The Reluctant Leader Podcast Mark Terrell Leading your Team with Confidence

Mark “So Paris, welcome to the reluctant leader podcast.”

Paris “Thanks very much”

Mark “Now people that have heard the intro will know that I'm actually it's not me in the hot seat today, and I'm going to be passing over control to you. It's only been done once before, I did this on the first episode in series one where I handed it over to somebody to interview me. So I'm going to hand over to you to take control.”

Paris “Excellent. Well, I've prepped a nine hour interview Mark, so I hope you've got a shaving kit and a packed lunch and everything. Mark, first off, thank you for asking me to interview you, it's an absolute pleasure and I'm absolutely inspired by your story. And while I was reading about you, a story came to my mind I read about years and years ago, it was about the captain of the All-Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team. I think it was Sean Fitzpatrick, so this is going way back, but he just found out that he was going to be given the captaincy of what widely considered to be the greatest rugby team, if not the greatest sporting team in the world ever. He was sort of asked at the time how he felt on that day and he said something along the lines of the first thing that he thought when he was asked about leading. The first thing that you learned about leadership was the ability to hide the panic from everybody else and I wonder if that's an interesting starting point for your story Mark? If I can take you back to that a similar moment, perhaps of panic, perhaps of reluctance, which is a word that we're going to be using a fair amount when your dad plucked you from school pre o- levels and got you involved in the family business and very soon you were taking on more and more responsibility. Do you find a sort of commonality and that story I've just told you about the all blacks?”

Mark “Similar, but I think it's different in the fact that it sort of crept up on me and I think that's a typical story within a business scenario I can get within the sporting arena you know you'll just be asked one day by somebody that it's your time to step up and captain the team and you might have had some inkling that you’re next and you are the one that's going to be asked maybe. But I think in my experience and so many that I've come across is that it's sort of crept up on them and that scenario where you take just a little bit more responsibility and then ultimately you've got pretty much all the responsibility and you think to yourself, “how did that happen?” How did I end up here scenario? That's really what I would say about that, It's not really the same, but obviously with anything when you're given the responsibility, whether it comes as a gift that you're now the chosen one, or whether it actually lands in a place where you've just accumulated it, then I think it's a similar scenario.”

Paris “And you mentioned that taking on more and more responsibility as time went on still at a young age you said that it crept up on you. So do you almost get into a situation where you've suddenly become a leader without actually anyone officially designating you as a leader and it's just sort of happened, It can happen just like that, Yeah?”

Mark “I think it happens because of certain things you might do that people see, which makes people think that indicates he wants to be in charge because he's doing certain things. So just to give you an example, I was the one to bring in new things. I was the one that wanted to bring in technology into our retail business and that was quite difficult in that I was quite young at the time and my dad had been in the retail trade for a long time, and he was used to how things were, and I could see the benefits of firstly introducing the scanning systems that we are all used to these days. I could see that it was going to revolutionise our business if we could introduce it, I could see that we could then have more control on our stock and run the business far more efficiently. It's very difficult sometimes to convince people that have been doing something for a long time that you really know what you're doing. So with that in mind, I was very much the innovator. I was looking to grow the business and innovate and bring new things in, I was the one that was pushing things forward in that respect but I wasn't really the one that wants to be in charge as such. I was just one somebody that wanted to bring new ideas in to make sure that the business moving forward, I was more happy or felt more comfortable when I was actually part of the team rather than actually being in charge”

Paris “And you've spoken about making mistakes about feeling at times, like perhaps you weren't cut out to take on more leadership roles and how that led to a drop in enthusiasm and focus as well at times. What was it, what are some of those mistakes that you can recall making and do you identify with people that you coach now making similar mistakes?”

Mark “If you start your own business or you join the business, you start on a path to somewhere which, we'll probably come back to this because, having a bit of control over what that path is, what we all need to have and why, um, there are ways and means these days where you can actually track to make sure that you don't make those mistakes. I didn't make mistakes in that the mistakes I made was just taking things on without really thinking about whether it was right for me, I was taking all the decisions based on whether it was right for the business, I didn't take what I needed into consideration and that's the number one thing that I start with when I'm working with clients is to make sure the business is working for them and not the other way around? That's a typical scenario where the business has taken over and they're finding that they are spending a lot of time firefighting. They don't really have much control on what's happening, or the people that are around them seem to be doing things that they are not happy with and they don't really know how to handle it. So it just becomes just a bit of a nightmare and there's no control. They don't really know how to do it and there's the scenario in that you don't really have the skills you've never been taught. I throw this scenario to some of my clients when they're in this scenario, I say, “would you throw the keys to the forklift truck, to the new guy? That's just walked through the door and say, there you go there's the forklift keys, hopefully you won’t have any accidents, but you know we'll pick up the pieces if you do, because that's definitely what happens when you get to a point of leadership when you've had no training, no insight into actually what that entails and what you should be doing. What's going to happen is ultimately there's going to be an accident one way or another hopefully it's not going to be too serious and there’s not going to have too many casualties.”

