The Team Manager's Responsibility

You’re in charge of a team…

How do you spend your time?

Are you a Leader or a Manager?

What’s your key responsibilities?

How do you create a culture that performs?

These were some of the topics we discussed.

The panel was…

  • Matthew Ward
  • Muhammad Mehmood
  • Johan Meyer
  • and me, Rob McPhillips.


Matthew: I’m Matthew Ward.

Matthew: I’m from Canada. I’m retired for a number of years and I’m doing this now. 

Muhammad: I’m Mohammed Mahmood. I am an expert, if I may say, because I have a good experience in hospitality and SaaS business. So I’m now Doing business consultancy, helping startups mostly to kick off the ground.

Muhammad: And I’m also now being active on this platform for the past three and a half months. And I’ve met great people like yourself now, Matthew, Rob and Johan. And we, I think we’re collectively, we’re gradually growing and learning from each other on 

Rob: a daily basis. 

Johan: My focus at the moment is an organization called Stuck to Unstuck and the focus is really on working with people in the workplace. Who are struggling or frustrated and want to move forward, not necessarily getting the right support or the right guidance or training that they need and on an individual basis, identifying how do we help these guys move forward and gain the competencies they require to do what they want to do.

Rob: I’ll just explain a little bit of my thinking, my rationale of why I [00:01:00] chose you all to be in the group and what I was thinking. 

Rob: Matthew and I had a wonderful conversation where he shaped my thinking on the difference between leadership and management. And I really wanted to get him and Mohamed together to clarify that idea of leadership management and how can we have a working framework that is useful.

Rob: Mohamed and I, in our conversation, we touched on the limits of what is a leader and then where do those responsibilities then end with the teamwork. There’s lots of talk about the leader’s responsibility. If the team is not responsive to that leader, then that can be the constraint.

Rob: Johan works on the other side of leadership in helping people navigate their careers in being recognized and being able to communicate better and being able to be recognized by leadership and move in their career. So I thought he would have an interesting view and some contributions on the other side.

 A hazy idea but I’m hoping through the conversation that we’ll be able to clarify it. Basically the [00:02:00] outline is where does the leader or the manager’s responsibility end and the team members begin?

Rob: So where’s that delineation?

Muhammad: If I add as a starters, I believe that both leaders and managers role are to a certain extent interchangeable. That’s one. 

Muhammad: Secondly, I believe that both these roles are actually responsibilities. So to me, if I just zoom out from my personal angle, I see this as not a title, but individual responsibility of managing and leading.

Muhammad: And they are both the foundations. I like to call the analogy of a skyscraper, like it’s both of them are required for the solid foundations. It’s not either you are a manager or a leader, or you could be both. Could be a manager and a good leader or vice versa. So I have a very open view on it.

Muhammad: I don’t like to glorify the leadership title, which we see a lot in our lovely LinkedIn platform. [00:03:00] And I believe that managers can also be leaders, but so is the leader for me, who is actually leading from the front, who is setting some examples for others to follow, who could ignite passion. And equally so can also manage people on an individual level.

Muhammad: So what is that management looks like? 

Muhammad: It’s the day to day stuff. I want a holiday, I need a break. I can’t work on that particular schedule, et cetera. So that’s the nitty gritty side of things. The mostly the administrative part. And that’s how I see the manager or the management looks after that.

Muhammad: And if I wear the hat of a leader now, and I want, for example, Johan to. Stopped coming by car because I want him to be more eco friendly and, cycling to work. I should be doing that first, setting that example, and then ask or request him to do so this is my kind of initial comment on both leaders and managers.

Muhammad: Sorry, Johan, you were on my screen, so I just picked you. 

Johan: I’ll tell you what, from where we started going to town. We see quite a number of cyclists because they’ve actually made it possible. It simulates somewhat what in the Netherlands. I’d [00:04:00] assume, with the dedicated biking passes, a lot of cyclists, but still it’s 20 where we are 25 K’s into town, 25 K’s back.

Johan: And I say, you really have to want to do it in order to get there. Cause it can be a challenge. Touching on to what you’re saying. Through my whole career, I was fortunate or cursed to be either in senior management or executive positions until I got fed up with it.

Johan: And I realized that where I really enjoyed what I did is working with high potential individuals who were just not able to live up to their potential and helping them just find that spot. And that’s why I had to change my profession into now and to really build something significant around it.

Johan: But what I’ve always struggled with is this differentiation between leadership and management. Because they are management tasks. What you referred to it’s part of managerial duties to ensure that people are, doing what they’re supposed to do and to grant leave and to provide support and so forth.

Johan: And then there’s leadership components that come to that, et cetera, the stuff that we’re all familiar with. And, from my experience, both being All across the hierarchy. I cannot recall being myself in a position or any of the people that [00:05:00] reported into me, those I reported into or colleagues I worked with, where you did not have a continuous combination of the two.

Johan: You may have the designation of Manager X, but in order to have success in that position, you also have to be what is defined as a leader, and execute leadership competencies because otherwise you really are just ticking boxes. I’ve never seen that to be just a requirement.

Johan: So it’s an interesting. I see so many different options around what these two different things should be and how they work together. And I’m very curious. 

Matthew: It’d be fair to say I have a different view of it. Let’s talk about management first. Let’s start there. So all organizations need some form of management and management provides a structure and it provides areas of responsibility. It’s a conduit for communication and managers typically are the people that oversee tasks and having tasks started.

Matthew: Continued and finished, goals met [00:06:00] sales quotas filled, whatever the case may be. 

Matthew: So those are generally speaking the job of managers and managers can accomplish that in many different ways depending on their Their areas of responsibility and their personalities and their style and how they operate.

Matthew: And so to me, a lot of that style is confused with leadership. So it’s for me that the issue there that people have is with style. As for the organization as a whole, I believe it’s driven by its culture. And manage one of a manager’s responsibilities is to be a monitor of and a carrier of the flag for the culture, but they don’t set the culture because culture should be a large, big unifying idea.

Matthew: And you can have 5 different departments with 5 different managers setting their own cultures. Their job is to carry the one flag for the unifying culture. And if you do it right, it’s your culture that [00:07:00] runs the company. And all the managers do is make sure that’s happening. Where does the culture come from?

Matthew: The culture is set by, generally speaking, by that large, big vision, that big idea. And who sets the big idea? That’s the leader’s job. The leader provides the big idea. The leader provides the umbrella under which everybody works, we’ll say. The leader provides. The journey, the desk, the destination and the managers provide maintenance, support and influence for that idea.

Matthew: And the people who work in the departments in management or under management under the different levels. And that would include sub managers and whatever. They are the followers. They follow the idea. And those are the three ways I would describe it. And it’s often, and it does often get confused. But what people always leave out is this [00:08:00] idea of the vision.

Matthew: The idea that I’m going to take all of us from here to there. And you can’t have two people doing that. You can’t have three visions or seven visions or 11 D leaders all with their own visions. There’s got to be one person or at least one small group, but generally it’s a person. It’s a person who hasn’t, and the go to example is Steve jobs, right?

