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  • Writer's pictureAndy Goram

What is enlightened leadership?

"We've got a perfect storm brewing", says my guest and CEO of 1105 Media, Rajeev Kapur and he says it calls for a new style of leadership. The generational and gender shifts in the workplace, the huge amount of technology disruption coming from things like AI, and the movement and tensions we're seeing in world power, let alone climate change. It all needs what Rajeev calls, "Enlightened Leadership" which is what he wrote about in his book "Chase Greatness - Enlightened Leadership for the next generation of disruption"

So are we headed for The Great Leadership Renaissance? We've dealt with many types of disruption before, but it's the nature of all these things hitting at once that makes it unprecedented, and is why Rajeev feels that leaders need to build on the favoured leadership styles of the past like, Servant Leadership or Transformational Leadership into what he calls Enlightened Leadership. Host of the popular employee engagement podcast, Sticky From The Inside, Andy Goram, discusses what that looks like in this episode.

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

An Indian man in a black baseball cap and a grey-haired, white man with glasses discuss enlightened leadership
Rajeev Kapur (left) and Andy Goram (right) discuss the need for a new style of enlightened leadership today

Podcast Introduction

00:00:10 Andy Goram

Hello and welcome to Sticky Rrom 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 tonnes 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.

00:01:11 Andy Goram

OK. Then leadership is a topic we constantly cover and refer to on this podcast. Effective leadership is a key ingredient of becoming a stickier business. Of course it is. If our goal is to retain more of our top talent, keeping them fully engaged and continually push the business on to do even greater things. That is not going to be realised by unfit leadership. Oh! Wow Andy! What a cracking start to a podcast with an obvious statement like that, I hear you say, but just bear with me guys, bear with me.

00:01:42 Andy Goram

What makes for effective leadership today? And my use of the word “today” is entirely intentional. Is today's idea of what makes a great leader that different from the past? If it is that different, why is that? What's changed to make it that way? And why are the old ways no longer effective or appropriate? If I look back at some of the very best people I followed in my 30 odd year career, I think they were already doing a lot of the things that seemed to have captured the leadership zeitgeist now. Were they just ahead of their time? Was I just lucky to work for them? Or were these things always important, just not common practise?

00:02:25 Andy Goram

It's so easy to say that we're living in unprecedented times right now, but it really does feel like we are. So today I wanted to speak with someone who has a very clear idea about why that is and the effect that that has on our ability to lead people successfully today and importantly into the future. What may need to change and adapt as a result of that? So I'm delighted to be joined by Rajeev Kapur. He's the president and CEO of 1105 Media, a business focused on helping other businesses grow, but he's also the author of the book Chase Greatness, Enlightened Leadership for the next generation of disruption, which combines 2 things I love; leadership and disruption. So I'm looking forward to hearing Rajeev take on all those questions in this introduction and more. Welcome to the show, Rajeev!

00:03:19 Rajeev Kapur

Thank you so much my friend, great to be here.

00:03:22 Andy Goram

It's super to have you on here, my friend. I have listened and watched quite a few of your chats on this topic, so I'm looking forward to having it in full bore, one-on-one with you today. So I'm really excited by that. Before we get into this fabulous topic of leadership and disruption and changing times and all that malarkey, do me a favour, my friend, will you? For the listeners, just give us a bit of a better background history of you who you are and what you're focused on today.

Introducing Rajeev Kapur

00:03:53 Rajeev Kapur

All right. Well, first of all, again, like I said, it's a true honour here to be with you and I really hope that at the end of the 30 or 40 minutes that we're here together, that the listeners really get some really good take home value. So that's really kind of the goal here today. So, you know my background is, I think, a fairly typical background. I mean brought up in Southern California and that's where I'm calling in from right now, down in the Orange County area, and you know, I was in the 80s a very much... you know, with the start of the PC revolution, a little bit, a little bit of a Techno geek and nerd and uh just started to kind of dabble my way around that. I ended up working for an old computer company called Gateway Back in the early 90s.

00:04:32 Andy Goram

Yeah. I remember Gateway. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

00:04:34 Rajeev Kapur

That, yeah, yeah. And then from there went to Dell for about 12 years and did all kinds of great things at Dell, and it was... met some amazing people, great mentors and got some amazing teams and as well, you know, that included running, you know, parts of parts of Dell China and South Asia and helping to launch Dell India and all those kinds of things. So that was kind of cool. And then from there out to being an expat for four plus years. So, we decided to move back to Southern California and I was President of an IoT, you know, Internet of Things e-commerce company for a while. And then CEO of an audio technology company that competed with Dolby. That was a lot of fun.

