How To Perform In The moments that matter most with Tony Walmsley

How do we perform under match pressure in the moments that matter most?

That’s what I discussed with Tony Walmsley from The Leader’s Advisory in the first episode of the relaunched Unified Team Podcast.

I’ve often shared ideas and examples of how football managers unify their teams. So I was thrilled to have the chance from someone who’s spent 30 years working at the top level of football.

Tony’s great skill is helping people to perform at their best in the moments that matter most.

Here's The Transcript of Our Conversation

Rob: Hi, today I had the pleasure of talking to Tony Walmsley from The Leaders Advisory. Tony spent 30 years in football as a coach and a manager. He was coaching at Sheffield United and Manchester United, which I won’t hold against him. He then moved to the Australian A League with the Central Coast Mariners.

Rob: In our conversation, he shared his insights into how to perform in the moments that matter most under match pressure. Now, let me pass you over to Tony, who’s going to share a bit about himself before we get into the conversation.

Tony: I’m Tony Walmsley. I run a business, the leader’s advisory, see that behind me. I’m a performance specialist. What does that mean? It means I apply 

Tony: Sports thinking to optimize business performance effectively. I help [00:01:00] leaders perform under match pressure. If you like, that stems from my background in professional sport, almost 30 years in football, at the top level in Australia in the A league 

Rob: as a manager was 

Tony: probably the pinnacle in terms of the standard that I managed at, but I’m all about I’m all about people and helping people deliver what they need to deliver in the moments that matter most.

Rob: In the moments that matter most. That’s a powerful phrase. 

Tony: Yeah I’ve used that for a long time and I think it’s, if I think about it from a sporting perspective. You need to be at your best when you need to be at your best. If it’s a football match and it’s three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, the TV cameras are on and you’re getting scrutinized from all angles, from the public, from the media, from your family.

Tony: So there’s all of these feelings that are attached to that. So if you’re immersed in it, the game doesn’t discriminate. There’s a demand for you to be at your best, otherwise. You don’t meet the objectives, and those objectives are your own [00:02:00] objectives on the objectives set by somebody else or set by the game itself Says, in order to win this contest, you need to score one more golden.

Tony: That’s pretty fixed, right? And everybody, every single person approaches that uniquely independently. And what tends to happen, so if I, if. Immediately transition myself to a complex dynamic business environment seems to be a sustained demand externally for people to be at their best for a much more sustained period than humans are built to withstand that sort of scrutiny and demand.

Tony: So I’m conflicted by that. So I enter. Arenas now, if you like, if we can call them that to explore, is there a better way to do it? How, when do we really need to be our best and how do we normalize situations when not everybody shows up at their best at the same time? Happens in a game, right? You’ve done all the preparation you’ve analyzed the opposition.

Tony: You’ve done it, you feel even in yourself as a [00:03:00] player or a coach or whatever, you feel like you couldn’t have done anything more, you never felt better, and yet the morning of the game or the whistle blows, and for some reason, you’re just not, it’s just not happening, so that’s reality we’re humans, so this there’s a constant scrutiny against a whole set of unrealistic expectations.

Tony: And a whole host of people who have attached themselves to feeling a need to control situations that they’re not actually in control of. You can magnify that as much as you like. It’s a very complex. set of interactions and actions and perceptions. And I just love the role that I have to help people explore that and simplify the complexity.

Rob: In talking about teams, I automatically look to football teams. For me, they’re the best model of a high performing team because it is a team game. It needs everyone, you need the right blend of the team.

Rob: It’s like you say, everyone’s got a different perspective, but. Also, clubs have their own [00:04:00] culture. You’ve got the Liverpool way, the Tottenham way, the Man United way. They’ve all got a different approach to it and different things work in different contexts in this. But I think the pressure is that, people will often say, oh, football’s not like it was.

Rob: There is so much money in football that there’s so much pressure. And I think what players are really being, why they’re being paid extortionate amounts is because they have to deal, with whatever they do is magnified and under so much pressure. If we can learn how someone does that, then we can translate that to almost any context, wherever there’s pressure. I always think you’ve got to learn from extremes.

Rob: So the other way I look at a football team is, like you say, it’s about the goals. It’s about when you’ve got the ball, how can you score a goal? When you don’t have the ball, how can you prevent the other team from scoring? So basically when you’re managing, you’ve got 11 [00:05:00] players.

Rob: And what you’re looking at is how do you strategize and set up your team with the blend of talents that they have so that you’ve got the best ability to move the ball about. I think the direct analogy is in a business, you’re moving resources and the business has different challenges and opportunities.

Rob: And where you want to move the resources to where exceeds, like whatever the barrier to entry, the barrier to success is, you want to move the resources to just be enough to there so it can move about, does that make sense? Yeah, 

Tony: I’m understanding where you’re going. 

Rob: Yeah. So I think there’s a direct analogy to how the ball moves.

Rob: So it’s like the passing, whether you have a Barcelona passing, the tiki taka passing or whether you have a direct approach. It’s about being able to set that up. So I was wondering if you see it like that and what ‘s your experience? 

Tony: Maybe slightly differently, but that just may be not quite fully [00:06:00] understanding what you’ve said.

Tony: But I would say this, that, so you take your playing style into the game, let’s say. And you take your approach to dealing with the business objective into the day’s work, into the project. This is how we do business. People have bought us to do it and deliver what we say we’re going to deliver. And then something changes.

Tony: And when something changes, so what people try and do, they try and align a group of people before they’ve started practicing what it is they’re doing. They try to align before they’re in the middle of. the challenge that’s just about to change. So in football, it changes second by second, the picture changes and you need 11 players to respond, at their best.

Tony: When a team’s in flow, they respond almost in total synchronicity and it’s a beautiful, it becomes an art form at its best. It becomes wow, how do they do that stuff? And so in a business, even though the changes are not happening as quickly when something changes. So we were going down this path, and we’re trying to work together.

Tony: We’re trying [00:07:00] to get all our different individual differences to as optimal a place as we can, so we can do this thing as effortlessly and as efficiently as possible. And when something changes, then it, let’s assuming it’s a team of 10 people, there’s 10 immediately different perceptions about that event.

Tony: And about what our approach might be towards that event, and some of it’s based on what my ideals are, what I want, some of it’s based on who I am, my identity, what my beliefs are, and so there’s all these different things that immediately come in, come into action, and it’s through that, and if those extremes are there.

Tony: And I agree with you 100 percent that the learning is at the extremes. If there are extreme differences of view as to how the challenge is to be tackled, then there’s the growth, there’s the opportunity to grow. So if you put it in a sporting context, the picture’s changed. You need the people who can immediately impact that. 

Tony: The opportunity is to take action, which is the right action [00:08:00] to take is the question that’s always being asked. It’s being asked every second of the game. It’s being asked every time there’s a decision to be made in the workplace. I think the best that we can expect is to find an alignment on intention.

Tony: Because there’ll always be limitations around the individual’s ability to take action based on experience, based on fear, based on level of motivation, based on all of these multiple complex things that are going on in individual’s lives. I think the best we can do is align on intention. If we can do that.

Tony: We’ve got an anchor. So if I’m leading a team with call it an anchor of intention. So we know that we’ve agreed that this is our intent, then we can help people start to navigate. All these differences more readily towards what might be an optimal culture. I think if you think of it in a team setting, if you think of culture as, creating a team culture, it’s achievable in practice, through working together.