Matthew: He’s the go to example. He had the vision, he provided the culture and he was an absolute dick. As anyone who knows the story knows, he was an unpleasant human being, but it didn’t matter because he had managers who did all that stuff. He could sit above it and be the crap ass that he was, but his vision was so spectacular that it pulled everyone along.

Matthew: He was the leader. His managers weren’t. So that’s the way I would explain it. 

Johan: If I can ask, maybe just to clarify from my perspective, what you’re saying is so you’ve got defined [00:09:00] responsibilities. So you’ve got a leader, and he creates the vision. And that has got a specific set of competence around it.

Johan: And then they’ve got the managers in the various different structures and organization and they execute on this vision on behalf and under the guidance of the lead. Is that correct? 

Matthew: Yeah that’s the way I would say it. I guess execute would be a word but, they carry the flag, they carry the flag for the thing and they all have to be dialed in.

Matthew: And they’re the ones that transfer that energy to the people below them. You go to the weddings and they have all those, that stack of the champagne cups and they pour the champagne on the top. That’s how it’s to me. That’s ideally. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Matthew: All the champagne flows down. Does it work that way? Not very often. That’s the challenge, right? To me, that is the ideals. That’s the ideal in any event. 

Muhammad: Matt, if I can comment here. First of all, yes, I. Have the same idea of the vision, and leader dictates that or share the [00:10:00] vision and inspires people because I’m probably the, one of those who carries this flag of servant leadership a lot.

Muhammad: So that’s set aside for a second, but you’ve said there’s the manager. So it could be, let’s say in an org, you’ve got one leader. So we forget him for a second because he’s laid down the vision and he’s bought these five managers into that vision, right? Now these managers now have to go ahead and expand that vision further down the chain.

Muhammad: So isn’t it that manager now becoming a leader for its own small sub team, sharing that vision downward so people buy into that. So isn’t he’s now, this person is now stepping into the role of being a leader, but not the manager now. Cause manager is okay, let’s do this one, two, three, four, five. We have to do it.

Muhammad: Let’s go. Let’s do it. In ideal scenario, then he or she should be selling this vision. So the people of this sub team to buy in from them. To go towards that common goal. 

Matthew: My comment would be that depends on the structure of the organization. As a [00:11:00] historical example I submit Napoleon, great leader, but many of his marshals Were leaders in their own right, and they could be leaders in their own right, because he carved his army into army core, and they were wholly independent, and they carried his vision, but since they operated independent of the whole.

Matthew: most of the time. They developed their own leadership qualities and history remembers a guy like Marshall Ney as a leader in his own right as well. So I think it depends a lot on your structure, but if you have a more closed structure, which is more typical of the corporate structure, then it’s like too many cooks spoil the broth.

Matthew: Too many leaders is problematic. I would say, and that’s not to say that they don’t pop up. And develop, because you can get leaders pop out of a situation, take control of a situation. They’re the right person at the right time at the right place. There’s a [00:12:00] situation. They recognize it, they seize it.

Matthew: They show people a way out of it. They are in that moment, leaders, but they are not the leader. And that leadership doesn’t stay with them. It, they’re only the leader in that moment. Once the crisis passes or the whatever and the organization continues it’s usual path.

Matthew: They go back to being the very good managers that they were. And another issue just while I’m on it. Another issue is I have and you mentioned it, the leadership is just a word being thrown around all over the place these days. And it, it bothers me because it degrades managers. It’s as if managers aren’t good enough.

Matthew: You got to be a leader. No, damn, you don’t have to be a leader. You can be a crackerjack manager. You can be a very great manager. And when Rob and I spoke about this before, I used the example of the Henry Ford. Now, Henry Ford there’s an argument to be made that he was a leader, but Henry Ford II was not by any stretch of the imagination.[00:13:00] 

Matthew: No one would call Henry Ford II a leader. And yet he was a crackerjack manager. He, he built the company from when his father passed it to him. Now he did. do the Edsel, but he was a very good manager. And you look across corporate America today and then a lot of other smaller orgs private and not, and public, there’s all kinds of people whose names you don’t know.

Matthew: Tens and tens of thousands of them who are CEOs and they’re absolutely fantastic at what they do. And if you’re in certain industries like accounting, God help you if you’re a leader in accounting or banking, because They’re supposed to keep a low profile, right? That’s the way the industry is.

Matthew: And yet the CEOs of a lot, the CEO of a large corporation accounting corporation is damn good at what he or she does. They’re the best in the business. But they’re not leaders, right? They’re just very good managers, and it’s okay to be an exceptional manager. [00:14:00] And if there’s one problem in business today, is there’s a crisis in management.

Matthew: And the crisis is that we’re not developing, and haven’t been for a while, a lot of good middle management. And there’s a lot of reasons for that, and that’s a subject for another day. But it drives me nuts when I see everybody wants to be a leader, nobody wants to be a manager, when managers are so necessary, important, and in such short supply.

Matthew: It’s way better to try to be a great manager than a great leader, because the world is your oyster. There just aren’t enough great managers. Rant over.

Rob: Thank you. Thank you for that, Matthew. 

Rob: I see what you’re saying in terms of Steve Jobs, Elon Musk as well is another one that they had a very clear vision that he drove people that they left one person in charge of an area and they were accountable and responsible for it.

Rob: They let went, left them to do their own things. So in that sense, they were leading their own team, leading their own project. But I think when you look at a lot of organizations, there [00:15:00] may be 100, 150 years since the visionaries gone. So if you look at Ford it’s many years since Henry Ford’s gone.

Rob: So that kind of leader who stands for something, who leads with a vision often they’ve gone. 

Rob: You then have managers managing the culture. And what you’ve got is people who often are focused on next quarter’s earnings, it’s about share price. 

Rob: I think that when there is a lack of leadership, what you then have is as it filters down. You then have, because there’s a lack of clear vision or purpose or defined goals and vision from the organization, the, there becomes a power vacuum that you create silos and you create department heads who then have power struggles for their own personal visions.

Rob: And I think that’s where we then get divided culture. I see the ideal of the wedding shoots coming out. When you’ve got strong leadership, then the [00:16:00] leader at the top is like the juice if you have a cordial. There’s a juice and as it filters down, it’s going to become diluted.

Rob: So when you have a leader that isn’t as strong as Steve Jobs who isn’t as clear, is that where the culture then becomes a problem when you have division and silos? So I’d just like to chuck that in for discussion.

Matthew: Yeah, the the it does happen that the vision survives the visionary, and a good vision will. But boy, that’s a big question, Rob, because the the fracturing of the vision or the, boy, it gets into so many issues here. One is the loss of the vision or the dilution of it. You also get into this idea of managers and management and just human beings being human beings and carving out their own fiefdoms and having their own personal relationship issues.

Matthew: And that all stuff happens. And then there’s another issue that has to do with, in the last, I don’t know, 20 or 30 years, this slavery to the quarterly report and the [00:17:00] share price kind of makes a vision pointless because why have one? All you’re trying to do is drive a share price, right?