00:05:19 Rajeev Kapur

And now, today I'm a CEO of 11 05 media, or 1, 1, 0, 5 Media some would say and nobody ask me what 1105 stands for because it's a long, long, long story and so.. but anyways it doesn't matter. But it's a great company. Amazing people, you know, great, great support and we do a great job of helping, you know, connect buyers with sellers in the technology space.

00:05:39 Rajeev Kapur

But outside of that, during COVID as you mentioned, I wrote the book and I've been dabbling in writing some movie screenplays for fun, and all that and so, yeah. And so starting to get more and more into the AI space, you know as well with all this Chat GPT stuff out there. And it's been, it's been a fun ride and I've been very fortunate, lucky and I'm glad I'm here today.

Wrexham, Rob, Ryan and Leadership

00:06:01 Andy Goram

Oh, it's great to have you here today. A massive tech background, obviously. And look I can’t... it would be remiss of me, Rajeev, not to bring up something that we had a quick chat about previously, in that you are my first, real life, American, Wrexham fan, right. I mean, the Wrexham thing over here, it's been an amazing thing to watch, right? But you're the first person I’ve spoken to overseas who's a genuine Wrexham fan. Tell me about that.

00:06:28 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, yeah, you know, so you know, the show is on TV here on, on Hulu, which I guess over there is on Disney plus, but it's on Hulu here, and you know, I'm a big fan of Ryan Reynolds and Ron McElhenny. It's like, you know, and you see them what they're doing like, alright, let me watch it. And so you hear some things about it. I started watching it and they're just amazing. Falling in love and then the way they talked about the, you know, the town and the people and how it used to be such a bustling area over there in Wales. And you know, the Racecourse, I think being the oldest football stadium right in the world and everything.

00:07:01 Rajeev Kapur

So anyway, so you just you know that they did such a great job of talking about the people and the team and the history. It's like you know, how can you not and you following along. You know, I mean, I'm not gonna give any spoilers here, but you know. So that was just really amazing. And the way they introduced the, well, the culture was a lot of fun. So how can you not fall in love with this like underdog story? And you know, and it was funny, and it was and emotional and so...

00:07:27 Rajeev Kapur

You know, the funny thing here is that a few weeks ago, we're also Manchester United fans. And so it's funny, a few weeks or maybe about a month ago, they were showing both Manchester, I think it was Manchester United versus Everton, or somebody, and Wrexham, was playing. And the Wrexham had higher ratings in the US. You know, so I thought that was pretty funny and so it's just great to see how big their following is and I'm really excited, because in July, Wrexham and Manchester United are going to play a friendly in San Diego. And so we're going to go down and check it out. So, I'll finally be able to, you know, get some Wrexham gear.

00:08:03 Rajeev Kapur

And you know, so that's good. But you know, but over here, you know, people are also in love with Ted Lasso, which I'm...

00:08:09 Andy Goram

Wow! Love that show. Love that show.

00:08:09 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, it's great, right? It's fantastic. Yeah. So, people say, you know, anything more and more people get exposed and it's interesting because you had the World Cup, Ted Lasso and Wrexham kind of all happening, so hopefully that's juicing up the interest of the sport here in the US.

00:08:25 Andy Goram

Yeah, let's hope so. And you know, Lasso for sure, but maybe there's some links with what Rob and Ryan are doing in terms of their leadership style and the way that they're sort of behaving in some of the stuff that we'll end up covering today? I don't know, but I just think it's a fascinating story and to finally speak to someone overseas who's riding the Wrexham train, I thought was it was fabulous, and great, and really interesting.

The Need For A Different Leadership Style

00:08:48 Andy Goram

Enough waffle from me. Let's get cracked on with the topic that we're gonna talk about today. Let's begin simply. I mentioned in this intro, that it feels like we're in some pretty crazy, unprecedented times right now. Do you think that's true? And if you do think that's true, why is it? What is this landscape that we're really facing into?

00:09:14 Rajeev Kapur

Oh boy, let me tell you, my friend, I think we are literally one step into one of the biggest, massive, global disruptions the world has ever faced. And it's really simple. I think if you look at it you have a perfect storm brewing. You have kind of three major events happening over the course of the next 24 months. Number 1 is you have Gen Z and millennials will become the majority of the workforce around the world. And for the first time in the US, women will have a slight majority in the workforce that you have that.

