72dpi-website banner

Transcript: Lessons for Emerging Leaders – Part 1 (EP4)

 

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.

 

Brendan Rogers: Hello everybody. I’m Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. This is episode 4. For this episode, I spoke with Martin West, who’s a great friend of mine and mentor. Martin is the owner of a consultancy business called X-Gap. X-Gap focused on helping leaders create conversations that produce healthy team performance. Martin has also co-authored a recently released book called Hard Road, A Leader’s Journey Begins. The book is a fictional story about a new leader’s journey. It provides a five part model to help new and emerging leaders as they begin their leadership journey. We’ll be doing this episode in two parts over the next two weeks. The focus of our two-part conversation is Martin’s new book and the lessons for emerging leaders. This episode is part one and in part one Martin shares his experience in the air force and how it helped him find his passion and transition into his consultancy business. He shares the background to the book and we dive into the first and most critical part of the model. Here’s part one of my chat with Martin.

Martin’s on the other end of the phone we’re observing social distancing parameters at this stage in the world with COVID-19. So Martin, thank you for joining us.  

Martin West: No problem. Good to be here.  

Brendan Rogers: It’s a pleasure having you. Do you want to give our listeners a bit of an overview of your career to date and what’s brought you to this point?  

Martin West: I run a consulting company called X-Gap. If I had to summarise the last 20-25 years in a nutshell, it’d be 15 years in the military as an F18 fighter pilot. Loved that. Did that, straight out of school, decided I didn’t want to stay in the military and I didn’t want to do what a lot of my peers were doing, which was go to the airlines. So I started a consulting company and I’ve been doing that for about 18 years.  

Brendan Rogers: I’m really interested to understand your, you know, the FAA fighter pilot scenario and, and what sort of drove you, you know, like you said your peers went into probably the standard process of the airline industry. What was it that you liked about what you did as an F18 fighter pilot and then moved you into that teamwork and culture space?

Martin West: The culture of the air force you learn pretty quickly when you join is you end up going down one or two paths. Either stay in the military as a career, or eventually join an airline and I worked out early on, I love flying, but there’s something I love even more and that was seeing a team’s performance change. And I’ve got the opportunity to lead a unit while I was in the air force, and that unit was focused on training new fighter pilots. I was an instructor and that experience ignited in me something I didn’t know was there, which was helping a team, improve its performance, working with individuals in that team and more than just what was happening in the air, so when that happened, I thought, man, I love this stuff as much as I love the flying.  Working with the team and helping them get improve their performance and working with individuals in it, I thought, I made the decision I’m going to try and build the next phase of my career around my strengths. And I felt like I’ve uncovered some strengths that were not just flying the F18s. And those strengths were not going to be ones that were going to be utilised in the airline industry. So the logical step for me was to look at, I need to get out of the air force and look at starting a business. That’s what I did.  

Brendan Rogers: Was there a key moment or a key thing that happened in that transition that really drove you to that point? You know, something about building teams and improving team performance that said, yeah, this is definitely where my passion sits?

Martin West: Yeah, there was. Two things happened, expand out of my mind. The first was, I did a personality profile when I was in the air force at about this time. I can’t remember exactly what the reason or the catalyst was for me doing it. It spelt out in unbelievable clarity on one of the first pages, what my strengths were and my struggles. My innate form of strengths and my innate form of struggles. It just nailed me, like it was super accurate. And the second thing that happened, about the same time, and I don’t want to make it sound I am big noting, it was just something that happened that was unexpected was I started to get feedback from people in the unit that I was leading, that I was really good at what I did. And you know, when you’re flying you get feedback on your flying. And I felt I was a good pilot and then, you know, you have to be a good pilot to go to the fighters. But once I was in the fighter pilot community, I went from being good to being amongst a group of other people that were also very good. And so that made me probably somewhere in the middle of the pack. And so I’m in a job where I’m flying the aircraft that I dreamt about flying since I was a kid. I’m probably middle of the pack performance wise, but I’m getting feedback from people that I’m really good at this leading a unit game, and so I wasn’t looking for the feedback. I got it really early on. I got it almost from my first three months in the role and when I jumped in the role I kind of volunteered for that promotion and that role. So it was just the frequency and the unexpected nature of that feedback that made me think I’ve got other strengths that I’m not using that are more than just flying the F18s. So those two things were the catalyst, the personality profile and the feedback I was getting about the job I was doing. That’s really what set me on a different path.

