Rebel Diaries

Richard Cartlidge - Leadership Lessons From The Military

June 13, 2022 Richard Cartlidge Season 1 Episode 9
Rebel Diaries
Richard Cartlidge - Leadership Lessons From The Military
Show Notes Transcript

Richard used to be a navigator in the Royal Air Force flying Chinook helicopters – with operational experience drawn from tours in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

He was a tactics instructor and spent two tours developing leaders and mission commanders. Richard transferred his extensive experience and academic learning of leadership to the corporate space, where he headed leadership development programmes and initiatives for several years in a £1.1Bn organisation focused on operational delivery.

Now he’s a navigator for senior leadership – guiding organisations, teams and individuals to get from A to B, helping them make capacity, think differently, empower others, focus on results and optimise business performance.

For over 20 years Richard has been working with leaders, leadership teams and organisations to develop leadership capability and performance.

What we discuss with Richard Cartlidge

  • Richard's three key behaviours for great leadership
  • How anyone can be a leader
  • Richard's challenge to lead and organise an operation with over 30 military aircraft flying
  • What happens to a team when you take the leader out of the equation
  • Why business is trying to replicate how special forces teams work
  • Why management is about doing things, leadership is about doing the right thing
  • Why we're all creative even if we don't think we are
  • Competitions at work to be the "busiest"
  • How we avoid things that take effort and how that leads to boredom
  • How management is being automated
  • And much more...

Links relating to this episode

Support the show

Keep in touch with the show

Leave a review

  • Please leave a review (written if possible) on your podcast app of choice

How Scott can help you and your business

Additional resources (Purchasing using the links below helps support the running of the show)

Intro teaser

[00:00:29] Richard: It was really obvious if the leader was over-controlling, 'cause if you took them away, the team fell apart. 

[00:00:34] Richard: The best leaders I've worked for are the ones where their team takes the glory and the credit for achieving great things and they're happy to step back.

[00:00:41] Richard: If you go to a colleague and say, "are you busy? They'll say "yeah I'm busy". "How busy?" "Oh I'm busy too". There's a bit of a busy off, and there's a bit of a busy Tourette's that takes place in corporate life.

[00:00:49] Richard: If there's something that's really important, and you want to do it. It probably takes a bit of effort and a bit of extra push. It's always easy not to because as human beings, we're lazy. We're thinking about safety. We're thinking about how to do the bare minimum to preserve ourselves that doesn't lead to adventure and exhilaration that leads to boredom.

[00:01:06] Scott: In this episode, we discuss leadership lessons from the military that apply to modern business, the traits that make a great leader, how you can judge a leader by the team's behaviour when they are taken out of the picture, and much more.

Main show

[00:01:19] Scott: Hi, Richard, welcome to the Rebel Diaries podcast. 

[00:01:23] Richard: Hi Scott. Thank you. Nice to be here.

[00:01:25] Scott: Thanks for coming on. Would you mind just giving a bit of background to yourself who you are where you've been and what you do? 

[00:01:30] Richard: Yeah, sure. I'm Richard, the Richard Cartlidge I live in Cheltenham I was born in Stoke on Trent. I spent the first part of my career or working life in the Royal Air Force. I was a navigator on Chinook helicopters. So I went to some interesting places like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, and a few others in between.

[00:01:47] Richard: And then after I left the Air Force after 16 years did six years at an organization had 12,000 people, 1.2 billion pound revenue, or the Environment Agency, which one sounds more interesting, but the Environment Agency fantastic Leadership Development Manager there for six years, just under six years.

[00:02:07] Richard: And then in 2014, I went full-time. solo running my own leadership development practice.

[00:02:12] Richard: I love thinking about and talking about leadership and the problem with it is I think there's probably 7 billion definitions on the planet. Everyone's got a view on what it is and there's a lot of models out there. There's so many that have been documented in the last 20 years in particular I think it has exploded all the different theories and approaches.

[00:02:31] Richard: So obviously I've got my own. I think my own definition of leadership is leaders of people who make capacity and what they do with that capacity defines them. And that's the first thing that leaders need to do. So that's what I always start my leadership programs and leadership talks on.

[00:02:47] Scott: And is that capacity for their team or to do more than that? 

[00:02:51] Richard: So it's capacity to do what leaders do. So I think leaders think differently. I think they build relationships. I think they take time out to think and be strategic. All the things that leaders do.

[00:03:02] Richard: So I think it's really important to have a think about the difference between leadership and management. And I want to really emphasize I'm not against management. Management is really important.

