EP03: Leadership in a Messy World

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EP03: Leadership in a Messy World

What is the first task in leadership?

As coach Jude explains in this episode, it is the management of our own emotions.

Jude has over 10 years of experience coaching in organisations throughout the UK and Australia, holds an MA in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford University, an MA in Human Resources Management, and is currently completing his PhD in Emotional Intelligence, Neuro-linguistic Programming, and Transformational Leadership.

Learn the valuable role emotional literacy plays in leadership, and why you can’t lead other people unless you first know how to lead yourself.

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Victoria: Today we’re going to be asking and trying to answer a deep and complicated question that many in our audience have most likely been asking, which is, what does it mean to lead in a really messy world? Many executives around the country, not to mention around the world, have been dealing with many difficult circumstances navigating employees and teams through a very chaotic situation.

And it’s a question that I would love to invite one of our coaches, Jude Martin, into this conversation to explore how leaders have had to change and pivot their style of leadership. To create engagement with teams through a very changing world over the last 18 months. Diving down this rabbit hole with me today in our leadership conversation is one of our key experts and coaches, Jude Martin, Jude has an MA in Philosophy and Theology from Oxford University and is currently completing a PhD in Emotional Intelligence. Neuro-Linguistic Programming and transformational leadership at Notre Dame university.

Jude has worked with more than 50 organizations across the UK and coached thousands of individuals in leadership and is the perfect guest to start a really wonderful conversation with me today. Again, so welcome. It’s lovely to see you again, Jude.

Jude: Thank you Victoria. So good to see you. And just the introduction. I find myself looking back to say, who is she introducing?

Victoria: There’s no one more qualified to speak around leadership agility, and yes, I was referring to you. I think it is a wonderful conversation to have post-COVID. And I know, COVID is not going away anytime soon. However, it’s a wonderful topic that I’ve wanted to explore with you because leaders across the world who are managing teams and executives, looking after their employees, doesn’t matter whether you’re a man, or a woman leadership has changed and I’d love to explore.

In your experience from being on the frontline as a coach and coaching clients that have teams and employees, what some of the challenges have been that they have had to deal with and potentially still dealing with post-COVID and post everyone returning back to work, their world in a new way, because we really can’t go back to where we were two years ago.

And leadership and the style of leadership. What was working two or three years ago? Five years ago, is that, in my experience in conversations, it was a completely different setup. Now it’s a completely different dynamic and I’m probably posing a couple of questions here, and then I’ll give you lots of air time to answer, but is leadership different between men and women. And how do men lead differently to how women lead, particularly in organizations?

Jude: Yeah. thank you for that, Victoria. leadership is, it’s such an interesting topic, isn’t it? It’s so interesting. And, when I talk about leadership, I always like to return back to the basics. Because the basics, really, is genderless. It’s really about, it involves both men and women.

And so, a very simple definition of leadership, which really, I believe responds to the way you frame your question there, Victoria, is this, I often describe leadership as being able to lead your own ship. Leadership is about leading your own ship. And that statement really sits at the heart of emotional intelligence.

Doesn’t it? Emotional intelligence and emotional leadership. And we’re going to come to that space because, you talk about COVID-19 and a pre and post-pandemic world… from a leadership perspective, we are talking about here really is leaders really being able to lead emotions.

Emotion management, in an article that I read, the other day, suggest that, the task of leaders of this century is leading emotions. And actually they actually, the article, Juxtaposes that statement leading emotions with making it on the same level as managing the finances in the markets.

So just as leaders. So we spend a lot of time on, on managing their finances in the market. The argument from this article is that actually, we leaders should be spending the majority of our time managing emotions. And so leadership leading your ship simply means really understanding as a leader. What is happening, within you as a person because you can’t lead other people and you notice Victoria as well as I do.

You can’t lead other people in your team, in your organization, unless you, first of all, know how to lead yourself. So let’s get even more specific here. What do I mean by being able to lead yourself, which is a process, regardless of whether you’re male or female, what that means is, and I liked the term here.

Emotional literacy. Emotional literacy and emotional literacy simply is. I like to describe it this way. Um, and you can see me at the moment, Victoria. I’ve got a book in my hands and you can say, what are those pick the book for him or for my library and you and I can open any chapter here.

Can’t we? And we can read the words in that chapter or page because we are literally. We are literally we can read, well, the emotional says, can you, are you literate on your emotions? Do you know what your emotions are saying to you? That’s the first half of leadership management of their own personal emotions.

