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Transcript: Great Leadership Qualities (End of Year Wrap 2021)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.

Marc: Welcome everyone to The Culture of Things podcast recap with Brendan Rogers as your host. You would recognize Brendan from our episodes over the past year. You don't get to see me very often. I'm the guy behind the scenes doing the recording, engineering, and helping Brendan sometimes with some of the ideas and the content that we're discussing. Brendan and I were having a chat on—when was that, when we first thought about this idea of doing a recap?

Brendan: Four or five days ago.

Marc: No, I think it was longer than that. 

Brendan: Was it. When we first started talking about a recap? That was quite a while ago.

Marc: Yeah, I think it was probably late November, early December, you're just looking at finishing up a couple more of the episodes.

Brendan: We had a brain fart and thought let's do this. 

Marc: Let’s just do this, yeah. The idea behind this is obviously, I was more interested in doing this with you because I'm the guy listening to all of these podcasts editing them afterward and sometimes I think jeez these are some really cool ideas that you're getting, especially with the key takeaways. 

When you have a key takeaway, you're actually explaining to people what you think is a valuable idea that they should possibly use in their life. It could be in their business life, their personal life, and their family life. It seemed to me that it'd be a good idea to recover some of those ideas and look at them. We should probably say too, we did discuss this, these weren't necessarily the top ideas. We're not trying to say that some are better than others, but these are just ones that stood out primarily, what was your biggest reason for choosing the ones that you did? 

Brendan: Really the context of the past year, how we've grown and developed as a podcast, how our listenership has grown and developed, and therefore also relating that to leadership and culture teamwork, but these wrap-ups especially focused on leaders and giving them some actionable bites that they can continue their own development in the future. 

Marc: It's interesting when you think about how we've gone through a crazy year. You and I started planning, doing a lot of these recordings in my home studio, and then, unfortunately, we couldn't really do that anymore because we couldn't be in person for most of the time, which changed the nature of what we were recording and what you were probably planning to do. In the end, the fact of the matter is that we know that in the year coming, people are going to need ideas that are going to help them think in terms of those key takeaways, those key ideas, those leadership ideas because we need a lot of good leaders, don't we?

Why don't we get into this because I'm really curious to know what you've selected? I'll read through the ones here and maybe you can tell me what your thoughts are on each one of them. Would you rather we start with those three that you wanted to include but we didn't put them in the top 10 necessarily, not because they weren't great because they're great, but more because they were worthy of mention, right?

Brendan: They certainly are. Let's keep people in suspension. We'll give a few, maybe three of the ones that we included in the 10 that we pulled together because bear in mind, there were 27 episodes we did in 2021 and every episode has three takeaways. You do the math 81 key takeaways we had. Every single one of those is important, but we wanted to narrow it down to 10 that you could work on over the course of the next year.

Marc: Let's start with the top and I believe you put these in chronological order, is that correct?

Brendan: I certainly did. That shows absolutely no favoritism here on The Culture of Things podcast. It's an equitable society that we live in. 

Marc: Absolutely. The first one, The Art of Self-Mastery, RJ Singh. Leaders focus on the art of self-mastery. Tell me what your thoughts are on why you selected that?

Brendan: The Art of Self-Mastery is really about focusing on improving yourself, isn't it? self-mastery, and my old mate RJ Singh, he's moved from the sunny central coast down to Victoria and Melbourne. Why did he do that I have no idea, but he's done that. He lives and breathes self-mastery. He's all about improving himself, bettering himself.

As a leader, if you don't have that as a foundational piece in your mindset, always thinking about being better of yourself, then what really gives you the right to lead teams and help teams become better if you're not focused on being better yourself. That to me was such an important point and, as I said, such a foundation for leaders. It just happened to be as you said before, we've chosen these and we're just going through them in chronological order, but what a timely first one. It underpins every single thing that leaders should be focused on, developing yourself, improving yourself, the Art of Self-Mastery.

Marc: That's great and having met RJ and knowing how enthusiastic he is about personal development, he really does live and breathe it, doesn’t he?

Brendan: Absolutely. I think it's also important too, Marc. I'm not sure if I'll do it for each one of the 10, but just throwing out an actionable item attached to that. I think that improving yourself can be such a small thing, it can be a bigger thing. I encourage leaders to start small, particularly if you are developing your mindset about self-improvement and the Art of Self-Mastery. 

It could be that something as I'm going to be committed to attending meetings on time, turning up on time because that's really about leading yourself, improving yourself, and little things like that. It might be something else about creating better relationships. Every single day I'm just going to be a little bit more deliberate about spending maybe five minutes with a person and getting to know them a little bit better and strengthen those relationships. That's improving yourself and it can make a massive difference. It doesn't have to be a big step. Those little steps compounded, make a big difference.