[00:03:13] Richard: We need it, but that's not what I focus on. I focus on leadership. So I say to people you have to be able to manage to lead. You don't have to lead to manage. So you've got to make sure that people are paid. You've got to make sure that people are looked after the health and safety is taken care of. That just needs to happen.

[00:03:29] Richard: When you're doing that you can then step into the leadership realm and in the leadership realm, you start to do all the other things that the great leaders do. So look looking after people. One of my favourite leadership quotes is from Peter Hawkins and he says, "leadership is a relational phenomenon".

[00:03:42] Richard: So leadership is about people. And very often I will get people saying to me, "I'm not sure I'm a leader". "I don't have people who report into me", etc. Doesn't matter if you relate to people in any way at all, you have the opportunity to be a leader and therefore do leadership.

[00:03:57] Scott: You've come from that military background. Military is quite hierarchical, but modern leadership. My understanding is that needs to be a bit different sometimes. Whereas actually, it's the leader doesn't have all the answers, the leader doesn't give all the commands. That to me is more management so how'd you see that difference in terms of, the military style and business? 

[00:04:20] Richard: Yeah, that's a great question. I have to be really careful as well. I have to catch myself when I talk about leadership. Not to be absolute in what we say is right or wrong. I often get carried away and say, oh, leadership is this or leadership is that sometimes the way the military have is totally appropriate for the circumstances.

[00:04:36] Richard: So when I was in the Royal Air Force, I spent three years training the officers who joined the air force. So I ended up being in charge of the team who trained the flight commanders, who trained the officers. So that's why I really got into leadership development. And when I was working at RAF College Cranwell doing this job, when I started, I thought, oh, fantastic.

[00:04:54] Richard: Military Academy prestigious. I'm going to learn all about leadership. And a friend of mine said to me, "Rich it's a sausage machine". I was like, "no, it's not it's a prestigious military academy. It'll be fantastic". After being there for three years, I thought it's a sausage machine. It processes people and conditions them to do a certain role, which is totally okay.

[00:05:13] Richard: And perfectly okay for the military. So that hierarchal system works there. 

[00:05:16] Richard: I think one of the paradoxes though with the military if you look at special forces obviously they're very good and they're able to organize themselves in very small units, normally six or eight people, and they know what they've got to do.

[00:05:28] Richard: They're clear what the mission is, and they can be self-sustaining if they need to. So that's a really agile approach to getting the mission done. And that's the sort of thing that corporate settings are wanting to do now. So this view of the military being hierarchial sometimes is sometimes that's a problem. Sometimes it's a great enabler, but there's other types of leadership that take place in the military as well.

[00:05:49] Scott: That just made me think of I've said it many times, the team tend to understand more of the reality on the ground, not to give a military analogy there and that I guess makes sense around special forces if they're out and about, disconnected from command, but presumably there's still a leader in that team. And at some point a decision needs to go, "right we need a call on this one" versus we're self-sufficient X per cent of the time, but sometimes something needs to be escalated. Usually, when there's a tough situation, does that make sense?

[00:06:21] Richard: Yeah, it does. And I think, again, a really nice point comes out of that for me, which is in the really high-performing teams someone will act as a leader and do the leadership role. But what that means is they've got the authority. And that's a really important piece to understand.

[00:06:34] Richard: So what authority does the team have to execute the role that it's doing and someone will be responsible for making that happen. If that person is removed for some reason, then can the team still function? And I think that's the key difference, really. So there's a great conversation to be had with leadership in terms of let's talk about power and leadership and control.

[00:06:55] Richard: Because some people think the leader is the person who knows everything has all the answers makes all the decisions. That's not how empowered leadership works. It's not how distributed leadership works.

[00:07:06] Richard: I'm not an expert in special forces, I should say. But in that environment, if the person in charge is taken out if they're killed or captured or whatever, the rest of the team understands, what the mission is, and they can adapt and take over.

[00:07:19] Scott: And I used to say a good leader's job is to almost do themselves out of a job to the point that the team aren't in a position where "oh, the leader is on holiday for a week. I can't make a decision until they get back". That's just, and then the leader comes back and it's like. "Here's 20 things that happened while you're away, that we need you to decide".

[00:07:38] Scott: I think that's bad. The team should be able to make those decisions themselves, not everything, but that ethos of, the team know the boundaries, they know where they're going, they don't need a leader to guide them all the time. 

[00:07:50] Richard: My favourite exercise to do with the cadets, you got a team of about 10 or 12 cadets doing an exercise. So the proverbial shark-infested custard, they've got to get somewhere all sorts of factors that they've got to manage

[00:08:04] Richard: When the leader was doing really well and I'm there as a Flight Commander assessing the leader and thinking, "has he shown the qualities? Has he organized his team? Is he getting the mission done?" When they're doing really well? My favourite thing to do will be to take them out of the equation. So say " you come and walk with me for the next hour and let's see what happens" and the really good ones the team would just carry on.

