Developing Your Leadership Persona

Becoming a leader is a journey of managing fear.

Am I enough?

Will I be accepted as an authority?

Who am I to lead this group?

These fears are at the core of the challenge of leading.

In these three mini clips three successful leaders:

Clark Ray

Thomas Courts

Tony Walmsley

talk about the challenge of becoming comfortable leading and the skills needed to lead well.



Clark: [00:00:00] I’m just thinking about football there the line between something that’s off the cuff and brilliant as Tom said there, it’s authentic. And something that you’ve prepared, but actually goes drastically wrong, is a very thin line, right?

Clark: You can prepare and prepare, and it can be awful, and yet you can do something off the cuff, and it can be fantastic. Going back to football, I was watching the Villa game yesterday, and it started off okay. The whole first half was fine, and they were trying something new. It wasn’t particularly well prepared, I don’t think.

Clark: And then when it collapsed. It collapsed catastrophically, and we ended up getting our backsides handed to us 4 0 at the end of it. But that doesn’t really reflect the game, nor does it reflect the effort that went into it, and I think even with comedy, sometimes you can over prepare, you can try something different or something new, but if you stick too much to the script, then it can be the line between getting it right and dramatically wrong is very thin.

Tony: I think it lends itself to what we were talking about last time, every audience is going to be different. So I think when the top [00:01:00] comedians tread the boards to get to the Netflix live show that is the one we all see on TV. They’ve done hundreds and hundreds of different audiences in different parts of the country and got such varying responses to the same jokes.

Tony: Sometimes the people that laughed their heads off yesterday, same joke in Liverpool didn’t work in Manchester and gets written out of the program or hammed up even more. I think it just goes to show that everything’s about the audience, not about the person delivering the message.

Tony: We train ourselves to deliver the message in different ways, but it’s all because we need the audience to hear it in the way they need to hear it. I think that’s the beauty of it. 

Rob: I can relate to that. My worst presentations have been the ones that I prepared the most. Because I become so fixated on the message it just becomes so stilted. You lose the authenticity, in it’s a dance between the audience and the message.

Rob: Last year I went to see Ricky Gervais I think it’s Armageddon , his latest one. And it was on a build up to that. But he made it work cause he goes, all right, you’re not laughing now. He said, but you will be. He said, I’ll have that [00:02:00] all ironed out. And he made it even more funny by his reaction to it.

Rob: In the question of leadership and that I’m listening through lots of conversations, bad leadership is when people are overly concerned with what people are thinking, you’re more worried about the perception of you than what actually what you’re doing.

Rob: The more comfort that you have, like that comedian, the more awareness that you have and authenticity that you have, the more pure the message is. And then I think people respond to that. Whereas When we’re trying to manage people’s perceptions of us, there’s a layers social barriers where the audience can’t connect to that message.

Clark: I gave a presentation just about a month before my accident. It was something that I’d never given before. I was trying to introduce some material on systems thinking to manufacturing organizations, because. It’s very easy in a factory environment to become very insular and just focus on the problems that you have and forget the community at large and the effect on the environment and all the different effects that waste has and so [00:03:00] on.

Clark: I knew the subject, but the material I wasn’t particularly familiar with. And as I was getting into this. Or following this script that I was running in my head, I could see that the feedback I was getting was so negative, they just weren’t getting it, and instead of just stopping and saying, listen, this is new to me as well etc, I stuck with it all the way through and it was the worst talk, I mean I’ve given hundreds of talks, it was the worst talk I’ve had, I’ve ever given, and I was watching myself in an out of body experience, just dying there on the platform. 

Tony: How do you feel now when you think back to putting yourself in that situation? What sort of things does it stir up in you? 

Clark: No I like it. I’ve always found him in giving presentations.

Clark: I like to invite feedback and I ignored my own advice in that particular presentation. So the feeling I have about it now is it is just a sort of a head slap thing because I was watching these people just not getting it. 

Clark: And I was not addressing those Rob’s just said. I was thinking about what I was doing and how I was appearing in the material I was giving instead of looking at them and thinking they’re not getting it. 

Clark: I actually have given Presentations about giving [00:04:00] presentations so that you invite this feedback and you start to read the room and how I feel about it now is it’s just,

Clark: it’s one of those things, but it’s as Rob says quite rightly that it’s about them and not yourself. I remember watching myself, from this sort of third person perspective thinking, you’re really dying here, Clark. And not being able to do anything about it. I couldn’t get away from what I was doing.

Clark: And you’ve got to get out of your own head. But once I was stuck in that trap, that was me done. 

Thomas: It’s funny, we spoke a lot the last time about temperature checks and taking briefs and diagnosis. And I remember Sir Alex Ferguson’s really big role model for me from a leadership and management experience.

Thomas: I suppose over your leadership career, you just gravitate towards certain models, certain ideas, certain concepts. And then now in your early forties, you actually feel like you have your toolbox, essentially. It’s not a closed toolbox, but he always talks about matching the message to the moment.

Thomas: And that was something I think as a leader and a manager, he was very good at. And I think there’s something around, storytelling, creating [00:05:00] experience. So as leaders and managers, we prepare presentations and team talks and we face the media. But the element of creating experience, actually bringing people on the journey with you, I think that’s when the message then starts to become individual.

Thomas: To the people that you’re delivering to. Probably the best phase of my career, where I was actually communicating the best, was actually in my first football management job, because I was 32, I was a player manager, I was really connected to the local community, it was a coal mining community, really hard working people, very tough as well, and once you actually connected with them, you have friends for life.

Thomas: And I just felt like with my upbringing and how I communicate. Every team talk was like a battle cry and it didn’t actually start off intending to be like that, but because there was something stirring within my stomach, and I felt connected to what is what we’re doing, we did eventually build a like a proper movement there and they became like the fastest growing team in Scotland because everyone just pulled together.

Thomas: And then when [00:06:00] you have that kind of sense of community the individual messaging landing differently with different people and owning that and closing the capacity gaps, it was really beautiful to actually watch it all unfold. And so Alex Ferguson has actually built a career and a management kind of persona around ship building.

Thomas: And I know it can be quite cliched now to talk about, I’m working class, etc. But I think, again, linking it back to authenticity, this was a reoccurring theme around how he behaved, how he treated his staff, from the cleaner to the star player, and also how he held himself accountable, and I think Clark’s admission about the presentation there.

Thomas: As leaders we take bloodied noses all the time and I think that’s a, it’s a healthy thing as long as, again, we’re able to reflect, we’re able to share with our peers in a safe environment and actually get some feedback. So I think there’s a lot of growth and beauty in that story as well. 

Clark: Yeah, it’s that being receptive to what’s going on with the other people.

Clark: If you’re just talking at people and you can see it, as Tony mentioned in certain comedy skits. If [00:07:00] you’re just reading off something that you’ve practiced over and over or rehearsed, you’re not connecting with anybody. You’re not really being receptive. And it’s interesting you say that about that coal mining community, because I worked at this factory in Coventry, which was literally on the site for an old coal mine.

Clark: Curly Colliery, I think it was in Coventry, but they have some real issues with management because of the old coal mining union management problems. And I was sent to the problem area in that factory, and these guys were just waiting for somebody to come so that they could shred him and throw him out.

Clark: I had to be receptive to what they had to say and listen to them, and a lot of their concerns were perfectly valid. And exactly as you’ve just said about that team Tom the biggest problem area in the factory became the best performing. Part of the factory simply because you listen to them and they said, look, we need to do it this way.

Clark: And over the period of about five or six months, that whole areas completely turned around, but it was really not about me. It was just about being the conduit through which these guys could have a voice. And get their work done the way they felt that it needed to be done. So it really is about if you’re not [00:08:00] listening and you’re just talking, you might get it right, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Clark: But generally speaking, you’re not going to get it on you because you’re not listening to anybody. 

Tony: It really resonates with me quite like this is my freshest thinking because I’ve just come back from an overseas trip, working with a group of people. I’d never met before. It was all really short notice gig.

Tony: And you’ve got content that you’re going to deliver, but without context, what it’s just, they could read a book and get the same sort of lessons or methodologies or framework. So my first positioning really within the group was to understand just how much. There was 450 plus years of domain experience in that room that I knew nothing about, 450 years versus me.