Brendan Rogers: Wow! Thank you for sharing mate. Touching on those two very, very important things. We had an earlier episode, episode two actually where we had somebody on who was talking around personality profiling and how that’s helped their business and their team interact together. And then obviously feedback and how important that is for improving performance. So, two pretty powerful triggers for pushing you into what you’re doing today.  

Martin West: Yeah. Yeah. And I’m a big fan of using profiling with our clients. But just by pure coincidence that profiling had a big impact on me making a decision to leave the air force.

Brendan Rogers: Fantastic mate. Look, let’s dive into the topic we’ve mentioned, around emerging leaders and lessons for emerging leaders because you have co-authored a book called Hard Road Leadership, yourself and your business partner Mark Bragg. How about you tell us a little bit about the background to Hard Road Leadership and the experiences leading up to this book, which has recently been released.

Martin West:    The book has come from some lessons we’ve learned in our business and lessons I find are just another way of saying screw ups. So, we’ve made some in our business. So, the big picture first is, the consulting business we run is called X-Gap, short for execution gap, and we’ve been running it for about seventeen years And we’ve made some shifts in that business as a result of mistakes that we’ve made or some gaps that we’ve unearthed and there’s probably three big gaps that we focus the business on and one of them relates to the book. So when we first started X-Gap, we decided just to focus really on execution and helping clients get clear on goals and how they’re going to execute to those goals. And we stuck to that knitting for about 8 or 9 years, the first 8 or 9 years We got a lot of good work out of that. But, then we discovered something that was a little troubling and what we discovered was we could predict which clients were not going to succeed and we can predict it really accurately. My business partner, Mike Bragg and I would chat about a workshop or a follow up meeting and say, I don’t think it’s going to work here. You know, they’ve hired us for 3 months or 12 months but it doesn’t feel good, and we were right every time. And really, that led us to highlight that next big area that we had not been focusing on. And that was really team behaviour. Our business to that point was really focused on goals and executional goals, but we could see team behaviour and culture, when it presented itself, was holding some teams back. And because we could predict it with such accuracy, we thought we need to help people with this. So we then decided that the culture within a team and the behaviour within a team actually has more impact on their success, than the goals they set for themselves and how well they execute. They’re still important. But the behaviour and the culture is more important. So that was the first big shift we made was to emphasize the behaviour and the health of a team when talking about its behaviour.  

And you know, we use a model by Patrick Lencioni called The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. So that accelerated the business. And then that brought us up to maybe three years ago, where I personally learned another painful lesson, which is related to the book and the painful lesson was I’d had a client, been working with them for two years, and been working on their team and the team had improved. And that was really why we were hired, to help the team improve performance and help improve the health and the behaviour. So you know, it felt really good about that, but it became clear to me that the next big change that needed to happen was the leader. The leader of the team was limiting the team’s performance. And so my conversations with the client, the team leader, shifted, and I had to start using language that was related more to the leader’s role and how the leader was the limit. And I drew this diagram with my hand where my right hand was moving upwards representing the team’s performance, but my left hand was capping the right hand and I said to this client, you’re the cap at the moment on your team’s performance. We’ve got to find a way for you never to be the limit on your team’s performance. That conversation didn’t go as well as I’d like it to. We’re really good friends, still are good friends, but I didn’t feel like we finished that engagement well. I didn’t feel like I’d helped that person as much as I could. That was only because we hadn’t really addressed this leadership capacity topic. The third topic at the beginning of the engagement. If I’d said to my friend, listen, how you operate as a leader will always be the limit on the team, and so therefore we’ve got to keep you ahead of the team and keep mindful of your leadership capacity. If I’d said that right at the beginning and built the engagement with that in mind, it would have had a much better outcome. And so we thought, we need to write a book about this, about helping leaders never become the limit.