00:09:54 Andy Goram


00:09:57 Rajeev Kapur

And that requires a different type of leadership. And within that you have people who really believe in diversity, you know, equality, inclusion and all those kinds of things. And which is terrific, I think. Some don't, but I think it's it's good. And so you have now... and I surmised this a little bit in my book. And I wrote this book before Chat GPT came out, obviously. But I did talk about massive disruption that was going to come from AI and IT and robotics and all these things. And, if you think about it, you know, your laptop or your iPhone... There's more power in an iPhone today than there was for an entire moon mission in the 60s, right? And so in the course of the next four or five years, you're going to see computing power become so... it could almost rival that that of the human brain, in terms of its processing power.

00:10:52 Rajeev Kapur

Right? And when that happens, you're going to see the AI models get smarter, robotics going to become.... You can see now, go and watch Boston Dynamics robots, right? You're going to get better and stronger and faster and smarter. You're going to see all kinds of new innovations that are coming. I mean and all these, and whether it's through Chat GPT or Bard, or whichever one's going to win out... I think there's going to be room for more than one. There might be only room for two. And right now I bet on Microsoft and Google. And Microsoft, for those who don't know, own 49% of Open AI, the creators of Chat GPT. And their aim is to put it in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Teams, you know, everywhere.

00:11:29 Andy Goram

Just like an assistant, right? Just. Yeah, absolutely.

00:11:31 Rajeev Kapur

Right. Yeah. So well, it’s interesting they call it co-pilot. And so, it's like literally having an extra brain beside you while you're working or doing whatever you're trying to do. So, you have this massive disruption that's on its way and that's going to affect millions of jobs. And a lot of jobs are going to go away, but new jobs are going to be created. And they will always probably be in need for managers and those types of people. But managers are going to be placed by, they're going to be replaced by people who know AI. And if you don't, if you're not willing to learn this stuff. If u're not willing to learn about Chat GPT and Bard and all these different tools that are available that are starting to come out now, you need to.

00:12:09 Rajeev Kapur

And if I give anybody a takeaway, you have to go and learn this stuff. And you know, then the third thing is you have some some pretty interesting geopolitical issues happening, right, with Russia, Ukraine, some tensions with China. And you know, I think Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at their at the Brookshire Day, I think a week or two ago said, “Both sides are being stupid.” And I think I tend to agree, and you know, you just look at this and you realise this how interconnected the economies are and what one what one false step could cause, you know, massive global, you know, depression. You know, if things were to happen and go wrong. So, all of these things are happening, you know, I haven’t even talked about climate change yet. But you have all these different things that are out there. And it's going to be really relying on the millennials and Gen Z’s to kind of really help solve the problem.

00:12:55 Rajeev Kapur

And that's when I started writing the book. And I talked about how, you know, if the world stage is changing, the economy is changing, the climate is changing. You have all these things, you know, technological advancements are changing where we work, leadership has to change too. And if leadership is unwilling to change, then I can guarantee you those companies won't be around. Yeah, that's where we are.

Unprecedented Disruption All At Once

00:13:16 Andy Goram

Yeah, and it's the fact, I guess this is all happening at once, right? Because we've seen various bits of change over decades and years, but this feels like everything happening all at once.

00:13:30 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, I mean, you know it is and that's what's strange and we've been through industrial revolutions before and we're about... we're on the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. So, you know, Industry 4.0 is on its way, you know, and it's going to be more than just the AI things that we, that I've mentioned here. It's going to be more than IoT and robotics. It's going to be such amazing advancements in life sciences, you know, longevity, curing diseases, you know. And so, you know, there's going to be, you know, self-driving cars or whatever it might be, right? So there's going to be some amazing cool things that are coming out over the next years, you know, that at least my grandkids will get to appreciate and see, you know. Just how we were in awe, you know, by things like the iPhone, who knows what they're going to be in awe with, right?

00:14:20 Rajeev Kapur

So, yeah, so all this stuff is happening and we're in the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. But I kind of look at this a little bit differently. I think what you're gonna see here is for the first time you're going to see kind of a melding of a Fourth Industrial Revolution and a new age of Enlightenment, right? And an age of Enlightenment, right is when you see massive change also in art and sciences and music and all those things as well. And so that's what I think is gonna happen. I think you have both of those things kind of happening at once.

Enlightened Leadership. A Renaissance

00:14:53 Andy Goram

So, that's a great link, because your book “Chase Greatness”, obviously talks about enlightened leadership. And we just talked about the Renaissance that may be going on right now, right, to sort of boost this huge amount of learning and vision and all these sorts of things. So, I'm really interested to hear your definition. You're kind of the causal piece behind enlightened leadership and how that may differ from popular, I guess, leadership mantras of the past, like servant leadership, all those sorts of things. What's the build? What's different? And yeah, really what is different to this enlightened leadership versus other things you might be more familiar with?