Matthew: Man, that’s a big subject. That’s a big subject. 

Muhammad: It is indeed a very big subject because Rob, you just ignited a debate here on this. Here I fully resonate what Matthew is saying, and Rob, to your point, I can give you a small example how this vision could be converted into toxicity because there’s a vacuum created, some poor decisions.

Muhammad: You’ve got teams who are based in like different regions, so let’s say, for example, Perspective, for argument’s sake, a UK based team, a German based team, a US based team, a Canada based team. 

Muhammad: Everyone then creates their own vision on kind of direction. And what happens is that because the leader was either a poor leader or a weak leader or in corporate terms was voted out [00:18:00] by the board and it was a vacuum. 

Muhammad: What happened afterwards that company just lost his share price and it just literally collapsed due to one bad decision made right at the top from where the supposedly the vision should have originated and it creates obviously toxicity, which is another big topic to discuss, but that’s how I see it.

Muhammad: So again, going back to this point, like everything starts from the very top. This is what I believe that anything that happens at the top has a massive impact going down the chain. And as we say that managers are either great managers or poor manager, likewise, it is also to be a bad leader. But to me, then I take an extra step here.

Muhammad: And I have been saying this quite out loud on LinkedIn as well on various, posts as well. Whenever there’s a talk about bad leadership, I don’t class that person to be a leader then. Because if the leader is making these bad decisions, it means that he or she is not even sold into their own vision.

Muhammad: I’m not saying they’re flawless, but that’s how I [00:19:00] take it, that you cannot be a bad leader. You are either a leader or you are not.

Rob: Just to clarify as in if you’re a bad leader, no one follows, therefore you’re not a leader. Is that 

Muhammad: really what you are saying? 

Muhammad: Exactly. Because you lose respect. That’s how I see it because obviously I have some experiences, and some people in my experience like lost their moral authority.

Muhammad: In the business, because you don’t follow a bad example. Oh, yeah. A 

Matthew: leader assumes followers. Lead is the root of leader. What are you leading? Are you leading sheep, toasters, or people? And if you don’t have people following you, you are no leader, right? You’re just in Mohammed’s case, you’re just a really bad manager, right?

Matthew: There’s

Johan: other ways for that kind of structure to manifest. We all hope that it’s the romantic notion of somebody with a grand vision and others who are inspired and enthusiastic about that vision and they follow voluntarily and because they think they can contribute, but then the reality in business is also there could be somebody at the [00:20:00] top.

Johan: To find them as you will move simply through influence and fear rule the roost and people still do what they’re supposed to do, and you get results. 

Johan: This is a very interesting conversation. And I find myself thinking something that I’ve been thinking for a while. And that is, could be sometimes caught up too much in contextual definitions.

Johan: What I mean by that is I really like what Matthew says in terms of there is a person who takes the responsibility or the ownership to create the vision and then you can get competing visions, others in the environment who says, No, I don’t agree, and they influence the board, they influence others, and they try to get their agenda pushed.

Johan: That does not diminish leadership. That just means there’s a couple of guys who’s fighting for the same position, and it’s trying to take that lead point. So the way I work with guys is to try and get them out of the thinking just practical context, if you will, between the definition of a leader and the competencies required to act as a leader.

Johan: So organizationally. It is defined that there is a [00:21:00] head working organization where there were two heads, two CEOs, and they worked well together. But my understanding is typically that’s not something that works. Because the chairman is already a pain in the butt and, then the CEO needs to manage the board and executives and everybody else.

Johan: So once you take the lead, it’s your job, get the job done and see where you want to take us. Just on the point of vision, vision can endure, vision can also change. 

Johan: If you take Apple as an example. I don’t think for a moment Tim Cook has changed the broad vision of Apple, but the way he approaches that vision has been more to be different than what Steve Jobs has been doing.

Johan: Jobs has always been innovation, kicking the bucket down the way, and Tim has been more about, getting it sustainably done, making sure that it can endure over a long period of time. If you have different people in an organization, your example earlier, you have different small teams, but at some point within a team, a job needs to get done.

Johan: And the person who takes responsibility for that team, that component of the broad organizational structure, they’ve got a contribution that they need to deliver. And in some, at some point during the work that they do, [00:22:00] they need to display leadership competencies. And at other points in the job they do, they need to display manager competencies.

Johan: A problem arises. You can’t then go to your checklist and say, okay, what do I do? At least you’re an airline pilot and they have to do that. But for the most part, for the work that we do, you don’t have a checklist you can go and check. You have to check with the team, guys, we’ve got a problem.

Johan: How do we’ve got to accomplish this. We’re not going to get there from here. How do we think about this? That displays leadership competencies. And then once that is evaluated, some solutions, and then the management competencies come back. All right, now do we need to execute? What do we need to do?

Johan: What do we need to plan? What resources do we require? Who is, etcetera. And you guys all familiar with both sides of that point. I’m of the opinion to summarize this, that there is definitely a case within a broader organizational structure to define a leader and what they need to do.

Johan: And everybody else who follows that leader willingly. All through a bit of encouragement. But within everybody’s job that they do, there is a requirement to [00:23:00] at some stage exhibit leadership competencies and also management competencies. 

Johan: I don’t think that only goes for managers, even the guys that are working in the teams, they also need to manage themselves, manage the work they do, manage the quality that they deliver, manage how they interact and engage with those around them and with, those that they report to, regardless of how we define them.

Johan: So it’s the application of the competency, I think, within the broader structure, as long as it complements the vision and not is not opposed. That’s where I think that’s where the challenge really comes in.

Muhammad: Some valid points. I agree because for instance there was a situation where one of my staff member she stood up and said can I lead this team now in mean to, can I manage this team? 

Muhammad: There was a difference because there was some tasks needed to be done or a project needed to be handled and she wanted to just leave that project, lead the team.

Muhammad: But she also already had a manager on sitting on top of her. So this is where I still stand on my point of view is that it’s a mixture of both. Even today, it was a bit controversial, [00:24:00] but I posted about like introverts, can leaders could be great managers, I still believe as you said it’s more like how you implement and execute your your skills or abilities to handle that kind of scenario, which is building up.

Muhammad: Another small example I can give is that in one of my previous ventures, I stepped out from the operations and then when I had to get back into it, I walked into one of my units. In that particular unit, I had about 117 people employed on my payroll and on the shift I found them, 43 of them, and I fired 39 of them on the spot.

Muhammad: I wasn’t the manager. I wouldn’t class myself as a leader because I was the MD of the business, but I had to walk in and execute that. And then what I did was I took on this responsibility.

Muhammad: So I went into the production line myself because I knew somebody has to step up by doing this. Obviously there was some other guys were called in to to work. And I led this unit for at least [00:25:00] three and a half weeks. So leading from the front, then training these people. So I was juggling the roles, being a manager.