Paris “Yeah, that's quite a big deal to admit that situation that you're in, that you're thinking, right. I have lost a bit of control here. I have lost a bit of focus. I'm not quite sure which road I need direction. I need help. That's quite a vulnerable sort of position to reveal isn't it, that's quite a thing. It's quite hard thing to admit that about yourself and I would imagine when you're coaching other people and other leaders, you have to take them into that place where they're quite vulnerable as well.”

Mark “Yeah, and I say that is really important. it's okay to admit that you don't have the skills for this, and you've lost control in some way, vulnerability is really important. I've talked about it on an episode of the podcast that admitting that you haven't got all the answers admitting that you are in a place where you feel a bit out of your depth is very scary place to go. But ultimately when you do that, then you actually gain respect as long as the people that aren't obviously waiting for you to admit it. And aren't going to take it the wrong way and actually use that against you. That's the last thing you want, but actually getting people around you that you trust and say, look, I am out of my depth, I don't really know what we can do here. I think just at the moment when we're all going through this coronavirus scenario, there'll be a lot of people leading teams really don't know what they're doing because they had never been through it before. One of the most important things they can do is actually admit, actually I don't have all the answers, but you're just gonna have to work with it, we'll try things if they don't work, we'll change them and be adaptable to the situation.”

Paris “Yeah. Which in itself is an aspect of good leadership. Isn't it being able to look at yourself and go, hang on, I may not have all the answers here, so I might need a bit of help.”

Mark “Definitely, being realistic in that you don't have all the answers and let's face it you've got a team around you that they've got contributions. They should be helping you make those decisions and have a worthwhile contribution to make. And if that's not the case, then obviously, you know, there's a question mark whether you've got the right people in the team.”

Paris “Yeah, would this be the pivotal moment then? Would you say when you sort of you're in this situation, whether you've volunteered it or it's been thrust upon you, you've started to make mistakes. You've accepted that you're vulnerable to it. You want to change. Is that the pivotal moment where you move from just being a general expert in your field to becoming sort of a leader of men and was that your pivotal moment as well?”

Mark “My pivotal moment came a bit later on in that when I started down my coaching training, mentoring route I thought that I had skills within a family business andI had thought I had skills for business coaching and consulting and all that sort of stuff, which seems obvious doesn't it? Well, I've been there done it 30 odd years. I've got some skills there but the most important thing is understanding that the pivotal moment was really for me was actually when I went to see someone who was helping me with some ideas around creating some content. We had a discussion for about a couple of hours and the reluctant leader thing just came out of that conversation and I suddenly realised actually, that is what I want to do. I want to help those people that have got stuck in their business or their career, where they have a team around them and they've really don't know quite what they're doing. They’ve really lost the spark, enthusiasm and the motivation for what they're doing, they're not doing enough of what motivates them and they're doing too much of what doesn't and that's the scenario that I found myself in. So the pivotal moment for this sort of journey or this part of the journey for me was when I suddenly realized actually what I want to do is help those people that have got stuck in that position through no fault of their own, because they've been probably passionate about something or an expert in something, gradually as time went on, they've lost the ability to actually do that job because they don't have time and they're spending most of their time doing things that they're not really comfortable with. They don't really have the skills to do. And actually in a lot of cases, they don't really want to be in that position.”

Paris “It's interesting, you used the word expert there, and it's almost as if you're helping them to make a switch from being an expert in one area, they might be brilliant, for example, at two or three particular things which are relevant to the industry or the business that they work in yet the set of skills that they require to be a leader might be completely and absolutely different. And that's where you come in to teach those skills.”