Marc: Absolutely. It's interesting too considering that right now, we're having to be a lot more lenient in terms of people being on time, but at the same time, focusing on it even more is not a bad point. It's a very good thing to think about. 

We're going to move on to the next one. This one's from Kate Purcell's interview, which was, How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking. I believe she's someone you know personally and has for some time. How did you meet her?

Brendan: Kate is our wonderful President of Brisbane Water Breakfast Toastmasters Club. We meet at East Gosford on, second Saturday and the last Saturday of the month. Feel free to attend anyone on the central coast, but she's the president. I just love Kate's story. I was so happy when she agreed to be on the podcast because I wasn't sure that she would. I know that her journey in Toastmasters started from a very, can I say, a low level respectfully. 

She was crapping herself and she tells a story in the podcast about just even parking in the car park, getting out the car, and she could sort of still pull out and she made it in. Within a couple of years, I think she's been involved a couple of years, maybe even more, she put her hand up to be the president. Just the growth of her alone is just leadership quality. This is why I was so keen to have her on the podcast and talking about overcoming the fear of public speaking. 

Marc: That really leads in well with the key takeaway that you positioned for her, which was leaders lead with vulnerability. In some respects, I feel like you've already answered that, but what else can you add in terms of that whole idea of that word vulnerability?

Brendan: Look, it's no secret. I mean, Brené Brown made this famous that vulnerability is what creates trust. Brené Brown, Patrick Lencioni, there’s a number of them, and Simon Sinek. That vulnerability, sort of opening yourself up for criticism, opening yourself up for feedback, and putting yourself out there on a limb. There's probably no better stage to do that than putting yourself out into a public speaking arena when it's your mortal fear, for some scarier than shark attacks. 

Being vulnerable and putting yourself out there, as leaders we need to do that. If you do that and if you have the courage to be vulnerable, that puts people at ease, surprisingly, and it helps build connection. We all know building connections is a helpful tool for building trust. 

Marc: I couldn't agree with you more. 

Brendan: Kate is exceptional in that. 

Marc: It's fascinating when you actually share something personal of yourself. To go back to that key takeaway in application, I've personally found that when I share something personal, that probably feels a bit risky to share with someone. Usually, most people will reciprocate and share a little bit more about themselves. If you're looking to build relationships on things that really matter and that you can really have an impact and help people with, it's one of those things. 

Brendan: It's nothing like being a bit risque, isn’t it?

Marc: It’s a good way to put it. Let's move on to the next one over here. Do you want to move on?

Brendan: Before we move on, an action. Again, what I encourage leaders to do is start small. Put yourself forward about being vulnerable. It might just be a hey, I'm sorry, to someone who you've had a run-in with or you've made a mistake, or it might be in a meeting and saying to your team, I'm not sure what we should do next. Let's work on this together.

I've seen leaders in rooms do this and it's just like the atmosphere just changes completely in a really positive way. I encourage people listening to this, leading with vulnerability, just put yourself out there. Put yourself out there. Hey, it might be just sharing a weakness that you have. You know what, Marc? I'm no good at sending up audio. You're much better at this than me, so I'll just sit back and relax whilst you do it. It was fantastic. 

Marc: You make a good grip as they call it. 

Brendan: I don't know. I spent five minutes keeping in the chair, catching a few winks. It's great having a producer. 

Marc: It is. You're absolutely right. It is easier to team up that way. Absolutely. The next one I've got over here is How to Create Magic at Work with Amy Lynn Durham. The key takeaway you have for her was: Leaders connect with people. What were your thoughts around that one? Why did you select that?

Brendan: Amy's our first on the list from overseas, so in the US. Our first two, RJ is an American native, isn't he? He's natively from America, but I think a citizen now. Leaders connect with people. I really enjoyed this episode with Amy. To be fair, I enjoy every single episode, 27 episodes, 81 key takeaways. That's 27 fantastic guests, each one of those brings something to the table, but connecting with people is also leadership. Leaders connect with people. In order to connect with people, you need to invest time in people. Investing time in people creates relationships with people and the other connections we're talking about. 

It's always amazing to me that when leaders have a relationship, a good strong professional relationship better connected with their team and individuals in their team, they can screw up from time to time and the team doesn't crucify them. When they don't have that connection and that relationship, they've only got to do something minor and it doesn't turn out well. 

The team may not be giving him feedback, unfortunately, because they don't have that connection, but they're jabbering behind the back. It's just unhealthy for teams. It's dysfunctional and erodes team performance and the high-performing teams we're looking for. 