00:15:35 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, that's a great question. So, you know, servant leadership is probably the closest to enlightened leadership, right? The servant leadership really kind of started in the 80s, you know, Jack Welch was kind of the pioneer of servant leadership, the former DOG. And servant leadership, you know, he got it from the church. You know, it's it came kind of, from the church. And so when you think about it, it's a great leadership, you know tool, right?

You know what? What's wrong with you? Hey, I work for, you know, as a CEO, I work for you like. And you know I work for you? What can I do to make your job easier? What can I do to help you. What can I do to help you achieve your goals? What can I do to help you reduce your workload? What can I do to help? What can I do to help you take care of the customer.”

Right? “What tool do you need?” Right? That's where you kind of get that leadership lesson. You talked about Wrexham a little bit, and I think when you think what Rob and Ryan have done, which I believe is the number one rule of leadership, which is, you know, give people the tools to do their job. And then get out of the way.

00:16:42 Andy Goram

Then get out of their way? Absolutely, yeah.

00:16:44 Rajeev Kapur

Right. And so, I think so that's ultimately what servant leadership says, right? Which is “OK. Here you go.” Now enlightened leadership takes all of that and says,

Not only am I here to help you be successful in the business, how can I help you be successful outside of the business?”

And for the first time, leadership is reaching outside the walls of the business and it has to because of social media, because of remote work, because of the development of new technologies, you know, you now have access to employees all over the world. And these employees you can see what they're doing, how they're thinking, how they're feeling.

A Focus On Employee Retention

00:17:29 Rajeev Kapur

You can talk about their... whether mental wellness issues or whatever the case might be. It's now more prevalent than ever because of social media. You can see what's being posted and things of that nature. And so that's what essentially enlightened leadership is. And enlightened leadership says,

“Look, yes, we're going to still focus on profitability and maximising our value. But one of the best ways to do that is to retain our employees.”

This is not just me, right? I think if you if you talk to Mckinsey or Goldman or any of these guys, they will tell you that the more you can retain your employees and reduce your attrition is the more you put towards your bottom line. CEO's don't realise that a lot of times. CEOs just look at, “Uh well, that person's gone. I'm gonna save some money.”

00:18:15 Rajeev Kapur

Well, they don’t understand the impact that has on the rest of the business. There are other stuff that might fall or the brain drain that happens when someone leaves, right? Or if you lose a top salesperson, you have to probably hire three people to replace that one person to make up for the loss, or productivity, or whatever the case might be. And so you know, a lot of people thought that. Oh, with outsourcing happened in a big way, “Oh my God! All these jobs are going to be going away.” Well, the jobs certainly, jobs went away, but new jobs were created. And that's going to be happening now.

00:18:44 Rajeev Kapur

And you know, so I'm not super concerned about that. You know what? What I am concerned about are CEO's who are not recognising that. And like I mentioned earlier, this new demographic that's coming up, they're much more aware of things like climate change and social justice, and I called that the JEDI, right? So there's Justice, Environment, Diversity and Inclusion, right. So, they are much more in tune with those kinds of things. And so, for example, at 1105 a couple of years ago, you know, we gave everybody... we made voting day here, the Election Day in November 7th or 8th depending on the date of the calendar, an official company holiday. We gave everybody the day to go vote.

And the cynics that said, “Well, what if people vote by mail? It's like you're getting a free day off!

Whatever and like, well, that's fine. I don't care if they vote by mail. You know, I'm going to do my part. I'm going to take away that stress. I want them to feel like they can get involved and they can try to make a difference. If they’re unhappy with the abortion ruling. If they’re not happy with certain things, they can go vote. Or if you are happy with things go vote. And so, I figured, you know, it's my responsibility to do that. And if they voted by mail, then we I encourage them to go get involved in their community. I tell them to go be poll workers. And if they don't do that, I tell them just take a mental wellness day and go hang out with your kids, or your family, or your friends and go see a movie. But just take that day and go do whatever you want to do with yourself. So yeah, and they love it. It's great.