Tony: Maybe a squad of 20 people and [00:09:00] some staff. It’s a small enough. Group to think, okay, culturally, we can work towards getting a really vibrant and aligned culture, whatever our ideals, shared ideals are, but translate that to an organization of 1000 people whose cultural ideals were set around the boardroom table, perhaps with an external consultant to have an expectation that manifest through 1000 independent bodies in complex and changing dynamic environments every day. 

Tony: So it’s almost designed failure. Everybody would be forever tearing their hair out. So I think there’s a step back from the complexity of culture, which is what is our aligned intent towards this objective? 

Tony: And then when things change what’s our method of quickly understanding what each individual’s natural responses to that are likely to be. Now, that’s complex stuff but it’s quite easily captured and If the intent is to capture it and [00:10:00] make it work, then it’s easily captured and you can make it work. 

Tony: Yeah, just 

Rob: to clarify, when you talk about align around intent, do you mean vision, goal purpose?

Rob: What would that specifically 

Tony: mean? 

Tony: I think there’s a moment when there’s an opportunity to take action. Now, if we’ve got five different views, five different people who could take action. And we leave it to the individual to make an isolated decision. And, I believe that if you take responsibility for making a decision with irreversible consequences, it takes a bit of courage.

Tony: But it might not be the right choice. If you’re prepared to wear the cost of that and grow from it and then not make the mistake again that’s fantastic. But if you can wind that back and work out quickly, I’m about to make this thing, is it the right one? It might be a quick bit of communication from somebody.

Tony: Hang on, don’t do it, whatever it might be. Then we can grow together quicker. It’s almost at what point do I move from being an independent, high performing individual? Everybody that’s made it as a pro footballer is an [00:11:00] independent, high performing individual. Very few end up playing in really high performing teams.

Tony: That sort of doesn’t make sense, why not? Only one team wins, everyone else comes second or further down that pecking order. 

Tony: That’s about the when the game presents so many opportunities to make collective decisions

Tony: It doesn’t work in independence. It only works with interdependence. It only works with people who understand what the intention is and can take opportunity, make the right choice more often. And it’s, I think, almost always better done collectively than it is independently.

Tony: And of course there’s outliers, there’s genius players that can go and win games on their own. But in a business context if I’m the rebel, if I’m the renegade, if I’m the sort of lone wolf it’s fraught with danger. There’s a high risk strategy for businesses to let these people, maybe in a sales environment, if they’re geniuses and they pull loads of money, and that’s great.

Tony: But as part of a functional team Who’ve articulated out into the marketplace that we operate through these lenses. [00:12:00] These are our values. This is how you’ve come to us because you believe in who we say we are. 

Tony: Then you’ve recruited a ton of people who you want, you hope, and you’ve interviewed to be aligned to those ideals. Yeah, we know that individually they’ll be wired differently. They’ll have cognitive differences. They’ll respond differently to pressure. They’ll be scared of failure to different degrees.

Tony: So we have to capture that in little smaller bundles throughout organizations and align on intention. So here’s the big glorious aim. Here’s the objective that we’re trying to meet. anD here’s all the individual differences that are making this more difficult. Then it would be if everything was perfect.

Tony: So if we start with it’s not perfect and never will be. And we have no control over some of it. What can we get control of collectively? And I think that’s what can we get to understand about each other? What can we get visibility of that’s not automatically visible? We just see what people show us, right?

Tony: And we know [00:13:00] that’s. Often they’re showing it because they think that’s the way they’re expected to show up. So the guy that swaggers onto the football field, he may actually be terrified of making a mistake. He’s not going to show it if we don’t know that. And we put them into environments where we’re setting them up to, to feel crushed every time they make a mistake.

Tony: If we don’t know it, we can’t support them.

Rob: As a football team I’m assuming, you run over plays so that every player knows exactly where he has to be when the winger’s going down there, then the defenders need to compensated. Aligned intent is the strategy and it’s the team knowing where they need to be when someone else is And so each player knows who needs to run when they need to run 

Tony: yeah, I suppose that’s tactical as well that the other side that is the identity of it, so If you’re in this situation, you’ve got all these options.

Tony: You can play through ball, you can dribble, we can keep possession. We can try something remarkable. We can try and entertain, or the last thing we want to do is give the ball away, or do [00:14:00] we want to create an opportunity to score? So whatever you are on that spectrum, 

Tony: I was always optimistically driven which for somebody that only needs to win one nil, the best approach might be a pragmatic one, which is, let’s not lose as a start point and everything else from there is a bonus. And lots of people approach it that way. That’s not me.

Tony: Of course, if I approach my football life with that optimistic outlook and a vision of what beautiful artistic. Football looks like I’ve got to be sure that the people are aligned to that intention before I ask them to do it. And there’s been times when I haven’t been close enough to them to know so that the further I go down this path of delusional artistry. Without knowing the, if I’ve got people who are only just holding themselves together to actually participate at the level we’re asking them to play at, nevermind play an expansive thing that’s perhaps beyond their own perception of what’s possible at that point in time you run the risk of huge [00:15:00] failure. tHe beauty for me is recognizing the responsibility you have for that and learning from it. So if I hadn’t, been this type of person, it doesn’t change who I am. It doesn’t change my outlook. It changes my capacity to connect people in different ways through understanding what, what holds them back.

Tony: Do they fear? failure or do they fear, reputational decline from making this, do they fear failure because they’ve got their high achievers or do they fear, being ridiculed or mocked by the crowd? Do they feel losing face? Do they, have they got those sorts of, all of that sort of stuff.

Tony: It’s important to know, and it’s no different in the workplace. If people are, Nervous about reporting out to the board. It’s the part of the month that they hate. They’ve got a board report coming up and it doesn’t matter how well prepared they are. They’re terrified of fronting up and delivering that presentation, even though they know it inside out.

Tony: Understanding why is pretty important. What is it that makes them uncomfortable? It makes them [00:16:00] nervous. Are they well prepared? But are they scared of being seen to be. Not good enough not feeling like they’re in the right company, not belonging, there’s all of those types of things that, that are playing out in individuals every time they take the field or driving into work, coming with insecurities and all sorts of things that need to be, in safe spaces, as we call them these days, need to be teased out and shared to allow people to really understand each other.

Tony: The number of people who don’t feel heard or understood, it baffles me. We don’t actually practice this stuff as important way as we do the process and the tech, you were talking about the tactics, the game plan, we practice it over and over. 

Tony: And yet without connecting the people. in what I would call more meaningful ways. It can work because we’re better than them on the day or we could fail because they were better than us on the day and nothing we did would have made any difference. But I think there’s a huge failure to. Not go beyond that, to [00:17:00] go beyond the tact, beyond the functional elements of what it is that you need to do and focus on who we are rather than what do we do.

Tony: Endless number of athletes who’ve retired and then have crippling mental health issues because they only ever identified with what they did. And, what I encourage the leaders and managers that I work with to do is understand themselves better than most of them do, and as a means to facilitate discussions that really connect people to who they are, when we know who we are, we can align on intention much, much more readily, and it’s values, it’s you’ve got behaviors, born traits and learned behaviors and beliefs and all of those types of things you got values, which lead to sense of purpose, even if we understand, bring these things to the surface in the midst of trying to play football in the midst of trying to build technology to go out the door on a Friday afternoon.

Tony: So it’s the same thing. If we get visibility of who we are as. [00:18:00] Individuals, and then what does that mean? Collectively, the organization says we need to be this way. This is the culture that we need to be. Where are the gaps here in who we are as a team within this thing? And I think once we once, and certainly with the work that I’ve been doing in the last three years, when I’ve helped people get visibly when the penny drops, they get visibility of this collectively.