So as to be able to lead him on which in a post-pandemic world is just so critical.

Victoria: I could also imagine having been a coach for a couple of decades now, there’s been, had a few conversations around leadership and I have that… I have a personal philosophy, Jude, that when chaos presents itself, it’s an opportunity to learn from it and observe it and find some alchemization in that chaos.

Can help you become more courageous, resilient, whatever it is that is required in that moment. And I’ve seen a huge change in my own network of past clients where the gaps became more obvious in their style of leadership when there was chaos.

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: And depending on how you look at chaos or events that can often be out of your control, it’s being able to reflect and what you were saying before, be a captain of your own ship and start to guide that first – I know you didn’t use that analogy, I did – but leadership starts firstly, within yourself. And in order to show up for others, you need to firstly, show up for yourself.

Jude: Yeah.

Victoria: When you’ve been working with clients over the last couple of years, through a very stressed nation and country and global globally, what are some of the challenges that leaders have had to navigate through? Let’s start there and then we can dive into soon some solutions.

Jude: Chaos is a very interesting word than I do like that word. And. I like to think about the chaos within, so I have to deal with the chaos without, and I remember running a session for leaders – this must have been about six months into COVID – and it was a leadership development session.

And during that session, I was speaking about the mind mental management, and I remember positioning mental management as a critical part of leadership during this time, managing all that thinking that’s going on. And during that conversation, I remember saying you are not your mind, you’re much more than your mind.

And one of the leaders in the audience and actually, she said to me, "Jude, did you just say that I am not my mind and I think, yes, I did say that." And her response was "Thank goodness for that." She said there was a sigh of relief. And what I got from that experience was what she pretty much was saying to me was, the chaos that tends to occur in our mind, you know, the self-talk the voice in their head and all these things going on, telling you that you’re not good enough that you don’t know how to lead, what do they call it?

They call it the imposter syndrome. You know, leaders tend to have imposter syndrome where, but it does think they’re not good enough to know what to do, second-guessing themselves. Um, how do I manage the emotions of staff, how do I manage the emotional volatility of my people during this period?

And that’s when all that second-guessing happens, her statement told me that she was dealing with internal chaos. And as you know, as what I do, actually in chaos, in the uncomfortable that’s where we learn. we learn from being learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Leadership from that perspective, and what I’m seeing, what I’m seeing and what I have seen, during this period amongst the leaders that I have had the opportunity to spend time with, to talk with, to coach… one resounding theme keeps on coming out and it returns back to what we were speaking about in the start of this conversation it is, "How do I deal with all the emotions in myself so that I can come across, I can come across to my team. I can come across as to my organization that I got this, but I got it together that I’m not an imposter that I know what I’m doing." And you mentioned, Victoria during the lead-up this question, I think you mentioned the term vulnerability and leadership for me is about being vulnerable.

Putting yourself out there, allowing yourself to deal with chaos, to demonstrate your vulnerability in chaos. Because in chaos, precisely in that chaos, which will naturally want to run away from is where the juice of leadership really is. So that’s what I see. I see leaders struggling with themselves, in an attempt to really manage their teams better.

Victoria: I found being a leader myself, and having numerous conversations with leaders over the years, that at some points where it’s relevant to share that vulnerability with your team and it’s okay.

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: …to be vulnerable as a leader when you don’t actually have the answers. And I know it’s something that I practice and I’m becoming more aware of with our own team and.

Our job, sometimes it is to be authentic. and also in that same moment, sometimes leading a team forward is also around exposing where you may not have all the answers, but being able to extend that to your team around you and say, "Hey, love your support on this." And that is. In my personal opinion, that is an awesome leader as well.

And it’s a balance between guiding the ship, keeping the ship steady and, as well, when you don’t know the answers, it’s okay to say, I actually don’t know. You know, I don’t have a solution right now, but let’s talk about it. Let’s actually find a solution together and lead the team in that way. And it’s being honest.

It’s dropping the bravado. I’ve had many conversations with leaders over the years that there is a self-defining moment. If you have the capacity to manage yourself and be completely present and honest in those moments that do show up rather than skip over them and don’t give them the respected air time when you’re dealing with something.

And it’s an opportunity. And I think that the last two years, many, many leaders and business owners, and even just people, human beings have been dealing with this internal chaos also as a result of the external chaos. And there is a beautiful opportunity to stop pause, reflect, and go into… I loved what you were saying before around.