Muhammad: Because I was doing scheduling, I was ensuring that, the deliveries are on time and whatever agreements we have, we are adhering to those clauses. And equally, I was trying to lead the team out of that kind of adversity, if you like, because obviously they, so this is where, I started to believe in that.

Muhammad: Okay. I can swap roles. I can be a leader at one point. I could be handling the tough board who is hungry for my neck. And I can also sit with my people. I can connect with them on an individual level. And to me another important factor in that leadership capacity or a managerial capacity, just like it’s combination is that even if I’m sitting, so let’s say I’m an MD and I’ve got 400 odd people on my payroll.

Muhammad: The best thing when I, what I learned was that I could recognize each and every single team member, regardless of which department they are. I could remember their first name at least. Okay. I’m very poor in remembering the last names, but at least I knew, okay, this is Rob. This is Jessica. This is [00:26:00] Chrissy.

Muhammad: So this made me more connected with them. I wasn’t their manager and maybe I wasn’t the leader either because they hardly saw me on a day to day basis. So this is what I expect from leaders, that if you want to sell the vision, don’t sell in the boardroom, sell to the public downwards. And on one of my last consultancy venture, this is where I walked out of the contract because I believe that the company’s culture is not being how I look at it is like an iceberg, right?

Muhammad: Saying something that visible, something that invisible. And I spent way too much of time. on the ground, connecting with people, understanding actually, what’s going on and what could be done because we had to implement some operational efficiencies and I couldn’t do it unless I understood the root cause.

Muhammad: So I found that and I presented to, the guys who hired me and I discussed with them and I realized that they are just talking about numbers because for them, everything is a number game, but this is not how I see leadership. Leadership is that when you stand up for your people, you take the hate, even if it means [00:27:00] sacrificing your own job.

Muhammad: So that’s to me a leadership. I rest my case. 

Matthew: Yeah, but that could also be a great manager. And I would expect in my company, I expected my managers to do just that. I expected them to do that. I expected them to defend their turf and defend their people and to be that wall between them and all the adversity above, I expected them to do that.

Matthew: But I didn’t consider them all leaders because they did that, even though eventually one or two turned out to be good leaders in their own right. But that, these are part of things that all managers should have in them. Don’t you think?

Muhammad: Yeah they should have it, but I think if we now let’s zoom back into, if I may clause this as. More sort of ground reality here, right? In practical terms, people are afraid to lose their jobs. People are afraid of many other things. People are very much afraid to put the neck on the line and where you expect these [00:28:00] managers to take the hit.

Muhammad: Defend the turf, as you mentioned, but that can be done as a leader, too. So you’re also defending and protecting your own people, right? 

Muhammad: So it’s not about who is managing, it’s also actually who is giving them the protection of the psychological safety, the culture. element comes in, who is more better connected with the people on the ground.

Muhammad: I don’t have to be classed as a manager or a leader. I could be a team member who is probably, understand people’s emotions. I can talk to my team members and I can maybe also encourage them to do better or do certain things in a different way. So then which role I am in. I’m not the manager.

Muhammad: I’m not the leader, but I have a huge influence on my team.

Muhammad: I’ll 

Johan: tell you what, if I can quickly just chime in here. As interesting as the discussion is, as valuable as it will be to ensure that one runs this through to a proper theoretical end, the consequence, and this touches to something that Matthew raised earlier, is that it’s one of the elements, at least in my mind, that is causing a challenge for junior and [00:29:00] middle, and I’d suggest even senior managers these days.

Johan: If you look at the literature out there the last 10 years, and I’m talking Books, written to LinkedIn, texting, anything in between blogs, videos, there are so many different opinions about how should a leader be defined, how should management be, et cetera, et cetera. And what it causes practically is on the ground.

Johan: And I say this because, it’s an end of two. I’ve worked with two guys in middle management positions recently, but I also recall. My managers that used to report in to me in various different organizations, they come to me and say, okay, so what do I need to do now? Where should I focus?

Johan: So in a reporting structure, that’s different because, we know exactly what we need to do. But now two guys come to me and say, I need help. I’m confused. I don’t know whether I should spend more time on training and educating people as leaders should do and creating the vision for them and helping them through their career inspiration, or should I spend more time on making sure the team accomplishes the goals that we have to do in order to further the organization’s objective?

Johan: And I, my [00:30:00] question then is always are you confused? What are you getting paid for? And there’s two things that I think are critically. I think the one is that I don’t think managers as a whole and I’m talking management as a position, not management as a competency, management as a position.

Johan: I don’t think there’s enough support for those guys in terms of learning really how to be skillful at what they do and apply a host on different skills in order to move their team and organization forward. And secondly, this is not A little bit of my side, but I also don’t think there’s enough support for those in the teams to be able to equip themselves and get to the right level of competency that they can effectively support their manager and actually do what they need to do.

Johan: The one guy I spoke with, I said, okay, show me what your diary looks like for a week. And I kid you not, four hours out of every day, four hours out of an eight hour day, and that excludes lunch and such, he spent in one on one engagements. With various different members of the team. So he said, what do you actually talk about?

Johan: Yeah, that came to about 20 percent of the time. They actually spoke about the work they were doing. The other 80 percent was all about, what are you working on? What are your personal goals? Because that is what they, [00:31:00] what he was informed from. I’m sure a well intentioned person that, that’s how you need to engage.

Johan: Because that’s how you build that unity. That’s about that team, et cetera. And that’s all true. The problem is that the real focus? I’m not for a moment suggesting that they should neglect them. I just want to be clear on that. But where’s the balance point? 

Johan: And how do we make sure that the managers who are out there, millions and millions of them who are trying to do a damn good job, that they are sure they can focus on the right things and they’ve got the right support, the right structures in order to achieve the results that they want to and need to achieve.

Johan: I think, Matthew, I’m tying into the point you raised earlier, but I also have seen, that managers as a whole, they want to, but they’re struggling and I’m not sure that they have enough support to really effectively move forward. 

Matthew: I think that’s why there is this crisis in middle and you added junior and it has seeped upwards as well. It used to be if you could make it through middle management, it was like a test of strength. You could survive middle management, then you were going to be okay and upper management. But that’s less and less true because middle management has [00:32:00] been a mess for decades.

Matthew: And it’s been a mess for decades, I think. And I’m just riffing on some of your thoughts here, and I think it’s because of all the confusion that has been injected into that middle management role now and your example of your friend or coworker you were talking about. He had to ask what the hell am I supposed to do, I’ve got 40 hours worth of stuff. 

Matthew: Everyone’s asking me to do in a day, I’m spending four hours a day on pep talks because someone told me there’s only so many hours in a day. And what’s my role. And am I supposed to be that empathetic educational friend, or am I supposed to be that hard driving get to get the work done. Am I supposed to be what am I supposed to do here.

Matthew: If you look through the enough LinkedIn posts, there there’s, my God, there’s 500 things that a middle manager is supposed to do in a day. And touchy feely stuff and hard ass stuff and don’t do this and do that and do [00:33:00] that. Is it a wonder why middle management is such a mess, right?

