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The state of leadership in 2022
Episode 120th October 2022 • How to Take the Lead • Lee Griffith and Carrie-Ann Wade
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In the first episode of this series we thought we should start with a review of leadership so far in 2022, covering some of the highs (there have been a few we promise) and lows of leadership right now. 

We share our thoughts on what’s impressing us in the leadership space, as well as the things that are causing us to get on our soapboxes:

  • 03:16 – Patagonia, living their values and staying true to their purpose
  • 09:47 – Gen Z, the boundary setters
  • 22:00 – handling HR processes compassionately
  • 26:41 – leading through the cost of living crisis
  • 34:30 – the future leader – values, adaptability and wellbeing
  • 43:13 – the How To... our top takeaways

As always we share our top takeaways and in this episode we discuss reframing issues into opportunities, what you can do today that has the biggest impact, lobbying for what matters, engaging with your colleagues, taking action and prioritising wellbeing.

Lee shared the example of transparent leadership from Tony Stubblebine at Medium and the statement she mentions is available here https://coachtony.medium.com/news-about-medium-staff-7d334c235789

We also talked about the parallels in our current monarchy and the storyline in To Play The King by Michael Dobbs. https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/870760.To_Play_the_King

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Transcripts

Lee:

So welcome back to series two of How to Take the Lead.

Lee:

We are back with more irreverent chat, gaffs and slips even more than Liz

Lee:

Truss on her routine media interviews.

Carrie-Ann:

Oh God, that that is something for us to aspire to, isn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

Oh my goodness.

Carrie-Ann:

Me.

Lee:

How has your summer been Carrie-Ann?

Carrie-Ann:

My summer has been lovely.

Carrie-Ann:

Thank you very much.

Carrie-Ann:

But I'm, Yeah, I can't believe it's autumnal vibes.

Carrie-Ann:

We're on series two already.

Carrie-Ann:

Where is the time gone?

Lee:

I know it feels like such a long time since we were literally practically in

Lee:

our underwear recording parts of series one and now I've got all the layers on

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, but what's, what's the, the latest on the reels and the tick tock?

Carrie-Ann:

It's sweater weather.

Carrie-Ann:

It's definitely sweater weather.

Carrie-Ann:

But yes, how was your summer break?

Lee:

yeah, it's been good.

Lee:

I've, um, yeah, I've been trying not to get too agitated with world events.

Lee:

I've been on a little holidays and, I've been reading lots of

Lee:

books and generally trying to preserve my own mental wellbeing.

Carrie-Ann:

I love that and hopefully, how to take the lead series two,

Carrie-Ann:

might provide a small release and some therapy around some of the, the not

Carrie-Ann:

letting world events get to you stuff.

Lee:

It is brilliant to be back and we have had so many ideas and suggestions

Lee:

for topics to cover, and there's certainly been a lot going on in the

Lee:

news over recent weeks and I know for a fact if we'd been recording,

Lee:

I would've got my soapbox out many, many, many, many, many times if I'd

Carrie-Ann:

soapbox would've taken a battering.

Carrie-Ann:

We'd have needed to get you a new one to stand on.

Lee:

So I thought it would be, uh, timely if not cathartic, even if we

Lee:

start this series with a bit of a check in on what we think of the state of

Lee:

leadership in general, I suppose, as we head towards the end of the year.

Lee:

So, Really broad question to kick us off, what, what's been impressing you

Lee:

and what's really pissed you off in the world of leadership since the last series?

Carrie-Ann:

Let's start with the good, shall we and go for what's impressed us.

Carrie-Ann:

But I have to say it's been a little bit of a struggle.

Carrie-Ann:

I haven't been, you know, leafing through a wealth of, uh, examples of impressive

Carrie-Ann:

leadership, but there has been , something that that's happened that's sprung to mind

Carrie-Ann:

for me as an example of a leader being true to their values and their purpose.

Carrie-Ann:

So, Patagonia, The outdoor clothing company and their, chief Executive Ivan

Carrie-Ann:

Shinard has fundamentally changed the way their business runs by, moving towards,

Carrie-Ann:

a charitable trust and investing all profits into combating climate change,

Carrie-Ann:

which is a cause, which is very close to the heart of the business and something

Carrie-Ann:

that they feel very strongly about.

Carrie-Ann:

So for me, I felt like that was a really great example of a leader.

Carrie-Ann:

Being treated their values, considering what their passion and purpose is all

Carrie-Ann:

about and doing something about it.

Carrie-Ann:

I have to say there will be critics, so in brackets critics will argue

Carrie-Ann:

that as a billionaire that might be something that's much easier to do than

Carrie-Ann:

a your average person on the street.

Carrie-Ann:

But I did think, you know, it was also an opportunity for others to reflect on

Carrie-Ann:

what's important to them and whether there are even tiny changes that they can make

Carrie-Ann:

in terms of their leadership, to think about how they're delivering on their

Carrie-Ann:

purpose and, and sticking to their values.

Carrie-Ann:

so, for me, that was a definite positive example that had a bit of a feel good

Carrie-Ann:

factor, and I thought, you know what?

Carrie-Ann:

Good on him.

Carrie-Ann:

Good on his business.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

Was loving that so how about you Lee?

Lee:

I think that the one thing that struck me over the last

Lee:

couple of months has been, um, I dunno if you use Medium at all.

Carrie-Ann:

Yes.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

online magazine place the new, chief executive that did an open letter,

Lee:

sharing information that he'd shared with his staff about a restructure and

Lee:

some redundancies that they were making, which obviously that isn't in and of

Lee:

itself positive news, but it was the style and the tone in which he handled

Lee:

that bad, negative, poor news that, um, struck me because he did it with

Lee:

empathy and understanding of what those colleagues of his would be going through.

