgotten about that. But, 12 days later, it had gone.

00:20:33 Andy Goram

Yeah, give me a friendship bracelet any day 'cause I know that will... that's fine. But a tattoo? That's going a step too far for me.

I'm quite keen to understand, in this context of this changing leadership landscape, the link between two of your books, right? So, the “Be More Human”, which really drew me in, and your link to those 20 Principles, which I have written down by the side of me here, and and your “Big Bold Goals” focus right now. I mean, when I read the 20 Principles, I was kind of like,

Yeah, I really get those. They really resonate with me.”

And when we think about this landscape change right now, I can clearly see why you're trying to link that to sort of, I guess, definitive performance, by really setting out your stall to achieve, right, through big bold goals. How can you explain to the listeners that link between those 20 points, where do they come from and your focus now on big bold goals?

00:21:35 Caspar Craven

Yeah, so let me start where the 20 principles came from. I mean so, in the five years preparing for our sailing adventure... I always believe, by the way, you learn a lot more at the extremes, when you put yourself under pressure. And so I've definitely done that on both my sailing trips. And so, I learned a lot both about work and family. Hence that's the two teams. And so five years preparing, 2 years sailing. And then sort of being on the speaking circuit after I came back from that, and then just sort of speaking to some incredible people around the world, spending a huge amount of time reading, a huge amount of time reflecting and saying,

OK, what are the skills that we need to be able to move forward?”

And it was that period of introspection, reflection, which led me to those 20 Principles. And of lot of them are definitely born out of my experiences. And I often say there's 20 Principles, but there's also 20 whopping, great, big mistakes that I've made.

So that was basically the journey to that. So I came up with them, sat down to write them out, and then sort of, you know, just sort of just benchmarked them against lots of, you know, very successful, very interesting, very pragmatic, very curious people that I had the privilege of bumping into. So that was basically how that the 20 Principles arose. And then how does that juxtaposition with Big Bold Goals? So, my whole thing is about, sort of, whenever someone says something that it can't be done, we instant reaction is, “Is that really true?” And so, I love going after the things that everybody else says are impossible. It's just something inside me that then it's just drawn towards that. But I think there's this innate assumption that in order to go and achieve massive goals, you have to be like, old style. This drive for the numbers and that whole sort of mindset around that. So for me the juxtaposition is going after the massive goals, but doing it in a way that is, yeah, fundamentally more human.

It puts empathy. It puts compassion, it can put understanding. It puts a lot of topics on a table, that a lot of people that I would describe as in their old numbers driven world fundamentally are uncomfortable with. So the whole area about sort of, the emotional understanding. You know, they have this notion, someone else shared this,

That we're not thinking creatures who feel. We’re feeling creatures who think.”

And it's our emotions that really drive us. And once you start to understand that, then I think that's certainly that shone a huge light on things for me, and actually that's the place to start in the emotional place, rather than the place of logic. So that's the juxtaposition between the two things.

00:24:33 Andy Goram

And so, this emotion thing. And this kind of change of leadership. You get, I get the impression, you kind of echoed it yourself, that there are leaders out there who are almost scared of the topic of emotion. It's not their bag, they don't know how to deal with it. It looks in amorphous.

I've got to take a separate approach for every single individual? I haven’t got time for that.”

What would you say to leaders who are really, wrestling with this whole kind of, “Look! Numbers is where I'm at”, or that more functional, technical leadership role, to the more emotionally-led leadership role? How do you encourage people to kind of make the change?

00:25:10 Caspar Craven

Yeah, so actually, so one of the things is actually a little bit of theory. So I have done a graph a little while ago, and basically it showed all the different management theories over the last five decades, or so. And depending on what point you came into the workplace, you were kind of like, if you like, indoctrinated in that management theory. And it's like, I don't know, 20-30 of these, sort of over the past 50 years. So the question about that was, “When was the last time that one had an upgrade to how one thinks about things?” Because how stuff operates is fundamentally different to how it was three decades ago. So that's, I guess, is the first thing, is just, “Well, what's your lens? What's shaping your beliefs at the moment? Why do you believe so strongly that it is just about the numbers?” So it's a little bit of the context of that, and again it's useful when you just sort of see how many different theories that there have been, and there will be more in the future as well, of course.

So how would I encourage someone to think about the emotional? I think now I’d probably sort of ask someone to sort of just to sit down and reflect on their own experiences. “Why do you do things?” And to really sort of, you know, Ialways encourage people to sit down with a blank piece of paper and a pen. And sit down and sketch, and scribble things out. And I think that what I notice is that yeah, it's the emotions that start us off on that journey and then we backfill it with logic. And if you struggle with that, ask someone who knows you well to hold the mirror up to you and listen, and to hear the feedback that comes back from that. You know none of us are immune to emotions. We all experience emotions and it's just the way we operate as human beings isn’t it?

