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Sharon Newey: Welcome to the Learn, Grow, Succeed Conversations Podcast, and I’m your host, Sharon Newey. If you want to become the extraordinary leader today’s organisations need, then listen now, because, on this special conversations episode, I’m joined by hugely experienced Excel training partner, Tom Phillips.

Sharon Newey: Hi, welcome, Tom. It’s great to have you in conversation today. Before we dive into today’s topic, which is very much around what are the critical skills that leaders will need as we move into that next decade, I just wondered if you could share a little bit about yourself? How long have you been working with Excel Communications? What’s your particular area of expertise? And what are the kind of clients that you work with and the kind of programmes that you get involved with?

Tom Phillips: Hi, Sharon. Thanks for having me. So yeah, I’ve been working with Excel for nine years now, since 2010. And prior to that, I used to use Excel when I was head of training in my last role in pharmaceuticals. So I think we’ve got a longstanding relationship, and the work that I tend to do for Excel is a lot around leadership and management training. One of their clients is Booking.com, and I’ve been working with Booking for the last three years, doing the various programmes that look at performance management, people management, the art of influence, which is a kind of programme for people who are experienced but don’t really want to go into leadership roles. Obviously, they’ve got a lot to offer, so we teach them how to influence.

Tom Phillips: I do a lot of sales training because my background is predominantly sales on the pharmaceutical side. A lot of work on selling skills, a lot of work on negotiation skills and key account management, advanced selling skills as well. Sales, leadership and management for salespeople, and I do a lot of work with the NHS at the moment as well. The kind of natural link between pharma and the NHS has led me in there to, again, a lot of leadership and management training. I’m actually doing a workshop tomorrow with Alder Hey Children’s Hospital up in Liverpool. That’s all around assertive communication for doctors. So that covers the areas that I tend to specialise in.

Sharon Newey: Fantastic. So lots of expertise to draw on then in today’s conversation. So if we’re thinking then about, we are about to enter a new decade, we are living in an increasingly complex world, changes of ways of working in terms of flexible ways of working. So as a leader, what are some of the critical skills that leaders need to be thinking about developing, enhancing, gaining as we move into this next decade?

Tom Phillips: Okay, well I think they would do with several, and I think you’re absolutely right. We’re moving into a new decade. The pace of change is getting even faster. So people are looking for very clear, very strong leadership, not necessarily always from the leaders within an organisation, but from those people who are kind of natural-born leaders. And I think there are lots of skills that kind of go with that. But I think if I had to narrow it down to maybe five or six, the ones I’d go for would first of all be having a clear vision. There’s a lot of research out there and a lot of people talk about having a clear vision at the moment. So you’ve got Simon Sinek talking about start with why – your why. Then you can start to build a vision around that.

Tom Phillips: You’ve got some real classic leadership models like Kouzes and Posner’s five practises and exemplary leadership and the number one practise or first practise is to inspire a shared vision. So I think that’s really, really important.

Sharon Newey: So just talking about vision because most people are familiar with the big organisational vision. You might walk into someone’s reception area and there are this vision and mission statements. Sometimes you still see those today from a leader’s point of view. Let’s say you’re a secondary third line leader or you’re someone stepping into your first leadership role. How does that vision piece fit if you are leading at that level with that big organisational vision piece? What do people need to be thinking about?

Tom Phillips: Well I think you’re absolutely right and a lot of organisations have a vision and a mission statement, but quite often it’s a plaque that gathers dust on a wall somewhere because it was set up 12 months ago or five years ago and nobody’s revisited it since. So I think as a leader to keep revisiting your vision with your team. I think it’s probably even more important to actually build your vision with your team. And you can have your own personal vision as a leader, you can have a team vision and as long as they’re aligned with the overall organisation vision, that’s actually fine because it means you’re all pulling in the same direction. Where you tend to get problems is when you’ve got the organisation saying, “We’re going over here,” and you’ve got a leader or a team within your organisation saying, “Well, we want to go over here.”