Tony: So it was always had to be about them. And the challenges were how do we get more visibility of the stuff that you’re not sharing with each other in order to be more interdependent? That’s the stuff that Thomas and I talk about a lot, which is going from independent high performers to interdependent unit, that’s really singing and dancing above [00:09:00] what anybody perceived was possible.

Tony: So it’s exactly that. I think understanding that. Actually, the insights in the room are there, how do we get them out on the table and then put them together in the best possible way to get the best possible result? 

Clark: That in everything, Tony. Obviously, an obvious example is football, where you have some really big name players that can be seen, at least anyway, as prima donnas, acting independently and not really being a part of the team. I was thinking about this over the weekend because I was talking to a friend about how the, probably the organization best able or certainly, has got the best historical record for building teams and leading teams is the military.

Clark: Certainly from my own experience with them, the British military, they have this ability to turn a very disparate group of individuals from all over the UK. Every regiment has got people from Liverpool and Bristol and all over. They may not even like each other. These guys may not get on at all.

Clark: And yet they turn them into this cohesive unit with Every single military unit that you ever speak to, regardless whether they’re [00:10:00] cooks or drivers or wherever they might be, they have an esprit de corps. They have a feeling amongst themselves. These are the guides. Nobody else can do what we do as well as we do.

Clark: Leadership is really just about taking a broken organism, and it may be only slightly broken or very broken, but taking something like that and turning it into an efficient organism that has this unity. And as you just said, with 450 years of experience, you’re never going to be able to dominate that environment just through sheer willpower.

Clark: You have to be the catalyst that makes these people work together and then find their own raison d’etre. 

Tony: I guess I’m lucky that I don’t want to dominate them. I think where people fall into the trap is when they do have a different approach to leadership and they assume that they are the teller and the decider then they’re going to come into, unhealthy conflict more often and probably suboptimal outcomes, I would think.

Clark: Reminds me of that film about The Damn United when Brian Clough went to Leeds. He went in there thinking that he had this, and he was brilliant [00:11:00] as a manager, but clearly the timing for him, he, in his own mind, he thought that he had this magic ability to just, and he wasn’t listening to the leeds players.

Clark: They were completely different organization to the people that it worked with before. So you see it all the time, certainly in business offices coming in and trying to dominate the environment. And it rarely works, certainly not long term.

Rob: It’s interesting when you look at that, because that’s all about context, isn’t it? 

Rob: Because what I’ve written down from that is, it’s about knowing, It’s about knowledge, and rather than over prepare a certain message, you have to know what you’re going to say. I remember hearing from a speaking coach that you should have like your knowledge so well that you’re looking at it in front of you and you’re able to pull up whatever you need to, you’re looking past that at the audience to being able to respond. So it’s about you need to know the knowledge, but then in the moment of delivery Is when the moment you need to be responsive to the audience and the context and then I think it’s Really about [00:12:00] creating that experience that Thomas said It’s because the experience is what the audience is going to get.

Rob: I think where Clough didn’t understand the context of Leeds, because he was used to Derby, he was used to clubs that , hadn’t had success which he then went on to Nottingham Forest where he had control. He didn’t have the egos. And he was able to impose himself. When you look at Sir Alex Ferguson, what he was brilliant at was creating the siege mentality, everyone’s against us. And that was his way of galvanizing that kind of spirit. So sometimes it can be the narrative that you put down is, creates the context for the experience for how they experience the message.

Clark: I had a coaching conversation last week and this is something that just occurred to me on the hoof while I was talking because the person I was coaching was talking about relationships. He was saying about how important it was to maintain equality in everything that they do. And I said it’s a great idea.

Clark: And I understand the reasoning behind that. And, thankfully the world’s changing in that direction to a great degree. I said, but [00:13:00] most organizations, most units are hierarchical in nature. That doesn’t mean anybody has more power than anybody else. It just means that at certain times, certain people have to take control of whatever’s going on.

Clark: I said, so for instance, and it just occurred to me that the body, It’s a hierarchy, if you see somebody injured in a car crash, for instance, and their fingers bleeding, it’s nowhere near as bad as if their head’s been smashed in, because certain parts of the body are more important. However, in normal day to day life, every part of the body is just as important.

Clark: And you don’t say that my, my hand is less important than my eye. It’s just that in life and death situations you may prioritize it. But there is a hierarchy there. And so a leader is just a part of a unit. And I think that’s probably the real problem when it comes to trying to express a message to a team as a leader.

Clark: If you think that you are the top priority all the time, there may be a hierarchy in that moment because you’re speaking. Or other than that, you’re really just a part of the organization. And you have to, the minute you’ve spoken, you have to then be [00:14:00] open to what the rest of the unit is saying back to you.

Clark: You are only as important, if you’re stood there on your own, you’re nothing. You’re only as important as your part in the team. So whilst there can be a hierarchical approach, it’s only important in, I think, You just said Rob i t’s about context. Depending on the circumstances, that person then becomes the most important at that point.

Clark: The striker’s the most important when he’s got the ball in front of the goal. Down the other end of the pitch, he’s nowhere near as important as the goalkeeper. So it depends. You have to be receptive to what the rest of the organization or the rest of the unit has to say. 

Tony: If you think about football and that manufacturing environment that you’re in, I see the players and the people on the shop floor as the same thing.

Tony: They’re the ones that have got visibility in the moment of all the problems that need to be tackled. They see everything and depending on their skill set or capability or what the approach is that we’ve agreed that we’re going to do is how they go about tackling those problems. The further up the hierarchy you go, the less visibility of the real [00:15:00] problems the person has. 

Tony: So the CEO is sitting right at the top. Think statistically around 5 percent of visibility of what the problems are in the business. So as you go through those lines of command, the narrower it gets to the top, the less visibility they’ve got the problem. The challenge then becomes one about how do we share knowledge. When do we share knowledge? So you get loads of escalations that shouldn’t be escalated. People saying, why are you bringing that to me? Why don’t you just fix it yourself? 

Tony: You get all of that, that, that type of language players saying, what do you want me to do in that situation?

Tony: You want them to be independently decisive in key moments, and they’re looking for external support in that moment, for example, there’s a lot of complexity in that. That lack of visibility from the top of what the problems really are, but then building the trust within each layer as you go down the organization, and then across the breadth of the organization, that we are really certain that between us, we’ve got all these major problems covered, and we’ve got the right people skilled up to fix them.

Tony: That’s the humming and singing and dancing organization, but for [00:16:00] me, it throws up a whole, because I get to understand the dynamics and the lack of communication skills, let’s say in a lot of situations, it’s easy to see why fractures widen quite quickly.

Tony: And silos start to form and disconnect happens from one team to another, or even down the business. Why are my leaders not leading, or why are my leaders stepping in and doing work that other people should be doing? So all of this sort of stuff starts to come into play. It’s not a bad way for me to try and understand what might be happening in a really complex environment. 

Clark: sorry to jump in again, Tom, just quickly on your point, Tony, I was just thinking that, because I had a conversation last week with somebody who’s taken over a new team as a director it’s not going anywhere near the way he wanted to, he said, I just can’t seem to get through to them how I see things, and he said it’s strange because at the last place he was at The place ran like clockwork.

Clark: I said, but you’re in a different situation now. This is a new environment, whereas the team has been newly put together. In your last place, you thought you were running it. You weren’t. They just knew what to do. They already knew what to do. The place was [00:17:00] functioning. And you were just there being the figurehead.

Clark: Now, you’ve got to actually direct. I think, Tom, you mentioned last time we spoke about the diet, five dysfunctions of a team, this whole idea of building up trust and enabling conflict and making sure that there’s no blame when we talk about our faults and all that sort of thing that’s your job.

Clark: The rest of the guys are operating machines. They’re fixing things. What do you do? You’ve got to be the guy to make sure that this happens, because otherwise there’s no point you being there. Then your last place. You really didn’t need to be there. The place was running. It was already done. So you’ve actually now got to go out and do some work.

