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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

Unleashing Genius: Igniting Individual Potential

"Potential" is turning into a bit of an overused word in business, don't you think, when it comes to coaching? Use the word potential in a meeting, or one-to-one and people are asleep or nodding off. What about if we reframed it as "Genius"? That's more exciting isn't it? How about we look at genius as something we all have? That we look at genius as the embodiment of your own, unique potential, and our focus is working out how we enable, or unleash someone's genius feels like a whole different topic, right?

Well, that's exactly what I talked about in the latest episode of my popular employee engagement, culture and leadership podcast, Sticky From The Inside, with my guest, and renowned coach, Myles Downey. Our conversation centered around enabling genius and unlocking the full potential of individuals within organizations. Miles is quick to emphasize things like the importance of regular one-on-one meetings with team members to provide clarity and feedback, recognizing and harnessing individual strengths, and taking time to think and reflect. He also breaks down the simple framework of lead, manage, coach and trusted relationships that form the basis for enabling someone's genius.

The episode highlights the tangible benefits of implementing these concepts, including increased performance, productivity, self-confidence, and improved decision-making. It also addresses the challenges of implementing these ideas within organizations with a command-and-control culture. The conversation offers some valuable insights for leaders and managers who want to create an environment where genius can flourish, driving success and growth for both individuals and organizations.

Below is a full transcript of the conversation, but you can also listen here.

Two spectacled-wearing men discuss unleashing individual genius on a podcast
Myles Downey (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss how to enable and unleash an individual's genius

Podcast Introduction

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 organizations from the inside out. I'm your host, Andy Goram, and I'm on a mission to help more businesses turn the 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.

The Importance of Coaching

00:01:10 - Andy Goram

Okay. How can managers and leaders be more successful at getting more of their people to bring more of their best self to work every day? If we could answer that question, we hold the keys to improved employee engagement, retention, loyalty, innovation and sustainable performance. So it's quite an important question to answer and there are many rewards waiting for you if you can. But the solutions to get you there are likely to involve you controlling less and enabling more, which is a concept which still scares too many leaders.

Throughout the course of many of the episodes that we've recorded to date, this has been an underlying theme behind creating this stickier business I've been talking about. We've covered many topics and listened to the advice and experience of over 70 experts in their field to date, all attempting to answer similar questions. And not one of them so far has said be more controlling and increase your micromanagement.

Well, today we continue our quest for answers by focusing in on the topic of coaching, but with what I hope is an interesting and modern twist. We've talked previously about the importance of coaching as a skill for modern leaders and the impact it can have on our teams. But today we're going to go a bit further, a bit deeper into how it can be used to really release an individual's very best, maybe even encouraging, releasing or enabling some untapped genius.

Introduction to Myles Downey

Now, with me today is Myles Downey, who's a highly respected authority on performance, coaching and leadership. He's the founder of the School of Coaching and is the author of three Amazon bestsellers including Effective Modern Coaching, effective Coaching and Enabling Genius a mindset for Success in the 21st Century. Now, Myles has helped many organizations create a culture of genius by enabling authority and autonomy in their teams, fostering a mindset of continuous learning and promoting flow state in their leaders. So who better to help us in our challenge to answer the question of how to increase engagement and performance than Myles? Welcome to the show, Myles.

00:03:39 - Myles Downey Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. It sounds like quite a task.

00:03:44 - Andy Goram It is a task, isn't it? But it's a happy task. It's one we're happy to take on, on the podcast. And I'm absolutely confident that you're going to shed some interesting light and perspectives on another way to deliver this quest that we're all on, to have people really bring their best selves, really put no limits on their potential and just have a better time at work and we all achieve great things out of the back of that.

00:04:11 - Myles Downey Agreed.

00:04:12 - Andy Goram Myles, do me a quick favour will you, my friend. Before we get all excited and start bashing away at this coaching and enabling genius thing, just give me and the listeners a little bit of your background and tell us what you're currently focused on right now.

00:04:27 - Myles Downey So, background? I'm actually an architect by training.