Brendan Rogers: That’s absolutely fascinating. There’s so many angles we could take this, those three aspects, and I guess the first point you mentioned around teamwork, it’s what, you’re really saying or how I’m paraphrasing that is that, teamwork and, having people interact as a team is really the glue behind so many things.

Martin West: Yeah, no, I mean that’s exactly right. And that was our first big lesson. It’s not so much the goal, it’s what we call the health of the team, that trumps the goals. The goals were still important. But that really described our first pivot as a business was to emphasize the health of the leadership team or the clients leadership team.  

Brendan Rogers: Let’s focus on our emerging leaders topic and, and take that last learning about, I really love that saying, and I hope I get it right, that the leader is the limit. I’ve always loved your direct style and, you know, the ability within your business, which is absolutely paramount in giving feedback because it is that, it’s sort of that medicine or that vitamin for healthy teams. Just give a bit of a perspective on the nature of the conversation you had with that leader, because that would have been a tough conversation.

Martin West: Yeah, it was, I mean it happened over a series of conversations. I could, because a lot of our work is at offsites, our engagements are normally every quarter as a team and then monthly coaching with the individuals in the team, I’d go to those quarterly off sites and for the first year they went really well. For the next year they started to change and I felt like, like I said earlier the leader was the challenge. And so, I said to this person, I think the team are struggling, and eventually after me saying that over two or three coffees, the client asked me to just be direct. Tell me what you think is the real challenge. And I said to her, I think the challenge is that you have become the limit to the team’s performance, but I don’t want to make this conversation about you because you hired me to help the team. And she said, no, I want you to be really, really direct. What do you think I need to do differently to help not become the limit to the team? And I said to her look, I don’t know if you’re capable of doing what I’m about to say just yet and your progression as a leader. So I’m reticent to tell you. And she demanded, please tell me. And so, I listed at that point, the three things I thought she needed to do differently, and that’s really how that conversation came about. And look, it was about the end of the engagement. Then engagement had planned to end, it was a two year engagement. But I just felt, flying home from that particular offsite and that series of coffees that had unfolded over the weekend, that, man, we could have done so much better there. All I’ve really done is give this client some instruction. We should really have been having this conversation progressively right from the beginning.

Brendan Rogers: It sounds like a really humbling experience from both sides and the learnings from yourself and from that leader. I would say it must’ve been really, really satisfying and particularly to hear the leader, you know, wanting to hear that feedback. Because that’s really a big part of the work that you do is, you know, leaders need to be open. They need to have that humility and know that they can improve in various areas. So for a leader to be sitting there and demanding you to give that feedback. I think that would have been really satisfying.  

Martin West: Yeah. I try and carry this lightly, but I’ve got a phrase I use with clients for myself and the phrase is if you see something, say something. You know, clients have  given us the privilege to work with them and we know on the whole that their teams won’t tell them because, you know, I don’t want to tell my boss something that I feel is important that may not go down well. So if the teams can’t tell the boss something, then really there’s no one else to do it other than someone like a consultant or a coach. And so I personally use that mantra. If you see something, say something. Now, of course you’ve got to use it with humility, with grace, with kindness. And maybe there’s times you see something, and it’s not worth saying something because it’s not the right time. But I try to articulate the thing that’s sitting in front of the leader and the team that no one else is saying. I try and put that on the table so at least I can address it.

Brendan Rogers: I love it, mate. That’s fantastic. If you see something, say something, I think that will probably find its way onto my LinkedIn post at some stage in the future. And I will make sure that I credit you.

Martin West: (laughing) That’s fine.