Matthew: Because we’ve turned it into, we’ve held the business folks were working for profit based companies. You got to turn a profit man, and we’ve just turned them into babysitting clinics in a lot of cases, like we got to turn a profit here people. 

Matthew: That’s why we’re here. If we don’t turn a profit, we’re all out. And then you got to go work for the bad guy down the street. So let’s all get along. Let’s work together. Let’s, let’s not be idiots about it. But boy, you just listening to your talk there I’ve never been in the corporate world, but I’ll bet you that’s just.

Matthew: Horrible, horrible in a large corporate setting, and 

Johan: it is indeed the kind of my experience and it’s a very limited experience. I don’t suggest that I’m speaking for everybody in all cultures and all periods of the world. But I’ve seen a limited number of people who’ve actually been able to and that’s it’s through good mentorship. 

Johan: Actually, I’ve never seen somebody really just get to it by themselves. Through good mentorship, being able to identify. Okay, this is how we need to move forward. And then they thrive and then they [00:34:00] go. But from colleagues and guys that I’ve just connected with awesome questions from a research perspective or in bigger companies, I’m talking 20, 30, 000 employees across the world.

Johan: They’ve got these defined structures and I’m sure again, intentioned HR and support and et cetera. And for the most part. They are following the advice of well respected people out there who promote new methodologies, new ways of thinking, ways to really just not thrive even, but survive in, in this modern business world.

Johan: That’s just GPT calls it every day. And. And it’s challenging. And I think so. I want to ask Rob a question quickly. I’m just thinking about it now, but Rob, your specialization is relationships, right? 

Johan: And how much have you seen that the potentially a reduction in the capability of forming effective relationships, both in the corporate environment, as well as then You know, personally outside, how much has that affected people’s capability?

Johan: What stuff are we talking about? 

Rob: Just to go back a moment between the lines of, so I’m listening [00:35:00] and I’m not an expert on leadership, but I understand people and I understand relationships. And from that context, I look at leadership. So I’m look intellectually and how it impacts people.

Rob: And what I see is the lines are blurred because I think what we’re doing in leadership, how we’re distinguishing leadership is in taking people from confusion to clarity. 

Rob: And when you talk about the big organizations, there’s a lot of confusion because there is a lack of clear vision and because there’s too many people that I think the amount of people that we’re dealing with is something that challenges are biological capabilities.

Rob: When you look at Dunbar’s numbers. People have a limit of 150 people that they can maintain any kind of relationship, 1500 that they’re aware of. And when you’re talking about 20, 30, 000 pound, 30, 000 people organizations, it’s something we’re biologically incapable of. So I think when you look, when you bring that back down to relationships.

Rob: If you go back to [00:36:00] the Industrial Revolution, it separated the way that you earn your money from your home life. So there’s that separation, which is inherently stressful because we’re working and we’re living in cities, which we’re not designed for when we haven’t evolved that capability.

Rob: So it’s inherently stressful. You go into London and nobody looks at each other on the train because it’s overwhelming. 

Rob: We know from environmental psychology that the more crowded you are, the more stressed people are, the more aggression that people have, the more hostility that people have.

Rob: So all of this is impacting relationships. It comes at a time when our relationship models haven’t changed. You can tell me if I’m answering your question right, but what I see is we’ve, we don’t have a relationship model and whether you’re managing or whether you’re leading, you are reliant on relationships.

Rob: The culture is, yeah, it’s set by the vision, but ultimately it’s the purity of it is the levels [00:37:00] of interactions between people. And when people don’t know, so when you create these organizations that create these silos and there’s power vacuums, and there’s all this kind of toxicity that comes, which I think is inherent in a bigger organization, is then you have you’ve created the dynamics where relationships lack trust, they lack safety people are stressed, everyone’s out for themselves. 

Rob: So if you look at what comes to mind is the alpha myth, like the whole alpha male role model, which I think a lot of old leadership came from. If you’re not a good leader, it’s because you’re not an alpha male.

Rob: And actually the whole alpha male. study, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but it was they took wolves in captivity. And the author of the book, he wrote it in the 70s and someone prominent in the White House pushed that myth, which popularized it. And everyone got involved in, yeah, you got to be an alpha male.

Rob: And the authors spent 20 years trying to retract that saying it’s [00:38:00] not right. The research was flawed because wolves live in family units. The pack is the family unit. They don’t fight. When one is old enough, they’ll leave the pack and make their own pack. And what they’d done is they put all these strange wolves together in captivity.

Rob: So naturally, there was no bond. They all were all fighting for dominance, power, creates access to resources. So in the same way that captivity creates unnatural behavior, our organizations create unnatural behavior. And so we’re asking managers or leaders to manage cultures to create cultures that aren’t toxic, to create get people to follow our agendas, to pursue a purpose and a goal.

Rob: And yet managers don’t know, they don’t have a working knowledge of relationships. And this is what I’m trying to do is put like standard operating procedures so that people know what is a good relationship. How do you create what drives a relationship? How do you deal with [00:39:00] conflict? But there is very little information on that out there.

Rob: And so we’re asking leaders, as well as being technical experts to be people experts and that’s a lot to to cover. So I’m not sure if that answers exactly your question, but there’s some more to think about. 

Johan: The content I sometimes think about is that fundamentally, if you think about the modern workplace, whether you’ve got a team of five people or whether there’s 20, 000 people in the environment it doesn’t really differ.

Johan: Conceptually that much from the villages, you know that humans lived in 10, 000 years ago when they started farming, when they started grouping together, there’s still some sort of a hierarchy. There’s still somebody who takes accountability to, to distribute resources to ensure that people are safe, health, security, negotiate with neighboring but it just it’s actually, and that constructs that exist.

Johan: That’s the business involved, and if people got it right, I don’t know, but, people got it right in terms of relationships and how they interact, engage, [00:40:00] promote, and work with each other. over a period of a couple of millennia what has caused us to lose that, if I could suggest that capability where we are now.

Rob: I think that what Richard Branson and the Steve Jobs and a lot of leaders have intuitively known is they’ve kept units small. And so they’ve kept them, so they are tribes and, but the human construct of how we operate is based on tribes. So we tend to be tribal, and this is why silos become quite natural, because the silos of today are like the village tribes, where there was a tension between them before.

Rob: Yeah so while they’re like that, but I think what can happen is a lot of big organizations trying to get too many people together without considering those human constraints.

Johan: I wanted to just ask, based on what Rob was saying, I see from the information, like a little bit of reading on your profile. But you indicated you had [00:41:00] 72 locations across the country for the company that you bought or something like that.

Johan: That must have been quite a challenging environment to ensure that you can manage and lead that the way that you want it to. Which of these principles worked and which that you find within your environment to, to not be so successful. 

Matthew: It’s pretty much the way I outlined it on the top.