[00:08:22] Richard: They knew what the mission was. They knew who was doing what. They knew, what the key metrics were that had to be delivered and the fact that the leader wasn't there, it didn't matter because they've been briefed successfully and effectively and they knew what to do.

[00:08:35] Richard: It was really obvious if the leader was over-controlling, cause if you took them away, the team fell apart. They didn't know what was required. They didn't know what to do. They needed some guidance and they just grind to a halt. 

[00:08:45] Richard: It's quite embarrassing in some ways. I think you're right. That what you were saying just now good leaders should do themselves out of a job, that goes back to my making capacity, the only way you can make capacity is if your people are properly, truly empowered.

[00:08:59] Richard: If they're empowered, then you have capacity to do other things and practically what this might mean for some of your listeners, is if I use this as my trump card with this, if you want to get promoted, you're not going to get an extra day in the week and if you look at anyone who's in your organization, who's very senior, they're probably a bit busier than you.

[00:09:16] Richard: They've probably got more to do than you. They probably got more or more authority and control and whatever. They've still got seven days a week. They've worked out how to prioritize and focus on the right things first. 

[00:09:27] Scott: That's linked to that capacity must be actually creating capacity by giving your team the capability to not need you to micromanage them to not behave in a way that they expect to be micromanaged. 

[00:09:39] Richard: Yeah, because you can only do that if they're thinking for themselves and making a contribution. I say to people, again, you might have heard this better than me, in the digital world. I think that any function that has a management function is going to be replaced by AI it's already happening.

[00:09:56] Richard: So if you're not making a contribution, that's based on your human qualities and the relationships that you're building, then it can be done by a machine. So, people who aren't contributing and being creative and are making things happen in a different way, they will become automated. When was the last time you spoke to a person when you tried to talk to you?

[00:10:14] Richard: You have to go through 25 layers of bots and chat boxes and all sorts of things. And then you don't get the answer and you talk to a human being who can actually maybe put you in the right direction. Maybe not.

[00:10:26] Scott: And just get angry. 

[00:10:28] Richard: Yeah.

[00:10:29] Scott: Interesting that example you gave about you take the leader out of the equation. Have you seen though where the team is? ' 'cause I guess a hundred per cent amazing scenario, the team just self-manages and everyone gets on great. But my suspicion would be surely there's some human being tension there where some of them are like, "oh, I don't want to step up here".

[00:10:49] Scott: And someone else vies for the next leadership stand-in position. 

[00:10:54] Scott: Were the team then looking for a second in command to emerge from someone else "Right I'm going to step up and I'm going to, I'm going to take control "or did people say "no, we'll all work together equally"? 

[00:11:04] Richard: I think in the example from the military where I was, it worked really well because there would be a good deputy that would know what was required and they could take over. And that was part of the mechanism. That if you took the leader out, there's a deputy knew what was required.

[00:11:18] Richard: And I think even then if the deputy was taken out the team, the teams that did well, they all knew what the mission was. And if the formal authority was removed they would work out between themselves who needs to make things happen and they still get it done because there wasn't that sometimes there was, but generally, there wouldn't be the ego, they were there for a purpose and they align to this.

[00:11:39] Richard: That's one of the good things about the military environment that we're talking about just now, usually the thing you're working on is bigger than yourself, so you're doing things because there's a bigger objective there. Whereas again, in a corporate setting, I think it does get a bit murkier or the waters get a bit murkier in terms of personal progression, egos people wanting to get promoted.

[00:12:01] Scott: I guess if the leader doesn't set the mission in the corporate scenario, then people are just meandering around, bouncing around they need to be clear what direction they're going in.

[00:12:10] Richard: I think it's a really interesting point, Scott. The successful organizations tend not to talk about individuals who've been really successful I think. They talk about having a really clear mission and purpose that people can get behind, but the organizations that don't work and the teams that I work with that don't perform as well as they could. are the ones where there's individuals and ego and they're thinking about how to put themselves forward. 

[00:12:31] Richard: So, my favorite leadership quality to throw that in here is humility. And just to be clear, what I mean by about humility. The definition I use is from Rick Warren who's a pastor of a mega-church in America. And he says " humility is not thinking less of yourself it's thinking of yourself less". 

[00:12:48] Richard: So how'd you think of other people more? Now if you're in an environment, so you're the sort of person that's " me, how do I promote myself?" That's quite a limited way of being a leader. I would suggest. 