Brendan Rogers: Let’s dive into the book, and how about you just give a bit of an overview. So as I said before, the book is called Hard Road Leadership, A Leader’s Journey Begins. Tell us, give us a bit of an overview of the book. The book is a fictional book on a young executive called Christian Stuart, his journey. How about you share a bit of an overview about what this story is about.

Martin West: Okay. Well we wrote the book, largely because of these stories I’ve just been telling you about leaders being the limit. We thought, okay, how do we stop this from happening, from leaders becoming the limit? And my business partner and I had a conversation that basically, we tossed around this thought, where we’d had a consultant working with us, one of our team members, an older gentleman, and he made a comment that really stuck with me. He said, you know what, if leaders could just learn some of the harder lessons in the first or second role as a leader, it would hold them in such good stead, because it’s almost impossible to learn some of these lessons later on as a leader. And so, that got my curiosity peaked and this facilitator was working with us, he was ex-army, very senior in the army, he’d worked with junior soldiers. He fought in the Vietnam war. His name was Tony. I said, Tony, what do you mean? He said, well often these leadership lessons are sitting, looking at your team, facing them personally and being able to give them good news, bad news, give them directions, give them feedback, but it’s not like that stuff becomes easier as you become more senior. Because as you become more senior you’ve got email, you’ve got meetings, you’ve got all these barriers that present themselves between you and the team. And so, it was that conversation that led to Mark and I saying we need to write a book for new leaders. That if we were never to meet them again, or never meet them at all, what would be the three or four or five things we’d want them to take on board that we know would hold them in really good stead for the rest of their careers? And help them become better senior leaders and hopefully avoid some of the challenges we see senior leaders tackle or get faced with at the moment. And so, we decided to write a book. And we wanted to write something that was interesting. We put the lessons down. We thought the lessons by themselves are not very interesting. So we decided to write a fictional story about a young executive who tackles each of these five lessons through his career. And it’s basically easy to write because it’s based on many, many clients we’ve interacted with over the last 10-15 years. And this young guy Christian, he’s been a great salesperson in this fictitious company, he’s promoted to leadership of the worst team in the company. And the book traces his journey as a new leader and the book’s title is Hard Road Leader’s Journey Begins and Christian faces some big challenges. And the very first one is his team is not happy that this young upstart has become their leader. And so, that’s the first of quite a few challenges that Christian has to face during the book.

Brendan Rogers: Well, I first started leading a team, had the opportunity at 24 years of age and I wish you’d written this book 20 years ago mate. It would have been very, very helpful for me as a young leader.

Martin West: (laughing) It would’ve been helpful for me to mate. Some of the things in there, if I knew in hindsight would have helped me to.

Brendan Rogers: Absolutely. And look, I was lucky enough to catch up with you face to face, a fair bit before the whole coronavirus issue came about and you gave me a signed copy of the book, which I really appreciated. I’ve been through it, I’ve read it in full front to back and, and you know, got bits and pieces through it. It’s an absolute must read in my opinion for not only emerging leaders or leaders that have been in a role early on, but I think, even as experienced leaders, there’s so much that can be taken from this book and we’re going to dive into that. As we are diving in, early on in the book there’s a section called the meeting from hell, and I’ve picked that out specifically because I’m pretty sure that there’s not any one person that would not relate to being involved in what they may determine as the meeting from hell. How about you give us a bit of an insight into the meeting from hell in the book and maybe some of the stories you’ve had, that sort of conjured this story up that you put into the book.