00:04:32 - Andy Goram Oh, well, there you go.

00:04:34 - Myles Downey Yeah. Which surprises me, and I lasted a year in an architect's office in Dublin, realizing that the way in which these things ran out was that it was going to be 15 years before I made my way up through the drawing office to being a partner or something. And I thought I couldn't really wait that time. But at the same time I read a book called "The Inner Game of Tennis", and I was a relatively good tennis player. I say relatively. And you'll now understand what I mean by relatively when I tell you that I'm Irish. So the context wasn't that strong. But I played competitive tennis. And the book was an absolute revelation because it was telling me, rather than doing what the people who were kind of team captains and whatever else were telling me to do, which was to play the percentages, be safe. It was telling me to let go and trust myself.

You know, growing up in holy Catholic Ireland, that was a profoundly different message. I then studied with friends of Tim Galway, and then ultimately met Tim Galway, the author of the book. We set up an organization in eighty-seven, eighty-eight called the Alexander Corporation, which was the first coaching house. And we were blessed because McKinsey, the strategic management consultancy, were one of our clients. So, yeah, it really was because they taught me that it's all very well to kind of speak this tree-hugging stuff, but that if you didn't actually couch it in terms that made sense to a business, you weren't going to be in the game for very long. So that was really and they've been a client of mine ever since. And that's 30 something years.

00:06:26 - Andy Goram Hey, congratulations. That's a good relationship there.

00:06:28 - Myles Downey Yeah, it is. And that then became, I outgrew that role in that organization, not the people and not what I was doing, but I set up the school of coaching as the first place where we could train people to coach. Both professional coaches and leaders who needed to add that skill to what they were doing. Then that became somebody asked me to write a book about it, and I did. And that kind of grew from there. So I've been last few years, I've just stepped back into the world of executive coaching. So I have the reputation, whether it's true or not is another story, of being one of the few people who can work in the C suite. So that's a good reputation to have.

00:07:12 Andy Goram

That's a nice reputation to have.

00:07:14 Myles Downey

Trying to get back in there. And the book that I wrote first in 1999, was published. I've rewritten it or edited it twice since. So I'm now on my fourth editing.

00:07:29 - Andy Goram So that's there ever more relevant, I'm sure.

00:07:33 - Myles Downey Yeah. And the pleasure is that having taught and performed the coaching, that there's an interconnection between those things. That means you constantly learn. So, yeah, we'll see.

00:07:48 - Andy Goram I'm sure continuous learning and development will come up somewhere in the chat as we get into it. Okay. So look, you mentioned a bit of a quest right at the start. When we talk about stickier businesses, or rather when I talk about stickier businesses. This is all about this concept of having a place where people really love what they do. And actually your customers go on to love what you do because of the way you do it and everything else. All that lovely, good ecosystem. But if we are really trying to get the best out of our people today, and actually, you just talked about your fourth edit of a book, what are the things we should be focusing on? Where should we be paying most attention? And what's going on in the world of business? Come back to your fourth edit that's sort of showing why these things are important and actually, perhaps how things have changed recently.

The Changing World of Business

00:08:42 - Myles Downey Yeah, it's such a big question and such a complex one, and there's so many moving and interacting parts. You don't have to go back too far to kind of be very clear that we live in a constrained world in which the requirement is to be compliant. That's how you progress. So I didn't stay in the architect's office because I couldn't do that. And if you look at the history of management, you kind of get from Henry Ford's insights that lead you to line management, and then a good bit later you get to... and that's all about more and more process. And then you get to Total quality management. And guess what? That's all about more and more process. And then you get to business process re-engineering, and then you get to Six Sigma, where there are virtually no errors being created through the management process. And of course, a number of things happen. One is you become reliant on process. And two is you either forget about the people, as Mike Hammer said once, he said,

"We made a mistake. We forgot about the people."