Connecting with people, again, spending time investing in people is super important. Investing time in developing those connections and relationships. It goes back to that self-mastery and one of the actions I said earlier on point one, the Art of Self-Mastery and improving yourself. 

Maybe one of those things is just spending that five minutes each day with a person in your team and not hey, have you done this, have you done that? Just building a relationship, ask him how their weekend is, and being interested in them as a person. That's the sort of stuff that builds connection and Amy was super strong, super powerful on that. To be fair, it came right through the episode, the meaning of connection.

Marc: Absolutely. You know what you reminded me of, and this is actually going to lead me into one of the other interviews of which was not one of the ones you selected but it still was one of the great interviews you did—the one with Karen and Matt. Do you remember the motto that she goes by? HOPE, help one person every day. It really leads into that same kind of concept, doesn't it?

Brendan: Sorry, Kaz, I didn't get the tattoo ready around this episode, but maybe next time. 

Marc: With that, I'd like to bring up the key takeaway that you had from Karen that you did consider bringing into this conversation, which was: Leaders face challenges head-on. What made you want to make sure that that had a special mention? 

Brendan: It's the longest podcast I've ever done, two and a half hours, and I was stuffed after it. The emotion in the conversation was the second episode that we did in the home studio and it didn't seem like two and a half hours. It was just a fantastic conversation, Episode 53 is the Story of My Broken Soldier, so Kaz and Matt. Matt is the broken soldier as Kaz calls him, and it's just such a great story. 

To think, the books there, you helped them produce the audiobook, reading that, listening to that, they just face challenge after challenge after challenge. They could have easily run away from that stuff, and even now I get emotional about it. It's such a powerful story. 

They just ooze leadership in facing those challenges head-on, personal challenges, family challenges. A couple of kids or at least one of the kids they don't see very often at all now, but they've got a strong nucleus now with the other three children. They're just beautiful people and they just live, breathe, and challenge it. To be frank, I don't know how they do it, but they do. They get up every day and they fight a good fight not only for them but for so many veterans in Australia and beyond the shores of Australia. It's an amazing story.

Marc: It’s a story that really does need to go international. It needs worldwide attention. It really does. I'm really glad to hear that you brought them in. The next one I want to bring in here came from your interview with Norman Wolfe, the Culture of the Living Organisation. Leaders must understand and work with context. What was that particular key takeaway all about?

Brendan: It's a little bit cryptic this one, isn't it? Leaders must understand and work with context. One of the things Norman said in his episode was, culture is the organization's personality. To me, that leads into this takeaway—context, because personality sometimes is contextual, and personalities change in different situations. This is to me fundamentally why I just believe there's no one book, God knows there are hundreds of thousands of books around leadership.

A lot of them say similar things, but the context of the situation is what creates the variation. You can read something and think, how do I apply this? You know what, I'm going to apply it in a situation with a challenge with a person that is having a certain conversation, but their mindset could be context A one day and mean context B the next day. You can get two completely different results based on that context, which to me is why in this wrap-up, I just couldn't leave out. 

Context is super important. It's the thing that makes the difference and why there are so many great leadership books out there. One of them is an ultimate playbook because context changes everything.

Marc: Absolutely. You can talk to someone who's in retail, you can talk to someone who's maybe in the insurance industry, or manufacturing and that context will have an impact as to how you communicate. There's a certain amount of understanding of the local lingo, there's a circumstance, all of these things have an impact as to making sure that you get the message across effectively.

Brendan: Absolutely. I'll give a brief example, but this has just happened to me today. I'm having a conversation with a leader. There've been some challenges with a chap pre-Christmas, and they weren't quite sure, it was a little bit out of character. What they actually found out was that there were some health issues in the family and that was really impacting his mindset. 

Now, there were a number of conversations they had and obviously, the chap wasn't feeling safe enough to bring that out, but he has bought out eventually. That just put everything that had happened into a different context. Didn't excuse some of the behavior that had happened, but it put it in a context that gave it some understanding and gave some sense to it, which means they can work within that. 

They can arrange or adjust their conversations around that context, but the conversations without that context were very different. A bit of context changes the situation. In this case, changed it for the better.

Marc: Very cool. It's one thing that resonates with me because I've seen that difference having worked in multiple different industries in the past too, so very good thing. 

Brendan: I think it just happens every day. Context is changing every single day, every single minute. Now, people can come in before lunch. They come in and they've got a call after lunch and the whole world's changed. Context is different.

Marc: It's right. We're living in an exponential growth world only. Next one I've got over here, the Culture of Remote Working with Bretton Putter. Leaders have full control over the culture. What can you tell us about that key takeaway?