Martin West: Yeh, the meeting from hell is early on in the book, and we put that in the book because it replicated a lot of what we were seeing with clients. And essentially, the background behind that meeting is, the new leader thinks he’s got everything sorted. Christian has got very clear in his mind exactly what he wants to tell the team, exactly how he thinks they should respond, and it’s around goals and their ability to achieve goals. He’s got a sales target, which is pretty much all he’s got. He’s walked into that meeting with just a target and nothing else. But he thinks, you know, I’m the new leader, I’m going to run the meeting, I’m going to walk in with the target and then everyone will get on board and sign on. So the meeting goes badly, because the team has had zero buy-in, there’s no discussion on how we’re going to hit the target. There’s a mix of senior people in the team and junior people. All these things Christian doesn’t know. You know, he hasn’t done some of the things that we advocate doing later in the book. So he’s just looking at this team, he doesn’t know that several of the team members have been through this whole iteration before. Some are way out of their depth, some are bluffing. All of that results in a meeting where the team just goes, nah, not happy. We’ve got more questions now than we’ve got answers. and Christian walks out completely deflated. And, we wrote that because there’s a key lesson behind that. And I think the lesson is you’ve got to get buy-in from the team and there’s a way to get buy-in. And the way Christian tackles that first attempt at the team meeting, was not the way to get buy-in. He subsequently goes and gets some help from a mentor he uses in the book. Her name’s Faye. Faye gives him some thoughts on how to re-tackle that meeting and do some other bits of preparation. Completely re-does the meeting. Has a completely different outcome. We put that in there because we see a lot of leaders that aren’t really sure how to do that critical event. Team meeting and getting the team to buy-in is a key part of it.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, I have to say, maybe one part I do disagree with is the meeting from hell. It actually sounds like it’s just a normal meeting in a normal organisation (Martin laughing). You made it sound like it’s an exception.

Martin West: Yeah. I mean you’re touching on a passion of ours, which sounds really unusual to have as a passion, is team meetings. We think team meetings are core to a teams performance and for us it’s the game, I know a lot of coaches do really, really well coaching their clients one on one. Part of our DNA has always been to go to the game. And for us, the game is the meeting. So when we’re working with clients, we always go to the team meeting and help them improve the team meeting. Because many of them and not done well. And with just some simple changes, they can change, completely. But going to the game, is going to the team meeting. The team meeting is the game. It’s where you should be able to see the score, the progress of the score, what do we need to do differently? But you’re right, a lot of meetings, meetings get a bad rap because many meetings are bad. We think they can be fixed.

Brendan Rogers: Yeah mate, I couldn’t agree with you more. Meetings is the big game. There’s much improvement to be had in life in general in the working life around meetings. And I know you’re passionate about it. You’ve taught me a lot about meetings and how to improve those, which I really appreciate. And yeah, there’s a lot of work to do in that space and look, that’s a whole other subject of a podcast, there’s no doubt about it at all.  

Martin West: Yeah. I mean, it’s one of the five lessons we cover in the book, but it’s an important one.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, that’s a great segway. Let’s get into the model that you guys, yourself and Mark have put together in the book because, the way the book’s written, and I don’t want to reveal everything obviously to the listeners, but the fictional story is really relatable, which is fantastic. But then there’s the learnings at the back, and a model associated to those learnings. So, there’s five parts to the model. How about we dive into the first part, which is self-awareness and team first mindset. What does that mean?

Martin West: Yeah, there are five parts to the model and each of them has many stories that have come out of our experiences with clients. So the five parts, and they’re in order. We think every leader, and particularly new leaders need to be able to grasp and master. The first is, self-awareness. The next is building strong relationships. The third is cultivating alignment with buy-in from the team. The fourth is building an accountability discipline and the fifth is coaching individuals and the team to improvement. So, it’s self-awareness, relationships, alignment, accountability, discipline and coaching. So the first one is self awareness. This is critical. Because, what leaps out to me when I think about self awareness is several stories. One of them relates to feedback I got when I was a junior instructor. I’d been instructing for some time and I asked my students for some feedback and they gave me some feedback that I had no idea I was doing something. Basically this course I was teaching, told me I talk too much in the air. Listening to this podcast, listeners may not be surprised to know that. I wasn’t aware of that. I was an enthusiastic instructor. So getting that feedback was critical. I made big adjustments to my in-air instruction based on that. And the other reason this really resonates for us is, there are a lot of teams, and I don’t say this in a way to blame people. But, there are a lot of teams who are being led by leaders that have significant blind spots. And when I say that, and I think of the people that come to mind, we probably all have blind spots. The problem with blind spots is, they have such an impact on a team. As a leader, if you have a behaviour that’s holding you and the team back that you’re not aware of it, I mean that’s a tragedy and the upside is, find the blind spot, it’s not hard. It’s really just asking for feedback and we outline that in the back of the book. So this self awareness is really getting awareness of yourself first, what are your strengths and weaknesses? The team’s strengths and weaknesses. And then, the third part of it is, what we call, situational awareness, which is really just trying to anticipate what is going to happen next in your team. The big parts are self awareness, and team awareness. Strengths and weaknesses of both.