Thomas: It was a really interesting example that Rob gave about Brian Clough because we all accept that Brian Clough was a genius, and in any era of football management and leadership, he would have been a very enigmatic character. And something we also touched on in the last conversation was how Simon Sinek talks about the diffusion of innovation where you need a minimum of 18 percent buy in within your immediate group in order to enforce [00:18:00] a tipping point.

Thomas: So when Brian Clough goes into Leeds and he’s got Norman Hunter and Billy Brenner, who he’s antagonized, who he’s pretty much called them for everything. If you actually just use the diffusion of innovation thing, I don’t even know if I’ve got one percent, let alone 18 percent. So as Rob was talking about in terms of the context, it’s this is now a hearts and minds project, initially, and even modern managers now, like Jurgen Klopp, talk about, 70 percent of football management is relationships and connections.

Thomas: The other 30 percent is the tactical side. So it’s still the same. But if Brian Clough, just using this as one live example, was to take Norman Hunter and Billy Bremner out for a coffee, And just actually puts cards on the table and say, look, at Nottingham Forest, we were lower resourced. I had to push the absolute nth degree out of my players, out of myself.

Thomas: Therefore, again, he’s matching the message to the moment. He’s almost asking for forgiveness. [00:19:00] And in terms of signposting the future, what he’s saying is, if you guys can give me an opportunity, what you’ll find in the medium to long term is I will do exactly the same for you. So he’s actually shown that human side. 

Thomas: He’s handing an olive branch and he’s actually respecting the seniority of the group so that when he stands in front of the wider dressing room for the first time he might actually have 10 or 12 percent. There might still be some big characters who are like, I can’t forgive him for the things that he said and done, calling us dirty leeds and all of this sort of stuff.

Thomas: But At least then you can actually work towards converting that 18 percent in order to eventually become the manager he was in his previous club. So I think the context is really important. Also actually understanding the key enablers and the accelerators within your dressing room who could actually increase your stock and your credibility and actually just, Ask for a fighting chance because as a leader, we actually need that, that fighting chance.

Thomas: And within Lencioni’s model, it does actually talk about, the leader has to go first to show [00:20:00] vulnerability. And if that vulnerability isn’t reciprocated or dealt with, So I think it’s really important to actually have a framework to sense check yourself when you’re taking on new opportunities.

Thomas: Otherwise, you can easily just fit into what worked previously will work here. And as Brian Clough found out, it doesn’t quite work like that, does it? 

Rob: I’ve just been listening to Martin O’Neill’s biography who obviously was part of Brian Clough’s team. But it also didn’t work once they’d won the European cup for the second time.

Rob: It all went downhill from there. And he said like he was able to rise them up, but when he had the expectations he wasn’t able to maintain that. 

Rob: I did a series a while ago of seven different football managers. I think they all encapsulate one type of thing like Jürgen Klopp’s unity, Ferguson was grit Mourinho’s dark arts but when you look at someone like Bob Paisley, one of the most successful managers, I don’t think [00:21:00] he’d have been successful if he wasn’t following Bill Shankley because from all accounts, he was terrible man management.

Rob: But he had such a strong team that it was Graeme Souness who mostly was the players amongst themselves. Souness was the real leader there. Dalglish was there. And it was actually the Scottish contingent that were running things. There’s an awareness of what’s the right context for you.

Rob: I think Jurgen Klopp really has that because he’s picked and chosen the clubs he’s gone to. He knew Liverpool was the right environment for him. But then it’s also when you look at a lot of leadership problems, it’s about fear of engagement. It’s a fear of vulnerability.

Rob: It’s a fear of tackling conflict. It’s all of those fears hold us back from really dealing with the issue in front. It’s, like the typical one is, and you talked about enablers and accelerators, was it? They’re going to be the strongest characters who are the most confrontational who is hardest to deal with.

Rob: What I’ve always found with people is the core of it is all about fear. And I think that is the real problem that [00:22:00] even going back to the message, if you’re communicating a message, it’s about the fear of perception the ability to be vulnerable is to embrace that fear of how other people think of you, which all comes back in the end to we have a deep need for belonging.

Tony: Just sorry, if I could just step in there just while it sticks in my mind about the Paisley Shankly type era, I think sometimes Your team is so much better than the opposition, it’s a classic, anybody could manage that team and they would be successful, let’s say, people use that throwaway line all of the time, but it really lends itself to what I believe, which is, You don’t actually need a leader if the team doesn’t need to be led.

Tony: So people often step in and try and manage or lead when the problem that the team is facing is one that they can deal with without any intervention. Sometimes understanding at what point does the team need leadership from me and when don’t they is a really key thing. 

Tony: Was it Paisley you were saying maybe wouldn’t have been successful without Shankly for [00:23:00] example? If he had that awareness of when he needed to just leave this team knows exactly what they’re doing, can look after themselves. I need to be good at recruiting. I need to be good at putting the jigsaw pieces together.

Tony: Maybe let them know I’m here when they need me or, whatever it was not trying to be something that the situation didn’t require, I think is as important as having. leadership skills, so to speak, I would think. 

Rob: Yeah, that’s absolutely it. I think the analogy in driving is when you’re learning to drive, you oversteer.

Rob: And the better the driver, the less you steer and it’s the lighter touch. And that was with Paisley because they were a team that was used to winning. They demanded that accountability of themselves, which is like the last step of Lencioni’s results, isn’t it? And if you were taking over a high performing team, whereas then when you look at what Klopp did he had to raise that standards and he had to build up that belief.

Rob: So now when he leaves, they’re a team of winners and they, for a while, they’re going to hold themselves each other accountable to that. 

Thomas: Yeah, [00:24:00] it’s quite interesting. And I just hear amplification and dampening as a leader at times where certain opportunities you may need to amplify certain parts of your personality, your storytelling, your decision making, your recruitment, anything across the leadership continuum.

Thomas: But then there’s other opportunities where you might go in and it might be highly functioning, therefore you need to dampen certain things. I actually think that’s There’s a lot of beauty in that as well because then as a manager and leader, you’re then actually looking to communicate with impact.

Thomas: So your interventions and your moments to actually be the leader can then therefore be more impactful because you’ve actually dampened a lot of The need to be present to be the sole provider of solutions and ideas. And then really, you can actually just amplify the key moments that are much more impactful for the team.

Thomas: And it’s almost like a sense of validation for the team that you guys are actually You know, at worst co [00:25:00] creating this with us as leaders, but at best actually driving this for yourselves. And that takes a lot of confidence as a manager and leader to, to take that position and actually accept that.

Clark: What you just said there, Tom, reminded me of when I was working with new managers. It was often a problem because they, as Rob just said, oversteered. They tried to lead people that didn’t need leading. And there was a common thing that I used to say to them, what are you trying to be?

Clark: You’re focusing on what you’re trying to be instead of what you’re trying to accomplish. If, for instance, you’re trying to accomplish something that’s already happening, don’t do anything. Don’t feel you need to be this thing. This goes back to my disastrous presentation six months ago. I was trying to be this thing, this, put this image across instead of trying to accomplish some sort of connection.

Clark: And when you’re trying to be something that’s not necessary at the time, then it’s just not going to work. And, as Tony said, there are times when people don’t need to be led, one of the best things a leader can say to somebody is, do you know what you’re doing? Oh, get on with it.

Clark: And if you can allow that to happen and just be there, then that is [00:26:00] probably leadership at its best because you’re allowing the thing that can happen to happen. You’re just there when they need you. 

Tony: That lends itself to the autonomy stuff that we talked about last time, doesn’t it, as well? 

Tony: But I think also the perception that you started the conversation with Rob being overly concerned with, what the external perception of me is clearly a barrier to authenticity, a barrier to maybe performing at your best.

Tony: I think it’s also, I think as leaders, if we want to talk about ourselves as a, brand Thomas Courts, for example, people would going to talk about Thomas as a leader, then it actually isn’t, it does have weight and importance too. So I think we are as a leader, our actions, what we do, what we say, we how we function.

Tony: But we are also how we are perceived. So I think there’s a balancing act to do, which is to build that almost an impenetrable I call it persona if you like, but it’s the personas to me lends itself to being something a little bit different to my core identities. 

Tony: The closer we can get our persona to be aligned with our [00:27:00] core identity, then the more authentic we’re naturally going to be.