He was the guy behind business process re-engineering. Or you start applying those processes to people, so you end up with competencies and people jumping through hoops. So we're frankly f**ked because there is no space. But there's the potential for something different. Because when you look at what they're doing now with agility, which is about how you bring human ingenuity into the situation to a large degree. There's a lot of process in there too, of course, but coaching is written into the DNA of agility, and you look at the speed at which things are moving, you look at the interconnectedness in business or the need for it. You can't do that with process. You got to bring the human being back into centre stage. And I think there are those two competing things. There are so many forces in the world that pull us from out of connection with the world, from our mobile phones to artificial intelligence, which can be good or evil. And the danger is we forget the human being again. But the need now, is to bring the human being back in. And so my answer, to your question is, where should we focus? We should focus on the people.

A Need To Focus On People

00:11:07 - Andy Goram Yeah, well, I mean, I'm obviously in wholehearted agreement with you. We've mentioned this on many episodes before, but I think the pandemic gave us a bit more focus on people, whether it was genuine or forced. There was a sort of bow wave, I've called it, of humanity that came back into business. I'm not so sure it stuck because I think we're seeing lots of people still wrestle with that concept and trying to get back to what they believe is normal. But undoubtedly it's a harmony of the people and the process. It has to be. But there has to be real focus on explaining why and how to the people and getting them to work it out for themselves that this is a good thing and this will help and make them better and all those sort of great things.

So when you think about this changing world, more complex, faster paced, I guess maybe even greater expectations are on people, of people. When you're thinking about coaching, when you're thinking about skills or you've used the word competencies, that leadership really need to have that back-up, this coaching approach. What are the key tenets that you believe in and coach by, yourself?

00:12:29 - Myles Downey As we attempt to move out of command and control, people have been for 20-30 years, people have been talking about the death of Command and Control, and frankly, it's still the default position for most people. And lots of people in senior positions quite like it because it gives them the illusion of being controlled so they can sleep at night. But it's now a problem rather than something that actually to some degree served us. There are those who argue in its time it was appropriate.

So what I'm seeing and trying to push and put energy behind is from moving from command and control. most people haven't known to what. So you might call it research, you might call it something else. But I looked at two organization types that really need to get the best out of their people and it was kind of surprising because when you start pushing into that, you get to The Army pretty quickly.

00:13:28 - Andy Goram Okay.

00:13:30 - Myles Downey And you look at mission command in the army is quite different from what one imagines an army to be because the fundamental tenant is to trust your people. The second one is to make sure that they have the context so that they can make decisions. So when you're cut off from the central command, you're in a position where you can make decisions for yourself. So that was a really interesting thing.

And the second one was looking at really good startups where you're burning somebody else's money. So the demand is to get the return as quickly as you can and that means the people, they've got to be highly effective. So a tenant in the world of a startup is that everybody should know what the primary business objective is. And I spent four years very recently on working on a mobile learning platform in a very highly stressed environment. Great fun most of the time, but it was constantly what's the primary business objective and how does what's on your desk contribute to that? Because if it doesn't do something else.

The Lead, Manage, Coach Concept

So that led me to the notion of align and enable. So the move, the shift is from command and control to align and enable. And align means that there's an alignment between the level of task, between what I'm doing and the overarching mission. Alignment means that there's an alignment between me and the organization. So at the level of task and at the level of person, so that I can see my contribution to the bigger picture. And that breaks down then into three skill sets and relationship. So the three skills are lead a verb, so not leadership, lead, manage, a verb, coach a verb. And I have got those in my head as three circles with lead at the top, manage on the right hand side, coach on the left hand side, and on a platform, a foundation of trust-based relationships.

And when you've got those things in place, that the lead is why? That everybody should understand the context. The manage is what? That I should know what I'm doing and it should be clear between us and the coach is how. And it's so simple. And if you get that right, then you've begun to create the conditions in which people have clarity. Because if I know why I'm doing something, what exactly it is and how I'm going to do it, I'm in motion.

00:16:06 - Andy Goram I absolutely love that because I get frustrated by the command and control default position and often when you're having conversations with maybe, prospective clients or you're doing leadership development programs with emerging leaders, often you get that,

"Well, that doesn't work for The Army. It's all command and control."