Brendan: I'm not sure I need to say anymore. They have full control and there's a great book, Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink. I can't remember the second author now, but it's about extreme ownership like the title of that book says. Bretton doesn't refer to that in the book, but leaders have complete control over the culture. 

How the leader acts is what will resonate through the organization. If they see something in their leadership team, for example, they always need to look at themselves and say, well, what have I done that has enabled that behavior? Now that might be good, it doesn't always have to be bad. It could be really good stuff like, okay, what did I do there or what have I done in the past that's really putting that behavior or making people in the leadership team feel that that's a great behavior aligning with the values? Big tick. 

Conversely, maybe there are some behaviors that they're not quite happy about. What am I doing as the ultimate leader that's having an impact on that? It doesn't mean I'm doing things deliberately, sometimes maybe. A lot of the time, there’s a lack of awareness. Self-awareness is an important thing, but sometimes there's a lack of awareness about a certain way that we may react in certain situations or behave under certain conditions and behaviors under pressure, I like to call it, that people interpret it a certain way, and then they'll act a certain way.

To me, that's really about the action that leaders need to take away is that you have complete control over the culture. If you honestly believe that and say that in the mirror enough times to make sure you do believe it, then the whole world can change for you because you can control stuff that you do. You can't control stuff that other people do. But you can build some influence, improve yourself back to self-mastery, believe that you have complete control, and you lead the way.

Marc: Yeah, absolutely. It makes me think that this is a good place to enter in with what Tom Lawrence's key takeaway that you want to make a special mention for also that Leaders embrace simple. That's a way of implementing that, right? What can you share about that?

Brendan: Tom, a fantastic guy, an Englishman from the northern part of England. Liverpool [...] myself. He's a Liverpool supporter, so it makes him a fantastic guy. He's a fantastic dude. He's doing great things as well. He has a book that the podcast was about. We talked through a number of ebooks out there, YouTube channel himself.

It's about keeping things simple. I've always believed that. Tom, I can't remember the exact words, but it was really about people who aren't leading and making the simple complicated. And the great leaders make the complicated simple because those leaders that are maybe fake leaders or trying to be big [...] themselves, they were about making themselves look good. They want to try and complicate things because they're putting themselves in this arena of, hey, I know and maybe you don't, or I'm better than you sort of mentality, which is not leadership at all.

The art of maybe taking on some complicated stuff but being able to simplify that in a way that everyone can get it. If you can do that through messaging, then it makes a fundamental difference. It's not about how smart you are. It's how well you can connect with people and make things simple.

Marc: ​It makes me think about people who know how to do magic tricks. Why? Because they may have a lot of complex things going on in the background that they understand, but they know how to make something really magical

Brendan: Absolutely. Great analogy. Then there's beauty in simple, isn't it?

Marc: ​There is, absolutely

Brendan: Absolutely elegant.

Marc: ​Yeah, very cool. Let's go on to another one. Michael Thwaite, you interviewed him and I know we're going from football to football to some degree. There are a lot of them. There's a theme in here. Where does that go?

Brendan: I don't know. I've got favoritism for football people, I suppose.

Marc: Yeah. That particular interview, Values, Leadership, & Football was the actual title. But the key takeaway you chose was: Leaders know what they stand for. Tell me more about that.

Brendan: ​Leaders do know what they stand for. Even in the work that I do, there are so many leaders that I start with, actually don't really know what they stand for. They sort of do, but they don't. They find it very difficult to articulate what they stand for. What are these uncompromising values that I have? They come through in my decision-making. They come through in how I behave. They come through in how I'm leading people, some more directly than others. Leaders know what they stand for.

Thwaite was fantastic. He's actually the first person, and it was episode 52, on the podcast that I knew specifically (at least in 2021) that knew what he stood for. He had the ABCs. I wish I could remember what the ABCs were, to be honest. But it was simple, elegant, and that's what he lived by.

He knew what he stood for, came through, and all of his decisions came through in how he acted came through, came through in how he trained, came through in how he played football, and came through in how he kept his football teams. Just taking time to know what you stand for and articulate that is super important. It's super important because it's, again, a foundational piece of your leadership journey and being a great leader.

When people know what you stand for, there are no surprises. They know what you value as a leader, and they can live up to that far more easily and make decisions to live up to that. If you don't know what you stand for, then the world's a bit of a murky place. The water's pretty gray.

Marc: ​It makes me think in terms of one of the things I've uncovered that when people who do know what they stand for, you usually tend to find, in my view, that they present that by what they will not accept as bad behavior. Usually, something happens where they have to put their foot down, so to speak. They may see something, a behavior that's going on that just isn't in keeping with the standards that they believe are really appropriate for the circumstance. But that's a really interesting point because you can't do that unless you know in advance exactly what you do care for.