Matthew: We had 72 stores and they were spread out about 2, 500 kilometers between the furthest. And they were in three national cultures and two different languages. And so the challenges were enormous and they had to be solved. And the way I The way we solved it was through this idea of having a unified culture and then having the middle managers be the shepherds of the culture.

Matthew: And then the individual store managers be the executors of the culture. And we just depended a lot. On the culture, doing the work, and if we put the culture in right, then people would [00:42:00] always know what they were supposed to do when they were supposed to do it, how they were supposed to do it. And the general idea would be there and it would just managers would just have to do the details.

Matthew: Make the schedule and blah, blah, blah, blah. And they would more become conduits of communication than drivers of things because it was the culture. And that was very hard to do. And we weren’t always successful, but that was the goal. And we gave the each store as much autonomy as we could we used to think of ourselves as privateers and Navy privateers where we were all, we’re all going in the same direction, but everybody was getting there on their own boat, and And like I said, that worked for us. It helped us build when you’re trying to when you’re building a new location, and you have to install a new culture from scratch.

Matthew: That’s a very hard thing to do. And we did that in various different ways, but when it worked great. And then once we went to a new [00:43:00] city, say, and we then we’d spider out in a city. We’d have a location in Quebec city say, and if we could get that one up and running properly, then you just clone people off of it.

Matthew: Who have bought in and then eventually you have what do we have 5 or 6 stores in that area? And then that was enough to clone up a manager, an area supervisor who came up who already. Was carrying the flag, and that’s the kind of way we did it. We were very deliberate about how we expanded. We established a beachhead, expanded out, and we did that because of the culture.

Matthew: We were very culture driven. We let the culture do all the work for us once we got it established. Much harder than it sounds. 

Johan: Sorry, one follow up question, if you don’t mind, then it’s also, it’s really just because the word culture is sometimes one that even has more different definitions than leadership and management for your organization.

Johan: The culture, how would you have to find what is included? How would you define the culture? 

Johan: From a, it’s [00:44:00] called an operating system perspective, if you will. 

Matthew: The definition I use for culture is the shared ideas and experience ideas and experiences of a. People in a group that, that, that is the culture, their shared ideas and experiences.

Matthew: And if you do nothing, if you do nothing, and I know this from opening new stores, if you do nothing there’s a culture. Any group, five people waiting at a bus stop have a culture. It’s the waiting at a bus stop culture. And if you think about it, you’ve waited at a bus stop, you know what to do and what not to do, right?

Matthew: You know how to behave in the waiting for the bus. Everybody does. That’s the culture talking to you. And there’s always a culture and all you’re trying to do is influence and shape it. You can’t create it. It’s already there. You’re trying to influence it and shape it. And so that’s what we tried to do was influence it and shape it.

Matthew: How do you do that? You do that through your management upwards by example. And you do that by symbols. You do it by [00:45:00] routines. You do it by tradition. You do it a multitude of different ways. And if you get it right it, it looks after itself. It’s just like that bus stop. You don’t have to keep telling people over and over how to wait for a bus.

Matthew: Everybody just intuitively knows. And if you can get that, get there, then the culture runs the store, right? The people themselves are their own referees, right? They know what to do and what not to do. That’s the way we approached it. As I say, it was very hard. It took a lot of work, took a long time to develop, and we weren’t always successful because as Rob will knows full well, people are complex.

Matthew: Humans are complex. Relationships are complex and he’s made some really good points, which I jotted down here about the institutions and the shape of institutions and our human struggle with them and whatever. And, as he was outlining those things, I was thinking back to some of my experiences and that, yeah, damn, that’s true.

Matthew: That’s very true. People do struggle with new organizations and the [00:46:00] shapes of artificially shaped communities and things. And I saw that every day. So it’s a very hard thing to do, but it’s very worth it when you can do it. 

Rob: I like to look at a natural analogy and for culture we have a natural analogy of gut bacteria.

Rob: And so there’s a constant battle between negative bacteria and positive bacteria. And it’s which outweighs. And so there’s and also if you look at, I love to read stuff from anthropologists and they look at a culture and there’s a logic to every culture. So it’s one theory is that Egypt was the biggest, earliest civilization because of the Nile.

Rob: And so there’s a reason. And if we look at, When you mention queuing it is wherever English Western cultures, wherever there is a, we just naturally form queues, but I know that there’s other cultures where they don’t queue. And it’s where like we go to another culture and they’re like, excuse me, can you just get in line?

Rob: I was here [00:47:00] first. There’s a logic. And I think. When you, what you’ve done is be very deliberate and you had a perspective and a way of this is what works. And I think that part of that is part of the leader’s job is to strongly formulate a perspective so that culture then guides the people who come later because and what’s critically.

Rob: important is the leader starts, but going back to a point made earlier, if no one follows the leader, it doesn’t create a culture. And it’s the second and the third and the fourth, which I think is what you were talking about in the way that you built up your culture, Matthew. So there’s a lot Involved in that culture and it’s a constant battle to keep the culture positive.

Muhammad: Can I just throw in a comment and a follow up question here then, because we’re on the topic of culture isn’t a culture based on the human connections. There has to be a a group right beat on a bus stop beat in a [00:48:00] office space. How do you guys see culture developing in this. new work from home and hybrid environment, where the majority of the businesses now are entirely remote.

Muhammad: I personally am involved in some startups or some businesses. They don’t have any physical one location because they’re all scattered across the globe. So how do you see culture forming in that particular environment? 

Matthew: Myself I’m withholding judgment because it’s very early in the game and it’s going to take a while for this to wash out.

Matthew: But my hunch is, and I’m, I’d be curious to know how Rob thinks about this. My hunch is that it’s going to be very damaging to the ability for human beings. To form the kinds of relationships, the shared experiences and ideas that cultures really require to be strong and good. And like I said, it’s going to be a while before we can know.

Matthew: Whether this sort of thing is true or not it’s very early in the [00:49:00] game, but my, I suspect, and I’m really curious to know what Rob thinks about this, but I suspect that remote work is very alien to the human experience. And it’s, and it’s going to be challenging for the traditional ways we build and form relationships, the types of relationships we have and the kinds of cultures that come out of those shared relationships.

Matthew: My personal short answer is, I don’t know, but those are the kinds of things I’m watching. How say you Rob? 

Rob: So I think there’s a direct analogy. And that analogy is relationships and dating. So we live in a time where there are more single people saying that they can’t find anyone when we have access to more single people than ever before.

Rob: It’s never been easier to meet another partner. And yet. What’s happened is dating apps have changed everything and people, so then people always find a reason for their anxiety and fear and they say you can’t have relationships now [00:50:00] because all people want sex and they can just get that on an app and nobody wants a relationship anymore.

Rob: Nobody wants to put in the effort. And I remember Helen Fisher being asked by this, and she’s an anthropologist and a neurobiologist, I think and she said, no, actually, relationships are something that people need. 

Rob: People have three drives, and they have a sex drive to get out there and meet people.

Rob: They have a romantic drive to focus on one. And then they have a deep companionate drive that they want someone to be with, someone to share their life with. Those drives don’t change, but what changes is the way that they get fulfilled. And so I think you see a lot of toxicity in dating because that what happens is we don’t talk directly.