And I think the piece they always miss is that context. And when you leave out that context, like for instance, when leadership teams have thought about, and planned a project for goodness knows how long, and then they decide they're going to tell the world what it's going to be, I remember because I've sat in those forums and people go, "Well, they didn't need to know that. They don't need to know that." We forget that we need to take the journey that we've been on, through to our people. Otherwise, they miss the connection. And I think that point about really seeing how you contribute, not this stuff about "What's in it for me?" It's actually how do I add value?

00:17:09 - Myles Downey Yes, that's a very important distinction.

00:17:11 - Andy Goram Yes, I mean, massively important within the skill sets, and I think "lead, manage, coach", love that, within the skill sets themselves what are we looking for when it really comes to coaching? I mean, we have touched on the subject of things like emotional intelligence and what have you before, focusing on things like resilience and adaptability. When you think about this changing landscape, when you're thinking about really trying to get effective coaching in place, how do these things play a role in what you do, Myles?

The Definition of Coaching

00:17:48 - Myles Downey So first of all, we need to be clear about what coaching means, because it's kind of been stolen by people who don't know what they're doing. If you speak to most people in organizations who are responsible for the coaching agenda, they haven't a clue. Even the big organizations like ICF, International Coach Federation or EMCC, European Coaching and Mentoring, whatever they are, council, good people, they don't have definitions. They'll talk to you about ethics all day, but they don't have definitions. And that's really problematic because the coaching has become for many people about learning and development. Excuse me?

I worked with the coaches, the senior coaches to England Rugby a few years back under Eddie Jones, which was hilarious in itself.

00:18:42 Andy Goram

That's a whole other podcast episode.

00:18:44 Myles Downey

But it was great fun and he's a smart cookie with an addiction to micromanagement unfortunately. We had a few clashes, but it was like if Eddie was told what coaching was in large corporates, his eyes would pop out of his head, because it's got nothing to do with performance at all. It's all about development. I mean, I'm exaggerating for the sake of the conversation, but it's fundamentally true. And that's a problem. When I talk about coaching, I'm talking about having a conversation with somebody so that they perform more effectively. 70% of that is about the job or task they have. And sometimes it's about what they need to learn and develop in themselves.

That's it. For those people who are managers and our listeners, should be so blessed to have some, is be clear that coaching is a way of helping somebody be more effective and perform and be successful. It's not about you having deep and meaning and profound conversations with the member of your team. Have them by all means, but that's not what I'm talking about. And that's the thing that I think is really important.

00:19:57 - Andy Goram Yeah, I think self-awareness and discovery are all important parts of the journey. But when it comes down to this, this is practically about getting someone to bring more of their best, to show, more often, right? And be more effective.

00:20:12 - Myles Downey Yeah, absolutely.

Tapping Into a Flow State

00:20:14 - Andy Goram Okay, so we've said Command & Control is a bit of a thing. We want to move to align and enable. We're talking about the reality here for coaching is this is just about more effective performance of individuals in their roles. There are elements here about, I guess, having to have emotional intelligence to be able to have a good conversation, be challenging, understand the signs, all those kind of good things. When you talk in your books and when I think I mentioned it, even in the intro, you talk about tapping into a flow state. Right. Now, again, when we're thinking about how we help people get into those states, what is it we're looking for? How do we achieve that and how important is it?

00:21:15 - Myles Downey So if you define "flow" as some would as being the mental state in which people perform to their best, then in one way, shape or form, all sportspeople and athletes and elite performers know that they may construe it differently. They will construe it differently, but they will also, if you start asking them, and I have done, "Describe to me when you're at your best" and what they describe is a state of... there are some characteristics to that state, they are total absorption in what they're doing, no distractions. Kind of a sense of self belief and confidence. That's not arrogance, but it's just and there are some kind of stranger signifiers of it. Kind of time seems to almost kind of both stand still and accelerate. So things happen in a different way. If you're playing tennis, the ball seems bigger. You're not second guessing yourself. You have clarity about what to execute. And in that place, it seems more of what we are as human beings is available to us. So we do things that surprise ourselves. We play shots we didn't know. I hit a shot yesterday and my coach actually stopped and looked at me and said he said, "How did you do that?" Which the only answer is, "I'm not telling you." But it was because I was just in that moment, I was completely there, and I felt something before I did it and executed something I've never done before and just sheer joy. So we know that about that place, and all sports commentators talk about it. He's completely in the zone or whatever, but they talk about it as if it was this magical thing without realizing that actually, if you're not, there's always some flow. It's not a question of being in flow or out of flow. There's always some flow. If there's no flow, you're dead. So it's about finding the tiniest bit of flow and fanning that flame and bringing it into life.