Brendan: What we'll do, actually, for this part of the episode is I'll put a link to my, what I call, 10 commandments—my leadership, what do I stand for, and how I lead teams and act every day with my clients. We'll put that into the link below. People can download it and they can get a good example of a living, breathing document of what I stand for personally as a leader.

Marc: ​We have to wrap this up with a couple more of these wonderful key takeaways. The next one that I'd like to bring up was an interesting interview, the one you did with David Bacon, who I've gotten to know a little bit more since then with a little bit of other work that we've done with him. But your key takeaway with him, and this was—

Brendan: Do you remember what you did to me that day?

Marc: ​No, I don't remember.

Brendan: You don't?

Marc: ​I don't. What did I do?

Brendan: First episode at the studio, turned up, and you said, oh, by the way, we're live-streaming this today.

Marc: ​Oh, that's right. That's right. I thought I'd give it a go because we could. The technology was there. Sometimes you actually have to say—

Brendan: Why not? Who needs preparation?

Marc: That's right. Well, the difference is that quite simply, it was a matter of adding a key to the system and just recording it at the same time as we were broadcasting. I could still edit. I was pretty pleased with the way that went. I don't know about you, but it was a great interview.

Brendan: Just quietly, David, who was the guest, just had media training. I think he was crapping himself more than me, at least from what he told me after the interview.

Marc: Really? Oh my. I had no idea I put so much pressure on people.

Brendan: Absolutely, mate. He's getting old. He's in his 70s.

Marc: Speaking to one of the other points, you're getting into my vulnerabilities now a little bit. The key takeaway you had with him was: Leaders build for after they're gone. I thought that was a really interesting one. Tell me what your thoughts were around why you chose that?

Brendan: I probably could have put it a little bit more succinctly. But leaders build for after they're gone. It's really succession planning in a nutshell. Again, David's a very interesting guy as you alluded to. He's had all sorts of experiences in his life. Camera Press Gallery, he was Global Media Advisor for British American Tobacco. Just all sorts of situations he's been off the back of this experience.

He's involved in Rotary. He has been involved in Rotary for a very long time. I've been to some of the meetings and one of the things I learned about Rotary, and David spoke a little bit about this, is that the President-elect, the president that will be the president once the current president has served his year, they already know who that President-elect will be.

They spent time working with each other, and to me, it's such a simple thing. Just the succession planning, the building for after they're gone. David was the president for that year. He already knew who the next president was going to be and they worked side by side. It's just a fantastic example in a voluntary organization of some of the stuff that can happen. Why don't we do that more in organizations?

I'm not saying that you put up a person, but you've got to have that mentality like who's going to replace me? Because everyone's replaceable, right? Who in my team actually might be looking to develop themselves into whatever the next role might be? That might be a role that involves leading people. It may not. It might be some other advancement thereafter, but that's the thinking that you need to have.

That great book, Good to Great by Jim Collins, really, fundamentally, that book is about organizations that have succeeded long after these level five leaders put things in place to have that growth. That's what it's about. Succession planning—build for when you're not there, for after you've gone. It's so important.

Marc: Exactly. There are some really good examples of the big tech world where they've done that successfully. What comes to mind is the likes of Microsoft have gone through some big changes. Even Apple with what they've done, what Tim Cook's been able to do. How do you step into the shoes of the likes of Steve Jobs? Being able to build a business that actually has that kind of philosophy attached to it is really an important factor.

Brendan: Absolutely.

Marc: Moving on to the next one. I actually really enjoyed this interview just because I liked his spirit, but Rex Buckingham...

Brendan: He was all [...], isn't he?

Marc: Yeah, a real character and I really enjoyed his style. The key takeaway that you had from this interview that was called Command and Control Leadership was: Leaders believe in your potential. Tell me your thoughts on that.

Brendan: Yeah, episode 59, leaders believe in your potential. At the end of the day, a big part of leadership is about coaching. If you don't believe someone can be better than what they are today and improve in a role and improve as a person, this is making some assumptions that the person does have a mindset of improvement back to that Art of Self Mastery.

You must believe in people's potential. Your job as a leader is to help encourage that potential, bring the best out of them, help them achieve their best self, whatever that best self looks like. Rex, as I said, he is a wise old fellow. He's been around for a long time. He's seen all sorts of situations and has some great analogies in the episode as well. That fundamental belief of just believing in people's potential and how did he get that core belief? Because back when I think he said he was 17, 18, he got a job at Woolies, and there was someone that believed in his potential.