Tony: Then we start to attract the perception that we want. We start to deliver in the way. that we’re uncompromised in how we go about our business. And when those two things marry up, where the external perception matches my internal view of myself I think that’s when we’re going to be at our best.

Rob: What that brings to mind is in the podcast that went out today about change management, someone brought up that there’s a Hollywood view of management where people think they’re going to come in and they’re going to give this amazing message. And because they’re so charismatic, everyone’s going to embrace it.

Rob: And they’re saying like, you really need to engage. And I think there is culturally this feeling, it goes back to the whole alpha myth and the great man theory of that you’re so charismatic. That your message is, you say it in such a way and you have such presence that everyone’s going to adopt it.

Rob: And that’s not really how things work. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the experience of the person. 

Clark: Now, what [00:28:00] Tony just said about your persona is brilliant. And it ties into that what you just said there, Rob, because this image that a person tries to portray, it’s not them.

Clark: If it was them, and they had the values that coincided with that persona, then maybe it would work, depends, it takes different people for different situations, doesn’t it? But I’ve often found now, since I’ve started working a lot more one to one, that you’re looking at somebody trying to be something that they’re not.

Clark: Because clearly, and the implication, obviously, is that what they actually are is not enough, they think. 

Clark: Otherwise they wouldn’t be trying to be something else, would they? 

Clark: When you can convince a person, or a group of people, that what they actually are is more than, and way better than this persona that you’re trying to present to the world, you become, as Tom said, authentic and your vulnerability and all the other aspects of your personality feed into what you’re trying to accomplish.

Clark: And it really is all about what results are you trying to get? 

Clark: If going back to Brian Clough, if he’d have been a little bit more humble and said, look, lads as you said, Tom, I [00:29:00] did this, I did that. It worked at the time. I thought it was a good idea, and just had that real connection and openness and vulnerability and said, look, But I want to accomplish this.

Clark: And I think you are the guys that can do it. And I think I can help you. 

Clark: That would be a conversation, the foundation of Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions is about establishing trust. If you haven’t got that and that’s why, probably why new bosses, new managers, new leaders have to put in so much effort at the beginning to show that they really are Unai Emery at Aston Villa, I don’t think there’s anybody in Birmingham that wouldn’t let him borrow their car, live in their house, do whatever, because he clearly has worked so hard to get the trust of the fans of Aston Villa.

Clark: And having done that, he can now do pretty much anything. And all those great managers that you’ve mentioned, Klopp and so on. When Klopp said that he was going to step down, I thought Liverpool was going to go into a day of mourning. He clearly had so much affinity with the people, because He put that effort and he built that trust and then everything else then comes from that, but his [00:30:00] persona is him.

Clark: As all of those great managers, I have to admit Tom after our last conversation, I did have a look at what you’ve been doing recently. And it was quite fascinating because you clearly had quick results and the first thing I thought was this guy has just got trust straight away.

Clark: However you’ve managed to do that. You’ve clearly been present and said to people, this is what I’m trying to accomplish and it clearly worked and I think that’s really, going back to your question there, Rob, about fear, if you’re afraid that people will see who you really are, you need to have a little bit of a talk with yourself because what you really are is what matters.

Thomas: It’s funny as you were talking there, Clark, I actually recounted my first meeting with with the first team at Dundee United. And I remember on the first slide that was called the rookie and the championship squad, because when I got the Dundee United job, I got it from being with inside the football club, working within the academy.

Thomas: And it created this big furore externally. The previous manager at Dundee United would label the squad a championship squad. And it was his way of actually diluting expectation, [00:31:00] managing the focus on results. So when I actually got the job at Dundee United, I actually just wanted to actually again just show that human side by acknowledging myself as the rookie in the championship squad.

Thomas: So basically what I was saying is here’s the public perception of you and I. So I was like fusing us together. But then what I’d said is, if that’s the external perception, here’s what the internal perception needs to be. Here’s what we need to be targeting ourselves on. And I always talk about player being king.

Thomas: So they were going to see internally the switch from we’re a championship squad, we need to manage expectations to saying, guys I’ve observed you from afar. I think there’s massive capability here. There’s a lot of experience. But more importantly, there’s a lot of capacity. Here is what it takes to get into the top six.

Thomas: Once you get into the top six, here’s what it takes you to get into the top four. 

Thomas: There’s no guarantees. You can’t give me any guarantees. I won’t give you any guarantees. But here are the three things that we’re going to hold ourselves to [00:32:00] account on. 

Thomas: And just in that, that one meeting, there was some acknowledgement of here’s how we’re seen externally, and that’s going to take a while and it might just evolve externally because the perception of me because I’ve worked in business for a lot of years, I’ve worked in recruitment, I’ve worked in call centers. 

Thomas: I talk a little bit differently to other managers and head coaches. And sometimes I actually throw in a word that I don’t even mean to throw in myself that other people don’t understand. And that could actually cause some frustration externally because the fans are like, does he talk like that to the players?

Thomas: How are they going to understand that? 

Thomas: I’m like, oh shit. What is it that I said that the players might not understand? 

Thomas: But these, you have to own this as well. And I’m somebody who actually craves feedback. I actually need it, so sometimes that the external feedback, even though it’s quite harsh as a head coach and manager, I’m actually able to distill sometimes whether or not there’s growth for me and what it is they’re trying to say.

Thomas: Whereas a lot of head coaches and managers will say, I don’t go on social media. It’s really unhealthy and [00:33:00] it can be unhealthy. But I think there is also growth from that feedback as well. 

Clark: Tom, just a quick question. Did you just mentioned a slide there? Did you actually make a presentation your very first meeting with the team?

Clark: You gave an actual presentation with slides. Yeah. 

Thomas: Yeah, and you know something, the message And it’s come through on different occasions, even this conversation. 

Thomas: The presentation was just a framework, almost like to roadmap the conversation, but there was lots of space for like lucid thinking, to be agile, to look at people, whether they were engaging, to assess who was sitting in the front row, because the guys in the front row and football management.

Thomas: They’re generally the guys with the most confidence. They’re sitting there with a popcorn thinking, okay, impress us. Yeah. Let’s see what you’ve got. And you do actually need to command that internal audience, even though externally as a manager, you’re always fighting for your life because It’s very results based, it’s very tribal.

Thomas: Whereas I think when you actually command the audience internally, the players are [00:34:00] actually like, okay, that’s an invitation to move forward. 

Clark: Brilliant. You’ve mentioned a couple of things there that I keep watching obviously being a villa fan, I keep watching Unai, Emery. We’ve had some bad results recently, and every time he gets interviewed, All he talks about is how much he and his team demands of himself and of themselves.

Clark: And that’s all he talks about. You can even hear some of the fans now saying that we’ve got a job to do. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before. The fans are saying, we’ve got to contribute to this because they’re demanding so much of themselves. I just thought, talk about subliminal messaging.

Clark: The guy is just saying, I will bleed for you if you will do the same for me. And it’s exactly what you’ve just said, isn’t it? You actually set up a situation in which you have that initial conversation and say, this is what I want to accomplish. And it’s probably the thing that a lot of people miss.

Clark: The statement of intent, right? 

Thomas: Yeah, 100%. And I think for me, it was seen as a really bold and risky move. So in those kind of first meetings, because when you’re detached from the players over the close season, they’re actually absorbing all this [00:35:00] external, the managers inexperienced, it was just post COVID as well.

Thomas: So again, there was this big furore. But what I’d also done as well, Clark, is during the close season, I’d actually met all the players individually for a coffee. And I didn’t actually ask them to come out with their home domain. I actually travelled all over Scotland, bought all the coffees, but it was my way of actually, again, taking control of the situation and actually just saying to the players, There’s going to be a lot of things that are written.

Thomas: Some of it might be true, I don’t have the experience at the level. However, if all you take from this conversation is how we’ve interacted, because as the real stuff starts, I might not pick you in the team. I might be under pressure, you might be under pressure. Certain things might happen in our life, but the thing I’m asking you to do is to always remember this coffee meeting, because at my core. This is who I am. I hope this is who you are. 