Tom Phillips: And that usually causes a few problems. But I mean, there’s an exercise we do which is very simple with leaders and with teams to create a vision which basically goes along the lines of, if you imagine at the end of this week you are about to retire, having served 30 glorious years with your organisation, whoever that may be, wherever it may be, whichever sector. And on Friday when you come to retire, there’s going to be a retirement party held in your honour. You’re in charge of the invite lists. You can invite as many people or as few people as you want. You can have colleagues, you can have your managers, you can have your direct reports, you can have clients, you can have friends, family, whoever you want at that party. What do you want me to say about you as a leader at that point? So what kind of things you want them to say you are the most …

Tom Phillips: Were you the most innovative leader? Were you the most people-focused leader? All those kinds of things start to clarify for you what your vision is. Once you’ve got that, what you can then do is you can future patients to say, “Okay, well if that’s what I want to be remembered for as a leader, what are the things I have to do in order to achieve that point when I retire in 30 years or 10 years or whenever it is?” And also you can then extend that to your team to say, “Right, well as a team, what do we want to be known for 12 months from now or five years from now?” So you again, you create the vision and then you think, “Okay, well if that’s what we want to be known for as a team, what the behaviours that are going to drive that?”

Tom Phillips: So again, if we’re going to be the most dynamic team within the organisation, what do we have to do to be dynamic for the next 12 months or the next five years? And that when we go through that kind of exercise, that really, really helps people focus in on what their vision is, what’s important to them. The interesting thing as well is when you do this as a leader, and you do it with your team, you tend to realise actually there’s already a lot of alignments. And the fact that you’re working for the same organisation working in the same team, whether it’s sales, marketing, HR, fleet, finance, regulatory, wherever you probably share a lot of common values. That’s why you are where you are. So when you go through this process, you realise that actually there’s already a lot of alignment. So it doesn’t really take much tinkering to take all of your individual visions and build them into a team vision and then to think about the behaviours you want to exhibit as a team.

Tom Phillips: So you go through that process of creating a very clear vision that is obviously going to help you as a leader, but it’s also going to help your team. And all of the research that’s out there demonstrate that this is a really powerful process. So particularly you look at my favourite is Kouzes and Posner. When they talk about inspiring a shared vision, it becomes so powerful everybody gets behind that as a team. And it becomes like the guiding light that they’re all working towards, whether it’s the next 12 months or the next five years. And I’ve actually done this in a lot of places in the NHS where you get a consultant that builds a vision with a team. And obviously, the way that teams in the NHS work are that every four months there’ll be a rotation of junior doctors.

Tom Phillips: And where I’ve seen this work really well is that somebody within the team, not necessarily the consultant, sometimes it could be the team secretary, sometimes it’s a registrar or a senior doctor, sits down with a new team member and says, “Look, this is what we’re about as a team. This is what we’re aiming for. May only be here for the next four months while you complete this rotation, but you can actually contribute towards it.” So that whole piece about having a vision I think is so critical. And I would always start with that before I look at anything else.

Sharon Newey: And I guess, I mean just listening to you describe that as well, that if the team are looking at what are the behaviours that are required in order to deliver on that vision? I guess for me what that makes me think about is as well, but that’s also information for what does the leader need to be thinking about in terms of their own skills and development so that they can support their team to developing themselves? So maybe as we move on the next thing, what are some of the other things that leaders need to be considering?

Tom Phillips: There are several things, but just going back to what you were saying as well. I mean when teams think about their behaviours, what is really empowering because it gives the team and the individuals within the team a chance to say to the leader, “This is what we expect of you,” as well as the leader saying, “I expect of you as a team and as individuals in the team.” And where I’ve seen where this works incredibly well, the team actually start to recognise good behaviours peer to peer and they start calling each other out for bad behaviours, peer to peer. And that’s immensely powerful.