[00:12:58] Richard: The best leaders I've encountered are the ones that put other people first. Or they're thinking about other people and how to enable them to be great. And again, I think the paradox in that is there's a rub isn't there. If I want, if I'm supposed to be a leader in a senior position. So I'm meant to be the one, seen to have the authority and to be making the decisions, to make things happen.

[00:13:18] Richard: Then that's going to make me feel great, but humility is counter to that. And my ego will get in the way of actually letting go of things and letting other people look good. 

[00:13:28] Richard: The best leaders I've worked for are the ones where their team takes the glory and the credit for achieving great things and they're happy to step back, even if it's their fault in a good way, even if they orchestrated it and made it all happen. They're the ones that will say actually, "it's this team that did that". 

[00:13:42] Scott: Do you see resistance to that kind of attitude and principle when you're working with leaders? Leaders who are on that ego trip and that journey do you find resistance there? How bad is the problem? 

[00:13:55] Richard: Oh, yes, I do. And it's really sad. I've known it in a couple of organizations this year, actually where there's been individuals and they're just toxic characters in organizations that have this impact around them. And the thing in the military, I suppose, from my past is the military can deal with that.

[00:14:14] Richard: A lot of people don't get to be operational in the military because they are filtered out at some point through training and through the first few years, perhaps. So people who get to be operational in the military you've already gone through a lot of filtering. And they've also got this big organizational mission. This thing that's greater than yourself. 

[00:14:32] Richard: I think in corporate life, it might be the case that a lot of people just progress their own careers and progress themselves. So there's not actually any need to put anything bigger than them first. We'd like to think people will put the company first, that's what they are there for, and I think being truthful, we do see that to an extent in the public sector. We share some of our careers have been in the public sector where we see people who don't do it for the money. They do it for the cause people in the police doing that all the time.

[00:15:00] Richard: I saw it a lot in the Environment Agency, people working there because they're passionate about what the organization could achieve. That's where it works really well, but I think when it comes down to money and aggressive, personal progression, then I don't think we see good leadership necessarily.

[00:15:16] Scott: So without wishing to over-generalize in your experiences do you see more, better leadership in the public sector than in the private sector? 

[00:15:24] Richard: I've known some great leaders in the public sector and I know some great leaders in the private sector as well.

[00:15:29] Richard: That achieved great things. Yeah, definitely just thinking of one now actually because in the private sector people are really effective and successful who can make money or then do things with that money. That's fantastic. And the public sector, they can't make money, but they can make things happen.

[00:15:45] Richard: So yeah, I don't think we can say one's better than the other,

[00:15:48] Scott: How would you advise people who want to be better leaders? What kind of behaviours and principles should they follow to be good leaders, effective leaders that their team respect? 

[00:15:59] Richard: I distilled this down over the past few years, I wrote my own book in 2019 and I did that because a few people had said you "should write this down, Richard". And it really helped me to crystallize the experience I'd had from the military and in the corporate sector.

[00:16:13] Richard: And then also working for myself for a few years and what it distilled down to I've got a map which I share with people as the sort of five stages on the map was starts with mission and then there's these three key areas that people need to be good at I think to be effective leaders in my view, I know there's many things, but as I said before, I'm interested in equipping people to be leaders rather than just talking about what leadership is.

[00:16:37] Richard: So the first one is making capacity. The second one is thinking differently. And then the third one is empower others.

[00:16:44] Richard: As I said earlier, make capacity is for me, the fundamental first thing that leaders need to get, right.

[00:16:49] Richard: They need to be able to make space, make time, to, to think and to do things. And then they can focus on what they want to do with that capacity. I know that sounds a bit of a tongue twister, but actually. 

[00:17:00] Richard: I usually talk to people about this, about talking about how busy people are. So if you say to if you go to a colleague and say, "are you busy? They'll say "yeah I'm busy". "How busy?" "Oh I'm busy too". There's a bit of a busy off, and there's a bit of a busy Tourette's that takes place in corporate life. And I put out there that you probably work five days a week, delivering five days worth of stuff. It might take you five and a half days to do it, but you get to the end of the week, you say "I'm busy" and you'll maintain a status quo.

[00:17:26] Richard: Leaders, I think do exactly the same amount of stuff, but they'll do it in three days and you'll go, "hang on a minute", your brain's had a bit of a hiccup there and said, " that's not right, Rich you can't do that". 