Rob: The communication, and this is something that we talked about, Johan, in our talk, is you talked about how there’s a separation in culture of communicating less directly. What happens in dating is there is much more ghosting. [00:51:00] There is much more kinds of behavior that are demeaning to people, that we treat people as commodities rather than people.

Rob: And so what I can see is people will want to work I, and I think. I see the industrial revolution, and we’ve talked about this Matthew, the industrial revolution changed the way people were. It created this artificial world. Now, I think we’re in a second revolution where we’re living a digital life.

Rob: And that digital life means that we now have to recreate what were real. In person relationships, we need to create them digitally. So none of us have ever met in person, but yet we’re able to relate. And so it’s a different type of connection. So my guess Is that you’re going to have a lot more toxicity in corporations because it’s going to be easier.

Rob: And this is what you said, Johan. So you may have some insight on this is it’s going to be easier to ghost people. It’s going to be easier to avoid conflict. [00:52:00] It’s going to be easier to hide resentments, and there’s going to be a lot more silent conflict and resistance. But overall, I think somehow we’ll work it out because I think in talking to a couple of people about, like Sandy yesterday and there’s another one coming up with Wandemar is in talking about Gen Z.

Rob: This is the generation that have grown up in social media. They communicate through social media, so I think eventually will, it will become natural, but I think there’s a good few decades where we’re going to have to work out. And I think that’s where we’re going to have a refined sense of Emotional intelligence and much better communication.

Rob: I think Johan, you might have some insights as well. 

Johan: It’s a fascinating subject. And there’s a gentleman called, I’m going to absolutely butcher his name. And I apologize, Gleb Tepsesky. New York Times calls him The Office Whisperer, and his focus has been on helping large organizations mitigate risk and impact relating to remote and hybrid remote [00:53:00] work environments. And he’s had some very interesting insights about the structure. One of the things that I’ve read, it’s also been thought that stuck in my mind is context matters. So when we talk Potentially, and I’m just sharing opinion.

Johan: This is not based in any kind of own research or direct experience. But I would suggest that if we’re talking about intimate relations, I’m not talking about, sex and love, but, me and my wife, or a person with whom you are connected on a romantic level that requires A very specific level of engagement and a long term I suggest there’s a reason for it because, you require that physical presence and that contact.

Johan: We’re in a work environment, if it’s a long term, there’s people still who work 20, a corporation, if they don’t meet any of their colleagues directly, you never built that, that close understanding and Close engagement that you probably will. If it’s that we used to do, when we had to be in office [00:54:00] every day and go back home, there’s a different level of camaraderie, different level of interaction that happens there.

Johan: The thing that I’ve been worrying about, though, is I think what many guys are worried about is not necessarily again, this is just me trying to Connect the dots. It’s not necessarily the capability of people to work remotely when it’s needed and their ability to perform. The studies that have been done seem to indicate that when people are working remotely, they seem to be more productive.

Johan: They seem to be more engaged. They seem to have more joy and final meaning. Now again, the stuff is, it’s people providing feedback and there’s all kinds of biases that one needs to take into account and you need to normalize the data and find some way to make it credible in an objective manner.

Johan: But overall, it seems to be the trends that come out. Now, if you do that in the work environment and you can do that for people, if you’re worried about how individuals are going to perform, then I suggest the real challenge here is that organizations are worried, comes back to the point we discussed earlier, that it’s the people who manage those [00:55:00] remote teams who might lack the capability, and Matthew, this is where you helped me finalize the puzzle in my mind, help to effectively build culture within the team and for the organization, it still works. 

Johan: And that’s what I suspect the big challenge might be because for the definition that we’ve put together on it earlier, that really just encapsulates everything. So here’s the hypothesis. If you have. the right culture within that team.

Johan: So their ideas and experiences are shared and they execute and think intuitively in the same way. Then it should lead that the execution, the way that they deliver should be sufficient, and be able to take things forward. That culture needs to be managed. By the person who manages that team and environment.

Johan: And if that person has the right capabilities to do then potentially the concern around will people perform can we be effective is removed. So I think the challenge that they’re trying to answer is we don’t know what culture is going to exist. We are unable to [00:56:00] manage it. We don’t know the people whom we trust to manage it actually have the capability.

Johan: And what they don’t say is we don’t know how to help them. Yeah, the other thing is, if we look at what’s happening in the world right now, most big companies and even the smaller companies, even the ones like Cape Town, they all bring people back. And if I look at what traffic looks like at seven o’clock in the morning, it looks like pre COVID, there’s no differentiation.

Johan: Everybody’s back in the office. Here and there, there are remote workers re fully remote work. I read this the other day from an HR staff, fully remote work is actually disappearing rapidly. Not completely disappearing, but it’s reducing rapidly. Because it’s not necessary anymore.

Johan: Companies don’t believe they have to subscribe to it. Will it become the paradigm somewhere in the future? I don’t think there’s any argument against that. I think undoubtedly, but it probably won’t happen in the next two years, maybe not even the next five years until Rob, and I think you raise a good point there.

Johan: The guys who are currently your teens and early twenties, once they start moving into those higher management executive positions and big corporations, and they bring, everybody else who’s [00:57:00] been 20 years, they haven’t been born yet even, but it’s that generation of culture that they Being brought up with that may change the dynamic for the struggles that we, and I consider myself at all time here, we used to go to the office, clocking in at eight, clocking out at five, to me, it’s, I still feel sometimes that I’m not getting in a full day, despite the fact that I clocked out from 14 hour days, looking for my other office, I’m not in the office, so there’s that, I’m still getting used to it five years later.

Johan: So I think we need to adapt at some point.

Johan: Yeah, 

Muhammad: It’s interesting. And I just want to share something because working from home or remote working, I’m not passing any judgment on this. I have my opinion, but I still won’t pass the judgment here in one of my last venture. So I had a set of people who were, and this is by the way, guys, pre COVID, right?

Muhammad: So there were situations before as well, when we had people, in different regions. Yeah. I had a team of about 11 in Sofia, in Bulgaria, I’ve got four people who were based out of England, [00:58:00] and about seven were based out of Bratislava. And everyone had their own tasks, things are very smooth, etc.

Muhammad: Until the point I realized that there is a bit of a tension building up or the ghosting, or, people are just keeping inside them. And somehow, I came to know about certain things or some gossips that move around, right? So Mohammed’s team is doing that, or, Mark’s team is doing that.

Muhammad: And I’ve talked to myself that I have to step in and sort this out. I won’t be sitting with them and, telling them what to do. I’m just going to bring them under one roof. And that’s what I did. I arranged everyone to fly into England. I rented a big house there in close to Coventry.

Muhammad: And I brought them everyone in. Everyone had their own room. Everyone had a space to work. I didn’t say anything. I just left them at their own disposal. Everyone was doing tasks and everything. And I told them that they’re going to be staying here for a month. So they had time to prepare their meal together.