Tony: And there’s a shift in respect. thEre’s a shift in understanding, there’s a shift in ability to listen more and all those things lead to better outcomes. 

Rob: I think that’s the great potential that has been wasted is in people. 

Rob: That people have so much potential that could come out that isn’t coming out. And I think if you look at every great football manager is a great motivator. They all know which players need an arm around the shoulder and which one needs to be shouted at. The big problem we have is self awareness that most people think that they’re self aware.

Rob: Researchers like 85, 90 percent think they are. And it’s only about 10, 15 [00:19:00] percent who actually are. 

Tony: The analogy about the kick of the bone and the arm around somebody is, I agree, it’s like a low resolution approach to individual differences.

Tony: We understand them to the degree that we can apply different carrot and stick type methodology with them. And I think real self awareness comes from knowing what your relationship to those approaches. Is because if you, more readily put your arm around somebody that you go to method, then you’ve got a lot of work to do to make adjustments when they need to be made.

Tony: And those adjustments come at a high energy or can come at high energy costs. So if you’re at one extreme of that spectrum, let’s say yourself as the manager of the team come across this all the time. Somebody that’s heavily. Emotionally driven or people focused, if you like, I’ve got strong feeling preference and that’s their go to approach and for some people they just want to be told what to do and they want to argue with you and they want to negotiate.

Tony: And if you’re charged with leading and [00:20:00] well, the first thing is, are you aware that. You have these characteristics and that you’re more comfortable in one scenario than the other. You are aware because you tend to avoid the thing that you don’t like to do. The classic, for a young football manager was you’ve got to leave people out of the team.

Tony: How do you tell them? How do you give them bad news? And it’s a weekly, almost daily. So it’s not only getting awareness that, okay, I know that for these conversations, I need to make some internal adjustments. It’s going to be tough for me. I’M aware that this comes at an energy cost and if there’s a lot of it and it’s sustained.

Tony: There’s a high risk of me starting to get stressed about it. So that’s real self awareness for me. And then it’s having the people around you and the support around you to, cause that, that, that temperament won’t go away. But you can learn to make the adjustments and you can learn to be more skilled and minimize the cost.

Tony: I treat motivation and stress as a spectrum. It’s [00:21:00] not a clinical spectrum. I say that because if you are optimally aligned to your environment, your relationship with your manager is fantastic and your teammates are great. You’re playing to your strengths. You’re in the position, you’re not a goalkeeper playing up front.

Tony: You’re a goalkeeper playing in goal. So you’re in the right spot. So as challenging as the game is, you feel competent. You’ve got great relationships around you and you’re given the freedom to go and play your game at the best way. How does, that’s what you’re great at. You’ve got that sense of you own the space that you’re in.

Tony: You got a sense of security. It’s not costing you anything. Other than focus, attention, concentration, you’re in the game, but you love it because you’ve got everything you need. You’re going about the job that you can do, people believe in you, they’re supporting you, off you go. And I think too often there’s either a misalignment with the manager.

Tony: Or there’s a misalignment in the environment and expectations are not managed, all of these different things. So as soon as you start to [00:22:00] incrementally shift people away from their ideal state is I play into my strengths. I’ve got the right amount of control over what it is I’m trying to do.

Tony: Without being told all the time that do this or being told just enough. I like a bit of information, but just enough, whatever that is, everyone’s got, tell me everything. Give me the A to Z, give me the roadmap, tell me nothing. Let me get on with it or somewhere in between. Let’s say, so you’ve got the right amount of autonomy and control of your own destiny.

Tony: You’re playing in a situation that you feel capable of, or you can grow into. You feel like you’re learning and you’ve got great relationships that support you to achieve what it is you want to achieve. That’s optimal. I ask people in a working environment every day to rate themselves out of 10 on those three things.

Tony: How much autonomy have you got? How great your relationships? And how competent are you in the role that you’ve got? Do you feel you’re on a development plan to get where they need you to be? Without one of the, any one of those things, your intrinsic motivation drops and you, from my experience, your stress accumulates to the same degree.

Tony: So the [00:23:00] more I start to feel demotivated, the more my stress accumulates to the same degree. If two of the three are out of whack. So if people are reporting fives out of ten for two of those elements. And by the way, this is self determination theory it’s a basic needs theory for intrinsic motivation.

Tony: It’s an absolutely brilliant and simple tool to quickly evaluate large groups of people and identify maybe some common trends that this group’s feeling micromanaged or this group’s being asked to do more than they feel capable of doing at the moment. So these are not just. We might fail scenarios that might not be the issue.

Tony: These are groups of people who don’t feel optimally motivated to actually start the task in the first place. They’re going to work already in a state of discomfort. So when we talk about self awareness as a manager being able to You know, we talked before about being able to understand your level of comfort with having difficult conversations [00:24:00] versus putting an arm around someone, let’s say, and some people have an equal difficulty putting their arm around someone.

Tony: Let’s be honest, they have no connection to, they’ve got feelings, but they just don’t know how to tap into them. So the one or the other, let’s say. But then when you build around that, this, if I’m working with you, Rob, and I invite you to share with me. Your scores on these three things.

Tony: And we just have a conversation about them and you tell me in your feedback that you’re eight out of 10 for competence, you feel confident in what you’re doing. You think we’ve got a great relationship and your teammates are fantastic, but you feel like I’m giving you too much information. I’m over your shoulder too much.

Tony: Then not something I can actually help you with. And for me to make the small adjustment, and I might be so attached to a need to feel in control that it’s driving me to drive you mad. If I’m not aware of that, I keep driving you mad. You quit somewhere down the line because there’s an inevitability about that.

Tony: And nobody’s the [00:25:00] wiser. The company’s worse off. It’s not good for anyone, but your mental health suffered a little bit. You were working for six months, not enjoying yourself, that’s not living, that’s not high quality of work life balance. That’s spending eight hours a day with some tyrant that’s, that can’t let go, right?

Tony: I think there’s so much value in self awareness for these reasons that, that you can, once you’re aware of it. It’s then about what adjustments are you prepared to make? Cause if I’m the leader, I can make the adjustment first. I can lead the way by bringing myself towards the group, but towards the individuals in the group.

Tony: I’m serving you, you’re my player, you’re my team member, I need to serve you. What we need to be mindful of is, what’s the cost to me of doing that? How much time do I need to recover from this increased number of adjustments that I’m making once I get to know these people better? But they’ll love it, like a small adjustment for me might mean the world to you.

Tony: If I check, the only thing between us that’s wrong is I’m a little bit [00:26:00] overbearing and I changed that. I pulled back at my cost. It’s driving me nuts that I can’t see what you’re doing and I’m not telling you what to do. But you’re growing and you’re loving life. Then it’s gotta be a way to capture that, celebrate that.

Tony: And as the leader, if you don’t own that. Are you not leading if you’re not prepared to make those adjustments? 

Rob: No, I think that’s, I think that’s a great insight because it is, there are people that are uncomfortable giving praise or and it all relates back to our personal experiences and most people we don’t even recognize, like when you’re talking about.

Rob: People are in fear of presenting to the board. It’s like being back at school and maybe some school teacher or some parent was critical. sO all of that is activated. And I know when, when you say that, I’m much more towards the praise element and empowerment than in in being very directional or in being As good when someone isn’t performing.

Rob: So we have to take all that into account. That’s a great insight. What are the problems that [00:27:00] you see that you go in and solve. So if we talk about the problems first. And we’ll talk about the process, and then we’ll talk about the results.

Rob: What are the biggest problems that you see? 