[00:17:35] Richard: My Trump card for saying that is that when people get promoted, they're not given an extra day in the week. So leaders work out how to do that five days' worth of stuff and do it in three days. So they can create two days to do the other thing that leaders do reading, researching, networking, meeting people, looking after the morale of their people, going to the shop floor and seeing how the business is really doing, and focusing on those things.

[00:17:56] Richard: And where I learnt about that, but where that really struck home. So I was on a course I was training to be a qualified helicopter tactic instructor so I was a mission commander on this sortie where there's about 30 or 40 aircraft flying, and you had to coordinate them all and pull it all together. It's a massive day, you can imagine there's a lot of pressure there. You're surrounded by a lot of peers and senior officers, and they're all looking at you to see how you perform.

[00:18:22] Richard: So I started out that morning. I got the map brief. I got my head around what the task was. I spend about half an hour just working out how I was going to do things. And then you go through this very formulaic briefing cycle of how you're going to run the day. You brief all the elements and then they crack on and they answer a sort of six-hour planning phase.

[00:18:39] Richard: And then after the six-hour, planning phase, you get airborne and you fly the mission, which is normally three or four hours. And then when you come back, there is a three-hour debrief. So these are really quite long days and quite tiring. 

[00:18:49] Richard: So at the start of this day, I did the brief set out what we were going to do with all the different elements.

[00:18:54] Richard: Everyone went off and started planning. I thought "That was easy. Wasn't it? That's all you've got to do." And then in a nanosecond, I was just flooded with thoughts of what could go wrong, all the contingency things coming in. And what was fantastic to learn in that was if I hadn't made capacity by being effective with the briefing and effective with the organization of the assets, I would have been getting stuck into what they're doing and getting my hands dirty with the things that were familiar to me instead of stepping back and saying, "okay, what could happen here? What could happen if you've only got three jets instead of four jets covering us? What could happen if the weather moves in a bit quicker than we thought it would on the forecast?" All these are variables. 

[00:19:32] Richard: Another way of talking about making capacity might be how do leaders properly step back metaphorically and physically from their context and say "what's really going on here and what needs my attention right now?"

[00:19:43] Richard: Now the opposite of that would be for me as a navigator on Chinooks to go across to the Chinook tent join in their planning cycle and just get stuck into stuff that's really familiar. If I did that, I wouldn't be available or be listening to all the other elements that might be having problems or just needed to check in with me to see how things were going and sure enough, over the next six hours, people kept going up to me saying "Rich, we've only got three jets instead of four. What you want to do?" I'd already thought about it. Okay. "What's the go? No, go. We can actually go with two. So three is great. We'll still go. "

[00:20:13] Richard: So I was in a position where I can make those decisions quickly and all the people who were trained to do things really well were allowed to do the things they could do without me interfering.

[00:20:21] Scott: That's reminded me of a bit of advice, one of my bosses told me.

[00:20:25] Scott: He said and funnily enough, it has a bit of an analogy to your story was "a leader needs to take a helicopter view". I was advised "when you get this promotion, you're going to have less hands-on time. You need to take a more helicopter view of what's going on, your team forward planning, not be in the weeds, which is what I was familiar with cause I worked up through those positions. So Yeah, that's really interesting. 

[00:20:48] Richard: I always smile when people talk about the helicopter view though, because I understand it and I agree with it and it's a great metaphor, but my experience of being in a helicopter in the military was normally flying at 50 feet. So you're lower than tree, top height. Helicopter view for me was right at ground level!

[00:21:03] Scott: There needs to be a satellite view then we need to rephrase that! 

[00:21:05] Richard: Definitely that would, that'd be more appropriate for me

[00:21:08] Scott: Maybe too high! 

[00:21:09] Richard: Too removed, but the point is stepping back I always say to people, how can you, I think that I'm aware of talking in absolutes, but I do think the most important word in leadership is perspective. How can you get the biggest broadest most multiple perspectives you possibly can?

[00:21:27] Richard: Because if you can do that, you'll get the best solution that you can with the context that's available to you. 

[00:21:32] Richard: So going back to a single leader, if I'm an egotistical leader that knows everything, you've got one brain working on the problem. Whereas if I can have that stand-back view and encourage and empower other people, then actually I've got as many heads as available working for me.

[00:21:48] Richard: So back in my mission command, I had 40 brains who all highly trained, highly motivated, highly capable people.. Working out how to solve a problem that I was effectively coordinating. And just in charge of.

[00:22:01] Scott: It's popped into my head, the book, Turn the Ship Around.

[00:22:03] Richard: Brilliant book. I use his video a lot it's exactly what we're talking about. 

[00:22:07] Scott: Great. So that was the first principle. What about the second? 