Thomas: And that’ll actually just frame sometimes how we feel about each other. Ancelotti talks a lot about the difference between anger and disappointment. We may have talked about that [00:36:00] last time. That coffee meeting for me was like an investment to remind the players that yes, we may disappoint each other, but let’s try wherever possible to stay away from that angry frame of mind because it’s actually really unhelpful.

Rob: I think in the last call, I think you, you mentioned something about anger and disappointment, but I’m interested to hear a bit more about that. 

Thomas: It’s something that can easily happen in football because of the weekly demand for results. Players always want to play in the team.

Thomas: And I’ve actually never met a player yet who, when you leave them out the team, come to you and say, Gaffer, you know something? You were actually right to leave me out of the team. Players develop coping strategies and mental skills to even at times bluff their own insecurities and their own inadequacies and I just think that anger is a You could argue that it’s a frame of mind that can drive creativity, that can, it can really provoke the environment, but it could also be really unhealthy as well.

Thomas: And I think sometimes disappointment, if you actually frame that [00:37:00] in a competitive sporting environment, that’s, that, that’s almost like that there’s a control. There’s a regulation to the emotions, and there’s a decisive, definitive way that you’re going to, approach things professionally to try and get yourself back in the team, whereas anger for me is clouded judgment.

Thomas: It’s, it could probably force you to lash out at a teammate. It can force you to actually break some harmony in the dressing room. Whereas I think disappointments more calculated, and I think that’s, in a very kind of male dominated, testosterone driven environment, I think that, that sense of disappointment is much healthier for the habitat that we operate in.

Clark: You you actually want to see that, I think Tom. Thinking about anger and disappointment, all of those negative feelings Lencioni mentions again, I have to trust the most important thing is to get rid of this fear of conflict. I’ve actually found myself on many occasions engineering a situation where I say something provocative just to get a little bit of a [00:38:00] pushback because I want them to see that it’s fine.

Clark: When I do training sessions, I often say, listen, if you don’t agree, it’s fine. If you don’t tell me, then that’s your fault, because I need to know, because by you telling me, I can learn, and then I can help you guys more and enabling people or allowing people to feel that they’re able to even get angry at times.

Clark: As you just said, you sat down and had coffee, Tom, with people, as long as we know we’re all friends, just like in a family, we may have arguments and rows from time to time, but we genuinely have a feeling for each other, that, that conflict. enables us to get things out in the open.

Clark: And that’s probably, 25 years ago, I did some training with some salespeople. I learned a thing called spin selling, which had been around years before that, apparently. And it was such a simple acronym. Spin just means you ask yourself, what’s the situation? The P is what’s the problem with that situation?

Clark: The I is what are the implications of that problem? 

Clark: And then the last one, the N is what do we need? 

Clark: And I remember that in all conflict situations since then, and I use it all the time. [00:39:00] When they start getting angry and getting shouty so what’s going on? What’s, what exactly is going on here?

Clark: What’s the situation? And what’s the problem with that? And what do we need to do about it? It’s a brilliant conversation because the anger just disappears. The minute they are able to say what’s on their mind, and sometimes they’ll even feel a bit silly and laugh about it, but it’s out there. And once one person has done it, and everybody’s seen that you’re allowed to get angry or disappointed or say what’s on your mind, And the floodgates open.

Thomas: I actually had a good example with the mafia recently you talked about the British military and I’m talking about the mafia at the height of the gentlemanly phase, if you want to call it that. 

Thomas: There was a story recounted around, around trust, so their terms of engagement, if you like, are much higher because you’re talking about, 50 – 60 year prison sentences, you’re talking about, life and death, and they spoke about, having a round table, a big meeting where there’s different mob bosses, and the way that you actually poured the wine would actually tell your confidants who you actually trusted.

Thomas: So if [00:40:00] you poured it like this round the table, and then you turn the bottle, you were actually indirectly telling other people, just watch what you’re saying in front of this guy. 

Thomas: So I think human beings, whether it be the military, like you gave an example of, or the mob boss with their own kind of parameters of success and failure but even within the Mafia, the way that they have conflict, as soon as somebody actually loses their cool in a debate, if you like The argument’s over, they automatically lose the argument.

Thomas: And I think what they’re actually indirectly doing there is they’re trying to control the emotion. They’re trying to minimize the anger because heightened anger in that environment means you start organizing and arranging hits on people and you maybe start colluding with the authorities. So These frameworks, I think, are really important in different environments, and yes, sport is very chaotic and complex, but also, the mafia and the military, they’re completely different because it becomes life and death, but they develop their [00:41:00] own coping strategies as well.

Clark: Tony mentioned it earlier, and I think that was probably, we’ve talked about some interesting things, but the thing I’m going to take away, first and foremost, is that what you said, Tony, about the persona of a leader because I think that when I’m doing a lot of one on one coaching recently, one of the things I find interesting is that it’s de rigueur in coaching to, to let the client find the answers to their own problems.

Clark: And one of the issues I’ve found with that is that if you’re trying to be something better or something more, or you’re trying to achieve an outcome with regards to yourself, That persona may be something that’s completely unknown to you. 

Clark: And you have to try and get the person to find out what their values are or what values they would like to subscribe to, because that then creates a persona that they can step into.

Clark: But with the military, with the mafia, with football teams, what are our values? 

Clark: And it’s the leader that is the person that puts those values in front of everybody else. These are the values that I hold dear. I hope, I think, you guys will [00:42:00] also think that they’re worth trying to establish within our organization or in our unit or team.

Clark: But he has to have those values within himself first and very often you mentioned things like you, you talk to a group of guys, very often engineers or whatever they might be. And you talk about things like honor or humility or duty or respect or responsibility. These are not things that they get.

Clark: They don’t talk about them very often, and they certainly don’t have those things talked about around them in their circle. And the minute you start to raise those values in a group of people or within a person, they then have something that they can start to aspire to. And I think that’s exactly what you did when you had those coffees with those guys, Tom.

Clark: You were saying, look, I value us, I value trust, I value unity and cohesion. And I’m hoping that you guys will do too, but you have to have that persona first for everybody else to see. 

Tony: A great little exercise with values in any groups, put a load of values up on the, on a slide and they obviously scan in the slide [00:43:00] and you get in a group of say 20 people, they have to shout out the one word that resonates with them the most.

Tony: And in 20 people, you’ll get immediately 12 different words shouted out. So straight away, you’ve got a snapshot of something under the surface that nobody’s ever seen before and you can start to explore it and I do a fair bit of work on identity and values, but I think a big part of it that is sometimes overlooked is trying to get in touch with the things that you don’t like about yourself, the dark side, the bit that actually when it comes out, it’s not a very pleasant thing for other people to, To witness or for myself to to know that it’s there.

Tony: I think when we talk about self regulation, we talk about managing our emotional state under pressure, let’s say knowing that’s there and being able to control it is really important. Now I seek peace. I seek unity. I look for that in all of the environments that I go.

Tony: It’s my natural state. If things are taking along nicely, I’m really comfortable with that. So I have to step outside to tap into us. I can reach assertiveness quite easily. It’s not too difficult. It’s not my go to though, [00:44:00] but I have to go there. Being a football manager, you’ve got to go there.

Tony: But lurking deep down inside is this flash point where I can lose it and nobody sees it coming. Even me, I’ve done it. I’ve done it in the car and I’ve done it in the changing room. And the first time it ever came out and was in a similar situation to Thomas, when he was at Kelty Hearts, a semi professional environment that was, when I look back, it was the place where I felt that everything I had was invested in this whole build of a club from where we were, it was an amazing place to be.

Tony: And we’d taken them a trip. Pre season we’ve flown somewhere, which is unique for the level that we were at. You just don’t fly places. And I wanted to build an environment that made them feel bigger and better. So we would give it, there’s a lot of giving and of course we wanted some return.

Tony: We wanted the players to return. So anyway, cut a long story short, we played a game, we’re talking pre season friendly. There’s no high stakes here. It’s a pre season friendly boys run a trip away. And the first half was so far, and this is probably Rob is lending itself to the resonance type thing.

Tony: So my [00:45:00] pictures in my head, these pictures of what we look like at our best, what these players coming together looks and feels like when the game’s being played with this sort of artistic beauty that’s in my mind, that this is what I love to see. I want my players to express themselves. I want them to play like that and be tough when we need to be.