Tony: Let’s take a couple of life situations at the moment. Got one scenario is senior leadership team really high performing organization, they’ve done amazingly well to develop IP and it’s gone global and now as much as they’ve sold the IP, they’re converting the IP into industrialized.

Tony: thIngs that are going to be sold, it’s going to scale. So they’re going from a smallish, but very successful company made up of high performers. To a much bigger entity. The problem is how do we go from being independent high performers to being a really high performing team?

Tony: How do we do that? Because the reality is if they don’t do that, if they don’t come together as a high performance team, even the smallest gaps that are there while the company’s stable, as it [00:28:00] goes through a huge growth. phase, a rapid growth phase those cracks will widen massively and HR will get an increased number of issues to deal with that they don’t have to deal with at the moment because everyone’s really happy going along designing brilliant world class stuff. 

Tony: So it’s helping them navigate their way through aligned intention to how are we going to lean on each other to get through this as it scales up one stage at a time, one piece at a time. And it’s really crafting an identity. 

Tony: It’s putting the tools in place. It’s arming them with. All of these key elements, it’s the self awareness bit. How do they lead from within? How do they lead other people? And how do they lead the business? They’re fundamentally what all leadership teams do. But in each of those domains, there are a number of things that, that they will need to do better.

Tony: But they have to design that it’s not a formulaic thing and what I love about what I do is everything’s organic because [00:29:00] it starts with the individual. It starts with a whole. So let’s say there’s 10 people on a leadership team. They’ve all got their own value sets. They’re not all company value aligned.

Tony: They might be cognizant of them, but who are they really? What are their values? Let’s understand them. So as we’re optimizing our autonomy and our interdependence, our relationships, so we’re about optimizing my relationship with you as we start to pursue this growth at the moment, I’ve got my own view of it.

Tony: I’ve got my own perception of it. I’m going to take actions based on all my experiences. If we’ve got 10 people doing that, it’s going to get messy really quickly. So let’s really focus on some core anchors that we can all agree to. evolve and revolve around. So that’s one of those types of things.

Tony: And another scenario is teams in transition. So you can see from any football transfer window, Liverpool was a classic example. They sold Mane and replaced him with Nunez. And it wasn’t just that Nunes has [00:30:00] taken a while to adapt to the Premier League, which people do. It was more than that.

Tony: The whole dynamic of the team changed. And all of the hierarchies changed. So I don’t know what the dressing room was like in inside Liverpool. You imagine it was fantastic and vibrant, but you take one player out and put somebody else in everything changes the energy, the mix of. Values are shifted the understanding of each other, the shared perception, the how we approach these situations collectively that’s been honed over the last three years now gone, somebody else coming in disrupts everything he runs across where I didn’t think he’d run or he doesn’t run at all, whatever it might be.

Tony: So translate that to a business environment and it could be a new manager comes in. It could be just a new teammate comes in. Everything changes. So I help people get visibility of what they know, what the changes are. Person A has gone, person B comes in. What they don’t have visibility of what’s changed in the dynamic.

Tony: What’s changed in how this team [00:31:00] was geared before in a set of ideals. How’s that changed? And it could. One change can Nunez things so significantly towards a different orientation of the team that lots of people will have difficulty adapting to.

Tony: So we have to help them learn how to adapt. So that’s a sort of micro level. Take that to a senior leadership team. New CEO comes in, lots of existing leaders get moved on. So even at the top of the organization, you’ve got this tHis dynamic leader showing great. Strength and charisma and decisiveness.

Tony: Outgoing people, lots of knowledge going outta the business. Incoming people either promoted or externals changing the dynamic, some people being passed over, some people being left behind. The whole place is in a state of upheaval. Performance navigation is what I call it.

Tony: It’s about what are the behaviors that could derail this? Big transition, the CEO wants to build trust, wants to build credibility instantly. Perhaps [00:32:00] communicates in a high risk way to get his methods across, to get his point across.

Tony: How’s that impacting people? Somebody’s just stepped up to that boardroom table who wants to please his new boss, who wants to feel like I owe him something, I’ve got to prove myself. It’s like the kid making his debut or the new high profile sign has got to come in and make a difference straight away.

Tony: It’s what’s driving that? And how do we help both the CEO and the leader align on what actually is this? Let’s not go off with our own perception of what these expectations are. Cause that me as an individual, I’m like. Oh my god, how do I’m already, by saying how do I please this guy, I’m already, stop let’s communicate exactly who we are and what we need to do to work together to make this work, and then to do it as a collective.

Tony: Again, similar process to the organization that’s growing rapidly. This is more about a state of volatility, bringing it very quick. It has to be a swift alignment of intent. and then it’ll take [00:33:00] longer to calibrate these individual differences to a point where they’re helpful to each other.

Tony: Not going to hinder each other. Not going to blow up in somebody’s face because it’s very easy for people to explode under. That type of pressure, new guy comes in, new guy gets promoted, promoted guy, high performer, new environment, lots of scrutiny from underneath, from across, from down, that’s real pressure, right?

Tony: You only find out who you are when you’re in that world. So that’s really a role of let’s get visibility. Let’s understand ourselves. In the context of what it is that, that we’re trying to do and for me, take the heat out of the situation, give people a chance to just be, I’m almost like a confident, I can help the individual build their executive presence amidst this whirlwind of emotion.

Tony: So they’re fascinating, complex challenges. But they’re two really, I think, good examples of fairly [00:34:00] typical challenges that happen. New leadership, massive need to get stable quickly, and in terms of growth, massive need to come together, to contextualize step by step as we go through this. The capacity to keep a handle of it because the culture that we are as a small group of a design based company to, the cultural ideal that we started with and may want to carry through in a year’s time when there’s 400 people milling about, it’s not possible to make sure everyone’s totally all in alignment with that. Best we can do is get some frameworks in place to really maximize these.

Tony: Pockets of activity to be, 

Tony: optimized under those circumstances. 

Rob: I’m really in alignment with when you talk about from the individual up, because I think too much teams and organizations are top down and it’s got to start with the individual because otherwise you’re trying to get buy in and you’re trying to sell someone on something that doesn’t tap into something that’s already there.

Rob: Whereas I [00:35:00] think I’m in agreement that you need to start with what’s in the individual. aNd that’s a really great point that I don’t think a lot of people recognize is that how much changes when you just change one element that all the other dynamics and in the organization, suddenly the reward the CEO is going to dish out the reward is the one that everyone’s going to gravitate and it’s going to change everyone’s behavior dependent on what he said.

Rob: So if you were to go into one of those scenarios. What exactly would you do to give visibility and to navigate their performance?

Tony: Visibility first is getting an understanding of each individual by assessment, but by observation. So see them working in their senior leadership team meeting, see them working with their own direct reports. Yeah. In group workshops, just. Just to get a feel for the place.

Tony: Performers leave clues, right? You get to see things in reality. Of course, to get a stranger sitting in the boardroom table who’s introduced as the guy that’s going to help us with our performance. People might be putting on [00:36:00] a show, but that’s okay. We can get under the skin of that in the one to ones.

Tony: It would be, visibility would be assessment. I would. I would use cultural assessment, which is assessing, these are all individually based, but they’ll present as a team output. So individual based ideals, my optimum team looks like this, and it looks like this across 10 different factors, like the way we work, the way we’re incentivized.

Tony: How relationships should manifest in this team. So 10 different facets, individual views on what is most like me, what is least like me in terms of my ideal team. So of course you get. Lots of variances and independent ideals, because that’s what people want.