00:26:59 Andy Goram

I think so, and I think we have to embrace it more. To ignore it is folly, ultimately. And like I say, this generational shift coming through expects more emotional connection.

00:27:11 Caspar Craven

So, I was going to say about that, that I know when we chatted before, we talked about this notion of “The feminisation of the workplace.”

00:27:20 Andy Goram


00:27:21 Caspar Craven

This came up in conversation with someone I know. I was talking about emotions in the workplace and he mentioned this phrase, you know,

This is about the feminisation of the workplace.”

And I have to say my jaw kind of hit the floor at that point.

00:27:34 Andy Goram

It sounds like a ridiculous statement. I gotta be honest.

00:27:36 Caspar Craven

It's quite a punchy statement, isn’t it? What was the statistic I read recently? I think it was in the construction industry. The single biggest killer of men under the age of 50 is suicide. And I think, in the construction industry, it's 4X that.

00:27:55 Andy Goram


00:27:56 Caspar Craven

And you think sort of, you know we all experience emotions. We all experience strong emotions. And if someone says,

Well, you can't talk about your emotions, 'cause you're being female, you’re being a girl”,

or whatever else, it’s like well, that closes that down. Especially if you’re in construction, a particularly macho industry, right? And male-dominated industry. So, it's like, well isn't that incredible... doesn't that data just speak for itself, that we have to be able to sort of deal with our emotions? They have to be able to express and to be able to understand them. And yeah, to deny them is... it's folly. I mean, it's just doesn’t bear thinking about.

00:28:31 Andy Goram

That's a horrible, horrible statistic. And all to do with avoiding emotions. And this is where, you know, there's another lead in for me. And again, a regular soapbox for me is when we talk about this kind of leadership. Caring leadership. Human leadership. And you think about the skills underneath it. They're always referred to as soft skills, which I hate as a phrase, because it just... they just sound..., I don't know, second class for some reason, behind the other skills 'cause these are soft skills. And these human skills as I like to sort of call them, I would be absolutely lobbying for these things to be taught at school. You know, to be thinking about teamwork and humanity and collaboration. Rather than the kind of individualistic pursuit of stuff? Because I think they're, as you've used the word, they are completely juxtaposed to what's needed in society today.

00:29:28 Caspar Craven

Absolutely and look, I mean, they are the hardest skills I have personally had to acquire. Ones of emotional understanding. Because it means that you've got to stare at the mirror. And that's really uncomfortable. And that's really hard. And I love that saying, it came from Ray Dalio and that’s “Pain plus reflection equals progress” That we all have repeating patterns in our lives, don't we? And you know, if you have a pain point in one area, you can bet your bottom dollar that it appears everywhere. So, you know, for me, two of my flaws, my weaknesses in the past, which I've done a lot of work to mitigate, I’m not saying they're completely gone, is blame. Thinking other people are at fault, rather than owning it myself. And I'm not listening enough. And you know, what I noticed is that both those patterns were following me around at work and at home, and yeah, for far too long, I was in denial about that. And yeah, the only way out of that is to sit there, to stare hard... I always like to think of the notion, whatever that pain point is, to put it on your hand and hold it up there in front of you and twist it around to look at it from every single angle. And I think I used the phrase in my book, “To go and soak in that pain.” Which is horrible. It's hard as *******, to go and do that. But there's nothing soft about that. And that's the hard things to do.

Ray Dalio Pain Plus Reflection Equals Progress

But I think that I mean some people, a lot of people obviously don't do that. But I think that's when you get the greatest amount of growth. When you overcome those things, you can move forward.

00:31:09 Andy Goram

So, I think so. It's the easiest thing to avoid, isn't it? But actually, spending time really facing into it, I think has huge dividends. I spoke to Jane Adshead-Grant recently, who's done a lot of work with the Barry Wehmiller stuff and wrote a book, “Are you listening, or just waiting to speak?” And the title of that book is just classic, because I look back at my early career, and yeah, my active listening was a lot of nodding and all the rest of it. But whilst I was nodding and making noises, I was trying to work out what I'm going to say next, not listening at all! Which... so your point about not listening enough, well made, and I think that's another trait for leadership going forward is, properly listen. Learn to listen.

00:31:52 Caspar Craven

Yes, yeah, I think actually one of the things that follows on from that, is just allowing those spaces in the conversation and not feeling the need just to fill that space. And just to sort of sit there and just take what someone’s just said, and just think about that for a moment. Because so often it’s in a sort of large environment, a large group environment, the conversations flying like this, and it's like, it's almost like competition isn’t it? Who’s gonna say the next thing isn’t it? And actually, it's just gonna pause on that, reflect on that for a moment. And you know, we don't have to have all the answers immediately. It'd be nice. But just to really take the time. But I guess the other challenge with that, it comes back to this whole sort of mental health thing, is that we end up sort of self-medicating ourselves with just continual doses of sort of inbound information, social media and so on. And it's just like just chucking at us the whole time. And other people numb things with, you know, other stuff with alcohol, drugs or whatever else is their way of dealing with it. But sometimes it's just, yeah, creating that space to listen and really hear the message, isn't it? From yourself. From others.