So, yes, I'm trying to help very busy, typically more senior people in business, in leadership positions with huge demands on their time, find ways of getting to that greater state of flow. And some of it's really simple. Some of it's about understanding what the primary business objective is. Some of it is about having real clarity of intention for almost everything you do. And obviously the work comes and bites you on the ass every now and again, and you can't do it all the time, but if you can increase the amount of time you're doing that, you're in that state of flow that's just hugely valid. Even things we do traditionally, that you're kind of making a to do list. If the function of the to do list is to help you not forget things, that's all well and good. Or if it's a device about effectiveness, that's all well and good. But actually, if you reframe that as a way of keeping you in flow, then it becomes a completely different tool.

00:24:48 - Andy Goram Yeah, I think that intentionality is so important. Right?

00:24:52 - Myles Downey Yeah. It's the biggest game in town. It's the most difficult game in town.

00:24:56 - Andy Goram Yeah. I don't even consider myself an athlete at all, but in the dark and dirty secret that I've shared on here occasionally, that I play lawn bowls as a hobby. Even in last night's game, there were times when delivering weight with a bowl is the most frustrating thing in the game. And if you think about it too much, you have a problem. There are times when last night, when I wasn't thinking about it at all and it was bang on every time, it's almost an unconscious thing. I was intentional to deliver the shot I wanted to deliver, but the delivery of it was completely unconscious. That's an interesting thing to sort of relay back to business. There are times when you've been incredibly productive or incredibly effective or communicated brilliantly. That, to me, is the delivery of a flow state at work. Right. But I know what I want to do was intentional with it, but I wasn't overthinking it. It just kind of happened.

00:25:57 - Myles Downey I'm kind of slightly cutting across you. I apologize

00:26:02 - Andy Goram No go ahead.

00:26:03 - Myles Downey Galway had a brilliant way of talking this, which is for many people, more accessible than the notion of flow. And you've kind of described it. So he said, there are two selves, self one and self two. And self one is that part of you that exists in fear and doubt and trying to get things right and wanting to be in control. So in you, in us all, there is this, we're back to command and control, but it's how we try and control ourselves. And we try and get things right and we try and make up the rules for how things should be done. And it's like "whoah" because what they ultimately become is things we beat ourselves up with. So that's self one, as Galway said about it, no earthly use. So it doesn't have a function. It just gets in the way. And then self two is you with all your abilities, executing impeccably. And we've all had that experience. So the question is how you get more of it? And that's the quest. But the first part of it is that you have to let go of self one. You have to let go of that voice in your head that says, do it this way, be a good boy, follow the rules, play the percentages. And that's tough because everything in life and in society builds a self one. Little enables a self two.

Enabling Genius

00:27:36 - Andy Goram That's fascinating. That's fascinating. And I'm thinking, maybe incorrectly, but there's a link here to this thing that you talk about that I'm really interested in, about enabling genius. And I want to understand what that means. And I want to understand is it something we all have and how does it really show up and add value in organizations? Can you take me through that whole enabling genius piece, Myles, please?