A New Age Of Leadership

00:20:11 Andy Goram

You’re living your values there, right? These are connected to the values that you espouse, right? And and I think that real life manifestation and see-through stuff. So that's what... that's important. That's what makes the connection with people. That's when they become more than words on a wall. You know, that's when these things really start to take root. I mean, that's a great example of how you bring this stuff to life. I mean, when I listen to you talk about enlightened leadership, it feels like a... you, I think you use the word sort of meld. You know it feels like a meld of servant leadership, transformational leadership, the authentic leadership boost about just, you know, just being your true self and remaining to that and even has those bits of, I guess coming from the Agile Leadership world where there's little bits of, you know, responding to the market. And if ever we had to respond to a market, right now is the time, right? With all these changes that you've talked about. What else do you see going on out there with CEO's who are really on top of this regime? What? How are they practically bringing this kind of enlightened leadership to life?

00:21:19 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, you know, so I'm a member of YPO, which is the Young Presidents organisation. So, you put him in, some officers may have heard of it as well. And so, I speak to like CEO's, I just spoke with a whole bunch of them yesterday, you know, yesterday evening, about 30 or 40 of them. I was talking to a few of them. You know, they all recognise that the world around them is changing. I think the biggest challenge is that they really... some of them are really trying to fight it, right.

00:21:48 Andy Goram

Why do you think that is? Why are they fighting it?

00:21:53 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, I'll give you example. So the, you know, the return to office, right.

00:21:57 Andy Goram

Great example, yeah.

00:21:58 Rajeev Kapur

You know, so Elon Musk came out and said, I think, what did he say? You’ll have to find the quote, I guess, maybe in the edit, which is he came along and said something that working from home is the work of the devil, or something like that. It was like it was yesterday or the day before, or whatever and like alright, whatever, you know. So you know, a lot of times I've now discovered, you know, Elon Musk is just going to say things to get eyeballs on Twitter, because he spent $44 billion on Twitter, when the next closest bid was $0, and so, you know, but I think what's happening is CEOs feel like they lose control when there is massive work from home, right? You know, are the people doing their work? Are they doing side hustles? What am I paying for? You know, so that to me is an issue of not measuring the right things. That, to me, is the sign of a poor culture.

00:22:52 Rajeev Kapur

Because you know, if you have a great management team and you have the right structures in place, you know the beauty of working for home for employees is massive, you know. Look, I'm not in a very sexy space. It's not like, you know, I'm not. I mean, we're like an old 20-year-old, cobbled together, private equity business, right and so, you know, Andy, I'll tell you, I mean, we're just so that's not a sexy, you know, whatever, right? We’re at 11-05 media, right? It's like OK, but we do a great job of what we do. And you know, and my employees know that my number one customer is them. And do I care if the job gets done at 10:00 AM or 10:00 PM? No, not really. I mean as long as the job gets done, right?

00:23:37 Rajeev Kapur

And what's happened, that I think I know is that the feedback I get from my employees, like from the women on my team, is that you know what, I don't have to spend an hour and a half every morning, getting up, putting on makeup, doing all these things, rushing the kids, rushing myself, feeling lost and just, you know. It's so stressed in the morning, spending an hour in traffic driving, whatever the case might be. And so I'm giving back some of their life and some of their time, right? And they love that. And our attrition rates are through the floor. Ever since we, you know, I've done this, and this is in the middle of the Great Resignation. And so, you know, our churn rates right now are less than 2%. And so that's...

00:24:19 Andy Goram

Well, it's great.

00:24:21 Rajeev Kapur

Pretty amazing. And so my hats off to my team for all their hard work in that space. But, yeah, I just think, you know, as we talked about how sometimes employees get worried about change. So do CEOs, you know. And change is not easy, and I think some of them are trying to fight it. And they should find ways to embrace it. Yeah, there might be certain tasks and duties that you gotta have people face to face. But my finance team likes to come into an office. OK, go into an office. But they have the flexibility to work from home if they want to. I don't make them come into the office.

00:25:01 Rajeev Kapur

And so, yeah, I was with somebody over the weekend, over this past weekend up in Silicon Valley over at NVIDIA. And NVIDIA is like, yeah, do whatever you want to do, right. You know, Disney came out and said “no”. Three to four days a week in the office. And so every company is a bit different. And from a Disney standpoint, I could probably see why it's important, right? ‘Cos you’ve got so many moving parts. And yeah, the theme park team has to talk to the movie guys. The movie guys have to talk to whatever, right. And so, yeah, I can definitely see why some of that stuff matters to certain people. But I think the more flexible you are, the better you're gonna be in this world.

Why Are Some CEO's Fighting Against Change?