Lee:

He did it with, openness and transparency behind the decision making and

Lee:

making it clear that it was nothing to do with any of them personally.

Lee:

It was a realignment of strategies.

Lee:

It wasn't even a cost saving thing.

Lee:

It was a strategy realignment, which meant that they needed to remove certain posts

Lee:

and he, and there was a certain part of it where he made a point about colleagues

Lee:

not necessarily having the opportunity or time to say goodbye to people properly

Lee:

and stuff like that, which I thought, you know, it just went that one step

Lee:

further in terms of demonstrating empathy, demonstrating understanding, and I think

Lee:

of course it was gonna be incredibly hard for those staff involved, but I think

Lee:

it was a real signal of demonstrating how you can sensitively handle bad news

Lee:

a way that still takes people with you.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, that sounds really compassionate in terms of an approach and

Carrie-Ann:

like you say, going that one step further, that extra mile to share something that's

Carrie-Ann:

really difficult, but in a way that is as compassionate and kind as possible.

Lee:

We'll put it in the show notes because as I say, it is

Lee:

publicly available announcement.

Lee:

And I do think it's an example of good communications from leadership.

Lee:

So those are, are what's impressed us.

Lee:

What's really got your go over the last couple of months?

Carrie-Ann:

I'm gonna save some of what's got my goat cuz I've got a

Carrie-Ann:

feeling we might move on to that and I don't want to make the whole episode,

Carrie-Ann:

uh, maybe hugely political in nature.

Carrie-Ann:

So I'm gonna go with the center Park's debacle, that's what I'm gonna call it.

Carrie-Ann:

The Center Park's debacle.

Carrie-Ann:

So in response to the National Morning period and, the date of the Queen's

Carrie-Ann:

funeral, I mean, center parts could not have handled that any worse, could they?

Carrie-Ann:

We're closing everything and all our guests have to go and stay

Carrie-Ann:

somewhere else for the night.

Carrie-Ann:

What the actual, That was terrible.

Carrie-Ann:

And, uh, Then the decision was backtracked on because they could see the damage

Carrie-Ann:

that it had caused, but the damage had already been done, hadn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

Uh, that was just terrible decision making, I think from the leadership team.

Carrie-Ann:

And the bit extra bit that got my goat was that I feel like the PR

Carrie-Ann:

team there took a lot of the flack, around some of that decision making.

Carrie-Ann:

And I was really interested in the conversations it sparked afterwards

Carrie-Ann:

about sort of comms and leadership.

Carrie-Ann:

And the fact that, you know, poor PR and poor communications was getting

Carrie-Ann:

quite a lot of the blame for that, when actually it was poor decision making

Carrie-Ann:

and poor leadership that was the issue.

Carrie-Ann:

And yeah, I think there's something to be said about the fact that, there

Carrie-Ann:

was a team that had to be involved in, in sharing some of that and then

Carrie-Ann:

sharing the backtrack and trying to manage that reputational damage.

Carrie-Ann:

But sometimes you just can't polish that poop, can you?

Lee:

That was the phrase that just came to my mind.

Lee:

You can't polish a turd and.

Lee:

It says a lot.

Lee:

I dunno if you looked at their leadership team and the, the formation of that

Lee:

leadership team and, the term pale, male and stale really shones through.

Lee:

Shones?.

Lee:

I don't think that's the word.

Lee:

really shone through.

Lee:

It does make you think about the diversity of voice and

Lee:

thought in their leadership team.

Lee:

It does make you think about, they obviously don't seem to have a big

Lee:

presence of customer voice or customer experience at that top team, They

Lee:

certainly don't seem to have any strategic communications, input and so I wonder

Lee:

how much, uh, their decision making was challenged before they made the decision.

Carrie-Ann:

I'd hazard a guess.

Carrie-Ann:

Not at all.

Carrie-Ann:

. And if it was, then it definitely wasn't listened to, was it?

Carrie-Ann:

So, and I know there's stuff we talk about a lot about understanding the impacts

Carrie-Ann:

of the decisions that you are making.

Carrie-Ann:

And, and like you say, that diversity of thought and voice and that opportunity for

Carrie-Ann:

challenge in the process of making those decisions and that just wasn't there.

Carrie-Ann:

So, I'm just gonna stick with that one example cuz I think there's

Carrie-Ann:

gonna be opportunities for it to us to explore some others.

Carrie-Ann:

But for me it was definitely the center parks debacle that really

Carrie-Ann:

hacked me off over the summer.

Carrie-Ann:

How about you Lee?, I'm interested to know what's been, what's been on your mind?

Lee:

It might be easier to tell you what hasn't, but, I think the one that's been

Lee:

playing on my mind over the last couple of weeks, so quite a recent example

Lee:

is, Steven Bartlett, The man who can do no wrong in so many people's eyes.

Lee:

But he made, I thought, quite a shortsighted comment in the last

Lee:

couple of weeks about generation Z which apparently I'm not in.

Lee:

I realized when

Carrie-Ann:

I'm in the same club as you.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm not in it either.

Lee:

But he made this comment about them being the least resilient and how his fear

Lee:

for the workforce is that these younger people coming into work don't know what

Lee:

hard work is and this, that and the other.

Lee:

And it really disappointed me to hear someone saying that.

Lee:

I don't think he's alone.

Lee:

There's probably a lot of people that talk, you know, this whole talk about

Lee:

snowflakes and the general view that, oh, it wasn't as hard as in my day.

Lee:

And I, I think there's a bigger discussion to be had here because I

Lee:

think actually fundamentally what's happening and I'm almost in awe and wish

Lee:

I had had the balls at at that age to be really clear on what my boundaries

Lee:

are, and I think, of course there are.