Tom Phillips: I worked with, I remember many years ago working with a team that’s one of my pharmaceutical clients. Well, they actually came up with a red card agreed-upon system. So if they saw each other behaving really well, they’d give you the green card. And if they saw each other doing things that weren’t within the kind of context of the framework they’d agreed they would give each other red cards. It became a bit of fun, but it also became incredibly motivational because everybody was holding everybody to account. And it wasn’t just a team leader that was doing that. So that when you get that level, I think it’s hugely, hugely impactful.

Sharon Newey: Yeah, sounds good. So vision, vision first then. So what would be next on your list?

Tom Phillips: I would say the effective leader. Moving into the next century, you’ve got to be able to flex your leadership style. So I think mostly they’re familiar with the idea of flexing their style from one individual to another. I’m a huge fan of the situational leadership model. I was trained in it many years ago and then went on to become a trainer myself. So this is the combined show model. What this talks about is not only do you flex your style from each individual to another, from one to the other as individuals, you should also be flexing your style with each individual.

Tom Phillips: So the model classically talks about four leadership styles, which go from basic training through to delegate. And with any one individual in your team, if you look at the tasks they’re trying to achieve at any one given point in time, so whether you work on a quarterly basis or a biannual basis or that 12 months cycle, those tasks for that individual require different leadership styles. So you could have one individual who’s working on one project where they need lots of training. Or working on another project where they just need lots of coaching and possibly mentoring and support and another project where actually they’re really good at it actually, you just delegate and let them get on.

Tom Phillips: So I think being able to flex your leadership style is really, really important in that respect. Or whether you use the Blanche, Hall model, whether you look at the more sort of generic skill we all model, all of that helps you to really define the leadership style that you need to use. But again, where it becomes even more powerful is when your team and the individuals within your team take responsibility for their own development and say, “Right, actually I’m going to do this proactively.”

Tom Phillips: So they sit down with you at the start of a cycle, whether that’s a quarter or whatever, and they say, “Right, okay, here’s what I’m going to be working on this quarter. This is where I am in terms of my skill, my competence, my confidence, and all the rest of it. So this is the leadership style I require from you for each individual task.” Again, that’s hugely powerful for the team, but it’s also massively, massively powerful for the leader because it means that you can hopefully just agree with them and say, “Yep, okay, that’s the right leadership style for you for that particular task.” And then that allows you to get on with the other stuff that you inevitably need to do as a leader.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. No, that’s, I think that’s a good point ’cause I think, you know, yes we as leaders we know that we have different people that make a power team and there can be a real tendency to go a bit more general and say, “Well this kind of person’s this style so I’ll lead and communicate in this way.” And then it goes on without them realising that for that same person actually there are a variety of tasks that you’re asking them to do. Some of them that could be more skilled and competent at than others and that that requires a shift of style. So it’s a really good point to just think about how you still need to flex with that same person.

Tom Phillips: Yep. Definitely.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. And so what does that mean then in terms of flexing with each individual and flexing for each individual in multiple ways? What impact does that have in terms of perhaps how leaders communicate with teams and their versatility?

Tom Phillips: I think if you create a culture within your team whereby the team understands that you are going to flex your style from one individual to another, but you’re also going to flex your style with each individual based around their needs, based around the task they’re trying to achieve, that becomes very, very powerful. And you’ll hear very different conversations in organisations where this is part of the cultural norm. Again, classically if you looked at the situational leadership model, I mean I’ve heard conversations in organisations where people have gone, “Well you know what? I’m a D three for this, but you keep D two-ing me, so I need you to change your leadership style,” which is really kind of enlightening. And then you need to look at what, what does that mean?

Tom Phillips: What’s the difference between a D two and a D three style? It all comes down to the kind of the different levels of support versus the different levels of direction that you’re giving people. But again, once you have that understanding within the team and you have that ethos where the team understand that it’s okay for them to tell you as a leader what they want from you. Then you start to have much more specific and much more in-depth conversations about what that looks like behaviorally.