00:25:33 Andy Goram

I think the flexibility is clearly something. And you talk about the generational shift. And maybe even the gender shift that you've got in the US. I mean, I think we are. I think we're probably closer to 53% female mix. So we've almost got the opposite to what you guys have got in terms of the numbers. But I think some of the problems with the back to work thing is that it's been described as a bit of a hot mess over here, because we've got so many different variants of it. And I think employers are just looking for some some clarity. And I think where some businesses are struggling, they haven't got some of the fundamentals that you talked about solidly in place. So the collaboration that is expected when people come back together doesn't happen, because nobody's on the same sort of page, you know? There's some people coming back into office to do the admin they could be doing from home, as opposed to doing the working collaboration stuff. So, I think we're still, certainly in the UK in a lot of cases, still trying to find our way. I'm just interested in that in that statement that you made about some CEO's still kind of fighting against some of the flow of the changes that we're gonna need to make.

00:26:50 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, I mean, look it's inevitable, right? I mean, it's just, you know, you can't stop demographic change. You know, people get old and, you know, people retire, and boomers are retiring in droves. And Gen X's are getting older now. I mean, I'm a Gen X’er. I'm 55. And, you know, in the next 10 to 12 years people my age and that Gen X generation is going to start also starting to retire. And you know, Millennials and Gen Z and Gen Alpha are going to be the majority of workforce and they've grown up in a very connected world, and you know that’s what our parents used to say about us. We're now saying about this younger generation, right, who they said we were the most connected. Well we're not. It's actually gonna be Millennials are the most connected, they're not. You know, it's gonna be... every demographic change gets more technologically advanced.

00:27:48 Rajeev Kapur

You know, 30 years from now, I can only imagine what my sons are going to be saying to their kids about,

Boy, when I was your age, all I had was an iPhone 15.”

I mean, so it's going to be, it'll be interesting to see what you know, what happens. And I for one just believe that this is a natural evolution of humanity and of the workforce. And you have to embrace this change you just have to.

The Importance of Company Culture

00:28:25 Andy Goram

And this meld of culture and tech is one of the key principles behind this set of change, right? Not leaving the culture stuff behind that perhaps I mean, I'm may be biased, because I work in that space and I get a bit frustrated with the whole, “We'll get to the culture stuff when we've sorted out all the performance”, and that's just madness to me, because the culture stuff that will sort the performance. But I think that any more than now is this need to blend a real focus on tech and enabling tech, whether it's AI, or whatever it is, and getting the workforce up with that, but also really doubling down on the culture stuff. Really you know, getting that stuff sorted.

00:29:02 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah. No, I mean, look Deloitte came out a few years ago, and they surveyed CEO's around the world, and the survey said, essentially it asked them how important this culture to your organisation. 90% of CEO said very important. And then the follow up question was how many of you are actually going to do anything about it, essentially? And only 10% said they only do anything about it. Right?

00:29:29 Andy Goram

Yeah, some of those were lying.

00:29:32 Rajeev Kapur

And then I think the mistake CEO's make is, I think when they hear the word culture in an organisation, I think they hear expense.

00:29:40 Andy Goram

And loss of control on some big stuff as well, right?

00:29:43 Rajeev Kapur

Well, I think they hear about, “Oh! I gotta give bonuses. I gotta do trips. I gotta do birthday celebrations. I gotta...” you know, whatever it might be, right? I think they’re expense. And I'm like, and I kind of scratch my head and I'm like, “Don't you understand that the the bigger expense is going to be if your attrition rates are high?” Replacing those employees, bringing new people spending the money to train them up, I mean, it costs thousands of dollars to train new employees, right?

00:30:20 Andy Goram

100% yeah, yeah, yeah.

00:30:25 Rajeev Kapur

And so that dwarfs $500 bonus or running recognition events and whatever the case might be. So here at 11 05 we do monthly town halls in our different business unit divisions. We do quarterly recognition events, where we talk about the top performers and through each group, you know, and so we try to over-communicate when we can. And so are we perfect? No, but we try. We definitely try.

The 5 Pillars of Enlightened Leadership

00:30:48 Andy Goram

But I think it's incredibly important. As is, I think, because I think that is where one of the major foundations of any successful business comes between leadership and the employees is that trust factor, right? And for you in your whole enlightened leadership piece, what's the influence of trust on that? Is there really still a strong link on that sort of stuff? Are you as a stronger believer in that trust factor as I am? And how would you talk about that?

00:31:22 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah, it's interesting, you know. So, when you read the book, you talk about enlightened leadership there five pillars of enlightenment. The first one is gratitude. Practising gratitude every day. Now the reason why that's interesting, you know, Satya Nadella, the now, not new CEO of Microsoft, the guy that took over Steve Ballmer. When he got the job one of the basis he got the job was a major push and focus on gratitude.