Lee:

The minority of, of younger people as there are old people who will do the

Lee:

bare minimum, who will look at excuses not to get involved or do work, and

Lee:

you get that in all walks of life, so that, I don't think it's exclusive

Lee:

to any particular age or generation.

Lee:

But I do think that the younger, this generation Z, as they call it, are

Lee:

just getting smarter on what they want.

Lee:

Perhaps aren't following traditional career paths and they're saying, No,

Lee:

I'm gonna stick up for my boundaries.

Lee:

And I think that's a good thing that we should be celebrating and learning from

Lee:

and thinking how can we embrace that?

Lee:

And I would love to see organizations as part of their workforce strategies when

Lee:

they're thinking about multi-generational workforce, thinking more about how do

Lee:

we start to respect people's boundaries and make that more of a conversation

Lee:

that can be discussed rather than just going, these younger people don't know,

Lee:

they haven't lived, they dunno what hard work is cuz I don't think that's true.

Carrie-Ann:

Oh, you're pushing all the right buttons for me with this one,

Carrie-Ann:

Lee, because I, you know, what I'm like about boundary setting, it's one of

Carrie-Ann:

the topics that is dear to my heart and that I talk about quite a lot in the

Carrie-Ann:

work that I do through cat's pajama.

Carrie-Ann:

So I, I'm absolutely on board with you with the boundary setting stuff.

Carrie-Ann:

And like you say, slightly in awe because, you know, I think there's been a culture

Carrie-Ann:

previously of being always on, being available 24 7, having to always go that

Carrie-Ann:

the expectation, do you know what I was gonna say, of going that extra mile.

Carrie-Ann:

But I think the issues become that when you go that extra mile, that's just seen

Carrie-Ann:

as the norm rather than the exception.

Carrie-Ann:

So I think you are absolutely right.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

Quite misaligned with maybe what was going on in terms of that comment there

Carrie-Ann:

from Steven Bartlett there because it's gone straight to the negative

Carrie-Ann:

rather than really looking at, at the positives of that, which is it's people

Carrie-Ann:

sticking up for what they believe in being true to their values, trying

Carrie-Ann:

to get their, I know it's a word that sometimes we roll our eyes at, but

Carrie-Ann:

trying to get that balance right between work, life, wellbeing, everything else.

Carrie-Ann:

So why, Yeah, why are we having a go at people who are being really assertive in

Carrie-Ann:

setting their own boundaries when it's something, I mean, I'm definitely not

Carrie-Ann:

going to cause it's something I talk about a lot with people about how to do that.

Carrie-Ann:

So good on them, but yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

Oh, I like that.

Lee:

I think it has the risk of almost snowballing.

Lee:

Cause I do think he is verbalizing what a lot of people are perhaps

Lee:

saying in the workplaces.

Lee:

And we seeing that now with people trying to push people to come

Lee:

back into the office, for example.

Lee:

So this old traditional sense of, and I think I saw something, I, I have

Lee:

to admit I haven't watched it so I could be completely misquoting and

Carrie-Ann:

I love that.

Carrie-Ann:

Warning.

Carrie-Ann:

Warning in advance, I might be getting this totally wrong.

Lee:

but saw it Simon Sinek and he was saying something similar

Carrie-Ann:

He was in conversation funny enough with Steven Bartlett.

Carrie-Ann:

On, on his podcast on Steven's podcast, wasn't he?

Carrie-Ann:

And he was.

Carrie-Ann:

He was saying the same thing, that he's worried about the resilience,

Carrie-Ann:

I think, of younger generations and yeah, it's sort of along the same

Carrie-Ann:

lines of what Steven Bartlett said.

Lee:

Yeah, but once you start getting these big names that more leaders are

Lee:

looking up to, and I worry that people are gonna start taking that and thinking

Lee:

it's okay to be, rather than looking at the flip side, which is we need

Lee:

to be looking after our people more.

Lee:

We need to be respectful of boundaries.

Lee:

We need to be setting our own boundaries as leaders.

Lee:

I just think that we could be seeing this whole wave of people just trying

Lee:

to put younger people back in their place, which I just don't think's right.

Carrie-Ann:

No, and particularly for us when we're talking about future

Carrie-Ann:

generations of leaders and what does a future leader need to look like, we need

Carrie-Ann:

to be open to the fact that people's lives are changing, the way that people want

Carrie-Ann:

to operate in the workplace is changing.

Carrie-Ann:

And we need to move with that rather than being stuck in this sort of old

Carrie-Ann:

school anyway, we're probably going into something else now, but that old

Carrie-Ann:

school kind of like, I must see you the hours, I'm here to believe that

Carrie-Ann:

you're actually working rather than trusting people and empowering people

Carrie-Ann:

to do what you employ them to do.

Lee:

yeah.

Lee:

And we know, that with younger, not, not exclusively with younger people, but

Lee:

there is more of a trend to have multi careers, this kind of multi hyphenate

Lee:

work environment so that people might only spend a couple of days doing this

Lee:

job and that job, and therefore that expectation that they're going to go above

Lee:

and beyond for one employer over another is also a bit outdated if you think about.

Carrie-Ann:

Absolutely.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think in the current climate, which I know we'll probably want to

Carrie-Ann:

touch on in this episode as well, the fact that we think people are gonna

Carrie-Ann:

be able to get by having their just their one job is probably very naive.

Carrie-Ann:

We're already seeing in certain industries, people having to take

Carrie-Ann:

second and third jobs to be able to survive and pay their bills.

Carrie-Ann:

So I think e even more reason for leaders to need to think

Carrie-Ann:

flexibly and be adaptable.

Lee:

We alluded to the changes in the monarchy.