Sharon Newey: Yes.

Tom Phillips: Almost going back to the first point. So you could say, “Well actually for this particular task, because I think I’m pretty good at it and you’re going to delegate to me, I’ll check in with you once every two weeks. I’ll just give you a quick update as to how it’s progressing.” Or at the other end of the scale, if you’ve got a task where you need a lot more training, a lot more direction, it could be a question of, “Well I’m going to check in with you every two days to let you know how I’m doing, but I also need to spend some time with you as I learned the ropes. Or I need to spend some time with another colleague as I learn the ropes as well.”

Tom Phillips: So that’s just some really powerful incentives of the more specific conversations that you have about the different behaviours we get from each other.

Sharon Newey: Yeah, and that does sound very powerful actually. And in terms of, let’s say, I think we were speaking before we started recording about this concept of knowing your limits. So I’m curious about that a little in terms of what you can share with everybody. Because I guess as trainers we probably, we always come from that place of there are no limits. And so can you just expand a little bit what you mean by that?

Tom Phillips: Yeah, I think as a leader, if you’re going to be effective, then you’ve got to be genuine. You’ve got to be honest and there might be times when you say to people, “I don’t know what the answer is” Or, “I’m not the right person to give you the training or support that you need on that.” So this is where classically you would bring in somebody like us to help with the development of that individual or help with the development of the team. I think it also, it kind of ties in again with what we were just talking about in terms of communication style. So I think good leaders have an awareness of how they like to communicate and how their teams like to communicate. And you’ve got the classic examples between people who are really, really detail focused and want to cross every T and dot every I, to the other extreme people are just very kind of big picture, very blue sky thinkers.

Tom Phillips: I think a good leader knows where they’re coming from with their communication style and they can change their communication style effectively to match and obviously build rapport more effectively with the people in their teams. So there they are a big picture blue sky type leader, but they’re dealing with somebody who is a lot more detail-focused, a lot more process-driven, they will make the effort to reflect that in their communication when they talk to those people.

Tom Phillips: And conversely we’re very detailed, focused, very process driven leader and you’re dealing with somebody who’s a lot more blue sky, a lot more big picture, you change your style accordingly there as well.

Sharon Newey: Yeah.

Tom Phillips: That’s one of the things that always occurs to me when we talk about limitations. The other big thing is obviously is kind of knowing what you’re good at as a leader, but also where your weak spots are and then being able to fill the gaps either by utilising the skills that you’ve got within your team or, and I would always recommend this, working with your own external coach, your own external mentor.

Tom Phillips: And when I say external, that could be somebody within the organisation but who’s just external to your team.

Sharon Newey: Yeah.

Tom Phillips: Or obviously it could be external in terms of a professional coach or professional mentor. Somebody who holds that mirror up and says, “Yeah. You’re really good at this, you need to work on this. And yeah, I’ve seen progress with you over the last three months or the last six months in those areas that we’ve been working on. And that’s great. We need to secure those. But also what do we want to do in terms of the other areas that we’ve identified to keep you, A – progressing so that you don’t go stagnant and B – filling in those kinds of gaps in terms of your own performance?” So I think a good leader is not afraid to kind of seek that feedback if you like.

Tom Phillips: This is where things like 360 is a really good, obviously from the team, but also getting feedback from the coaches or the mentors to say, “Yeah, actually this is an area that you really need to work on.” And so that obviously advisor with things as well, like psychometrics or whether you use NBTI desk or whatever, they’re really, really good starting points I think in terms of having a look at yourself, having a look at your strengths and weaknesses and then working out some kind of plan as to how you develop those. But also keep the stuff that you do well really, really sharp.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. And I think, I know you and I will have both come across many times. A new manager who talks about the fact suddenly everybody expects them to have the answer to every single thing. And it’s almost like they then think, “Well, I’m supposed to have the answer. I’m supposed to be able to do everything,” which is absolutely not the case at all. But actually it’s, I guess a sign of the strength of a leader is someone who is confident to actually recruit people who are even better than they are in a multitude of different areas.