00:31:48 Andy Goram


00:31:49 Rajeev Kapur

And he talks about it quite a bit. And he turned Microsoft around by focusing on gratitude. And he's turned Microsoft now into from being like the evil company, to opening up to partnering people. And now Google is kind of the evil company, right? And so it's interesting how Microsoft made that change. And so gratitude is the first pillar. Having resilience, right, I think COVID and the shutdowns and how can you become mentally resilient, physically resilient. How you become resilient in your organisation is number 2, right? Measure what matters. You know the whole fall down 7, get up 8, type thing, right? And the third one is empathy. Now. Yeah, it's interesting. Empathy is so important because you know when you have situations out there where... when we grew up, like one of the one of the pillars of servant leadership is, if you want to go talk to your boss, you have to have three solutions to go talk to your Boss, right? Or don't waste their time.

00:32:56 Rajeev Kapur

Enlightened leadership says, “Look, yes, that would be nice, but you're the CEO for a reason, or you're leading your team for a reason. Maybe your employee is stuck. Maybe your employee just needs to talk. Maybe your employee just needs to bounce some ideas off. Maybe your employee is grappling with a problem, but they're afraid to come and talk to you, cause they don't have three solutions. Maybe they only have one or two solutions. And trying to break that down to say,

Look. Come and speak to me no matter what the case might be. And I'll listen. Well, let's see what we can do to help you together.” right?

00:33:31 Rajeev Kapur

The fourth is accountability, right. You still have to be accountable. You’ve still going to do what you said you're going to do, right? Now that's still important. And the 5th is transparency. Some people said, “Well, why isn't it trust?” And I said, and when you're running an organisation, “What you have to do is first be transparent with where you want to go, what you want to do, before you can build that trust.” So, like for example during COVID we had to do layoffs, pay cuts and all those different types of things in the business. But I knew in order for them to trust me with where we needed to go, I first needed to be very transparent with them in the organisation to tell them what was happening, what we were doing and why we were doing it? So to me, whereas trust is so important in that organisation, transparency needs to come first before trust. And so those are those five points gratitude, resilience, empathy, accountability and transparency. And you could take the 1st letter from those 5 words. It spells great, hence the title of the book Chase Greatness.

A mnemonic spelling GREAT which stands for Gratitude, Resilience, Empathy, Accountability and Trasnsparency
The 5 Pillars of Enlightened Leadership

00:34:32 Andy Goram

Love that. I do love a mnemonic. I can't get away from the fact I do love one of those because my brain isn't clever enough to remember a thing individually. I think that transparency thing is interesting though, because the link to clarity of vision, and then seeing through on that promise, I mean that to me is the sort of meld again, to overuse that word, between transparency -

This is where we're going. This is how tough it's gonna be. This is what I'm gonna need. But by the way, this is what we're doing.”

And then you go and deliver those things. That's when trust really starts to come through. I mean that's incredibly strong.

Building Loyalty And Supporting Whole-Person Growth

00:35:05 Andy Goram

I want to just touch on something you mentioned earlier, and it gets talked about a lot today, about some people call it whole-person growth, or seeing the whole person at work. And you talked about outside the walls and looking after your people. I think this gets quite confused at times and maybe a bit overplayed or misunderstood. When you're talking about enlightened leadership kind of going beyond the realm of work and supporting personal development outside of work, how far does that go for you? What...? Are there boundaries to that? Or is it just whatever's needed is what you give? Because I think this is where people kind of get a bit misconstrued with it all.

00:35:54 Rajeev Kapur

Yeah. So it's interesting, you know, so we've actually been practising this now for the last couple of years, right, for obvious reasons. And I'll be honest with you, I think I can count on one hand the number of times employees have reached out for some help outside the walls of the business. They know it's there, they know it's possible, but it takes two to party. It takes two to tango, so to speak. And so there was some concern initially that what would happen is that people are gonna start reaching out for all kinds of things. But I think what you see there at the end of the day is that the human nature is that people want to try to solve the issues themselves and deal with whatever they deal with themselves and try to compartmentalise things. But they do know that there's somewhat of a safety net here to help catch them in case they need some help. In case they feel like they need some more support outside the walls of the business. And it's up to them to use it.