Lee:

There's also been some quite big changes at the top of our government.

Lee:

How are you feeling about all of that?

Lee:

And I, I suppose my, my broader question is, what do you think it's signaling

Lee:

from a leadership point of view?

Carrie-Ann:

I think it's quite interesting, isn't it actually?

Carrie-Ann:

Cuz I feel like there's something that's happening.

Carrie-Ann:

Well there's definitely something that's happening where it's more than slightly

Carrie-Ann:

at odds with the realism of everyday life.

Carrie-Ann:

When I think about the government, I don't think they're at all in

Carrie-Ann:

touch with how it feels to be part of society right now, um, at all.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think from the point of view of the government, my perception and my

Carrie-Ann:

observations would be we're shifting even more into that sort of hierarchy,

Carrie-Ann:

dictatorship, we know best style of leadership from government, from

Carrie-Ann:

individuals, and a collective that seem out of touch and are not listening and

Carrie-Ann:

not acting on what matters to people most is, is how it feels or not what matters

Carrie-Ann:

to the people in the majority, there may be more interested in what's happening to

Carrie-Ann:

the people who are the richest rather than the people who, uh, need help and support.

Carrie-Ann:

So I feel like there's some quite strong signals there in terms of

Carrie-Ann:

a style and approach to leadership that's happening within the government.

Carrie-Ann:

But I've reflected, and I think it is slightly at odds actually with

Carrie-Ann:

what's happening from my perception within the monarchy, because I feel

Carrie-Ann:

that although what's happened with the passing of the Queen and the traditions

Carrie-Ann:

that came with that, and it felt very traditional in terms of the handling

Carrie-Ann:

of that whole situation, I do feel like now we are moving into a space where

Carrie-Ann:

it feels like the royal family are lining things up for perhaps a slightly

Carrie-Ann:

different take on how they want to lead and how they want to be perceived.

Carrie-Ann:

So perhaps a slightly more modern approach, and getting the next generation

Carrie-Ann:

of leaders ready for that and positioning people to take on different roles

Carrie-Ann:

and maybe bringing it in tighter.

Carrie-Ann:

So there's Less royals doing stuff out there in the public

Carrie-Ann:

domain, so they're bringing it in and making it more close knit.

Carrie-Ann:

But in a way, I think that's perhaps responding to some of the people who

Carrie-Ann:

don't see the point in the monarchy and don't want hundreds of royals presiding

Carrie-Ann:

at things and, and turning up at stuff.

Carrie-Ann:

I feel like they are trying to respond to that in a way that's perhaps

Carrie-Ann:

slightly at odds with the way the government are approaching leadership.

Carrie-Ann:

So that, that's my summary of how I'm perceiving things at the moment, but

Carrie-Ann:

probably open to being completely wrong about some of that, and sadly, probably

Carrie-Ann:

completely right about other bits of it.

Lee:

It is interesting from the monarchy point of view with perhaps some of the

Lee:

more ju not junior, the younger members of the family, stepping up to more

Lee:

senior roles, Will that Start to bring a different approach to stuff, or will

Lee:

it not, will they get sucked into the, this is the way the firm works, , which

Lee:

is the language that everyone uses.

Carrie-Ann:

Which I find very uncomfortable and I would like to

Carrie-Ann:

see a move away from that because I think that gives off vibes that

Carrie-Ann:

I'm not entirely comfortable with.

Lee:

As a really, well, it was interesting to me aside, probably not to

Lee:

you or to anyone listening, but before

Carrie-Ann:

I love that.

Carrie-Ann:

Let's just share some stuff that nobody's gonna be interested in.

Lee:

A couple of months ago it was before the Queen passed and before the

Lee:

change in, leadership in the government.

Lee:

I read the second book in the House of Cards trilogy by, um,

Lee:

Michael, Can't think of his surname.

Lee:

and it's called to Play the King.

Lee:

And interestingly, when you read these, these were written in the

Lee:

nineties or something, and he has this foreword whilst the books weren't

Lee:

based on particular people, they were based on his interpretation of

Lee:

certain things that were happening.

Lee:

Anyway, the premise of the storyline of the second book, without giving any

Lee:

spoilers, is that the new king is in place and there is a new prime minister

Lee:

in place, and the king wishes to be more politically active on things like

Lee:

that, that he is interested in, and the government doesn't want that to happen.

Lee:

And this political spat between the two of them trying to get the higher ground.

Lee:

And I read it at the time, definitely I had, Charles in my mind as the king that

Lee:

they were talking about in, in the book.

Lee:

But it's been so funny watching what's been playing out between

Lee:

Liz Truss and, and the King over the last couple of weeks.

Lee:

And I'm like, Oh my God.

Lee:

They've literally just read and they're playing out this book, . So

Lee:

if anyone wants to know the ending, read the second book,

Carrie-Ann:

they've, they've made the book into a real life movie already

Carrie-Ann:

playing out in front of our very eyes.

Lee:

I think one of the things that struck me from the monarchies handling in the

Lee:

change, aside from I suppose all the pomp and everything that's been happening and

Lee:

whatever people's views are on that, I think the, one of the interesting moves

Lee:

that stood out to me was, Staff at Clarence House that were put on notice

Lee:

and how that was handled and obviously it was in the news at the time and now

Lee:

completely understand that probably in their contracts this is a natural HR

Lee:

process that is followed and whatever.

Lee:

But I thought the timing was really, yeah, really poor and I.

Lee:

Oh, this really doesn't show compassion for staff that who are having to deal

Lee:

with, you know, they're probably mourning in their own way as well because of

Lee:

stuff that's happening and, but then also worrying about their own personal

Lee:

position whilst also trying to support a transition happening and all of that.