Sharon Newey: And a leader who can build a team around themselves with a really high level of skillsets where that leader isn’t particularly strong but it takes a strong confident person to do that. And I’m sure, I’m just curious what are some of the downsides perhaps or some of the things that you’ve seen happen when a leader doesn’t have that kind of insight around their own limitations and doesn’t trust others to take on things perhaps that they’re not as good at? What can happen?

Tom Phillips: Well I think that’s a recipe for disaster, and I’ve seen it happen in several places. When you get a leader who is not willing to admit their limitations, who isn’t willing to get help to work on those limitations, ultimately they will start to feel threatened by people in their team who got strengths and areas where they don’t have strengths. And that I think leads to a stifling of creativity, of honesty, of all the good things that you want within the team. Because people think, “Well, the leader’s never ever going to admit that they’re not good at this. And so there’s no point in me raising it.” And I think as well, leaders like that, they’re probably not great at well I say I think. I know this ’cause I’ve seen it happen. They’re not great at developing their people because they feel like they always have to be the best person on the team and hold people back.

Tom Phillips: And I think that’s a crime. I always used to say when I was a manager, I’d rather have a dozen people on my CV who left for bigger and better positions because I’ve helped them develop rather than have people who left just to go to a similar job because they just wanted to get away. And again, I think it’s well documented that people are more likely to leave a bad leader then they also leave an organisation.

Sharon Newey: Yeah.

Tom Phillips: No, and there’s a famous saying that, I don’t know who said it, but it’s, “What if we develop our people and they leave? Well, what if we don’t develop and they stay?”

Sharon Newey: Absolutely. Yeah.

Tom Phillips: And I think it’s a very, it’s almost like a short term recipe for disaster. If you’ve got a leader in place who doesn’t recognise their own weaknesses, isn’t willing to work on them and also as a result of their weaknesses, they inhibit other people from developing because they don’t want more threatened by that.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. And just let’s pick up on that developing conversation then because you spoke just a couple of minutes ago about having a coach mentor with us, internal, external. I know for some people that mentoring, coaching, it can be a word that’s the two words that you use interchangeably. But could you maybe just for people who are listening clarify the difference between those two roles because they are two different roles? And there might be time in your career where it’s coaching that you’re looking for and other times where it’s a mentor and you might even have both at the same time. So …

Tom Phillips: Okay, I can definitely do this. I talk about this a lot. So you know the classic well, do you know where the word mentor comes from?

Sharon Newey: No. Share it with us.

Tom Phillips: Okay. So it goes back to Greek mythology. So I think most people have heard about Odysseus ’cause he went off to fight Trojan wars. When he went off to fight the Trojan Wars. He left his son who was called Telemachus with his best friend who was called Mentor. That’s Odysseus’ best friend called Mentor. He said to Mentor, “Whilst I’m away, I want you to teach Telemachus everything I know about being a great warrior so that when I come back from these wars we can go into battle father and son and we can fight many glorious battles and they will tell stories about us for many years.”

Tom Phillips: And obviously Odysseus went off and fought for the Trojan Wars and got lost coming back. Took him about 10 years longer than everybody else. During that time Mentor and Telemachus had this great relationship where Mentor taught Telemachus everything he knew about being a great warrior. So he taught him to kill a man with a sword, had to kill a man with a spear, how to strangle a man to death if he needed to. And this relationship worked really well for many years. And until one day, Telemachus said to Mentor, “I really appreciate everything that you’ve taught me about killing people. What would I do if I want to heal one of my fallen comrades on the field of battle? If somebody got injured, how do I fix them?” And Mentor went, “Ooh, that’s a really good question. I don’t know because I’ve only ever killed people.”