Tony: The gap is between that and where it currently is at. And the opportunity out of that is collectively, let’s design what we want it to be, that’s not too far removed from anybody’s ideal. That’s the sweet spot, right? There’s a start point and that’s big picture stuff. [00:37:00] Then I get visibility of their values.

Tony: that they may not even know themselves. So we do some values work, surface it, discuss it, express it, find us, and you’re almost forcing them into sharing stuff they would never normally share with each other. So you create in this environment of. If we can go there with this stuff, we can just about talk about anything.

Tony: So you eventually you want to get, you want to get there. And then I would do some sort of behavioral assessment as well. So you’ve got this ideal current behavior values underneath. You’ve got a really good peg in the ground for where individuals are at, where the teams are. Then I would have, there’s always a triangular relationship.

Tony: There’s the business, there’s the. Individual and there’s the consultant or the coach in this case, 

Tony: it would be a very clear managed expectation around this. So if I’m now working with, so I’m doing some group work, we’re going to start developing this collective approach, but along the way, I’m going to be working with the individuals to really help them make those [00:38:00] adjustments that we’ve talked about, by understanding you.

Tony: Against, if it’s the arm around the shoulder or kick up the bum scenario, where are they on that spectrum? Who do they need? How, in what situations do they need to make those adjustments? What’s the cost of that? Give me an example when that happens. So we’ve got the CEO saying, I need my senior leadership team to do this.

Tony: They understand that they have that relationship. I come in to facilitate. The alignment and growth and there’s a feedback loop that, that is constructed that builds trust over time. And of course, there’s also a highly confidential component between me and the coachee. There’s non disclosure of.

Tony: Any information that’s not you’ve been given license to share. So you have those coaching conversations and it’s all based around, that has to be an end game. But the challenge with business interventions are how do we measure this stuff? And you can get anecdotal measures, but the only way to measure it is to define with the CEO in [00:39:00] agreement with the leadership team, what the measures will be and then measure it.

Tony: And whether that’s engagement, whether it’s cohesion, there’s lots of ways to test and measure these things over time. I would do some of that regular feedback sessions. And there’s no real end game. That’s problem. Leadership’s a practice and it’s you only get better in practice.

Tony: It’s not reading a book and then going out and leading a bunch of people, deep self awareness, deep adjustment. understanding of adjustment to influence people better. You throw emotional intelligence, you can throw all of the elements that you want into it. It’s the focus is where the focus needs to be.

Tony: The group tells you what they need to work on. The individual tells you what he or she needs to work on. And the CEO, it has to align to the CEO’s vision. And the CEO has to also at the same time, be making adjustments and growing in self awareness and understanding his new people [00:40:00] better. Cause you come in with a strong vision and a strong method.

Tony: You’re in the middle of it. You’re locking horns with people. You’re for all the right reasons, creating tension.

Tony: My idea is provide. The support within that tension to optimize it to help people navigate their responses to that tension. Because the last thing you want as a leader is to be responding defensively when you’re in a new team with a new boss and you keep trying to justify your own perception of what’s right.

Tony: It’s we might need to have a conversation about that. I think the 

Rob: visibility is so key because I think when you look at 60 percent of first time managers fail within the first two years, and I think what that is you suddenly stepped up and it’s not necessarily that they don’t know how to deal with the people.

Rob: I think much of it is the lack of awareness of how they relate to things like you’ve talked about. And it’s also. They’re stressing themselves because they’re thinking about what other [00:41:00] people have perceived in them and it’s that shift of identity that’s really the shift that they need to, it may be that they’re technically skilled and they’re not people skilled.

Rob: It might be that they don’t have skills, but I think the bigger part is the identity of being comfortable with being a leader because we have so these ideas of hierarchy and power and our own. cultural influences. Yes. So 

Tony: give me an example of working with somebody who’s incredibly incredible performer.

Tony: PhD qualified outstanding performer and was in leadership role, had discomfort with the leadership, with the tension, the dynamics of that. And then outside of the leadership role has discomfort with how easy life is and doesn’t get challenged. So you’ve got these.

Tony: And it’s a beautiful example for me that none of this is easy, right? People talk about these as soft skills. It’s the hardest stuff for things to do. That’s why they avoid it most of the time. And they try and please everybody and, make a mess. So [00:42:00] this is a great example because here you’ve got somebody who’s challenged by being comfortable and challenged by being uncomfortable.

Tony: And so both paths

Tony: on the path of least resistance. low stimulation. So if you think about the competence part of intrinsic motivation,, probably over, overly competent. So that’s a demotivator. So you find this dissonance then in yourself. Wow, do I really want to be a leader? I’ve just come out of that. I didn’t enjoy it.

Tony: So for me working with people like that, it’s helping them really understand what parts of being a leader are the Bits that make you uncomfortable. What are the adjustments that you have to make? For how long do you have to make those adjustments? And what’s the energy cost of doing it? Because if you’re only uncomfortable, it’s not like you’re uncomfortable in those roles for 90 percent of the week.

Tony: It might be for 10 percent of the week. It’s massively uncomfortable. And that’s having a big impact on your psyche and on your ability to perceive the job that you’ve got. Let’s get really clear about it. Because if [00:43:00] we’re talking about making an adjustment for 10 percent of the time that could as you develop and because you will get better in practice, the sky’s the limit.

Tony: There’s no holding you back. So it’s helping them. I don’t advise them ever what to do. I help them identify what’s in their way and to find ways. Over them, around them, through them. That’s football speak. You go through them, you go over the top, you go around the outside, but it’s basically the same thing.

Tony: What you do really from that, if I’m going to boil it down to three things, it’s about visibility of what is below the iceberg bit.

Tony: And then it’s about how do you navigate choppy waters? And then I would say the final bit is about the identity of who are you?

Tony: So visibility is like you say, it’s the under the iceberg stuff bringing that, cause the behavior stuff, we can observe it, we can see it.

Tony: It’s understanding which part of that is it’s socially driven. So I’m behaving this way due to the environment that I’m in. I want people to see this side of me, versus what’s my natural state in the [00:44:00] context of what it is that I’m doing. What’s my most natural state and identity and visibility is identifying the gap between those two things.

Tony: So I’ve got a set, I’ve got a perception of who I need to be. To do this job. How much of that is really authentic and how much of it am I having to fake it till I make it basically, because in those gaps, there’s lots of personal growth and the value stuff is, there is a real one of the other things I measure is.

Tony: I’ll ask a group across four pillars, what I call four pillars of performance, physical mental health, as in, stress, cognitive, so clarity of thought and decision making and spiritual. And when I talk about spiritual, even though some people, associate that with religion and it’s up to each of them to do that.

Tony: It’s more about being connected to the meaning of what they do. Who is it that they’re serving? Who, what’s the sense of community? Who are they contributing to? Who’s it for? So I measure those on the start of most workshops and always fascinated by. Some experiences in the modern workplaces that I’ve [00:45:00] been to there’s a prevailing mental and cognitive challenge going on.

Tony: So people mark themselves down more often that they’re more stressed and, lacking clarity and all of those types of things. So real burnout indicators that crop up that, that can be quite systemic. So it’s the good red flags to be able to feed back to. to organizations. 

Tony: So it’s about identity, right? So get visibility of get visibility of what the ideal team looks like. Get visibility of the behaviors and the gaps between who they are and who they think they need to be. Get visibility of the values. So that’s what I was thinking of. Get visibility of the values so we can get a sense of their purpose, what they’re really connected to, because if I’m the manager, if I know that you’re, orientated towards affinity and people, the team’s very important to you, then I can provide that.