Lee:

And I just thought, this isn't the great first step in terms of thinking

Lee:

about care showing you caring for, for the people around you.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, absolutely.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm interested that you've not touched yet that much on the government stuff.

Carrie-Ann:

I don't know if that's, cuz you don't feel like your soapbox is

Carrie-Ann:

sturdy enough to handle or that you might have to say on that.

Carrie-Ann:

But what's your sense around the changes in government and the leadership and

Carrie-Ann:

what we've seen so far and conscious that we've got the rest of the

Carrie-Ann:

episode to put some other stuff in.

Carrie-Ann:

This could be like a bonus episode, I'm sure from you, Lee.

Lee:

I mean, I don't, I I, what, what is it to say?

Lee:

I, I think that there is still this sense of populism ruling.

Lee:

And it's really interesting when you've looked at the process of who was

Lee:

elected leader and the mps definitely feeling differently to the party

Lee:

members who voted and that sense of populism within, within the party.

Lee:

I don't think they've got bloody clue what they're doing.

Lee:

I find it fascinating that they are trying to position themselves

Lee:

as being a new government.

Lee:

and in the work I do with leaders stepping into new jobs, I do talk a

Lee:

lot to them about distancing yourself from the legacy of your predecessor if

Lee:

you are starting in a new organization.

Lee:

But I think this government's taking it too far and, I think that's impacting on

Lee:

their integrity even more because they're almost denying the fact that they've been

Lee:

in power for 12 years and, and actually our new prime minister has been in the

Lee:

cabinet for, for 10 of those 12 years.

Lee:

So to act like they're completely new.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

All brand new.

Lee:

a break and all of that, once they find their feet, I, I just,

Lee:

you know, it's reeks of bs, and

Carrie-Ann:

And we don't like BS here.

Lee:

So that's, I don't think they've handled that particularly well.

Lee:

I don't think some of the moves that they've made early on, absolutely we

Lee:

are in this tricky time financially with the cost of living crisis and whatnot.

Lee:

Of course, There's been calls for them to show that they've got a

Lee:

plan and they're gonna take action.

Lee:

And of course they're gonna need to show that they've got a grip of the problem.

Lee:

But I don't think they've done that legwork in terms of really

Lee:

understanding the problems and really listening to, to people.

Lee:

And I think if you look at the budget, for example, The fallout over the budget

Lee:

and their response to the fallout most more importantly, shows a complete

Lee:

lack of understanding both of their privilege and also a lack of empathy

Lee:

with the people it's gonna affect.

Lee:

And I think it just sets a really poor tone from what I think

Lee:

we're gonna continue to see.

Lee:

Sorry,

Carrie-Ann:

No.

Carrie-Ann:

Feel properly depressed.

Carrie-Ann:

Now let's move us on.

Carrie-Ann:

I'm not, I'm not sure things are gonna get any better, if I'm honest.

Lee:

So we've touched on the cost of living crisis, and I know you

Lee:

and I have privately been having quite a few conversations about

Lee:

this over the last couple of weeks.

Lee:

We do talk between serious

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, we we are real friends.

Carrie-Ann:

It's not all an act, just for the podcast.

Lee:

We know, obviously it's the thing that is just everywhere you

Lee:

turn there is you're seeing it in the news or you are experiencing

Lee:

it firsthand, whether you, it's the bills that you're getting or whatever.

Lee:

there's so much uncertainty.

Lee:

There's also so little trust and belief in the government and in other

Lee:

agencies that they're actually gonna be able to do anything about it.

Lee:

And, if anyone's listened to, any episode of How to Take the Lead before we, we've

Lee:

often talked about the fact that, staff and communities are looking to leaders

Lee:

of their local organizations more than ever to speak up on the issues that

Lee:

matter most to them because they have more trust in that kind of leadership.

Lee:

Then big leadership or government or the media, and I think if there was ever

Lee:

a time that leaders need to be seen to be making a stance and talking out on

Lee:

behalf of the people that they serve.

Lee:

This is that time.

Lee:

So I suppose my question is what's that look like?

Lee:

What, what, what can or should leaders be doing right now?

Carrie-Ann:

I think we've probably touched on some of what people

Carrie-Ann:

are not doing, which lends itself to what they should be doing.

Carrie-Ann:

So for, There are a couple of things that sprang to mind for me, and I think

Carrie-Ann:

there's something about genuinely actively listening and looking for areas that as

Carrie-Ann:

leaders, We can take action on that will make a genuine difference to people.

Carrie-Ann:

So really understanding so that point you made just now about like lack of

Carrie-Ann:

empathy, lack of understanding about what was really going on for people.

Carrie-Ann:

I think as leaders we really need to make those efforts to understand

Carrie-Ann:

that and to look at where there are opportunities for us to.

Carrie-Ann:

Potentially take action to support people and make that difference.

Carrie-Ann:

I think clear, transparent communications and that signposting, so when there's

Carrie-Ann:

stuff that we can't do as leaders for whatever reason, can we signpost and,

Carrie-Ann:

and get people to support that they.

Carrie-Ann:

They can access to help them, I think is really important.

Carrie-Ann:

And again, you used a really great example with Medium earlier on in the

Carrie-Ann:

conversation about that compassionate, empathetic, transparent communications

Carrie-Ann:

and being really open about stuff.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think now more than ever, as leaders, we need to do that.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think the point you made about taking a stance is really important.

Carrie-Ann:

So actually as leaders, are we in a position.

Carrie-Ann:

Where we can lobby, um, and, and can have a voice and speak out more loudly.

Carrie-Ann:

And I'll use the NHS as an example cause that's the one that I'm living through

Carrie-Ann:

at the moment in, in terms of my day job.