Tony: All of that stuff. And you’ve got the individual approach with each player. But suddenly the collective is feeding back to you. This is us today, boss. We ain’t doing it. We’re not doing anything that looks anything like we’ve agreed and that you want us to do. 

Tony: Now, I can feel myself getting more and more ill at ease with what I’m seeing, and of course you’re saying things that you’re trying to cajole on the sideline, but it wasn’t until, and I had no idea this was coming, I got into the changing room at halftime, and there’d been a debate in weeks prior what colour socks the team was going to wear the players were voting on Do we want white socks, or do we want red socks, or I can’t remember the colours.

Tony: Anyway, they’ve chosen white socks, so as I’m pacing the dressing room and I can feel this energy bubbling up inside me, all I’m seeing is [00:46:00] suddenly all these white gleaming socks bouncing back at me. I’m thinking, they should have dirt on them, they should, everything’s going against me right now.

Tony: And I just blew you guys probably would not even know that I could do that. And I went absolutely nuts, and I can remember the rhetoric, I started with white fucking socks, white socks, and like absolutely meaningless but blew my stack, yelling, shouting, pointing, and no, nobody was excused.

Tony: Anyway, they went out and performed the house down and afterwards, we shake hands and it was better. But what I didn’t know was that I had that in me, right? So it was totally authentic. And I had a mentor at the time who was a bit of an expert in I suppose doing the sort of stuff that you do, Clark.

Tony: He was a bit of an expert in all of that. And I said to him, look, this is what happened at halftime. I’m not really comfortable with it. He said it was because it’s in there. And they would have seen that it was genuine, that you hadn’t manufactured it, he said it was, used sparingly, that can be a really effective tool, but the reason I share the story is I can still feel it.

Tony: But it’s something that [00:47:00] learning that it’s there, knowing that it’s there, gives me a lot of power. In terms of the strength for me comes from knowing it’s there and being able to keep that lid on it. That gives me the strength to go, actually, I can get harder with you now, because if I know what could happen if we don’t get this bit right. So it gives me another dimension to my ability to go and interact with people in a more direct and and demanding way, if you like. 

Clark: There’s four of us here talking and of the four of us, I think that’s probably the unifying factor that there’s not one person here that is afraid to be themselves. Rob mentioned this a lot of the problems that leaders have in communicating is this fear and, what can they be afraid of really is the main thing that I see that people not just leaders, but people in general are afraid of is that they’re seen and that what people see.

Clark: It’s not what they think is enough or whatever it is that they’re doing. And of the four of us here, I think we’re all comfortable or we’ve managed to get to a point in our lives now where we’re comfortable letting people see who we [00:48:00] are. I had a coaching client last week and he literally said that those were the words he said, I do sometimes think that I’m not enough.

Clark: And I said compared to what? 

Clark: Not enough of a man, not enough of a leader, not competent enough what exactly are we, and when he started to examine it, I said, so you’re trying to pretend to be something, so that people don’t see this other thing, you don’t even know what it is, you’re not even sure what you’re afraid of.

Clark: And the minute you start to say the words and they talk about it, they realize, oh my goodness it’s a ghost. 

Clark: I’m afraid of this phantom. Actually, all it takes is the ability to recognize that, yeah, I’m all right. I blow my stack sometimes. I talk bollocks a lot and for whatever reason it seems to work, but we’ve all got our, And, we’re unable to do certain things, and yet we are what we are, and that’s enough.

Clark: And the minute you recognize that, people see that you’re coming from that place you’re sorted. 

Tony: It’s a really strong statement to make. And I think that, Not being enough, it can manifest as fear effect. If you think about football player about to play a cup final, I don’t want to make a mistake.

Tony: I don’t want to [00:49:00] fail. I don’t want to lose. I don’t want to make the mistake that costs us the game. Or I don’t want to be ridiculed for something that happens on the pitch. I don’t want to lose face. I don’t want to, I don’t want to lose credibility. There’s not getting the result that you want, and there’s not being seen to be the person that you want to be seen as.

Tony: Underpinning all that’s the sense of shame. Don’t want to get all psychoanalytical, but the shame drives both of those things. But to nail it as being enough, I think covers it. It’s a hard place for lots of people to go. 

Clark: But if you can do that, the minute you can accept yourself, it seemed to me what Tom was talking there about going around having those coffees.

Clark: I love that presentation that you did. I just think that was probably such a, maybe that’s a common thing in football. I don’t know, but it just seemed like such a brilliant thing to do to say, look, this is what I’m about. And this is what I’m trying to accomplish. In accepting yourself, you’re then able to accept your, the people that you work with, and you, because they’re going to fail and they’re going to have bad performances and it’s fine.

Clark: The minute they know that it’s fine, they can put the effort [00:50:00] into trying to get that little bit better, even though they know that they may not always manage it because, You make mistakes, we all make mistakes, and there’s no blame, and we’re all good enough, otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

Rob: I’m still digesting that, but my work is dealing with conflict, I love conflict, because I think conflict is where you break the model that you’re at. And you go to a deeper level of connection. So it’s an opportunity whether we accept it or we don’t.

Rob: I think anger can be a really healthy emotion. It’s an emotion that gathers strength and energy to do something as long as you can move past the anger. 

Rob: But whenever I look at anger, I look at what’s the fear. And so from my understanding of. When you talk about resonant fear, resonance theory, it’s about taking the vision that you have and using the energy that brings you towards that.

Rob: And I think fear, anger is about the fear of the negative side of that, the shadow side of what can go wrong, which then creates an energy and a movement to avoid that scenario. 

Tony: [00:51:00] Yeah, you’re right. I think I haven’t thought about it in those terms. 

Tony: In essence, you manifest this future state where you’re connected to all of the positive feelings that you’re going to get when what you want to happen happens.

Tony: So we want to win the league. Imagine, so I’m working with the football team at the moment, and I’ve thrown a bit of resonance theory out to the team. And we’ve got seven games left and talked to him about, imagine if we did win the league, I’m not setting them a goal to win the league.

Tony: It’s completely out of our control. We don’t know what the ref is going to do. We don’t know what results we’re going to get. We don’t know how. We might, someone might score a top corner worldie from 30 yards, we just don’t know. But can we imagine what it would feel like in seven weeks time if we’ve won the league?

Tony: What will, who will you be celebrating with? 

Tony: What will it mean to you? 

Tony: What, all your parents have done this and that. 

Tony: Anyway, Resonance Theory is about putting yourself into a future state. And really connecting with the feelings that go with that, not thinking about we won, how good we are, but what does it feel like to be there?

Tony: So that when you’re on the journey between current state and future state, which is going to feel great and you hit a [00:52:00] setback, you go one nil down in an important game with ten minutes to go, then, and it’s not easy to do, right? 

Tony: Not easy to do as an individual, let alone as a group, but there’s a real positive mental shift happens when you connect yourself back to the dream state.

Tony: In the face of a setback you get common feedback around we’ve lost that play for the next few minutes cause the dwelling on the mistakes or the dwelling on it takes you completely out of that deficit downward spiral and puts you into a, not even thinking about the goal.

Tony: I’m just reconnected emotionally to something that will happen if, and when. So you can’t be in that state and be conscious It’s like curiosity. You can’t be stressed and curious at the same time. So you immediately deescalate the calamity and you, because you’re connected to this future version of yourself, you just go again on what is it that I’m supposed to be doing here?

Tony: It helps people through difficult situations. That’s the idea behind it. So you’ve got a dream, it’s a dream state. You hit a hurdle, you revisit the [00:53:00] dream state. And then you go again. 

Tony: I think if you can get that collectively, you’re going to get really good responses to setbacks in key moments. 

Rob: Which is what Klopp talks about mentality monsters.

Rob: Which is why I think they’ve won so many points in the last few minutes, which goes back to Alex Ferguson, which was his key as well, wasn’t it?

Tony: And there’s lots of other stuff going on, isn’t there as well? How much fitter are they? Do they score lots of late goals because they’re fit or is it their mentality or is it, eventually the better players score more often in the latter part of the game. It’s like the great Liverpool team that won all of those titles.

Tony: Is it because they had all of these fantastic things or were they just, were the opposition just nowhere near as good as them? 