Muhammad: They had time to, share laundry, doing laundries together etc. Believe me, in three weeks time, When I walked, obviously I was going there on a daily [00:59:00] basis, but I felt the warmth, the tolerance that has built up before Yohan and Muhammad doesn’t want to speak to each other.

Muhammad: But now they’re having a laugh. They’re having a pint of beer sitting in the garden and having a fag with me. And this is how I managed to overcome. So the human connection still for me on a personal level is so crucial here. As I said, I’m not passing judgment. What Matthew said, like it’s going to take some time to understand, but that’s what practical application brought results and immediate, within a month job 

Rob: done.

Rob: I think that could be the way of the moving forward, because I look at a lot of entrepreneurs what they’ll do is they’ll be in programs and they’ll be in like 90 day retreats. And so they get together, they get a clear vision and then they go away and then they go.

Rob: And I think that would probably work with the idea of projects and sprints and things that. People have a, like they come together, they get the sense of purpose, the camaraderie and then they go away and then they have a chance to [01:00:00] come back at it. Before we go I’m just interested, Mohamed, Matthew’s shared his model, but you also were responsible for building a sizable organization.

Rob: In terms of culture, how did you manage, or did you have a difference in order to compare and contrast with Matthew’s Methodology. 

Muhammad: No, I would say it’s very similar to what Matthew described and that’s exactly how I did. The very first unit obviously was a. Test and trial and learning for me as well.

Muhammad: Hiring people. And of course we made a lot of mistakes. We have made some terrible hiring. I’m using the word terrible, reflection did some bad call outs, but two and a half years later, we were in a position to understand, okay, what works and what doesn’t, when we should hire.

Muhammad: And, obviously there was a vision, obviously from day one, we wanted to capture it. 

Muhammad: London and then expand, outwards shop two when we open, it was a lot better. I wouldn’t say it was easier as I’m sure Matthew would second that, but there were different challenges, not what [01:01:00] we had experienced before.

Muhammad: And I think in my person, when we reached the number 26th or 7th, that’s where we thought that, okay, you know what, we’ve mastered it. Now we’re just replicating. So we had a few office managers who, joined us as supervisors. Now they’ve moved up the rank and they understand the culture.

Muhammad: They know the mission, they know what to drive and they become good training managers, et cetera. So in my experience in that org, at the point of exit, I knew there was a very solid foundation and it won’t collapse because If I get out, things shouldn’t crumble because that’s not what the new investors have, bought the business for.

Muhammad: And I was very certain that it will work and it worked. And again, we had to establish processes, procedures the SOPs, as you like. And what I also felt useful and beneficial is. documentation, obviously, first two, three, so we know what the documents are, what you need to do, why you need to add everything, but then we quickly realized that even back in the days when [01:02:00] we used to have cash transactions, right?

Muhammad: Cards were marginal, but every night, I used to drive around my shops and just collecting cash, with the hope that I don’t get mugged, on my way to the car that’s how it was. Then I realized, no, I can do better. So that’s when the documentation comes, okay, what’s the cash handling procedure, how is it, was it like a check and balance on the safety deposit safes, which you put in installed, obviously made a mistake.

Muhammad: Like we put a bit lighter one, they got. stolen, we then had to put something different. And for instance, Rob and I had to countersign the amount which is being deposited in the safe, so it’s all about learning as you grow. And then after a certain time, it was culturally acceptable, right?

Muhammad: That I can be checked on my way out. So it became a kind of a norm. So people would not say, even one day, I got stopped by my own employee because she was just following the rules. I said, Nope, sir. I need to check your bag. And I was like, okay, there you go. I felt very happy inside. Well done. The manager, [01:03:00] who was running that shop that well done.

Muhammad: So you train your people very well. So yeah. But Rob said completely, in alignment with him, it’s, it takes years of efforts to build a culture. It takes one bad decision or a bad leader, so to speak, to destroy everything.

 I’m conscious that we’re coming up to time. So I’m just thinking if we maybe take a minute each to share. The idea of this is we got some great brains here. And just being able to share ideas and perspectives and differences hopefully helps us refine our thinking.

Rob: I’ll go first, for me what it’s done, it’s really clarified in that the lines between leader and manager are quite blurry.

Rob: And I think. We need to manage where there’s clarity and we need to lead where there is confusion. And that is really the role that we need to be able to, whichever role it is, whether manager, leader is the awareness of what is needed from the group. 

Matthew: I zeroed [01:04:00] in on Johan’s when he was talking about I mentioned it before talking about this manager he was talking to that was just overwhelmed with direction or lack of it.

Matthew: And I got thinking about this idea of management clutter and how much of it is piling up and how much we’re asking managers to do and how much they can physically or emotionally or psychologically do. And I thought that was a tremendous comment and right at the end there, Muhammad got talking about how he ran his stores and be his fellow store person.

Matthew: I would have probably talked another 2 hours with Mohammed on how you run stores because I love that stuff. But anyway, thanks guys. I really appreciate it tremendously.

Muhammad: What I’m taking away from this conversation is actually it reinforces the point of a very weak middle management. I know the discomfort between leaders and managers. I think that’s probably it’s still in the kind of a very blurry as Rob you described it, but it [01:05:00] reinforces that we still need to do a lot more on the middle tier.

Muhammad: I came across a post today as well about this. So there are people who are now reflecting this, and I think there’s probably more needs to be done. And this is our job to raise awareness and at least in our control, what we have our own organization, we should do a better job. 

Johan: My real single thought I take from this is just being able to finalize that earlier that sort of puzzle that I’ve been grounded.

Johan: So I realized that managers are under a lot of pressure. I don’t know if I said it in the chat as well, a lot of pressure. I don’t think they have enough support. And one of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is. Should one focus on a single item to start building that competency, and that could then lead potentially to other things.

Johan: And there’s two things that I did not count enough. One, the one is the impact of a sensible Culture within that team. And then the thing that I really have not given enough thought is how important relationships between the people in a team is to actually [01:06:00] stabilize and then enforce and evolve that culture into something that creates not drives.

Johan: Not managers, but creates the results almost accidentally, but that might be too much of an even romanticized hope. An ideal situation potentially where you have. Where the environment, the relationships, the way that people interact, the way they get supported, encouraged, the leadership that they get just infuses the right culture into, what they do and how they operate, which then drives the appropriate.

Johan: Outcome for that team and that organization, those two components. I continuously misappreciate, just want to appreciate just how valuable that 

Rob: Thank you. Thank you, everyone. It’s been fascinating again. All three of you have wonderful content thought provoking ideas, and it’s been a pleasure to be able to pick everyone’s brains and to refine my thinking and understanding.

Rob: So thank you all for being a part of it and for sharing your wisdom so openly [01:07:00] and so generously. Thank you. Thanks Rob. Great 

Johan: pleasure. Thank you for having us. Thanks Gents. Cheers. Best 

Muhammad: bye guys. Thank you. Cheers.

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