I think he said he could have gone off the rails here and there, but this person believed in him as a person, believed he can be more than what he was sort of demonstrating, and that just stuck with him forever. It's almost like he's paid that forward through his journey in leadership and having his own consultancy business. He’s also written in the book as well. Really believing in people's potential is what he's crafted through his journey. He's helped so many people because he believed in them.

Marc: It resounded for me too, to some degree, simply because of the fact that, as you know, I have a background in retail for many years. I was the—what I believe—youngest manager as a retailer for RadioShack at the time in the country. That took people believing in me. I was quite surprised that I got selected, but at the same time, those are things that when the leaders of the company that were promoting me, I had a lot of surprise respect for them that I didn't even notice like, oh my goodness, now you have to step into those shoes and perform, so you get to learn more about yourself as a result too. It's a great way to learn.

Brendan: How good does it feel, and that's the feeling to remember.

Marc: Absolutely.

Brendan: I don’t remember the other bits and pieces, but just how people made you feel because I believed in you.

Marc: Absolutely.

Brendan: It's massive. Gives you chills down your spine.

Marc: Yeah, it does. Now, getting into our last few over here. This was again...

Brendan: Last few, a couple.

Marc: There are two others, but we're going to have a little...

Brendan: I know in Canada you might call two a few, I don't know.

Marc: Yeah, we do. We're probably not that good. On a side note, when somebody says to me midday, I actually thought it meant somewhere in the middle of the day, like somewhere in the middle as opposed to specifically midday. A typical [...], we make mistakes.

Brendan: Your English is getting better.

Marc: The next one, the Importance of Listening Skills with Oscar Trimboli. Leaders build a listening culture. Oscar, a true professional, understands his subject matter incredibly well. You pick that one and obviously, I'm not surprised that you pick that one because of the word culture of things and how that blends in, but tell me more about why you selected it.

Brendan: One of the key things in this episode, and something that Oscar mentioned, was there's this narrative around speech giving leadership, he called it, and it resonated so much. You see these great orators of the world and they are held up as leaders and stuff like that. I'm not saying they're not great listeners, but it's almost glorified that great leaders just get up, speak, and all that saying and everyone else is doing this actually. In the real world, it's actually the other way.

The best leaders build a listening culture. Back to one of our earlier points about leaders having full control of the culture, if you spend more time listening, speaking to people, and listening to people is important, then others will follow that as well. Your own leadership team, if you're the CEO of an organization and you're asking more questions, you're digging in, mining for conflict, and listening to people's answers in your leadership team, people will see that in your team and they'll start to do that with their own teams.

It was a really challenging interview for me because actually, in some parts, I wasn't sure if I was being interviewed or I was interviewing Oscar. He'd said that Brendan, I'm going to ask you questions, and it was challenging. It was a fantastic interview from my side. He took me through a journey of listening.

I can't remember the point we started on where we got to specifically, but you can go back to episode 64 and check it out. But where I started and some of the answers I gave him, and then just a few, and tell me a bit more about that. What did you think about that scenario? Why is that the case? Just some real basic questions thrown in, he listened to me, and he almost knew at the start—because he's such an experienced guy—that there was something underneath what I've initially said.

It only took another two or three questions to get to it, but then he was at the root reason as to why I was talking about something, whatever it was. But that listening culture, if you build that, you're uncovering the real problem or the real thing that someone's feeling. When you do that, haven't you got a better chance of solving it or working with the person because you're getting to the root cause, not just sitting with the band-aid there, leaving the band-aid on, and thinking you can solve the band-aid. Then you scratch your head a couple of weeks later or a couple of months later and think, thought we'd solved that. We need to spend time listening and building that listening culture.

Marc: It's interesting because it ties really, for me, when I heard him speak about this and I heard you give your original key takeaway, the thing that came to my mind was the habit number five from Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits, which is seek first to understand than to be understood, and how that relates back to that same listening culture.

Brendan: Absolutely. Again, it was in one of the takeaways. We didn't choose it for this particular wrap, but leaders take time to understand. I think we had it on our list originally and then we thought, well, in order to build a listening culture, you have to take time to understand. They correspond with each other. Taking time to understand, seek to understand, if you do that, you're well on your way to help building a listening culture.

Marc: I want to return back to one of the other ones just because it's on the list over here and it was one of the earlier ones, again, Bretton Putter. I think it ties into this whole culture idea, which is delegation is even more critical in remote working environments. The reason why I wanted to bring that one up is more because of the fact that in remote working environments, the way in which people listen to each other is very different because of the use of technology nowadays. 

Yes, we are using Zoom or other related types of technologies, but it's not something that people are completely still accustomed to. What were your thoughts on why you selected that one as one of the ones you wanted to give a special mention to?