00:28:07 - Myles Downey So it came about because there were people asking me, saying, I really like your coaching, but I need to do something more to really... because I've got this big job coming up or there's this big project, and I need to be able to exploit all my potential to be able to do that thing, okay? So I have to think differently about it. And kind of part of it was also that the notion of potential has kind of become degraded. You use that word, you say, everybody has potential, and before you got to the end of that sentence, half the room would have fallen asleep because it just doesn't register anymore. What's really challenging is we say if people have genius, everybody's got genius. Because as far as I could work out when I started researching the book, there were only two people that were understood to be a genius, Einstein and Mozart. And there was a deep problem there because both of them are men, so that can't be that's a bit excluding, and they're both dead, which is equally excluding, (unhelpful). So as I said, that really doesn't work. So there's got to be a better way of thinking about genius. So my way of thinking about genius is that it's the embodiment of your particular, your unique potential, right?

So if you can put a shape on your potential rather than talking about something that's abstract, all kinds of things begin to break loose at that moment. So I play competitive tennis, and I use the tennis as a laboratory while writing the book Enabling Genius. And it became clear that I had to understand what that embodiment of my genius as a tennis player was. So what's my unique individual genius as a tennis player? And it wasn't instantaneous to get to it. It took me a while, but I got to it. And it's called Big Zen Cat. Big Zen Cat? Big Zen Cat. Three words crammed into one. Big is, I was capable of sparring with people in the top hundred when I was in my early twenties. I now hit the ball harder at 64 than I did then. So Big means I hit the ball with top spin, deep and hard at the back of the court. That then creates the room for Cat.

So Cat is about killing the point as quickly as possible. I don't want to end up having punishing rallies with people who just push the ball around, I want to kill it quickly so that I save my body for next week. So Big, powerful, deep, that creates the opening for me to kill the ball. And then Zen is about how I manage my concentration and my energy on the court. And once I know that that's who I am on the tennis court, it also tells me what I need to do. It tells me that I need the ball deep. So I practice that. So I practice a routine with my coach where I hit one ball slightly towards their backhand side. That normally puts the ball back in the middle of the court, so I can now hit it even further out to their backhand side, so they're now being dragged off the court. And then I kick and then I push the ball back into the forehand side because they're not there. So I practice that three shot drill until I don't have to think about it anymore.

00:31:27 - Andy Goram Brilliant.

Recognising Your Own Genius

00:31:29 - Myles Downey And there are other tactics that come out of being Big Zen Cat. So I get into a silly situation on the tennis court where my mind self one is crowding back in, all these people watching, and it's a lousy day and I hate playing in the rain and all that stuff. Shut up. It's just stuff. What's the strategy? Oh, Big Zen Cat. And the minute I say it, I relax and I know how to execute. Does it work all the time? No, but I get into flow. I work with one of the things I do with the people I coach with leaders is to say, okay, so hold on, wait a minute. What's your unique individual genius as a leader? How do you do it? I mean, not what you learned in Harvard or wherever it was, or not you learned from your previous managers who probably just fucked you up. What is it that your unique geniuses as a leader. And I had a beautiful moment with a very special woman who was in a city borough, big Midlands city borough as one of the executive team. And she thought that largely because she hadn't thought about it a lot, that what she brought to her team was kind of a nurturing, taking care of vibe. And when I asked her as part of the process, hold on, wait a minute. What do people come to you for? A shocking realization was that people came to her for strategic insight.

00:32:59 - Andy Goram Right.

00:33:00 - Myles Downey But you see, as a woman in a man's world, that's not her job. She hid that one, that light, and then the dawning realization that that's what it was, and it's,

"Okay. So how do we manifest more of that?"

00:33:15 - Andy Goram Yeah. That's a powerful moment, right?

00:33:18 - Myles Downey Transformative. Yeah, utterly transformative. That's what I mean by genius, it's embodying your potential and lighting it up. Go out and act on that basis. Do what you're great at.

00:33:32 - Andy Goram And do it more often.

00:33:36 - Myles Downey And do it better. Do it better.

The Genius Framework

00:33:39 - Andy Goram Brilliant. And typically, if you go behind the scenes of this enabling genius, is there a framework behind it?