Tony: Or if you’re, more exploratory in your value set. You’re curious about who you are. You’re curious about other stuff externally, your thirst for [00:46:00] knowledge. If you’re driven by those types of things, it’s really helpful to know. And none of these things

Tony: are either pro or against any cultural set of values or sense that we can have, anyone can lead, anyone can be part of a team, but getting visibility of it and understanding it so that there’s massive gains to be had. So I think when you connect culture, values. And behavior, you’ve got a living and breathing organism that’s working together to try and improve.

Tony: So that’s what I mean by visibility. So I understand myself, start to understand you, that improves our ability to communicate, to collaborate, all of those types of things. And the business gets to understand how this team is best placed from a capability capacity point of view to meet the challenges that are put in front of them or to meet the volatility that’s put in front of them.

Tony: If these are people who are as a collective strongly resistant to change and we’re throwing them into ever changing [00:47:00] environments, we’re setting them up to fail. So when we get visibility of it, we can identify how big the gap is. It makes targeting training much more effective and efficient.

Tony: Otherwise, we do blanket training for people in areas that they don’t need it. And I’m not for wasting anybody’s money. If I can make myself unemployable because a company’s got all the tools they need to be self sustaining, I think I’ve done a brilliant job because I think that’s scalable. I think other people will we’ll want a piece of that.

Tony: aNd the third thing on the back of that, so visibility understanding, is, I think what we started with, which is, there’s this weddedness to a need for control that is really unhelpful.

Tony: In a big complex organization where things change all the time every day, people turn up in a good state, in a bad state. Don’t turn up at all, transitioning people in and out, customers not happy, customers happy, millions of things going on, changing all the time. 

Tony: I want to give people a sense [00:48:00] of having more control because what the visibility and understanding gives them is control of themselves, control of their immediate environment in terms of if I want to align our intention towards these objectives without these insights and without this visibility, without this understanding, I’m really flying blind here.

Tony: I’ve really got no control. I can’t see anything. I’m just going for it. And good luck with that. So I think I wouldn’t ever sell the fact that I give people control because I don’t think control necessarily exists. But you get in control of yourself and a sense of having a sense of, non anxious presence in the heat of.

Tony: a lot of tension and stress. And I’ve always had a natural, non anxious presence. I’m fortunate to have it. Somebody explained that term to me many years ago. And it’s explained a lot of my own historical examples of where I’ve been in really volatile situations and felt totally calm, like being asked to resign live on [00:49:00] TV in, after a football match is a good example of me being self differentiated from what could be perceived as a really stressful moment, but feeling no stress whatsoever, being curious about the question and all of that sort of stuff.

Tony: So I’ve always had that ability and I think helping people find that within themselves, because it is crazy, but actually, I actually know what’s going on here. I actually know that we’re aligned based on our ideals. I actually know that we’re meeting. The needs of these people on a deeper level than I ever knew before.

Tony: And we’ve, we’re accepting of normalizing each other’s idiosyncrasies and behavior. So I feel pretty good having regular communication with these people who are feeding back to me in an honest and authentic way and things that I can improve on. And it’s a really open and robust communication. It’s it can’t really get much better than that.

Tony: And I think. Certainly for many people that I come [00:50:00] into contact with, and of course, there’s lots of bravado around how great things really are. But I think under the skin of it, everybody needs a little bit of help with that. Because it’s to have it is, it’s almost like how do they ever do without it?

Tony: What I’ve got down is predictability. You can’t guarantee success and you can’t guarantee control but what you can do is raise the threshold for where you will succeed.

Tony: I look at relationships and I think of If you look at one cent of people are psychopaths two percent sociopaths, 7 percent narcissistic.

Tony: You can’t really make a relationship work in those circumstances. So whatever you do, all you can do is increase the probability. When you’re talking about visibility, what that really brings to me is.

Tony: Our model for relationships now is like our model for medicine was 300 years ago. aNd when you’re talking about visibility, I think what we have in medicine is we have visibility. Because we understand germ theory now, we can get a germ under a microscope and we can [00:51:00] know exactly how to treat it.

Tony: Back when we, when they thought disease was caused by miasma it’s just in the air and it’s invisible and there’s nothing anyone can do. So being able to pinpoint what the problem is having that visibility means that you can act on it. And again, I think one of the problems. I think a lot of people throw money at problems and they blanket training.

Tony: anD then what happens is people don’t have respect for their training. They’re like, I’ve got to turn up for this. And they’ve got no interest, no enjoyment, no and so they’re not going to really going to engage. It’s just going to go straight over their head and there’s no discernible difference. I think, yeah, we need to identify what is the problem and what is the best.

Tony: tool for that. When you talk about the, being under the pressure, being a football manager, I look at Ten Hag is under that now. You’ve got someone who’s been successful and then suddenly They’re in a different dynamic and Jose Mourinho is another one hugely successful proven time after time and yet he goes to Manchester United and he’s in the same [00:52:00] situation.

Tony: And yeah, so I’ve got in mind you could be marketing yourself as a business Dalai Lama. So to be able to have that sense of awareness and trust and conviction in yourself. Yeah, if you can take us to that scenario where if you can just explain what led up to that, what it was and what gave you the presence and conviction in yourself.

Tony: That’s really interesting. I think I left English Shores. In 1988, I was 21 and I was a player coach. I went over to Australia as a player coach in the second tier and at 21, if you think about competence I’d done my, some of my coaching through the FA here and got a job that I was not expecting.

Tony: And it was part time had to get part time work, but I was, I’d come out of a retail environment. I was bright but non academic, school didn’t sit well with me I, I didn’t conform, I wasn’t a rebel, I just didn’t if I think about the tools I use now, , [00:53:00] applied to me as a individual coming through the system back in the 70s I’d much rather have had me.

Tony: Teaching me knowing what I know now than the teachers that I had back then because they didn’t understand me at all. They were throwing a homogenized amount of scripts in my direction and expecting me to retain it. Never gonna happen. And I love learning. I’m a lifelong learner. I go deep with stuff and I love it.

Tony: So there’s the massive disconnect. I did love sport. So I got a job, trialed at football, failed at football. Anyway, I got this coaching career started at 21 and I wasn’t ready for leading men. This was a semi professional environment, 21, still playing. So I had the double whammy of playing under that scrutiny and being the manager under that scrutiny.

Tony: So the reason for sharing that is it happened a long time ago, but at the same time, as I’ve reflected back and people would use the term, Oh, that was really ballsy. That was really gutsy doing that. Quite what, for me, it wasn’t, there was no sense [00:54:00] of. it Wasn’t bravado or ego or any of that. It was pure, unadulterated adventure, curiosity.

Tony: I left Manchester, flew, it was in Tasmania, so the southern island of Australia. anD TV cameras at the airport. So I come out of nowhere, suddenly there’s TV cameras at the airport. And this was the start of what became an almost 30 year journey that took me to Manchester United, took me to Sheffield United, took me to head of the Women’s Olympic Athletes Program, working with the Australian National Women’s Team and ultimately to, to the A League first as an assistant.

Tony: Had a lot of success there as a, won the national championships 21. So I had this really successful journeyman career and against which when I reflect on all of the successes that I had I’m very quick to credit

Tony: situation and environment for being the largest contributor to those successes rather than I [00:55:00] am a great coach, which is easy to do, right? Easy to jump on the bank. And of course you can use your statistics to get you the next job or to get you the interview for the next job. But the reality is that.

Tony: iF I treat so winning the national championships with the Olympic athletes program in New South Wales was a challenge of that job was to, really manage a collective of really talented players who knew what they were doing. They were already good players. And the only pressure that came with that was there was an expectation that we win and we won.