[00:22:10] Richard: Yeah. Make capacity is the first one and so after that, the next one for me is thinking differently. There's a quote isn't it? If you always do what you've always done, you always get what you've always got. I don't know if that's Henry Ford might not be. I actually did that in a talk once and someone challenged me on it and it was great because I thought actually, if you always do what you've always done, you'll be falling behind because the competition will be doing it better.

[00:22:33] Richard: So there's that in a commercial sense how do we look to do things differently? And I think managers maintain the status quo, whereas leaders make change. So leaders can look at situations because they've stood back and make capacity and said, "okay, what's going on here? How can we do this better to say, actually we could be doing it that way we could be going there. We could achieve this". 

[00:22:52] Richard: And they're doing that because they've made the capacity to think about it. And then there's some techniques that we talk about on my leadership program about how do you actually make people think differently? 

[00:23:02] Richard: How many people say, "oh, I'm not creative". Everybody's creative. Just because you can't paint a landscape painting doesn't mean you're not creative. We are creative beings. I think the thing that differentiates us from the animal kingdom is that we can look into the future or consider the future. 

[00:23:16] Richard: We can create a different environment or a different state for us going forward, animals just react to what's going on around them. 

[00:23:23] Richard: So the role of leaders is to say "are we happy with how things are?", if we are great, we just need to manage the status quo. If we're not, then we need to think differently about how to do things". 

[00:23:34] Richard: And I know that sounds like I'm just going on about it, but if you look at human history over the past, however long you want to look at, we're constantly advancing and evolving and innovating. So some of that's really sad and damaging because we've destroyed the planet, but it's the same process if we're going to get through climate change, that's where we're going to have to do it.

[00:23:53] Richard: We have to think differently about the vehicles we drive, who thought 20 years ago electric vehicles were becoming the norm. And in 20 years' time, they will be the standard. That's because people are thinking differently in lots of incremental ways.

[00:24:05] Scott: I think what's tied into that is the leader has to also have the responsibility for the team's capacity not overloading the team I've seen it a few times where the leaders is " more, do more. Yeah. We want to do this new thing. This looks great. I've been, blue sky thinking or I've looked at an opportunity. I think we need to now focus on this", but what I've seen the leaders not do is say, "stop doing this to focus on this". They just keep saying. " Do this and do this as well, but keep doing the thing you were doing". So I think the leader also has to protect that team capacity. You can't do it all. 

[00:24:34] Richard: And that's the prioritization thing. What are the things that you're doing now that just actually aren't productive, you're doing it out of habit or worse still you're doing it out of comfort. So how many people do things that they know aren't productive in achieving the mission, but the doing it because it makes them feel like their busy or makes them feel like they're being effective.

[00:24:50] Richard: And that's where the real discipline comes in. And there's another role for leaders there to say, as you say "we're going to stop doing that and it's going to be painful, but we got to do it". 

[00:24:58] Scott: So that's the two principles you've covered there: make capacity, think differently. What's the third one? 

[00:25:03] Richard: So the third principle for me is empower others. How many organizations do you hear saying, oh, we want an empowered workforce I think I've overused the word paradox already, but there's another paradox here for me, which again, will make people go.

[00:25:16] Richard: "Oh really?" And I think it's, I don't think you can empower people, but I think people can be empowered. So people have to choose to be empowered. It's not something you can impose on people, but it goes back to what I was saying before. If you've got David Marquette and Turn the Ship Around! His example there on a submarine, you've got 134 people. That's 134 brains that can be working towards the mission or not depending on how you set things up. And so the empower others bit for me is how do you get your workforce, get your people, get your team. All aligned and focused on the mission and the working towards it together.

[00:25:54] Richard: And if they do it effectively and well because they understand it, we go back to what we said before, which was actually the leader doesn't need to be there. Of course, the leader will be, cause they'll have some authority or she'll have some authority or there'll be a role for them to play, but actually people who feel empowered and more motivated, more productive, they go further than what's required.

[00:26:14] Richard: They're not talking about the numbers in terms of paying salary, they're talking about getting things done and feeling satisfied for it.

[00:26:19] Scott: So you mentioned humility as a key leadership quality. Are there any others?

[00:26:25] Richard: Yeah, I think there's lots. And it's a very subjective thing. Everybody will have a view on what their favourite leadership qualities are. I have three my favourite leadership quality is humility. The second that is courage. And then the third one is determination.

[00:26:38] Richard: I haven't just chosen those randomly. They're the ones that work. And when I worked with teams that are working well, you see those things taking place. So humility, we've already talked about. It's less about yourself. It's more about the other people and them, and actually, a really important thing for that is inclusivity and inclusion. How'd you make sure you're including everybody? 