Tom Phillips: So by definition, a mentor is somebody who passes on their skills, their knowledge, their experiences, and the colour the end of that story is that Mentor said to Telemachus, “Why don’t you go to the local hospital, meet with the physicians and why don’t you ask them how to heal people?” And Telemachus said, “Great idea. How do I get there?” And Mentor said, “Why don’t you take my coach?” And Telemachus said, “Which way should I go?” And Mentor said, “Well, it doesn’t really matter as long as you get there.” So I think a coach is supportive. They help you find your own way to get from A to B but they don’t necessarily give you solutions.

Tom Phillips: Whenever we train people in coaching and mentoring, we kind of set the process. A little coaching is probably far more powerful because it helps people find a way that works for them. You can always step back into a mentoring role if you need to. If you know what the solution is; if you know what the answer is based on your experience. Or if you flip that around. If as a leader, every time somebody in your team comes to you with a problem and you give them an answer based on your experience, first of all, they learn to be dependent on you because they think that you’re going to spoon-feed them every time you come to them about a problem.

Tom Phillips: Secondly, they learn to do it the way that you did it and because as we said right at the start, we live in such a fast-paced, changing society, changing business world. The way that you did it, even if it was only two years ago, may no longer be the best way to do it because technology moves on, information moves on. So you could potentially be setting somebody up to fail because the way that you did it, it’s no longer the right way or the best way or the most efficient way. So that for me is a classic definition. Coaching is about supporting somebody to help somebody find what’s the best way for them to get from A to B. mentoring is a lot more specific. It’s about, “Okay, this is how I did it when I was in your shoes.”

Sharon Newey: Yeah, no, and what that makes me think about actually is we were chatting earlier about the world economic forum and the 10 skills that they have listed as the skills that people need. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a leader or not, but the skills that you need to be successful in 2020. And it’s interesting because people management and the kind of conversation we’ve been having today was number four out of that list of 10 but creativity was number three. And I think what it made me think about as I was listening to you that in terms of that difference in definition is if coaching is about helping someone find their own way, then that allows leaders and managers to be tapping into their team’s creativity and their ideas, their way of doing things.

Sharon Newey: Because you’re right, that perhaps our way, it may have worked a number of years ago in terms of how the market was and how your business was and it might not be working quite as well today. So if we don’t spend and invest time in coaching and getting our team to, I guess, come up with their own ideas, have their own insights, share those, test using them, then actually we are losing a lot of creativity when we have a body like the one the economic forums saying that as organisations and as individuals we need to tap into and use our creativity as much as possible.

Tom Phillips: Yeah, I agree. I think it ties to me the point as well in terms of what are your limitations as a leader? I think good leaders are unafraid of saying to the team, “Well here’s the challenge that we face as a team. What’s the best way of solving it?” Get everybody’s input and get everybody’s ideas and they’ll always be people that look at things differently than you do as a leader. We’re all individuals. We’ve all got our own perspectives on the world and you never know. Somebody might just come up with a great idea because they’re looking at it slightly differently to you and although it’s not the way you did it when you were in their position, as long as it’s safe, as long as it’s ethical, why not give it a go?

Sharon Newey: And you mentioned when you were talking about sharpening your sword, about some scenarios where you might have an external coach outside the organisation or an external coach inside the business but from a different functional group. What are some of the pros and cons of those two options, Tom? And when might lead decide internal is going to work and when actually they might want to go external? I just wonder what sort of advice and experience you could share around that.

Tom Phillips: I think if you go down the internal route, the obvious deal, the biggest advantage is presuming you’re not going to be paying for it, you’re saving money there. And I think you get a lot of internal shared knowledge, shared experience, which is always really useful. But I think that can also be a downfall because again, you’re back into almost a mentoring role where people will train or teach or support people to do things the way that they did it. So I think that’s one of the biggest challenges that I think obviously going externally for a coach or even a mentor externally; hopefully you’re going to get the best person available. So you need to do your research, look around, find out who you actually want to work with. I would always suggest you speak to two or three coaches before you decide who you want to work with.