Carrie-Ann:

But absolutely so many individual organizations and individual

Carrie-Ann:

leaders doing things to try and put that support in place for people.

Carrie-Ann:

Whether it was supporting, uh, staff to get school uniforms over the summer

Carrie-Ann:

when they couldn't perhaps afford them.

Carrie-Ann:

Setting up food banks, like making one off payments to try and make a

Carrie-Ann:

contribution, um, to support people.

Carrie-Ann:

But the thing that I think is proving to be a real issue is there's no consistency

Carrie-Ann:

because each organization's been left to do their own thing and some organizations

Carrie-Ann:

are perhaps in positions where they can do more than others for whatever reason.

Carrie-Ann:

Finances, for example.

Carrie-Ann:

So I think what's been really positive is seeing, membership bodies like NHS

Carrie-Ann:

providers and NHS conf reaching out and ing with leaders across the NHS

Carrie-Ann:

to really represent and lobby for a more national centralized approach

Carrie-Ann:

and action from the NHS as a whole.

Carrie-Ann:

And so I think the more that leaders can get into that space

Carrie-Ann:

and support some of that lobbying around this issue, the better.

Carrie-Ann:

Because it's not gonna be fixed by one person doing one thing,

Carrie-Ann:

it needs to come as a collective.

Carrie-Ann:

So that, that was my initial thinking.

Lee:

I completely agree with you and I've seen some of those examples that

Lee:

you've, you've mentioned, and I think a few places yesterday were announcing

Lee:

subsidies for staff in the canteens, for example, and stuff like that, just because

Lee:

staff weren't getting hot meals at home.

Lee:

So completely agree if there is the ability for you to

Lee:

take actions locally do it.

Lee:

If you can use collaborations locally, yes, you might not have resources within

Lee:

your own individual organization, but the strength and power of a collaborative

Lee:

locally, seeing where you can perhaps support and help each other can go a

Lee:

long way if you're not already having conversations with counterparts in

Lee:

other organizations and, and thinking beyond the, perhaps traditional links

Lee:

you might have into maybe some of those more community based people, or places

Lee:

as well would be really important.

Lee:

I think using the media is, is super powerful and using your voice as a leader.

Lee:

I, I think no leader at the head of an organization should be

Lee:

silent on these kind of issues.

Lee:

They should be and need to be not only speaking up, but I suppose painting

Lee:

the picture and sharing the stories to demonstrate the impact that decisions

Lee:

are having in their organization, in their community with the, the clients

Lee:

that they see or, or the customers that they see, obviously sharing

Lee:

with permission and all of that.

Lee:

But I think often it could be easy to make broad statements and I think until

Lee:

we start to really shine a light on, it's this person in this way that's impacted,

Lee:

you know, really tangible stuff that you can see, you can feel, you can understand.

Lee:

Then I, I think then that collective voice starts to, to make more of an impact

Lee:

at a, a regional and a national level.

Lee:

I think the other thing that leaders need to be thinking about and it kind

Lee:

of brings us back to the point we were talking about at the very beginning.

Lee:

But it's the sense of what is goodwill and what are the asks that you're

Lee:

asking of your staff if you are asking them to put in extra hours because

Lee:

things are really busy, actually what does that mean if they're doing that

Lee:

unpaid, for example, or if they can't afford extra childcare or, or whatever

Lee:

their personal circumstances will be.

Lee:

Just putting on more pressure as a leader can be, or even just how

Lee:

you ask of support of your staff.

Lee:

You've got to be really mindful of, the narrative around getting

Lee:

people back in the office.

Lee:

I've seen some organizations say, Well, if we get more people back in the office,

Lee:

actually it's gonna be a good thing for them because they're gonna have heating

Lee:

but they've not thought about the cost of

Carrie-Ann:

Getting to the

Carrie-Ann:

office.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

you know, they have to pay for their food or it, it could be more

Lee:

expensive and more of a concern for staff thinking, I've got to suddenly

Lee:

now start going into the office because my employers asked that of me.

Lee:

Um, and it could actually start to drive staff to look elsewhere or look for places

Lee:

that are gonna offer that flexibility.

Lee:

So I think the ripple effect of stuff that you are asking of as leaders

Lee:

is got to be considered as well.

Carrie-Ann:

Mm.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah, I couldn't, Yeah, I couldn't agree more.

Lee:

I wanna take you back to 2021

Carrie-Ann:

I dunno why, what, I dunno what vibe I thought was coming then.

Carrie-Ann:

I felt like that needed some sort of like little musical interlude.

Carrie-Ann:

What, what era were you taking me back to?

Carrie-Ann:

Man.

Lee:

Yeah, not, not, not that far, but 2021 when we were, bright eyed and

Lee:

bushy-tailed and we were, we did this thing called the Modern Leaders Report.

Lee:

And it was research that we had from people that had been listening to our

Lee:

show when we were doing it on Instagram.

Lee:

We compiled a report that was looking at what the different skills that leaders

Lee:

of the future needed to be demonstrating.

Lee:

And there were three kind of key themes that they needed to be values driven,

Lee:

prioritizing, wellbeing, and adaptable.

Lee:

Those were the key areas for, for the future leader.

Lee:

How far away do you think we are from that ambition?

Carrie-Ann:

Oh wow.

Carrie-Ann:

Where do I start?

Carrie-Ann:

Let's start.

Carrie-Ann:

Okay.

Carrie-Ann:

You've mentioned values driven first say for me in that space.

Carrie-Ann:

I feel like from a leadership point of view, it is a real mixed bag here.