[00:26:57] Richard: I think courage is my second favourite leadership quality. If I expand that a little bit if I can do one thing in, in my life, in my work, I think is to encourage people. And if you break down the word encourage, it means to on Koraj to impart courage.

[00:27:13] Richard: If you break down the word courage, it comes from the French liquor for the heart. And actually, I think if you can get people to engage with what they're passionate about, what's really important to them. They'll achieve an awful lot more than you could have imagined. So encouragement. Isn't just about saying, come on, you did a really good job.

[00:27:28] Richard: Encouragement for me is about getting people to engage with the fact that they can probably achieve more than they can and to do that might require them to be courageous. 

[00:27:36] Richard: So you were saying before about leaders might need to stop doing things that sometimes takes courage. It takes courage to say, no, it takes courage to stop doing things that are familiar.

[00:27:46] Richard: It takes a lot of courage to do things that haven't been done before that thinking differently piece. So courage is a key quality for me in a bit of an enabler that allows people to say, actually, we can do this leadership thing rather than just go to the status quo because that's easier. Isn't it? 

[00:28:02] Scott: I used to find myself in my old job saying no quite often, because not because I was being difficult, but because I had a clear mission, a lot of the work that the team did had to be evidence-based so a lot of the things we were asked to do wasn't evidence-based.

[00:28:17] Scott: And some people had the perception. I was just being difficult and I just said no to stuff, but actually, it was because I was trying to protect the team's capacity, focus on the highest value work, accept we cannot do everything. And I think as back to that point, I made earlier. The leader has to protect the team's capacity and yes, that takes courage to manage upward to your bosses and say, "sorry, I know you've got this idea, but it's an idea. There's no evidence that's going to work. So why don't we focus on what we know is going to work?". 

[00:28:46] Richard: I think you're right, Scott. And we're having a nice intellectual conversation here aren't we about what is leadership and what are these qualities? I think that's a visceral thing. People might be listening to this. If they've got to say no to a boss, who's not very nice, or a boss, who's got an agenda or they want to object to something corporately, which just is going to cause ripples and be disruptive.

[00:29:07] Richard: That is going to feel awful. They're going to feel it in a tangible way, their body, their neurology is going to kick in and the fight or flight response and say, "for goodness sake don't do that" and that's where we have to use the higher functioning part of our brain to say, no, this is the right thing to do.

[00:29:22] Richard: And that's another one of my favourite cliches with management and leadership. Leadership is about doing the right thing. Management is about doing things, right. Both of those might be the right answer in different situations, but what it's about doing the right thing, it's going to be emotional.

[00:29:35] Richard: It's probably going to take courage. So although it's a really easy thing to talk about, I don't underestimate how hard it is to be courageous in any number of settings. I can think of not necessarily my own experience with times in the military and people I know in the military have been incredibly courageous for the things they've done.

[00:29:51] Richard: We see people in all sectors of life being courageous and all sorts of ways, how they deal with things the mental health crisis, how many people are courageously getting through that, which is a horrible thing to do. It takes courage to keep pushing. And I think that for me is where my third leadership quality sort of jumps in determination.

[00:30:09] Richard: If it's important enough, you just keep at it. Napoleon Hill said " failure cannot cope with persistence" and I think if something is important enough if you keep at it, you'll get through. So I've had some personal experience of having to be determined to get through things, whether it's personal projects whether it's work things.

[00:30:27] Richard: Getting through certain aspects of training in the military requires quite a lot of determination. Cause it's tough. It's hard, there's a high chop rate around you. But we're always impressed and drawn to people who keep going and achieve great things as a result of it, whether it's running 26 miles in 26 days or fighting cancer or growing a business through adversity yeah, determination is I think an underplayed quality of that great leaders have.

[00:30:55] Scott: So those three qualities that for you are really key to being a good leader you're teaching this, is it easy for people to just adopt that? Or, they just hardwired not to be that way. How easy is it to teach people to have those qualities? 

[00:31:13] Richard: Yeah, I think there's a really good question. And I think to answer that, I don't think it matters what the qualities are, if we asked 10 people "name, your favorite three leadership qualities", we might end up with 30 different answers. So if we go back a step from that, I think in terms of equipping people, we have to go into the emotional intelligence piece, which is where we do the work on our programs.

[00:31:32] Richard: And it's about the choices that people make. So humidity. If I want to have a, if I want to be humble about something, I've got a choice I can put myself first, or I can think about other people. If I want to be courageous. One of my stock phrases is it's easy not to. And a friend of mine, Mark, who I was in the Air Force with we often threw this at each other a lot.