Tony: So I didn’t feel pressure, but I felt responsible for winning. The only time I really felt that winning was the be all and end all and we won. So that was great. And it’s all down to the players being delivering what the expectations indicated they might deliver. It was a one nil win in the final. So it was pretty cool.

Tony: When you say you credit the situation and the [00:56:00] environment what comes to mind there is that it’s basically what you do teach people to do now is it’s about navigating the situation you’re in and the environment to set yourself in the right frame to, to succeed. 

Tony: So if I think of myself as a novice leader, we’re talking about 30 odd years ago now there’s a lot of miles in the legs since then and a lot of personal development and leadership development and practice and honing skills and so forth. So I can really only reflect back on what I believe were my innate. Capabilities rather than learned strategic management skills, let’s say but there was something about my ability to recognize the situation and I think I naturally gave if we think about competence relatedness and autonomy. It was a perfect example of optimizing motivation of these high performers.

Tony: I didn’t know that theory existed. I don’t even know if that theory did exist back then, [00:57:00] by the way, I’d have to check back on when it was written. But highly relatable and great relationships with the players. hiGh level of autonomy. These were Australian national team players, or 50 percent of them were others were aspiring national team players.

Tony: So highly competent and on that basis, very low touch in terms of, so high degree of organization, but low touch in terms of how we go about it. This is your game, go and do it. So they had all of those ingredients in play. So by accident or through my innate, highly intuitive, nature.

Tony: I’ve enabled this team to go and do what it. And that’s a nice thing to reflect on, but my early reflections on it were that the players they were it., but landing on the fact that they were highly self motivated was a great way for me to understand how my contribution 30 odd years ago had relevance.

Tony: Cause it’s not worth nothing. I would just think it’s nothing to do with me. They were great players. They were [00:58:00] expected to win and they won. But then with learning, understand, you think, okay, there’s something in play there, but that was innate in me. It wasn’t a learned set of behaviors by that stage.

Tony: I guess if you wind it forward, I built a club from scratch. I won’t go into the background of it. I built a club from scratch. Who, when I think back it was possibly the time I reflect on most fondly in terms of, the successes that we had and the feedback that I received from the players.

Tony: So then, you know that they believed that you’ve had an influence on them and that you’ve made a mark on them. We got promoted a number of times through the leagues, started from scratch. And it wasn’t easy at the beginning. So we came through together and recruited and built and ended up with this really tight bond.

Tony: And again, on reflection, if I think back to who I was at the time going through, really difficult personal crisis at home. Just to the beginning of that, and then this thing almost became like a beacon. This was a place where I could go to feel [00:59:00] empowered and supported and all of those types of things.

Tony: So it fed me, it nourished me a lot. And I remember, the passion that I put into these people is what shone through. And I think on reflection.

 Rather than putting me as the leader and reflecting on the team’s level of autonomy and things like that. I reflect it on how the organization treated me as the guy that they brought in to do the job. They gave me the keys to the kingdom. They supported me like you wouldn’t believe on and off the field.

Tony: I Was constantly on an upward trajectory in terms of learning and development, so I felt very competent in the role that I had, and , I was ambitious as well. Again, if I think back to how motivated I was at that time, I was highly intrinsically motivated.

Tony: I had all three of those factors. Operating at nine out of 10 constantly. So you can apply it to yourself or you can apply it to the people that you’re working with. And it’s not an accident that success is linked to [01:00:00] both. So that’s been my journey, of course, then you evolve.

Tony: So I stepped out of football. I got a job in business, again, curiosity, what does transferable skills look like? I went to a big chunky organization. At the time I was at Sheffield United and left that to go to a whole new world, very steep learning curve. Didn’t know anything about the industry that was going into rail maintenance, supply chain, managed services.

Tony: Chaos customer had a contract worth, I think, one point. four, billion dollars or something. And I was wedged between our leadership team and the customer and found myself navigating that complexity again, taking heat out of tension, which I did naturally. I’ve got a

Tony: non anxious presence, self differentiated is how it’s deemed. There’s an author called. Jervis Bush, and he wrote a book about the experience cube, which is pretty [01:01:00] much a great tool for navigating any difficult conversation. And it’s based on, are we actually talking about the facts here?

Tony: Are we agreed on what it is that we’re actually talking about? Then being descriptive about your whole experience, thoughts, feelings, and wants, and adopting a non anxious presence. So the whole objective is to create a non defensive. response. So if somebody’s getting defensive when you’re having a conversation with them, you adopt this non anxious presence and curious state to diffuse and stuff.

Tony: So incredible, incredibly powerful tool. Again, these became learned characteristics that you can pass on and people become better for life at navigating conversations that otherwise they, they go into reacting badly and wishing they hadn’t and getting nowhere. So I stepped out of that, went back to football to take on the caretaker manager’s role for the Mariners.

Tony: That was really under the spotlight. That was the big league. That was live TV every week. But by that [01:02:00] stage, you’d taken 30 years of tons of football development, tons of personal experiences and. tOns of now business leadership experience into a role that demanded the executive presence and in a very difficult environment.

Tony: So I was equipped for it felt equipped for it. However I was under how would I describe it? As I hit the pinnacle of my football career, my capacity to deal with this personal stuff that was going on in the background. So I was carrying a lot of baggage into that role. 

Tony: Now looking back, it’s a great reference for how important it is for people to get to know each other to the degree that. you can actually understand what’s going on. It impacted my capacity because I was at my personal limit of stress, going into this highly demanding role just limited the capacity that I had to do the job that, that I needed to do.

Tony: It was almost a [01:03:00] task that was going to be too great anyway, but with the extra burden of this other stuff going on, it was very challenging.

Tony: At that stage, how much were you aware of the personal stuff draining from your capacity? 

Tony: I was aware of it. Cause I was living with it. But it’s in hindsight where you can really see the impact of it and really feel the impact of it at the time you just existing.

Tony: You’re actually aware of it and suppressing in order to be outward facing. And I didn’t have. The people around me to that I needed at that time, the good ones or the close ones were too far away to, to be able to help.

Tony: That’s got to be the most pressure someone can be under in that situation, isn’t it? So if you were to look at, say, Ten Hag now. aNd if you were there to advise him what would be in a nutshell, what advice would you give to him?

Tony: Actually, number one, I don’t [01:04:00] feel like I’m in a position to advise as such, but if I was wanting to support him, we only see what he shows us, so I’d really like to get more visibility of what’s going on. I’d really like to understand the impact. I’d like to understand outside of Man United, is there something that’s limiting him?

Tony: You know what? What we don’t know is he may well be loving this. It doesn’t look like it. It looks like, in the recent interviews this week, he looks a little more drawn but he might just be under the weather, who knows what I would do is suspend judgment and really try. And this is what I don’t like about the way that the media here goes at these managers.

Tony: And I’m a United fan, and I really don’t like. The way they’re playing,

Tony: but so what we don’t know, we don’t know enough about him to be making the judgments that we’re making about him. 

Tony: Instead of passing judgment, and the world doesn’t work like that the press are looking for stories and angles and, the [01:05:00] nastier the better. But wouldn’t it be better if we just got curious and put ourself in his shoes and said I wonder what he’s actually going through now, who’s giving him the support.

Tony: I’d want to know who’s giving you the support that you need to get through this. Because the external noise, if he’s like me, if he’s self differentiated. The external noise won’t be a problem to him whatsoever. It doesn’t matter one, one instant. The players Under his charge will be his first concern.