Carrie-Ann:

I think we've shared some examples today where people have really been true to

Carrie-Ann:

their values in that leadership space, but we've also shared examples that

Carrie-Ann:

clearly show people are not, and I think the thing that I've been reflecting on a

Carrie-Ann:

little bit is the fact that potentially at the moment we are seeing role models and

Carrie-Ann:

examples of leaders who actually are being driven by their own personal values and

Carrie-Ann:

they are demonstrating these, it's just that quite a lot of us don't agree with

Carrie-Ann:

them . So it's a weird one, isn't it, to try and judge, because it's like, actually

Carrie-Ann:

some of these people who we might be professing to think have poor leadership

Carrie-Ann:

skills and are not demonstrating good leadership are potentially, actually

Carrie-Ann:

they're being true to their own values because perhaps they are just living out

Carrie-Ann:

some of the things that they genuinely believe in, which is quite worrying.

Carrie-Ann:

So the values piece, uh, yeah, was quite interesting.

Carrie-Ann:

I would definitely say I think wellbeing and prioritizing wellbeing does seem

Carrie-Ann:

to be something that's higher up on the agenda with more people in

Carrie-Ann:

general and I see, and I hear more leaders talking about wellbeing.

Carrie-Ann:

I am seeing more leaders demonstrating Putting their own wellbeing first.

Carrie-Ann:

And we've talked about that before, you do have to role model good wellbeing

Carrie-Ann:

behaviors to make people feel like it's okay to put their wellbeing first.

Carrie-Ann:

But I do think there is that fine line to tread because as well as,

Carrie-Ann:

Put in your own wellbeing first, as a leader, you do need to ensure that

Carrie-Ann:

you're helping those, that you need to prioritize their own wellbeing.

Carrie-Ann:

And we've just talked about the cost of living crisis, which is having a

Carrie-Ann:

huge impact on people's health and wellbeing, and we need to find ways

Carrie-Ann:

to support people around that agenda.

Carrie-Ann:

But I think we're, we are making more progress in, in

Carrie-Ann:

that wellbeing space, I think.

Carrie-Ann:

And then in terms of the adaptability, um, aspect of it all, I personally

Carrie-Ann:

don't think we made as much progress as leaders as we should have done.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think the pandemic, if an opportunity had to come out of the

Carrie-Ann:

Covid Pandemic, and I say Covid now cause I feel like Cost of Living is our

Carrie-Ann:

next pandemic, if I'm honest with you.

Carrie-Ann:

So What should have come out of Covid was an opportunity for us as leaders

Carrie-Ann:

to really grasp innovation, really focus on thinking about new ways of

Carrie-Ann:

working and how things can be different for the workforce, different for our

Carrie-Ann:

client groups, different for how we run our, our organizations and businesses.

Carrie-Ann:

And I feel like many leaders have missed the opportunity to do that now.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think I'm seeing more leaders quickly retreating back into that old

Carrie-Ann:

approach of I have to see you to believe that you are working, issuing almost

Carrie-Ann:

like three line whips to have to be in the office to do certain things that

Carrie-Ann:

quite frankly, sometimes even in my own experience, you follow the three line

Carrie-Ann:

whip and you think, Oh, we are all now sat in the same office in different rooms

Carrie-Ann:

on the same virtual call, so I could actually just be at home, let's be honest.

Carrie-Ann:

So, for me, I think we've missed an opportunity really as leaders to grasp

Carrie-Ann:

what positives could have come out of, the Covid pandemic in terms of the

Carrie-Ann:

way we lead, the way we work, the way we run our teams and organizations.

Carrie-Ann:

So that, yeah, they're my thoughts, Lee.

Lee:

It's interesting that final piece that you were saying, because I, I

Lee:

remember us talking, I dunno if it was on the podcast or on, on the Insta

Lee:

series, but we were talking about this opportunity that leaders have and our

Lee:

hope, and this was, this was in the midst of the pandemic, so it probably was

Lee:

was on insta we were talking about it.

Lee:

That leaders didn't just go back to the, Oh, right, well, we just need

Lee:

to get back to where we were and doing things, how we were doing it.

Lee:

And at the time we were talking about this concept of strategy and

Lee:

what is strategy and, and the notion of a five year strategy is out in

Lee:

the window now, you need to be more nimble and agile and all of that.

Lee:

We rearticulated our hope at the time was that, The staff are not

Lee:

wanting to just go back to how it was because how it was wasn't great.

Lee:

And everyone's did Step Up, did show that they could work differently,

Lee:

were given new responsibilities and opportunities and demonstrated

Lee:

their worth through the pandemic.

Lee:

And so there's almost this hope of a reward for doing so.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

The, at the other end.

Lee:

And so, yeah, you, it's a shame to see that what we had hoped

Lee:

wouldn't happen has happened.

Lee:

I don't know whether that is, Because you know, there are some

Lee:

companies you look at, some of the big companies, particularly

Lee:

overseas, have taken a stance.

Lee:

They've closed their offices.

Lee:

They have absolutely seized the momentum.

Lee:

Are we less adaptable in the uk because we are so driven by the center and

Lee:

how the civil service and politics drive the way business and public

Lee:

services works and because they've got that mentality of you need to be

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

in this way and you need to be, and they have this thing of, you know,

Lee:

the three line whip and all of that.

Lee:

Has that just permeated down so far into the psyche of

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah,

Lee:

the working world?

Carrie-Ann:

Mm, interesting.

Carrie-Ann:

And, and quite possibly, because you're right, we have seen other

Carrie-Ann:

organizations do things very differently and grasp that opportunity.

Carrie-Ann:

And most of them have not been UK based or uk you know, Origins

Carrie-Ann:

in terms of their business.

Carrie-Ann:

So that that, yeah.

Carrie-Ann:

Quite an interesting point you raised there.

Carrie-Ann:

I.