00:33:02 Andy Goram

Yeah, I mean I would expect... I would want... I mean you go around the world speaking to audiences about this sort of stuff, and as a professional speaker, you must know the power of the pause when you're trying to sort of engage an audience. That when you drop a large thought, the last thing you want to do is then career all over that with a load more information. You want to stop.

00:33:25 Caspar Craven

Yeah, yes.

00:33:26 Andy Goram

You want to allow the audience to kind of soak up that point. Look them in the eye and recognise this has now landed. Have a think about it before you kind of move on. To me, it's exactly the same in a one-to-one, or any other conversation, and actually even as a podcast host.

00:33:42 Caspar Craven

It really is, isn't it? My mind is wandering off in all sorts of different directions now just as you're saying that. There's sort of, I mean, that's the beauty, isn’t it? You say something and it just sort of sets your mind off in a different direction that it wasn't going to before, by virtue of what you've heard. Rather than, this is the next thing that I'm going to go and say. So yeah, really interesting. Really interesting.

00:34:08 Andy Goram

Having said that, one thing I'm really interested to kind of like have a chat about on here, when we originally spoke, and we were talking about the future of human leadership, and talking about team performance, you mentioned something I thought really interesting, new work that you're looking into really about this unresolved trauma and how it inhibits team performance, on almost a hidden level today. Tell us what's going on with that whole topic.

00:34:38 Caspar Craven

Yeah, so I think this is one of those topics that is very easily dismissible. That's saying, “Oh, that's all woo-woo stuff.” And just like actually, sort of five years ago, when I was talking about, you know, work life - home life, and paying attention to that, that got quite easily dismissed as well. Not anymore! And I think that trauma is very much in the same space.

And look, I think that all of us have trauma on some level. And I'll tell you what I mean by trauma. It means you have some emotional experience. Some strong emotional experience from the past. We've all had that, haven’t we? And when a trigger comes up. When something comes up, it flips you straight back into that state. Which means you're no longer here in the present. There's a disassociation, and the the psychologists will give a better definition of that. But that's my simplistic understanding of that.

And you know, I think you know I used to grow up, talking to my mum and the word trauma came up. She said,

Well you haven't been to war. You haven't got trauma.” It's like, “Well, no, I haven't, but I still get some sort of, I think, emotional dysregulation

is one of the phrases that I hear. So why is that important? Well, I think that fundamentally one of the reasons that we don't operate well as team is because of these unresolved things. So rather than dealing with exactly what you've got here in the present, in front of you, you're dealing with stuff from the past. That's bringing up and shaping discussion, or you're trying to escape towards the future. That was my that was my flavour of choice. And I think that really getting underneath the skin off that, is fascinating. There’s some amazing work around this.

There's a guy called Bessel Van der Kolk. He wrote a book, “The body keeps the score” and just sort of exploring different ways that this can be resolved. Because the other thing around this as well, is the traditional way of resolving this is what you might call, talk therapy, where you sit down and there's that whole sort of, you know, perception of psychologists sitting on the couch and so on. And actually there are myriad more ways to resolve this. And basically, it's about reconnecting the cognitive brain and the emotional brain. And again, when you go back to that notion, where we're feeling creatures that think, we're driven by emotion. So, until you understand what's really driving your emotions, then you don't really understand yourself fundamentally. So, which I know is a fairly punchy thing to say, but I think that this is such an interesting space.

And look, I would describe myself as an enthusiastic amateur in this space. And I'm very privileged, actually, working with two different teams. Both are run by clinicians. One is a consultant psychiatrist. One has been operating the trauma space for several decades, and speaking to them and understanding how this stuff is operating. And it feels that there's a massive disconnect. Because how this stuff is understood, how it's resolved. It's kind of like up here (points upwards). How the world understands things, is kind of down here. There's a massive, almost like sort of marketing gap between understanding what these different things that are available, and you know what the impact of these is. So yeah, for me, I'm kind of really keen just to shine a light on that at the moment and make people more aware of this, and be more open minded to going on journeys to uncover you know, what's really driving your behaviours?

00:38:12 Andy Goram

It does make a lot of sense, because any past experience influences your action in a new experience, right? You know, if you've been stung by a bee as a kid, there's a good chance you're going to be scared of bees. And that's a terrible example, but ultimately all of these things end up inhibiting your performance, or your ideas, or your confidence on other things right going forward, so why would it be any different in work environment?