Tony: If I put myself in a team of adults playing in an under 10s comp, the adults win every year. It doesn’t make me a great coach, but there’s lots of coaches out there that, that would have the chest puffed out because their team is dominating junior competitions, left and center, who really need to get some perspective.

Tony: So I think it’s important those humility elements and really assess, get the data, get the facts. Okay. Like for like environment. Now, here’s where I can [00:54:00] make a difference as a leader. Now, when we’re faced with a challenge and the team can’t manage this on their own, I can step in and start to facilitate a shift in maybe how we do it, where we take it, how we think about it.

Tony: Imagine this, you’ve got a group, the majority of your players are cognitively oriented, they think more than they feel, to a large degree. So everything’s about perfectionism, everything’s about, give me the data, everything’s about the structure of about what we do, the tactics, we want all the information.

Tony: Very hard to connect them to what it feels like to be in a future state of winning. What? What are you talking about? 

Tony: I don’t feel stuff. And of course, we’ve all got feelings. Some people just immediately lend themselves to thinking and that overthinking, perfectionism, procrastination, all of those things living in that world in a negative way.

Tony: But then the breakthroughs come when you do connect them to that. Imagine if, how can I help you, who would be around you, all of these things. Because, a theory is a theory on a piece of paper. To get a group of people To even come conceive something that’s conceptual like I’m a big picture [00:55:00] thinker.

Tony: So I’m okay with concepts. I’m okay with ideas and I’m okay with feelings. I can be open about what I want to feel like in the future. But to get a group of people to be like that and even understand it before they can. Accept it, appreciate it, and actually use it to help them in a performance environment.

Tony: Two really different things. It’s like, how do you take the theory into applied learning? 

Tony: It’s going to be easier to do it with me, easier to talk to me about resonance theory, get me to understand it and apply it than it is to someone who’s not naturally feeling oriented. They’ve got more of a thinking preference, a strong thinking preference.

Tony: Who like to act before they think, whatever it might be, it’s a complex thing. 

Clark: That brings us full circle to what we’re saying in the beginning, doesn’t it? 

Clark: What is a leader? 

Clark: What’s the function of a leader is to be able to read the room and to understand who are the feelers and who are the thinkers, who, what are the different value systems that your you have and how do you use them?

Clark: How do you bring them out? 

Clark: How do you create trust? 

Clark: And so on, but these are the guys that are doing the actual shovel work. You have to do your [00:56:00] bit by reading everybody else and using their abilities to their own advantage. It’s this concept of the 10th man as a thing that I use.

Clark: But the other side of the 10th man is somebody that actually builds a vision of what could be. Not the bad stuff that might happen, but exactly what you’ve just said. What is the thing that we could get to if we’ve actually accomplished all that we were going for? What would that look like?

Clark: And that’s probably the three questions that I ask, who are you? Where are you on your journey? 

Clark: The most important one is what does good look like? 

Clark: What could it be like if we actually manage this and we all pull together just this once to see what might happen? That’s the job of the leader, isn’t it?

Clark: To make that happen to get that vision. in front of everybody. 

Tony: But that, what does good look like? I think is brilliant. 

Tony: And when you then connect that future state to what will it feel like when we get there? When we get to what good looks like, what will it feel like?

Tony: That’s resonance theory. That’s the nuance difference. You’re connecting to a whole different set of internal systems. And it, that’s why it has a positive effect in moments of crisis or setback. 

Thomas: It almost sounds like we’re talking about [00:57:00] transformational leadership there, where we create an inspiring vision of the future.

Thomas: We then motivate people to buy into and deliver that vision. We manage the delivery of the vision, but we’re also amplifying and dampening depending on the context. But underpinning all of that, we’re building strong trust based relationships. 

Thomas: Over the course of time, when I came across the concept of Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, transformational leadership, and I started to look at also different sports, and I’m sure you guys have maybe studied or heard about the principles of the All Blacks. 

Thomas: In terms of how they built culture and Obviously, rituals being a really big part of how they operate, and even on the Netflix documentary, when you actually understand rituals, and you actually create that experience the player gets his first cap, and the ritual that goes along with that, and when they’re visiting the temples, and they get really connected to their history, and even when you actually read The actual principles of the All Blacks, the [00:58:00] vocabulary, the language, the narrative that they’re actually writing for themselves is unique to themselves.

Thomas: They’re actually writing their own words. So there’s nothing generic, there’s nothing standard, and the level of Attachment and belonging and relatedness to that just must, and then just before you actually go to war on the pitch, you do the haka. Jeez, the heightened sense of sensation that you must be experiencing at that point must be phenomenal.

Thomas: So that for me is almost like the blueprint of what a high performing team actually looks like in a sporting context. 

Clark: What you just said there about rituals, Tom because when Tony, you just said about, what does good look like, what does good feel like, there’s actually an even another level on top of that.

Clark: I’ve had a framework now that I’ve worked with for years. It started off as 12 12 steps, 12 sessions. It’s now 36 because it’s just bigger and bigger. But a big part of that is, is built around Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, the whole hero’s journey mythology.

Clark: I don’t know if you guys have ever read the book or seen the book Iron John by Robert Bly [00:59:00] that talks about the dark side of each person, the monster that lives in the forest that, everybody’s afraid, as Rob said, we’re all afraid of that part of ourselves. 

Clark: When you can tap in, certainly, and it’s not just a guy thing, although it’s different for guys and women and we have different models that we often look to but certainly in teams and military, when the military had awarded their green beret or the red beret, it’s a massive, it taps into something far beyond just what someone looks like or feels like it’s primordial.

Clark: And the haka, for instance, we all get shivers down our spine when we see that. We have no connection to it at all, but we can see that it’s something primeval. And I think when you start to, I’ve used mythology and that side of the shadow side of our personality a lot now in my work.

Clark: Simply because, we tend to run away from the things we’re afraid of much more than we run towards the things that we want. And when you have these conversations about, why do you do this thing or what. Why is this such a problem for you or why are you so afraid of that? And then you start to talk about these things as a group [01:00:00] of people.

Clark: When you talk, for instance to commandos or paras, the fear of not passing selection, not getting that red beret The fear of not being a part of this thing is so deeply rooted in people that it’s the rituals that you just mentioned, Tom, I think are something that I think we’ve barely scratched the surface.

Clark: Of what they can do to the human psyche when it comes to going above and beyond because people can do some, we’ve all seen sport in situations, certainly in my military career, I’ve seen people do things and you think, where the hell did that come from? And it’s not just 

Tony: You’re getting into that tribal, them and us sort of thing territory, aren’t you? Which is incredibly incredibly powerful. Amazing.

Rob: In the end, it’s so it is all about what we’ve evolved from and we’ve evolved to that we need to belong because humans. We’re not, equivalent to other animals. We need the group. And we’re deeply social and humans can’t survive alone. And so being cast out is the ultimate fear I think for what it is to be humans.

Rob: I remember reading Joseph Campbell’s and he talked a lot about the rites of passage and [01:01:00] how do you know when you’re an adult because, and about problems in our culture coming from not having those rites of passage clearly. Marked out. 

Clark: It’s an important part. It’s something I do a lot now in my work.

Clark: Just introducing lot of the people that I, without getting into any of the psychology of it, a lot of the people that I work with have issues that they think are mental health issues. They may or may not be, but very often those issues disappear when they start to tap into who they really are and not try to be this other thing that society seems to be imposing upon them.

Clark: And when they realize that whatever they are, however nuts they think they are, that’s okay. Be that thing. 

Clark: For instance, in football, Paul McGrath is a massive hero at Villa. He had his, the guy had his demons, but he was within a team, within an organization that loved him in spite of everything.

Clark: And he gave absolutely everything in his career, just because his demons didn’t matter. And I think that’s so important that this goes back to what we were saying before. You’re enough, wherever you are, it’s fine, it’s okay. And that’s the job of a leader, to make sure that everybody [01:02:00] knows that it’s okay.

Clark: Something that’s actually come up 

Thomas: as a reoccurring theme today is that with the amount of content that’s out there these days, whether it be social media or whatever it is, human beings instantly compare themselves to other people and what other people have. Whereas looking sideways for inspiration is much healthier than constantly looking for comparisons.