00:33:52 - Myles Downey Yeah. And it's the right question, because I pulled about 20 people together to help me as a team. Not to help me, but so that we could get to some understanding of what was going on. And our intention was to have your word, a framework, that would allow us to coach our clients. So with that in mind, we then went and looked at people who had demonstrated greatness across all kinds of spheres. Charles Hazelwood, the extraordinary music conductor, kind of a slight maverick in his early days, does things very all kinds of people. The guy who led the Red Arrows.

00:34:43 - Andy Goram Okay.

00:34:45 - Myles Downey Really diverse people.

00:34:46 - Andy Goram Yeah.

00:34:47 - Myles Downey And some people who you recognize more easily, kind of in the world of sports and whatever else. And what we found as you look into what people do was one was that they had a clear sense of their you know, you look at in my sport, Nadal and Federer, they do the game completely differently.

00:35:06 - Andy Goram Yeah.

00:35:06 - Myles Downey But they're both playing the same game. And what I would suggest is that they found out their identity, their unique individual geniuses in the world of tennis. Identity was one. The next was, I've labeled it different things. Drive, desire. I'm now back to the word "Will." So it's about motivation. Those people demonstrate a will in the moment that drives them on. So in the depths of despair, they keep going. A resilience over time, a focus. So that's will.

And mindset is the third. So most of those people have a mindset for success. And they have clarity about what that mindset is to a greater or lesser degree. But what's interesting about all those three things is that people think about many of them as mindset, "Well, I am that way, and I can't change." And they think about will as if motivation, as if they were given a fixed quotient at birth. Identity, you can learn about, you can develop, you can change. It'll change over time as you move through different stages of life. Will you can develop, you can make your will stronger. Mindset. Do you even know what your own mindset is? So you can examine that and you can create and build a mindset. So what overlapped over those three notions is the idea of learning and development. And that was kind of the thing that locked the three into place. So those things.

00:36:56 - Andy Goram I love that. And I guess coming back to a point you made before, there's elements of choice in all of those things and a degree of intentionality, right? I mean, that's the multiplier within that, right?

00:37:08 - Myles Downey That's good. Yes.

00:37:10 - Andy Goram In terms of then if we're looking at the need for this stuff and we're looking at this particular drive and focus in this area of releasing full potential, but in your words, much more exciting in enabling the genius. In your experience, in the clients that you work with, in the businesses that you have helped, what are you seeing as the tangible benefits? Which I guess comes back to the McKinsey thing of if this doesn't work in business language, just go hug a tree, forget about it. When we're thinking about performance and retention and engagement, what do you see the result here? What is happening and why do you think that is?

00:37:53 - Myles Downey I can answer from two perspectives and one is from the corporate perspective. And the answer there is nothing's happening. Really?

00:38:02 - Andy Goram Okay.

Resistance to Change In Organisations

00:38:05 - Myles Downey Of course there are people who talk about leadership and do leadership things and people in organizations that are... but we're still broadly caught in command and control. And people in doubt, revert to process. "We'll set up a team to talk about that. We'll have a committee to talk about that." Rather than crack in a minute. So I think that the brighter lights are things like in the world of startups and entrepreneurialism, there is an emerging understanding of something you might call entrepreneurial mindset. And that has huge potential.

So agility and working in agile ways, great stuff there that is actually entering into mainstream work. I'm contradicting what I said a few seconds ago and the entrepreneurial mindset, but the fear at the top of organizations of losing control is just so great and the level of micromanagement that goes on is so great that it's an uphill battle. On the other hand, change happens one person at a time and that's what we forget. So we try and broad brushstroke change an organization by writing things on posters and sticking them on the wall in reception and we think that's the job done. Where I've had fun and where I've made a difference is where I'm working with the leadership of a division of an organization, or coaching a startup and you've got a leader who's up for it. And then you can make real change. And the change happens in terms of people hitting and exceeding objectives, of people stepping up to a higher level of productivity and performance, of self confidence, of clarity and speed, of decision making.

So there are broad dimensions down which you can measure those changes. Most of the coaching I do, my first question is when I meet somebody is to make it really clear we're not talking about them being a better person, I'll say, "So what's the job?" And if I don't understand what the job is, then I can't coach them.