Lee:

And you look at other countries like, Finland and the steps they've

Lee:

made recently about, reducing the working week in terms of introducing,

Lee:

shared parental leave in the true sense.

Lee:

And

Carrie-Ann:

And that's been going on for some time there, hasn't it?

Carrie-Ann:

So that culture and that way of thinking has been there for a lot longer.

Carrie-Ann:

And I think, like you said, our hope was that that a positive to come out

Carrie-Ann:

of such a horrible thing like the pandemic would be that we would get

Carrie-Ann:

on that and grasp that for ourselves.

Carrie-Ann:

And it doesn't feel like we have, and it feels like, again, I dunno if it's

Carrie-Ann:

a, a cultural thing I, in this country that we, do seem to galvanize and pull

Carrie-Ann:

together in a crisis and cost of living I do think it is the next pandemic.

Carrie-Ann:

It's not gonna be resolved quickly as it's gonna be sustained and it is

Carrie-Ann:

gonna cause a lot of issues for people.

Carrie-Ann:

And you know, hopefully we will see some galvanization.

Carrie-Ann:

But I think the thing that we, that we don't do is we don't take those

Carrie-Ann:

lessons on board and learn them and then embed them to sustain them.

Carrie-Ann:

We go, Okay, that was a really difficult couple of years.

Carrie-Ann:

Well done gang.

Carrie-Ann:

You all pulled together, like you say, back to how it was before and it's, Oh,

Carrie-Ann:

why do we keep doing this like a cycle?

Lee:

let's dust off that document that we were working on three years ago

Lee:

and just try and make it work now.

Lee:

Yeah, absolutely.

Lee:

I feel hopeful in some senses because, you know, there, there are

Lee:

subtle shifts, there are certain areas where absolutely you could see

Lee:

individuals that are taking steps forward across all these three areas.

Lee:

I think the tone of our political landscape, the tone of our media,

Lee:

unfortunately I think our is, is still.

Lee:

Pressing it, all of that down and pushing against it.

Lee:

So I, I think there's a lot more that needs to happen.

Lee:

I think there needs to be a lot more leaders being willing to,

Lee:

to speak up and to show the way on this stuff, rather than just

Carrie-Ann:

Falling

Carrie-Ann:

into line.

Carrie-Ann:

Yeah.

Lee:

So I'm hopeful, but that's what we are here for.

Lee:

We're here to keep shining light on some of that and calling it out

Lee:

when we see the good and the bad.

Lee:

We hope anyone listening will do the same.

Lee:

We we're on Instagram, Twitter now should anyone wish to join the conversation?

Carrie-Ann:

plug.

Carrie-Ann:

Love that little plug at how to take the lead

Lee:

Right to wrap up, this was a meatier first episode than, than I had envisioned.

Lee:

I've obviously got really poor at my chairing skills.

Lee:

I apologize, dear listener.

Lee:

Um, I will promise to do better in the future.

Carrie-Ann:

What we've hoped is that the listeners have missed us so much

Carrie-Ann:

between series that they're gonna stick with us for a meatier first episode.

Lee:

To wrap up what, as we always do with our how to at the end of the

Lee:

episode, so how, if you are in, if you are listening to this and you

Lee:

are a leader and you're thinking.

Lee:

Hopefully

Lee:

you're figured, Oh my God, there's so much, but there's so much opportunity.

Lee:

Let's reframe it as an opportunity to move in a different direction.

Lee:

How can you start to refresh or rethink your own leadership

Lee:

approach at this moment?

Carrie-Ann:

I think that reframing is actually a really good how to, cuz we

Carrie-Ann:

have been able to delve into some of the lows of leadership at the moment.

Carrie-Ann:

I think, and actually it's right, It's about reframing that.

Carrie-Ann:

I think it's reframing where you are at as a leader to think about

Carrie-Ann:

where do I want to have impact?

Carrie-Ann:

What one thing can I do today that's gonna have the biggest impact for

Carrie-Ann:

my organization, whether that's my workforce or my customer base.

Carrie-Ann:

I think get back into that frame of mind, Uh, reset.

Carrie-Ann:

Think about, you know, really trying to understand what will make a difference

Carrie-Ann:

for people and how you can act on.

Carrie-Ann:

And I also think there's something about how can you use your singular

Carrie-Ann:

voice as a leader to come together with others to maybe do that lobbying piece

Carrie-Ann:

and really stand up for what matters at the moment for your organization?

Lee:

I would caveat that when we talk about reframing, we are not talking

Lee:

about spinning, we are not talking about, false hope or anything that,

Lee:

that tries to belittle or, um, disbelief what people are going through, but

Lee:

it's actually, instead of thinking there is no hope looking for the

Lee:

opportunity to do something about it.

Lee:

I just wanted to make that point cuz I think some leaders think that they have

Lee:

to do the whole, you know, Let's get our hockey sticks and pull our socks

Lee:

up and oh, we'll be fine at the end.

Carrie-Ann:

it's very Enid Blyton.

Lee:

I would add my how tos are, if you're not getting out

Lee:

and speaking to your staff, set some time aside to do that now.

Lee:

I think it's really important that you are truly understanding the mood in your

Lee:

organizations and your understanding in detail the impacts that are happening and

Lee:

you're not just taking one case study or what you hear on the media or what you're

Lee:

hearing from government as, as the say so.

Lee:

If you're not taking action, look to take action.

Lee:

And we've, we've touched on this already today, but prioritize wellbeing.

Lee:

Prioritize the wellbeing of your teams, but prioritize your wellbeing too, cuz

Lee:

as a leader, there's a lot of weight on you to show some vision and some hope.

Lee:

And that can get quite heavy at times.

Lee:

So make sure that you are taking some time out and looking after yourself.