Brendan: It's a sign of the times. It's such a common conversation that I've had over the last 18 months, two years during this COVID pandemic that things happen. Actually, a lot of leaders that I've worked with started to realize that there were some things that they were doing just by chance of being in the same location of people that it worked well. But then, when you're not in the same location, you need to be much more deliberate about stuff. That deliberately came through around particularly the art of delegation because delegating, being really clear.

One of the keys of delegating is being clear on what the problem is and what we're trying to achieve, but be a bit looser around how that's going to happen. Hopefully, you've got trust in your team and they’re good team members because you've helped develop them as great team members, but you need to leave people some latitude to decide how they're going to go through things. Get really tight on what needs to be achieved, then be loose on the how, and be tight around the timeframes when things have got some time constraints on them so that people are really clear on what's needed. That's the art of delegation.

As I said, a fair chunk of that where people were not really clear on the art of delegation and what's critical around delegating, things just happen by chance. You could walk into the person's office and say, what about this or what about that? When is this due again? But when you're not in the same location, you need to be a bit deliberate about it, set those times, and be really fundamental about how you do it. That's why the art of delegation or delegation is even more critical in remote working environments. You got to double down on it.

Marc: That's right. Absolutely. It's interesting because it's also a challenge, especially a challenge for managers who are typically micromanagers where now they just simply cannot continue to behave that same way.

Brendan: Absolutely, or they spend their eight-, nine-hour day, or whatever on Zoom checking up on everyone. None of their stuff is done either, which is just not feasible.

Marc: Exactly. Let's wrap this up. We're down to our last one.

Brendan: Wow, it's gone quick.

Marc: Yeah. Amazing, isn't it? The last one, interesting again, no surprise, it's getting on somewhat of a football theme once again. What is this?

Brendan: How can we not? Mark [...] Birighitti, the tanned man, down at Terrigal every morning, and eating his smashed avocado. What a top guy.

Marc: Yeah. Lovely guy. It was a fabulous interview. He did pull an awful lot of really fascinating analogies from his role in football that could be applied to just about anything in life, not just business, but even in family and so forth. But the key takeaway that you chose was: Leaders have a team-first mentality. Tell me more about that.

Brendan: Easy to say, I guess, he's a professional sportsman or a footballer. If you didn't have a team-first mentality, you probably wouldn't survive too well in professional team sport. Applying this to leadership, not only on the sporting field, pitch, or whatever, but in the boardroom, the best leaders are making decisions that put the team first. It's having that team-first mindset.

Sometimes that might be detrimental to the leader as an individual, but you need to always put the team first. [...] told, I guess in some respects, a fantastic story about team-first where he'd had a pretty severe facial injury. I think it was a knee or something. He was out of action or supposed to be out of action for 16 weeks, I think it was. It was the doctor's diagnosis, operation, and drawback in place, and all that sort of stuff, and the guy was back playing in four weeks.

There was a little bit of luck involved in that, but I think the story he told was basically, it was episode 65 for people to go to, but the gaffer, the coach, [...] threw himself on the game sheet. He's going, what's going on, I'm not supposed to play for 16 weeks? The gaffer said, do you feel right? Yeah, I feel fine. I've been training and stuff, and I feel fine. He was like, well, you're in, can you play? Yeah, I can play. He's a bit younger and maybe a bit dumber.

The age of the experience, he's like [...] at the time as well. He's only worried about himself, but the team needed him, the team wanted him, and he's the number one keeper. He said he got hit early in the game because, obviously, the league knew about it. Opposing players knew about it, and they had a bit of a touch-up, but he felt fine, gave him the confidence, and he just played on from there and continued playing.

Putting your own self in physical harm's way, which was a real reality for him for the sake of the team, that's pretty courageous, isn't it? IF more leaders thought more about the team, the impact on the team, and always making decisions with the team-first mentality, then quite frankly, workplaces would be a much better place.

Marc: Yeah. It makes me think about Winston Churchill. I know he was one of those people who was often mentioned as being he would have almost rather been on the battlefield with them just because of that same kind of really wanting to care about the team. It's very much the same idea. Yeah, very cool.

Brendan: Yeah. The ultimate decisions that he had to make during wartime and put Britain first, that's a pretty big team.

Marc: Huge team, absolutely. We've covered a grand total of 10 of your key takeaways and a few special mentions. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we close this?

Brendan: I reckon there's one more.

Marc: Okay, wow. A bonus. Call it the bonus.

Brendan: The bonus round.

Marc: The Brendan bonus. Hit the buzzer.

Brendan: You got the bonus round. Although we didn't pick something from the takeaways in the 10 that we wanted to choose around this and the impactful, episode 63 with my old mate from school, Michael Crutcher. A great guy, former editor of The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, Queensland's largest newspaper. He got his own business now, 55 Comms, been involved in that for a long time, and got a podcast as well called Sourced, a fantastic podcast. They do a weekly wrap.