Emotions management, being able to manage your emotions as a way to lead powerfully and men and women. I know you also said, your approach is genderless. How the men and women are hardwired completely differently.

Having said that there is still an opportunity to manage emotions regardless.

Jude: Yes. Yes. Yes. And men, uh, you know, let’s, let’s, dive into that gender space, men, you know, have a, what’s the word? They have a. a self-imposed, task mandate, whatever we want to call it to learn, to tap into their own emotions, not to shy away from the emotions you may use the word bravado.

Leadership is not about bravado. It’s about being brave. It’s not about bravado. It’s about being brave. And that braveness talking to when a man’s most popular word is brave, in a sense is about being vulnerable. Women on the other hand, from an emotional intelligence point of view and research does show this, that they are more in tune.

With our emotions and that’s okay. That’s not to make a distinction because really there’s no distinction really, but it’s, research shows that women have that capacity. I like that word capacity to be able to delve into their emotions and to use those emotions. That’s and this are the important points about to use those emotions in a way that serves them.

Leading and leadership. And so this is from an emotional intelligence point of view, this is something that, that presents us challenges on both sides, because even from, the aspects of women, one of the challenges, from that aspect is being able to also, despite being able to use, you know, being more in touch with the emotions, being able to stand back to outside the emotions, to be able to see.

This is what we call emotional agility, being able to step outside the chaos. I like that word. You used the chaos of emotions and emotionality to be able to see things as they are in and for themselves. So as to make effective decisions. The challenge is on both ends.

Victoria: So, how do you think, or have experienced that leaderships or leadership has actually changed now? What are some of the tangible signs that you have experienced coaching clients and when our clients work with you, Jude.

Jude: Yeah.

Victoria: Being a later today in a messy world, how has that changed? How does that look different from where it was two years ago?

Jude: Yeah, listen, I, in summary, two years ago, I will sell or thereabouts, whenever I spoke to leaders, it was more about performance. It was more about all the ICU staff. You know, it was more about, uh, the structure of leadership, uh, and you know, leadership is always, ultimate leaders have a challenge around, have a personal challenge and an organizational challenge about ensuring that the leadership drives ROI .

That’s important. Organizations don’t just exist, as charities they drive to make money, and to, you know, to, to increase, stakeholder value and, and, and what have you. And so, prior to COVID, it was all about that since COVID, it is about that more importantly, uh, what I have been seen is an openness.

Leaders have become a lot more open, a lot more vulnerable in organizations now. Victoria, mindfulness practices, organizations are looking for it. They’re hungry for it. employees are now driving and leaders to say, listen, we are prepared to work from home and to log onto our computers do those things that you want us to do, but wellbeing and my mental health is so important.

And so there’s been a rise in wellbeing program. There’s been a rise in running corporate meditation programs. And, know, the, I actually ran corporate meditation and pro problems myself, so there’s been a rise in that. There’s a need, there’s an openness to discussing emotions.

Jude: I was in a meeting, running a session a couple of months ago?

And, in that session there were must have been about, maybe about, 10 men in that session and, and about five women. And during that session, a man, one of the men that was in that session, I was so open that, he actually, he became tearful during this.

And, and this guy was an engineer, Victoria, engineer. Right. You know how typically when we think of engineers, we think of, men moving around with bravado, with their steel caps and their big boots men that don’t cry. This man openly became emotional in front of his team.

And he was okay with that. So there’s a change. I’ve seen a change. I’ve seen a change in terms of vulnerability. Openness to talking about how people feel, um, leaders are more often than not feel that they can’t talk about their feelings. Let’s rip the band-aid. As we say here in Australia, in, in UK, we call it a plaster, but in here you call it a band-aid, let’s rip the band-aid, off feelings.

And let’s talk about that important word, feelings, which really sits at the heart of decision-making, which is a core leadership, quality making decisions. And, and, let’s rip that bandaid off and let’s now begin to talk about how really managing emotions leads to effective decision-making which in turn drives your bottom line drives the ROI.

That’s what we’re talking about now.

Victoria: I think also just continuing on from what you were saying, I think when people are pushed to the edge and pushed to the brink of lives that they once had, and they’re put under an extreme pressure, leaders have had an opportunity to step up, and that is you can no longer ignore the deep importance of one’s emotional resilience.

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: And this is what I’ve seen occur, particularly over the last couple of years, when it’s almost, this COVID conversation has brought the world to its knees. And in many respects, we are all connected. There is a collective consciousness with all of us and…

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: … it allows permission to be a little more vulnerable and a little softer to share really the big cracks that have appeared over the last two years and leaders I believe have had no choice, but to also shift their own style of leadership and look within themselves.