The Irony of Control

00:40:30 - Andy Goram There you go. Fascinating. It's ironic, isn't it? I'm listening to this conversation and we've talked about some really interesting concepts. The concept of fear, of change in the first place. I think is really interesting because that fear leads us to go into the command and control aspect. And control is what restricts genius ultimately, doesn't it? It's the thing that restricts genius. And all the time on this podcast or if I'm doing leadership dev work or whatever it is we talk about this concept of letting go which is the complete reversal of fear of letting go. And that is what will enable the genius. And all the benefits you've just talked about do not come from control. They come from letting the genie out the bottle. To me it's entirely ironic that the default position for people still today is control, because that gives me power, but it doesn't bring you sustainable results. It doesn't do anything like that, which I think is just ironic.

Myles as we're nearing the end of our time together which for me is desperately disappointing, because this has been great. What I would like you to try and do is if you were to summarize all of your wit, wisdom, knowledge that you could leave behind for me, for my listeners and myself, but you can only fit it on three little sticky notes. What three little sticky notes would you leave behind at the end of today's episode? My friend?

Sticky Notes

00:42:07 - Myles Downey Wow. What's entertaining is I was listening to the radio, I think it was yesterday, the day before and somebody reported that somebody doing an interview was asked this question and they had no idea what to say. And they had a matchbox in their hand and they looked at the matchbox and they said well, close covers before striking. Keep out of reach of children. This was appreciated as great wisdom.

So I can't do the great wisdom but I'll try and answer the question. I think that it's kind of prosaic and simple but it doesn't happen like it should. If you're a manager, a leader in a business meet with your team members individually on a regular basis and have really clear about what that's about. That most people in work at whatever level do not have real day to day clarity about what's important and what they should be doing. Have that conversation, keep people focused on what's important. They'll then deliver. They'll have more fun. They'll feel rewarded intrinsically and probably ultimately extrinsically. So meet, clarity, feedback, that's kind of just so important.

Another thing that I think I would have on a post-it, would be find out what each individual in your team is great at, and even if it's not work related, know that what you're trying to do is tap into that genius. I said once at a conference quite recently, words that came utterly spontaneously, which was,

"Can you imagine if every teacher in the country stood at the front of the room and looked at over their class of young charges and said, I wonder what the unique individual genius of each of those people is?"

00:44:04 - Andy Goram Brilliant.

00:44:05 - Myles Downey It would be just utterly transformative. So understand what each member of your team is great at.

And the third one is almost counterintuitive and very difficult to do in the way our work is configured. Take time to think. Just step back, pause and think about what you're doing, where you're going, the work, your people, all of that. Take time to think, because the clarity you get out of that will allow you to be more focused and more accurate in the interventions you make thereafter, which, frankly, is all that coaching is about in the first place.

00:44:48 - Andy Goram Well, a lovely way to circle and no matchbox in sight. Myles, with those sticky notes. Very, very good.

Myles, I have really enjoyed talking to you. My head is full of all sorts of stuff that I want to go away and think about and do. If people want to find out a bit more about you and what you do and the books, where can they find that stuff out, Myles?

00:45:11 - Myles Downey You go to my website, Myles with a Y, the Irish spelling, or I'm on LinkedIn. You type in my name, you'll find me. You type my name into Google, you find a lot of rubbish about me very quickly.

00:45:27 - Andy Goram Well, I will put none of the rubbish, but all the good stuff in the show notes, my friend. People can easily access that. Myles, thank you so much for joining me today. I've really enjoyed our chat.

00:45:36 - Myles Downey It's been great fun.

00:45:38 - Andy Goram I hope we keep in touch and I would love to speak to you again soon.

00:45:41 Myles Downey

Yes. We'll do that.

00:45:42 Andy Goram

Thank you so much for joining me. You take care today.

00:45:44 - Myles Downey Real enjoyment. Thank you.

00:45:46 - Andy Goram Okay, everyone, that was Myles Downey, and if you'd like to find out a bit more about him or any of the things that we've talked about today, please go ahead and check out the show notes.

Podcast Close

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 forward. 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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