Tony: Does he feel he’s getting the best out of them? Not necessarily are they playing at their best, but are they giving everything to the team? Does he feel competent? Like deep down, he came from Ajax and everyone says, Oh yeah, but it’s not a great league, but the team got to semifinal, whatever, externally, people go, Oh, he’s.

Tony: Not used to, I hear it all the time, not used to managing big egos. What does that actually mean? It’s like rubbish. It’s rubbish. Let’s qualify what they mean by that before we jump on it and agree with it. But I would like to know how he perceives [01:06:00] questions like that. 

Tony: I’ve seen he’s got all the autonomy he needs. I don’t think anybody’s pulling his strings. So he should be highly motivated, seems to be highly motivated. Relationships, I would say they’re being tested. If people are wedded to the need to win games, and he’s been seen as the man who has to deliver that, then I could see how relationships may be fractured.

Tony: People don’t want to go down with the manager. If they’ve got any sense of self preservation, and they’re going to put themselves before anything else, then They’re going to start to maybe, oh, I distanced myself a bit from this guy. I’d love to know how he senses the people around him.

Tony: If they’re changing, not just the players, his staff, people in the club. cAuse you feel that stuff. You see it. You can trick yourself though, into thinking that you’re seeing stuff. Are these people really behind me? Once you really get fear then you can start moving to paranoia.

Tony: Exactly. You know what, I’d love to know all of those types of things. I wonder what he’s going through with that. [01:07:00] And how does he, if he doesn’t care about the noise from the media, the problem is he has to front up every second day and deal with them. Or not, as he did, I think he banned some people yesterday.

Tony: But he’s got to go and answer the questions just as a set out. Sense of duty or as a contractual obligation. If he’s authentic, if he’s got autonomy, if he’s tested stress, tested the relationships and he feels he’s got all the right support around and he believes in himself, shouldn’t bother him too much, the motivation will far outweigh the stress.

Tony: And that’s how I got through it. Like as much as I was capacity and we were. Really struggling as a team but I could live with that for all those reasons. 

Tony: It’s interesting because the one who’s made it work at Manchester United in recent years is Sir Alex Ferguson.

Tony: And when I look, when you say he would have loved that. Because that would have played into he would have been, at war with every anyone he needed to, and that would have galvanized him and galvanized the team. 

Tony: I think [01:08:00] having that visibility that you provide would be where you’d see the problems with the relating this, because there’s some deep problem there. They’ve had Van Gaal Mourinho, great managers, but couldn’t make it work there. And so there’s something that you need visibility on and it’s something that seems to be, I don’t know what they’re doing, but it’s something that seems to be vague.

Tony: But as a little bit, you don’t measure it like this, right? If I so if I’m Mourino and having meetings with the players and the players are telling me what they’re telling me, and I’ve got to make. My own judgment as to whether I believe them or not, are they truly authentic or yeah, I’m guessing, right?

Tony: I’ve only got my observations are the only thing that’s telling me what the answer to the questions that I’m asking I can relate this to the work that I do if I’ve got this Business sponsored engagement and I’m working with individual leaders within the business having confidential conversations so my job is to enable The leaders that I’m working with to have more of the conversations that they have [01:09:00] with me with the business.

Tony: Now, that’s like utopia for me. Now, the reason they’re having those conversations with me, they’re not in an environment where they feel safe enough to have that. Whether it’s will there be consequences? 

Tony: Will it be held against me or even on a more personal level? What will people think of me if they knew I was a bit stressed or whatever it might be? It’s like for me, it’s what’s stopping you having this? Because I see this personal growth in the people that I work with. I see the breakthroughs and the readiness. And my expectation is that to the feedback loop, that this is translating to visible performance that through the shift visible performance.

Tony: But if the if that aligned intent hasn’t been set beforehand, then it’s almost like a waste of investment because these people. I’m not taking what they’ve learned or who they’re becoming. It doesn’t count unless you start to apply it, but the businesses need to get better at setting up the environment where these conversations [01:10:00] can take place.

Tony: And it’s not about going into everybody’s deep, dark secrets. It’s just about helping people get comfortable and confident in putting forward, in an honest way. The way they might approach a certain challenge in the face of that not being accepted in the face of that being shot down, this is my idea.

Tony: I think we should do this. We’re going to go a different way. tHey’ve got even as a minimum that should be happening, but isn’t people holding that back because they want to stay aligned with what they perceive the manager wants. I don’t agree with what the manager is saying here, but I ain’t gonna say it.

Tony: But actually the manager probably wants you to say it.

Tony: Yeah, it’s so important. And then how do you say it? How do you say it and not create a defensive response? That’s, becomes about doing it in an anxious way. So build your executive presence. Have the authority to say it without inflaming the situation and being able to navigate the tension of that difficult conversation.

Tony: Yeah 

Tony: But for someone who is in that position someone who [01:11:00] feels that they are In the position where they could get that visibility where they would want to know how to navigate those terms and build that identity Where what would be the step for someone or how should someone find out more?

Tony: I think they should just DM me on linkedin 

Tony: If they know what challenges they’ve got within their leadership or management structure they’re going through one of those Transformations or growth. I just want to sense check.

Tony: Are they on the right track? Other you either know that you’ve got a bad performance and you want to fix it,.

Tony: Or you think you’re doing okay and you want to improve it. Otherwise, there’s nothing to do really. So you either got a known problem or you’re looking to improve what’s going okay.

Tony: I would just say, just get in touch. And I think, for me, organizations that are. They’ve got enough people that make it complex. 

Tony: This, by the way, this works for small teams. It works for small businesses of 10, 20 people. When you get into the hundreds of people and lots of levels of management and disconnects [01:12:00] between senior leadership and heads of department, for example, happens all the time.

Tony: Visibility helps you see the gaps and then you can bridge the gaps and there’s lots of ways to bridge the gaps. That’s all organic. It’s no one size fits all. 

Tony: If you start with the assumption that every single person is different, that’s the start, that’s the bit to get your head around. Because then you’re talking about blind spots right at the beginning.

Tony: We’re all different. Am I the problem here? 

Tony: Am I the one that’s so different that nobody can, nobody gets it? It’s worth finding out.

Tony: It’s one of those things, and I think sometimes, like you talked about, you’re there because they can’t have that conversation because you’re there to have that conversation as a bridge. for them to ultimately have that conversation with them. And I think sometimes that takes an outside eye.

Tony: It’s something that you can’t have. I’ve seen coaches, but I’m not a coach I’ve facilitated, but I’m not a facilitator and I look at what’s my natural is. What I would say Consigliere, [01:13:00] which is like the medieval Italians, because they were in a constant period of change, they needed someone who was outside of the power structure who wasn’t a threat, but could understand them and assess the situations.

Tony: Exactly. 

Tony: A great way to describe it. And I think that’s really it is about the visibility, but first of all, it’s about outside eyes looking fresh, who can identify without bias. Cause we, we’re so much of the problems are because we’re so biased by so many different things. Yeah. And I’m looking at different things in there, right?

Tony: They’re looking at profit loss statement. They’re looking at customer demand. They’re looking at process systems. HR competing priorities. They’re looking at what they do all the time, what they don’t do. And they also don’t feel they have time. And it’s when they don’t feel they have time is the time when they need to be looking.

Tony: I focus on the stuff that they’re not focused on, and it really matters. 

Tony: Thanks again for taking the time and sharing all your insights.

[01:14:00] Thank you for listening. Please like, share, subscribe, and leave a review so we can spread more flow and unify teams. If you’re on LinkedIn, please connect with me, Rob McPhillips.

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