Brendan Rogers: That’s fantastic. So really, I guess to summarise, and I don’t want to over simplify it because you know, I was just thinking when you went through the initial overview of the model, it sounds so simple and it’s really, I guess, what we say it’s light on the detail, but the challenge is in the application of all these things. So, self-awareness is really around understanding how your interaction, your behaviours are impacting on others and being aware of those so you can make changes.  

Martin West: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And I’m an application type of person. So the application for this is, if I was working with someone I would say, write down on a piece of paper, what you think your top three strengths are and your top three weaknesses or struggles. We’ve all got them. Now go to three other people, one on one, and ask them to complete the same sheet about you. And ask them to be brutally honest. And don’t have them fill it out with you standing there. Get that feedback. We like using profiling tools because they’re good. They are often good at highlighting strengths and weaknesses as well. The challenge is, I see senior leaders that have behavioural weaknesses that are glaringly obvious and they’ve either wilfully chosen to ignore them or they don’t know about them. And so I’m just, in the book, we’ve highlighted how easy it is to eliminate the don’t know about it. It’s just ask, two or three people. Most people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but sometimes we’re not aware of the impact they’re having. And so by asking some people just that simple exercise is really, really powerful and some clients we actually get to do it in person. But, the starting point is just ask two or three people you trust. Then for the team, it’s exactly the same thing. It’s working out, who does your team service? Are they internal customers or are they external customers and again, we’ll do workshops where we try and help teams uncover their goals. And it’s amazing the amount of teams that don’t want customer feedback or customer satisfaction to be one of their goals. And we’re thinking OK, you’re serving someone, you’re either serving another team internally or a team externally, or both, shouldn’t you find out what they think of how well you’re doing at your job, as a team. So again, it’s the same exercise, but this time you ask it referring to the whole team. External, internal customers. What do you think of our team’s performance? What are their strengths, what are their weaknesses?

Brendan Rogers: Mate, thank you for sharing that perspective and the example of the exercise. Isn’t it amazing that an exercise that is so simple to do, really costs you nothing but a bit of time, but the power that can come from an exercise like that is just unbelievable. Before we go into the second part, the relationships and building strong relationships. I just want to ask you one thing, which to me is glaring, when you work with a leader, is there a key quality that you really need to see or are looking for, that will give you some confidence that they can get some self-awareness, or have some self-awareness, or they’re willing to be more self aware?  

Martin West: That’s a great question. These are some pretty good questions Brendan. I think there’s a trait, that if it’s not present is a red light and I’ll use a couple of words to describe the trait. One word is coachable, and the other word is a degree of humility. What I mean by coachable is, can take feedback. Might have a strong ego, which is fine. You need strong egos for some roles. But can take feedback. If he can’t take feedback, I think, you’re automatically limited to how far you’re going to progress as a person or a leader. And that requires humility. And again, this is a short story. I remember when we were flying the F18s, when we’re looking at future fighter pilots, the amount of times we’d have this same conversation go over and over and over again and it will go like this. We’d see a great student who’s great in the air, great potential, think man, this guy could be a great fighter pilot, but couldn’t take feedback. With every mission we debrief, we talk about what works, what didn’t work, and you can see the body language change. You get onto the, what didn’t work, what could be done better. And some people just refuse to allow that conversation to happen. And to be honest, I found it tough as a junior pilot as well. But, eventually I learned it wasn’t about me. It was about the whole team. It was about how can we all get better. So the one trait is coachability, and if I have to make it very specific, it is the ability to take feedback. And some people don’t, you know them, we all know them. That, you can just tell the instant something’s coming their way that they didn’t expect, or don’t like, or don’t agree with, their body language and facial expression changes. They just do not want to hear it. When I see someone like that, I think, you know, to be brutally honest, you’re done. You’re never going to progress beyond where you are right now. And it used to happen when we had these pilots. We think great pilot, can’t take feedback, can’t become a fighter pilot. Because you’ve just signed up for a career of feedback. If there’s one thing that stands out about flying the F18s, it’s that flying was fun, but it was literally a career of feedback. Every single day, every single mission, every move is debriefed. I know it’s not quite as intense as that in business, but you have to be able to take feedback.