[00:31:52] Richard: If there's something that's really important, and you want to do it. It probably takes a bit of effort and a bit of extra push. It's always easy not to because as human beings, we're lazy. We're thinking about safety. We're thinking about how to do the bare minimum to preserve ourselves that doesn't lead to adventure and exhilaration that leads to boredom.

[00:32:09] Richard: And then determination. That's a choice. There's a choice that you have, you look at any, I was watching the program on the BBC recently the Royal Marines training. Of course I loved it. I wish I was 21 again, and thinking I'd love to do that. No, I wouldn't it's really hard. I probably wouldn't have coped or got through selection. But you could see there the 400 people that get through from the 26,000 that apply every year. Seriously, so those are the numbers, the ones that get through, they make a choice to keep going. Even when their body has said "no more", they keep going. That's determination. So each of those is about choice and choice is part of the emotional intelligence suites that we talk about in and get into.

[00:32:50] Scott: But that again, from a corporate perspective, to have that determination as a leader, you're going to have to believe in the mission, whether it's the organization's mission or your own personal mission. Otherwise you again, you're just take the easy route, "I can't be bothered. I'm just going to tread water and just keep the lights on" and 

[00:33:09] Richard: yeah.

[00:33:09] Scott: That's going to make the difference. Isn't it. Between a good leader and a, like a passive one.

[00:33:14] Richard: I agree and the word that comes into mind there is consequence. So dare I say, in some public sector settings, I've worked in there could be people who are comfortable and they won't change things they'll maintain the status quo because there is no consequence to them. 

[00:33:28] Richard: During some of my time in the military. I could be on a squadron as aircrew. I could try my hardest and be the best I could be, or I could be mediocre. I get paid the same amount. So there's a bit of a problem there. If we're not careful in understanding what the consequences are. I think at the private sector, it's a bit more stark. If you don't perform, it's probably dealt with a bit more quickly and that's a big generalization.

[00:33:51] Richard: So we need to think what are the consequences and all the real to really drive performance. and are they talked about, 

[00:33:57] Scott: I've certainly seen that in my public sector experience where bad leaders have just been tolerated and the impact that's had on, not just their team, but the wider organization has been significant and much more than you'd think really and yeah, it's just hard to get rid of, oh, public sector finds it hard to deal with that, or aren't aware of it or just ignore it and just accept it, not saying this the same for the whole public sector, but just, I've seen some examples where they have got rid of people that needed to go, but on the whole. 

[00:34:28] Richard: I agree. It's that mantra for me again it's easy not to do anything. So people don't, whereas actually, they don't think of what's the higher prize here that we need to be working towards and let's push through the discomfort of that to get there. And whenever people do that, the benefits are fantastic.

[00:34:45] Scott: I ask all my guests if you had one book you could take to a desert island and you're stranded on that island for life. What book would it be? It can be your own book if you want. 

[00:34:55] Richard: Yeah, I whenever I'm asked what my favourite book is, I am going to say two. And I'll explain why. So my favourite book of all time is probably Danny Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. And that's purely sentimental, gushy lovely feelings memories of my son growing up and the children.

[00:35:12] Richard: So that's probably was my number one book, but if I was on a desert island, the book I would probably read again and again, is The Art of Possibility by Ben Zander. When I first read it, it blew me away.

[00:35:23] Richard: Thinking about things differently, thinking about what's possible and just breaking down some of the paradigms that we subscribe to one of the sayings I give on my thinking differently, module this I say to people and it kind of sticks is " what are the rules you're adhering to that don't exist?"

[00:35:40] Richard: And you think about that. Actually, we do so many things because we think there's a rule or a law that says we've got to do it that way. Most of the time there isn't. And if there is, it's probably made up and that's one of Ben Zander's art of possibility, preception of everything is invented. So I would enjoy reading through that book again.

[00:35:57] Richard: I think.

[00:35:58] Scott: If anyone wants to work with you, how do they get hold of you? 

[00:36:00] Richard: Email Or they can go to my website. And they'll find some contact details there.

[00:36:08] Scott: Thank you. And I'll put those links in the show notes for the listeners. 

[00:36:12] Scott: It's been great chatting to you. Rich. 

[00:36:13] Richard: Likewise.

A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show. Your time is precious, so thank you. It is appreciated.

We've got more amazing guests lined up so be sure to subscribe for next week's episode.

The full show notes and links to things we've discussed can be found on the website,

Finally, it would really help us out if you can spread the word with your friends and colleagues about the show.

Take care, be a rebel and deliver work with impact.