Tom Phillips: You should be getting a completely objective personal or objective input at that point because they’re external to the organisation. So they, although they’re invested in your development as a coachee, they shouldn’t be afraid to call things out and say, “Well actually you need to lose this. You need to change that.” Because they’re not worried about upsetting anybody internally or at least they shouldn’t be. Obviously, the biggest con is the cost that’s involved with that because I think a good coach is not going to be cheap, but they’re worth paying for.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. Yeah. ‘Cause you’re going to get the results at the end of the day.

Tom Phillips: Yeah.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. So in summary then, if you’re a leader today and you’re listening to this conversation, you’re thinking about how do you develop then I think the five things, Tom, that you talked us through is having a clear vision, developing flexibility with your leadership style. And I think the message I took away from that was, it’s not just about flexing between individuals, but it’s with an individual, depending on their task, you need to flex style. Obviously, that influences communication style ’cause that will need to change by person and even with the same person.

Tom Phillips: Yeah.

Sharon Newey: And knowing your limits and then sharpening the saw, keeping that saw sharp, should we say. Now I’m just wondering is there anything else that maybe I haven’t asked you about that you’d like to share? Just in summary before we close this conversation?

Tom Phillips: No, I think if you, if you stick to those, you take those five points, four or five points as a blueprint, I think you’re not going to go too far wrong. But I think obviously the good thing to look at is, what have you got available to you internally from your own organisation to develop you? Hopefully, they’ve got a good leadership and management training programme in place. If not, maybe you need to go external.

Tom Phillips: If you can get your organisations to pay for it, that’s great. And whether that’s a training course or whether you work with your own coach I think is they’re both equally as powerful. But if they’re not going to pay for it, then I think that put your hand in your own pocket. Because if you’re serious about your development as a leader or manager, it’s well worth it. That the dividends, I think are huge, when you make that investment. And it sends a very clear message to other people as well, that you are serious about your role as a leader and a manager and how you develop. And you’re willing to come in and take that accountability and responsibility. So just like we said earlier on, you expect people in your team to take accountability and responsibility for their development. You need to do exactly the same for your development as a leader and a manager.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. And it is a little bit corny ’cause it does get used and it is relevant isn’t it? About, as a leader you have to be a role model, you have to walk your talk. Otherwise, it’s just not congruent. And something that I picked up on as you were just talking there was you mentioned leadership development programme. So that is making me think of, this is not like a one-off thing, but this is a programme which to me describes something that is ongoing, could be modular over a certain period of time. Is that what you’re meaning?

Tom Phillips: Definitely, I mean whether that’s like a, like you say, a more structured programme where you go through modules, you’re constantly learning. I have seen that the best kind of programmes as well, will have some kind of practical applications. So you’d be expected to write a case study or some kind of a report on how you’ve actually applied your skills internally. or if it is the more kind of informal coaching process then I think definitely keep doing that. And again one of the analogies I always use is you wouldn’t go to the gym once and expect to be fit, would you?

Sharon Newey: I’d like to. I’d love to. Yes, I accept it. It does require a little bit more, it seems to require more work these days.

Tom Phillips: I think definitely. You’ve got to keep revisiting your skills and hopefully, you’re improving in certain areas and then securing those improvements. You’re then looking at different areas of where you need to develop and where you want to improve. Because I think if you’re even a remotely ambitious leader, you probably don’t want to stop at the first level of management. You’ve probably got the designs beyond that. So whether you’ve gone to become a sales director or a CEO or CFO or whatever it is, there’s more stuff to be learned in it as you continue to go up that ladder. And I also think that the further the ladder you go, the more likely you are to probably have a coach rather than go on training.

Sharon Newey: Yeah. Fantastic. Well, Tom, thank you. It’s been really insightful and good talking to you and speak to you soon.

Tom Phillips: Thank you very much. See you soon.