He talked about leaders never compromising on people. The context of that was in relation to a Norths Rugby League football club in Brisbane who coincidentally, I think the week before we interviewed, won the Grand Finals. That was a rebuilding of that club over several years. Michael had been involved for a number of those years. For the last 12, 18 months, I think that's the time that he became president.

They had various situations—as you do in other organizations and this happened to be a rugby league organization—where sometimes the wrong people are on board. They're not aligned with the values. He was very clear on if we find people that aren't right for our club and they don't have that team mentality, then we don't compromise on that. We have conversations with them, and they align with what we're about and what we're looking to build or they don't. And if they don't, we move them on.

Again, I encourage leaders to think seriously about that. Going back to context as well, I know I've been in the situation where the context is there might be a person there that we need to move on sooner rather than later or may have even resign from the organization that we should move, let them finish early. But we don't want to put pressure on the team or there's no one else that can do this role and stuff, which raises a whole heap of other issues.

Just never compromise on people. If they're not the right people for the organization, it doesn't mean they're bad people. But if they're not aligned with the values of the organization, they're not good for the organization. They're not good for the team and it has a detrimental impact, just don't do it. Don't compromise on it.

Marc: It reminds me of one of my philosophies in my years of management. I also did want to help people find their new next best calling.

Brendan: Absolutely. Open themselves up to the market.

Marc: Absolutely. It's sometimes just not a good fit and that's okay. You got to be all right with that. It's a good place to end this on because really, if you think about it, we're dealing with, and I know that there was one of your other interviews, which we're not going to get into because we've covered enough a lot, the great resignation has been taking place. There's a lot of talk about that.

People are making a lot of changes as a result of what's happened over the past two years. They're asking themselves a lot of questions about what is important to them. As we go through that, what I'm hopeful for is that the key takeaways that you've chosen give people the opportunity to reflect, to think about what they might do ever so slightly differently. Little nudges are fine.

Wouldn’t you agree, it just doesn't take sometimes a whole lot of change to make a big impact over time. This will actually apply very well to their future. With that in mind, I want to say I'm really looking forward to what we got coming up for this coming year.

Brendan: Absolutely. It's going to be a big year, mate.

Marc: Yeah. We've got already two or three of these interviews already lined up ready to go without getting into too many details just because obviously, timing can really change, we understand. I won't make any announcements right now about what that is, but I'm thinking it's going to be a great year, a lot more key takeaways. I'd also like to ask everyone who's watching right now, if you have any ideas about things that you'd like to have Brendan talk about, make sure that you reach out to us.

Put some comments in the notes or let us know, email us. Let us know what you'd like to hear about in terms of the interviews, the kinds of people. The more we understand how you benefit from this content, the more we can work towards creating an ever better growing of The Culture of Things podcast.

Brendan: Absolutely. We love feedback. Give us feedback. If you like what we're doing, tell us. If you don't love what we're doing or you think there are some things we can do to improve, then tell us as well and we'll certainly look at it.

We should give one thing away. We do have a chap. I’m not going to name the chap, but we've got a guy coming on, it will probably be released in a number of weeks after this episode, four or five weeks, but he's got a million-plus YouTube subscribers. We're going to talk to him in some depth about how he's built that business with his brother and the culture of YouTube. It's going to be some exciting stuff. He's a good guy.

Marc: Yeah, absolutely. A guy by the name of Justin Brown.

Brendan: I think that's his name.

Marc: Yeah, absolutely. A really, really intelligent guy who's built a fabulous channel and understands, essentially, what's working nowadays in getting a message across.

Brendan: Absolutely. Going back to that last takeaway or the last bonus point because we've given 10 takeaways plus four bonuses, so we've got 14 all up. The thing that underpins everything that we've spoken about today is conversation. We use the phrase always in The Culture of Things podcast as we finish—the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation. That, we've had today. 

We've spoken generally about some of these takeaways. The 27 fantastic guests, we haven't named them all today, but we value and we appreciate every single one of them because the genuine conversation we were able to have with those people on our show has been awesome. It's created an opportunity for the content today, which has been the best outcome. Always remember, the best outcome is on the other side of a genuine conversation.

Marc: Pleasure.

Brendan: Thanks, buddy.

Marc: Thank you. Everyone, make sure you don't forget to also, as they say, click that little button and subscribe.

Brendan: Which way is it again? It's down here somewhere. It might even be up here, I don't know.

Marc: Yeah, you'll find it. Thanks, everyone.

Brendan: See you, guys.

Marc: Bye for now.

Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.