00:36:51 Rajeev Kapur

It's just like any sort of benefit a company has to offer. If you look at benefit plans, companies have, you know a lot of benefits don't get used. So to me it's like a great umbrella to say, “Hey guys, it's here. Happy to help you and whatever you need and just let us know.”So it's not like we're, I or the management team, we're not like calling people at 9:00 o'clock at night saying, “Hey, would you have for Dinner?” No. It's all about, hey if you need some help, if you need anything, you know, well let us know.

00:37:31 Andy Goram

I think when I look at this stuff, and when I talk to people about it, really focusing on a few meaningful things, rather than a whole bunch of gimmicks. Whether it's, you know, take as much time off as you like, or do this, the other or what... I think focusing on where and listening to where real support could be needed, whether that's mental stuff, or financial advice, or whatever it might be, you know, really kind of doubling down on those things, is where this stuff can really, really add benefit everything. When you try and load it with gimmicks it don’t work.

00:38:01 Rajeev Kapur

Right, absolutely, 100% correct. And I think the employees see through the gimmick. So, I'll give you some examples. Something just happened the other day. So there's a member of my team and he and his daughter were so stressed out because they needed to go fly, and they just needed to go and visit College campuses, Universities, you know, cause he has to make a decision. And I'm like, “Dude, don't worry about it. Take your laptop with you. You can work from wherever you are. It's fine. If you're working from these places, feel free to expense your meals and your hotel and all that stuff, because you'll be working and that's fine.” And that one small act reduces stress load by a factor of 10 and allowed him to spend meaningful time with his daughter, to go out there and find the right College or University that she wanted to go to.

00:38:51 Rajeev Kapur

And then that matters, I think. If this was three years ago, four years ago it would be like, “OK, submit your PTO (Paid Time Off) and go have a good trip and we'll talk to you when you get back. But now he feels like he could go, he can get his work done, support his daughter, doesn't have to come back to 500 emails and things backed up and you can feel supported. And those are the things that build loyalty in an organisation.

In Summary - Sticky Notes

00:39:20 Andy Goram

That's a great example. If someone feels seen they're going to be engaged, they're going to be more productive, going to be more loyal. Everybody, everybody kind of wins out of it. Everybody's in a happier place. I think that's a great piece. Rajeev, we are vastly running out of time, and I know I can't keep you much longer, but I have this thing on the show called “Sticky Notes”, my friend, where we're trying to summarise all the massive amounts of sagely learning that you could have imparted on us today, on what we could fit on three sticky notes. So if we're thinking about helping people really get their head around enlightened leadership, what three pieces of advice would you leave on your three sticky notes, my friend?

00:40:01 Rajeev Kapur

So I think the first one is, treat your employees as your number one internal customer, or as your number one customer, rather. Your internal customer is your number one customer, so that's number one. I think that the second one is, never be the smartest person in the room. And that's one really important distinction in leadership. You've heard that before, but I think that's really important, because when you're the smartest person in the room, people defer to you and you never hear really good ideas. And even if you are the smartest person, to pretend you're not. And then I think the third one which gets lost is, is the one that we kind of started this whole leadership discussion around, which is find a way to practise gratitude every day. Like today's Friday and my team, every Friday, my leadership team sends me little snippets that we then put into a little newsletter that goes out. I'll twig it this week in good news. And we end the week always on gratitude and some good news.

00:41:09 Rajeev Kapur

There might be other challenges or problems, but I want them to feel like they're mentally fresh going to the weekend, so they can spend time with their family and friends whatever the case might be, and I tell them that whatever problem they're dealing with at 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon or Friday is not going to get solved over the weekend. So go home or they’re already, probably at home. But you know what I mean, right? It will still be there at 8:00 o'clock in the morning, 9:00 o'clock in the morning on Monday. So no need to stress on it. So we talked about these things. I think those are three really important things that I think people all need to embrace.

00:41:42 Rajeev Kapur

And if I could add a fourth one, which is embrace this change that's coming. Start to learn some of these tools. Start to learn what's happening in the world with all this AI stuff. And don't be afraid of it. Learn it.

00:41:55 Andy Goram

I love that. We will definitely add a fourth sticky note to your pile on the Instagram channel, my friend. I appreciate that muchly, and actually a genuinely massive gratitude for you coming on the podcast today. Loved listening to what you've got to say. I think this is exactly where we're headed and what we needed. So thank you ever so much for coming on, Rajeev, great stuff.

00:42:15 Rajeev Kapur

It's my absolute pleasure. It's an honour to be here and thank you all for listening.

Podcast Close

00:42:19 Andy Goram

OK, everyone, that was Rajeev Kapur. And if you'd like to find out a little bit more about him or any of the things that we've talked about today. Please check out the show notes.

00:42:32 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.

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