With incredible external pressure of teams and people’s emotions crumbling.

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: And I see it as, as much as there has been incredible devastation, there has also been incredible opportunity to really connect with the other part of who we are, which is our fields.

And our emotions and to no longer bury them under performance and KPIs and, hitting those big milestones when the internal part of who we are has been struggling.

And that’s where the healing and the going within has, it’s almost created – and I say this word again– permission and a safetiness that comes with that permission. When you know your comrades around you are also suffering.

Jude: Yes.

Victoria: Sorry, there’s been a, there’s been a wonderful elevation of conversations and behavior that I’ve seen on the front line and hearing some of your examples, you would also agree with that.

Jude: Yes, of course. And what you described there, Victoria is transformation. Leadership, these are the qualities of a transformational leader, which actually is what, is a type of leadership that is needed during these times to be able to navigate, people through these times into a post-pandemic world.

You know, a transformational leader is someone that is in touch, not just with other people, being able to have insight into other people, but a transformational leader is someone that also has deeper insight into themselves and based on how they engage with themselves, engage with their emotions, they’re better able to engage with emotions of others, but more importantly, they can take that feeling and create a vision for the future.

I’d love you to share three short strategies For the leaders that are listening and for human beings that are listening to our conversation, three strategies slash solutions that encourage emotional resilience.

Jude: Yeah.

Victoria: Keep it short, Jude. I know you love to chat.

Jude: I’ll keep it short. I’ll keep it short. listen, I think for me and I’ll describe what, what works for me, and so some of the things that I do in terms of strategies for emotional resilience and resiliency is such an important word. the first thing I do, and you mentioned this word ease the word, P-A-U-S-E pause. Pause. And there was an article that I read the other day by McKinsey and McKinsey to talked about leadership pausing, and so one strategy is this for leaders. When you find yourself in a situation, whatever that situation is, you need to make a decision, you’re struggling, managing,the emotional volatility of your staff, whatever the case is, Pause. Literally stop for a second. Regain yourself. That’s the first thing. And that pausing can just simply take the shape of what we did just now, if we notice, when I said pause, initially, there was a bit of a silence and there it is again. Just stop. When you stop your emotions, reset themselves, you touch yourself in a deeper space so that when you come back, you have a certain level of clarity in your next step. Whether that’s a decision you want to make. I would say either first thing, second thing, Victoria is what you mentioned too.

So all these steps, I think that we’ve had a chat that we’d spoken about in his conversation and it’s about, not being afraid to say, "I don’t know." I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to these questions. So it’s about being vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not a demonstration of a lack of leadership being vulnerable and saying, "I don’t know," actually catapults you right up there in the mind of your team, that you are a human being and that you’re human. So that’s step number two. Say, "I don’t know." And the final thing that I do for me, Victoria, is emotional intelligence.

You want to summarize what emotional intelligence is? Just summarize it in the word, S-E-L-F self self management pay attention, then, to yourself. Pay attention to yourself. The Delilah uses the word self-compassion leaders need to be kinder to themselves. They don’t need to, overly judge themselves, give themself a hard time.

Love yourself. Love the emotions that you’re feeling love the insecurities that you are perfectly imperfect as they say. so just be compassionate to yourself. Self-management, take time to know yourself by loving who you are, what you are and how you show up at every given moment.

love that summary Jude, that was, I know we did talk about it in our conversation today. It’s part of the professional, background, or I’d love to sum up some solutions and strategies. Because it just allows us to end. I love practical. This is what obviously we love about coaching.

It’s able to really help people, walk away from a coaching session with really practical insights, because I think there is a lot of content available now around leadership and emotional resilience. And I know that you and I could. Many many more conversations around this self-management, which I would love to get you back on for another podcast.

And there is such a beautiful journey with being able to go inwards, to pause, to reflect, today. get in touch with when you are able to be silent and comfortable in that silence to allow that vulnerability to surface. And you can only do that when – you can only do that effectively – when you are really grounded and fully mindful and present.

And that leads into self-management. and that’s an entire conversation that I would absolutely love to get you back for. So thank you so much, dude, for being here again today.

Jude: Always a pleasure. Always a pleasure.

For those who are listening, if you would like to locate Jude, all you need to do is just pop over to hello coach, and you’ll find you under our leadership coaching section.

Thank you for being here and being a part of this conversation, and we look forward to having you back very soon.

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