Brendan Rogers: I think that’s a great analogy. You know, using your experiences as an F18 fighter pilot, there’s some pretty serious consequences if people aren’t willing to accept and take feedback on and improve in that sort of situation. But you know, I really think and are as passionate as you about, I think that seriousness needs to be taken into leaders, into leader and leadership roles because it’s absolutely paramount for the improvement of the person and ultimately the improvement of the team. And really going back to your point around, you know, the leader reaching the limit that the team may be open to feedback. If the leader’s not, then that limit is probably going to reach there pretty quickly.

Martin West: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. That’s right. And feedback is tough. I get that. Most people are open to it. Every now and then you’ll strike someone that is completely closed to it. That’s going to be tough.

(short music interlude)

Brendan Rogers: Martin is a fascinating person to talk to. This interview was a wonderful opportunity to pick his brain around culture, leadership and teamwork. It’s a real honor for me to speak with Martin and to share this with others. His experience and success in this space is evident through the stories he shares, and now culminating with the book Hard Road, Leaders Journey Begins, which he co-authored with his business partner, Mark Bragg. Given what Martin shared, it was tough to only pick three key takeaways this week from the first part of our conversation, but this is what I went with. 

My first key takeaway. The leader was limiting the team performance. In other words, the leader was the limit. If the leader isn’t growing and learning, this will limit the growing and learning of the team. As a leader, don’t be the limit on your team. Martin used the saying, if you see something, say something. I love this. We have to be honest with our clients as quite often people within the company won’t be. As a consultant, it is our job that if we see something, we say something. This will help to try and avoid the leader becoming the limit.

My second key takeaway. Team meetings are core to a team’s performance. Martin referred to it as going to the game and the team meeting is the game. Just imagine a footballer who didn’t like playing a game, you’d call them crazy. The meeting is the same for leaders. It’s the big game and the leader has to learn to run great meetings. The team meeting is where you should see the score, the progress of the score and experience the progress of the team.

My third key takeaway. Self-awareness, this is absolutely critical and is the first part of the model in Hard Road, Leader’s Journey Begins. There were three parts to self awareness, the awareness of yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, the awareness of the team and the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and then what Martin referred to as situational awareness, which is about anticipating what is going to happen next in your team. Martin referred to two traits that were important to have to be self-aware. Those traits were, coachability and humility. The ability for the leader to be coachable and to have a degree of humility. Martin summed up coachability as the ability to take feedback. A leader must be able to take feedback. If they can’t, it’s a red flag as to how they will progress as a leader.

So just summarising my three key takeaways, the leader was limiting the team performance and the leader was the limit. My second one, team meetings are core to a team’s performance. Thirdly, self-awareness, absolutely critical around self, team and situation. Martin’s contact details will be given at the end of part two.

In the meantime, if you have any questions for Martin or I, please contact me via email at brendan@brendanrogers.com.au. I look forward to bringing you part two of my conversation with Martin next week. As we dive into the other four parts of the model, shared in Hard Road, A Leader’s Journey Begins and continue our focus on lessons for emerging leaders.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time.  

 

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.