00:38:39 Caspar Craven

Absolutely, and so many of these things sit beneath the surface, that we can't cognitively remember what those experiences are. It doesn't mean to say they don't exist. And I remember, someone in my business years ago, basically said to me, “It's like we need you to go and get a coach. Someone to hold the mirror up to you.” And I was like, “I don’t need that. I’m alright.” And that classic thing. And I think it's exactly the same thing. But for years I was in denial that I needed to look at anything around this.

And you know, I kind of think that actually paying attention to our mental health, I think it should be one of those things that we treat almost like doing exercise. You don't do it when there's a problem and you're overweight, or anything else like that. You do it as a regular thing to stay fit and healthy. So, whether that's sort of, you know, every fortnight, every month, every two months, whatever it is, to go and sort of have some outlet, and it'll be different for different types of people. Everyone will have their different flavours of doing things. But something that leans into that space, especially given the pressures, the social media, and all these sorts of things. It's really putting a lot more pressure on that. So, I think that I would love to see it become a normal conversation around that.

00:39:53 Andy Goram

I would too. On reflection, I think the more that we understand about each other, the better. Your point that we're emotional creatures is so well made, and I think leaders going forward, have to recognise that and quickly adapt if it's not their strong suit, to make things different.

Caspar, I cannot believe it, but we are coming towards the end of our time already and yet we've covered so much, and so little!

00:40:20 Caspar Craven

It feels like we’ve just scratched the surface!

00:40:21 Andy Goram

I know! Exactly! What? Well look, I have an area in the show, as we get to the end where I try to summarise all the things that we've talked about. And I say “I try to summarise”, that's a lie. I ask you to summarise. And what I would like you to do, is to try and condense some of the things we've talked about today into three pieces of advice that you could stick on a sticky note and that people could take away.

So, when we're thinking about the future of leadership, what would you put on your three sticky notes, Caspar?

00:40:51 Caspar Craven

Yeah. OK, so everyone got a sticky note ready? And I'm going to give you a formula for the first one. I mean, I've already shared it already today, but it's “Pain + Reflection = Progress” We all have pain points in our lives, don't we? Just to take 5 minutes, 10 minutes, sit down on your own, switch your phone off and reflect what's the pain? What’s the most painful thing I'm experiencing right now? And just it takes some time to reflect on that. And it's in that reflection process, when we give ourselves the space to do that, we often find new ideas, new insights, different ways to think about it, someone else we go and ask for help around it. But we don't give ourselves the space to do that, so that's my first one “Pain + Reflection = Progress”

00:41:38 Andy Goram

Love that.

00:41:40 Caspar Craven

The second one, I think is to celebrate curiosity. I think that the leaders of the future, are the ones that recognise that the answers can come from anywhere in your team. And to ask questions, and then shut up, sit back and listen, and just sort of, you know, be amazed at what are the things that come out.

And then the third thing is... I’m kind of like drawn to... having just talked about the trauma space, I'm inclined to sort of leaning towards that. Where everyone just does, or has a conversation with themselves about, you know, what could you do differently around your mental health? And there's so many different things you can do. Whether it's doing more exercise, meditation, talking to someone, different types of therapy, but actually just to sort of be open minded to, you know, different things around that. And it's funny I always find when I regularly do different therapies and stuff like that, 'cause every time I do that, I get massive breakthroughs. And the time when I don't think I've got a problem, when there's nothing that's really going on for me, without question, those are the times when I get massive insights which I'm never expecting.

00:42:57 Andy Goram

That’s always the way isn't it? Always the way.

00:42:59 Caspar Craven

Yeah, when I get the problem, I get the problem solved. But actually it's when I go without a problem, with a blank sheet of paper, it's like

Oh! This is going to be interesting when I get there!”

00:43:07 Andy Goram

Much like these conversations, Caspar. Amazing! To your point, I feel like we've literally only scratched the surface. That time has gone far too quick. For me, it's been an absolute pleasure to have met you and to speak to you today. And thank you for sharing your wisdom, advice, experience on what we think the future of leadership looks like. It's been great. Thank you so much.

00:43:30 Caspar Craven

No, my pleasure. It's been really great to have just had a conversation to be honest. I mean, that's what this is about. Having more conversations which are more real so...

00:43:37 Andy Goram

100% my friend. Those meaningful conversations that are real. I couldn't put it better myself. Alright, my friend, you take care and hopefully I'll see you again soon.

00:43:45 Caspar Craven

Fantastic. Thanks, Andy.

00:43:47 Andy Goram

Thanks mate.

OK that was Caspar Craven and if you'd like to find out a bit more about him, or any of the topics that we've covered in today's show, please check out the show notes.

00:43:59 Andy Goram

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.

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