Thomas: I think you actually see that in football tactics. There’s so many people that actually write unbelievable tactical theoretical content. Comprehension in the game is genuinely phenomenal, but they also recognize themselves that they probably couldn’t stand in front of a group of players and articulate themselves or get that human connection.

Thomas: And I think as a consequence that the game has probably come quite homogenized. And I hear a lot of people, including myself, who actually struggle to watch a full game of football because it’s almost like a game of chess. There, there’s that much Content now around tactics, that the teams are essentially [01:03:00] mirroring each other, therefore the game is actually starting to feel a little bit, diluted.

Thomas: Whereas I think the future of the game is actually going to be co created with the players, there’s going to be more Mavericks, there’s going to be more instinctive behavior. Because that is the only way to actually buck the trend of analysis and measurement and reverse engineering the game. And that, that ultimately is what will put the game back in the hands of the players, which will actually make it a much better product to watch on the pitch as well.

Clark: I don’t know if you guys saw yesterday, my son and I watched the Tottenham Villa game yesterday. It was horrible to watch, but afterwards he sent me this thing. It was a talk sport clip. Because John McGinn was sent off That tackle was a typical Billy Bremner tackle.

Clark: It wasn’t the end of the world. But what I found really interesting was that there was a talkspot article afterwards, because Ezra Konza, as McGinn was walking off, Ezra Konza called John McGinn and said, Ginny and you saw John McGinn turn around and Ezra did this, and the talks for article said that clearly Ezra Konza was saying you [01:04:00] lost your head there and I said to myself, and that’s not what he was saying, 

Clark: That’s not what he’s saying. He was saying, just keep your cool, get off, we’ll deal with this later. And I know it’s overjoyed to see Ezra Condor do this to John, because he’s saying to the captain, to the leader of the team, stay calm, mate, we’ve got this, you’ll be fine. And then, the game was disastrous. But what I felt came from that was that these guys are all growing, they’re all learning.

Clark: And the captain did something stupid, and yet the rest of the team said it’s okay, you will be fine. And I just loved that. And, you often see some really good stuff coming from some of the worst mistakes that we can make. And, the whole thing was painted in totally the wrong way. 

Clark: But for me, if I was the manager of that team, I think okay, we’ve had a bad game, but we’ve got something really good from this.

Clark: And those are the things that, when you can, Again, going back to the the fear of conflict, when you can have a group of people that is not afraid to have those conversations with each other, you’re getting someone. 

Tony: It’s not like talk sports to inflame a situation.

Clark: Excellent. Very good. 

Rob: Should we go around what we’re thinking, [01:05:00] feeling for a couple of sentences, just briefly for me what I’m taking away is that what Tony opened up with the persona and I think about a great leader is probably invisible.

Rob: There’s a fear of being unappreciated. I know when I was training in mediation, they say if you’re a great mediator, they won’t even notice you’re there. And yet there’s this bit of I want to be noticed for it. And as you say, like certain managers, because they have that persona.

Rob: They immediately command respect and having that kind of a brand persona lets people know who you are and what you’re about before before you’re there. I suppose it’s consistency. We trust what we know. And if the persona matches up with the person, then we trust in that.

Rob: It’s when there’s a mismatch between the persona and the person that we see. 

Rob: Then I think a further one to develop is that amplification and dampening and which really goes hand in hand with that of when to amplify the persona and when to dampen your visibility. Clark? 

Clark: Yeah, I also [01:06:00] like that point that Tony made about the persona, but I was just thinking towards the end of the conversation that Tom mentioned something that I really liked.

Clark: You had the conversation earlier on about the Mafia and how that collective group of people had their own language for dealing with situations. And then just now at the end we started talking about the All Blacks and the Hacker. and rituals and that’s probably the thing that there’s really that’s really got to me during this conversation because it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot of recently.

Clark: You were just saying you were saying, Tom, that, football’s become formulaic now and so has a lot of life. everything’s been nailed down to a science so that we can predict we think anyway, we can predict everything that a person is going to do. And we’re going to, we’ve got all these, as you said, these armchair psychologists that can analyze everything.

Clark: And yet, There’s much more to the way groups of people work together, the way they’re led, the way they function as a team than just psychology. 

Clark: I’ve been looking at a lot of research recently that psychology has been [01:07:00] politicized and it’s pushing an agenda to a certain degree, and actually, it’s pushing people away from what they truly are.

Clark: And this sort of validates for me Because I’ve been thinking recently my coaching framework has grown and all this mythological stuff’s come in there and it’s very unscientific. 

Clark: I’ve been feeling a little bit, not guilty, dare I mention this to people because it, that, that side of things, Joseph Campbell and all that the mythological side of things has become a big part of my work.

Clark: And you mentioning the haka and the rituals has just brought it home to me that actually it’s people and people go far beyond being able to be analyzed in some sort of formula or in the spreadsheet. So actually the thing I take from this is that yeah, I don’t feel so bad about getting into the fairy stories as much as I was getting.

Rob: Thomas, 

Thomas: Yeah. These conversations are really helpful for me because I’ve been on a prolonged sabbatical to complete my UEFA Pro licence, but also to all intents and purposes, I’m an unemployed football manager, head coach, and, [01:08:00] this period of reflection, document, and preparing, you actually start to look at your public perception.

Thomas: And because I am quite a unique character who has my own journey, therefore it’s unique to me, my background, there is this constant fight internally between trying to be something I’m not, to be appeasing to the audience. And obviously Clarke was giving examples of, how we present to certain audiences, how it can land quite flatly.

Thomas: The key thing for me is to try and remember that who I am, what I value, the principles I have, they’ll resonate with the right people. They’ll resonate with the people that get me, that value the things I talk about. And it’s a reminder that authenticity, I think, wins over the long term.

Thomas: Yes, you could change your public perception and your persona to appease in the short term, but who wants to have superficial relationships? 

Thomas: If we’re talking about depth, if we’re talking about sustainability, longevity, I think the key thing is to [01:09:00] constantly keep speaking your truth, And being in this forum in the last couple of sessions that we’ve had, it’s a reminder for me that I don’t need to apologize for my background, for my history, where I come from, what I’ve done, just speaking your truth will resonate with the right people.

Thomas: And then we’ll adapt to connect with the people that matter, which is the people that, that we serve as leaders. That’s beautiful. 

Tony: Said, mate. And for me yeah, the the rituals coming up towards the back end of the conversation make me think I run a model when I go in with a group, just like a throwaway icebreaker type thing where you’re asking them to celebrate across what I call the four dimensions of performance.

Tony: It’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Okay, they’re all, they can all rate themselves out of 10 for physical whether they’re in good, you know what their ideal shape is. And of course, you’re talking about the workplace. Are they thinking clearly? Are they mentally right? Are they emotionally got it together?

Tony: And then with spirituality, it’s a thing that people don’t talk about in the workplace. But it’s really about how [01:10:00] connected to you are the meaning. 

Tony: What’s the meaning? 

Tony: How can it convey to the meaning around what you do? And it’s again, because it’s not, I work in environments that are full of processes and data and all of that sort of stuff.

Tony: It’s not an area that people normally go to in work, but it’s a great question. It’s a great question to ask, but what the process does, it gives you a good litmus test of the group. I’ve had groups that were in a stressed out organization, collectively rating themselves in threes and fours for mental and emotional health.

Tony: It’s hang on, red flag here, we can, I can take that. I’ll get, with permission, do you mind if I take that upstairs and, we can have a conversation around how much pressure they’re putting you under. So that, that’s what I took away and just listening to you, Clark, and your uncertainty around all the mythology that you’re bringing into the work that you do.

Tony: I don’t know if it puts you at ease at all, but I’ve been spent spending time building a culture assessment and I’ve based the culture assessment around Roman gods and goddesses. Just to get just to enrich the content, really, because it’s [01:11:00] a storytelling piece as much as it’s a clinical diagnosis of what your ideal culture is.

Tony: And I’m okay with it. I’m okay with bringing, I think archetypes have been with us way beyond any of us existed. I think it’s a nice way to enrich the storytelling aspects of what we do. And people will find themselves. within those archetypes somewhere. 

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