Mark “Yeah, absolutely and that's a scenario that most people get to, the best salesman becoming the sales manager, because obviously it's a completely different scenario when you start to take on board the needs and wants of your team when you might well be the best sales person. But that doesn't mean that you've got the skills to run a team and it's realising that there is a different skill set. It's the realisation that if you take on that role, you will be doing less of maybe something that you're good at and actually motivated by and you've got to remember that if you're going to make that transition, there will be times when you feel that you're out of your depth again, but if you've got the right training and you understand how to do it, then that's one of the biggest problems I see is that people just don't really understand what the fundamentals are for leading a team.”

Paris “And I'm sure we'll get onto those in a while, once you know what those fundamentals are, then you can then learn them, firstly, and then think to yourself, well, I have to consciously use them because I'm not the salesman in the team. I've got to bring on the salespeople within the team and use my expertise and transfer my knowledge of being the best sales person to these other people, and then support the team. And that's my new role is to actually develop the team as opposed to being the person that was actually being the best person in that team. It reminds me of basketball, I've always tought basketball in my life. And there's a brilliant quote by a very famous NBA basketball coach called Mike Krzyzewski, he said something along the lines of, “I don't look at myself as a basketball coach, I look at myself as a leader who also happens to coach basketball and that just when you were talking then about the nature of leadership and the definition of it, that kind of rang true. So you mentioned the definition of leadership. What's your definition of the reluctant leader and what is the definition of a great leader for you? What are the components of a great leader?”

Mark “So reluctancy, I see there's two types of leader, firstly that the people that have got to that position in leadership,  it's not just about being in charge, but when you get into a position where you have responsibility for others, do they want to be there? So in other words, you want to be in a position to influence and if you don't have that do you actually want to be in charge here. That's not something that I really want to do and the other thing is actually not having the skills. So there's two scenarios, either not wanting to be in charge or not having the skills to be in charge or leading the team, I should say, not actually in charge, but, and obviously there's the third one in that you don't have both. So in other words, you don't want to be in charge and you don't have the skills to, that's what a reluctant leader is. When you are leading a team, what you need to know, I talk about three key elements that anyone leading a team needs to understand this first is the mindset, understanding the right mindset to lead a team. Secondly, knowing a process that you follow and that process, I talk about a four step process that always starts with a vision of some sorts. So understanding what that vision is, so that you can then transfer and tell your team what that vision is, that's really important. And then finally, the skills at each point in that process, which you have to adapt and be flexible because there's no point in carrying on the same, using the same skills, um, in all the stages, as you've been using then stage one and two, that there's different skills at different points in the process. So those are the three elements, it's mindset, process and skills.”

Paris “It must be fascinating as well, Mark applying those processes to all sorts of different personalities and character types who come in because you know, that sort of the essence of leadership, but some people might lead by compassion. Some people might lead with level headedness. Some people might be really fiery. Some people might be an introverted leader, you know, for every sort of brow beating Cristiano Ronaldo you've got like an introverted Messi who is also a completely different type of leader. So it must be interesting applying what you just told me to all these different types of people coming in. Yeah.”

Mark “Yes, absolutely and I think people have got a preconception around what a leader is or someone that's in charge, but actually if you use those skills, it doesn't matter what type of personality you are. If you're introverted, extroverted, people or task focused, as long as you know, what those principles are, you can follow them, it's just a matter of using a recipe and it makes me laugh when people say they can't cook, but what they're saying and if they can't cook, is  they can't follow a recipe. That's basically what they're saying. I can't read what it says. I mean, you know, turn the oven on to X and chop this and slice that and put this and that what they're admitted to is they can't follow the recipe and it's the same scenario with leadership. If you know the recipe you can carry on using it and I think if anyone is interested in seeing two scenarios of leadership in action, I can suggest two films that will show you a very different way of leading a team, but gets very, very similar results. One is the karate kid, the original when, um, mr. I can't remember, you know, so you can see that's a very introverted way of leading, uh, and, you know, he came in and made sure that he caught him doing it right. He made sure that carried on doing it and when he did do it right he caught him doing it right. And made sure he kept on doing it that way. So it's very much an introverted leadership style, but using a process that very similar to what I recommend and the other one is coach Carter.

Um, and if you know that one, well, he comes in and, um, going back to basketball, you know, he comes in and sorts out this team of young players who, you know, they need to get their act together. And he's very much an extrovert, basically my way or the highway sort of thing. There are set rules, but very, very much similar in they are using the principles that they are used in that mindset. They are one of the key principles within leadership is catching people doing things right, if you catch people doing things, they know they're doing things right, and they're more likely to do them, but also catch people. If you catch people doing things wrong that aren't in line with your vision, then it's about bring them back on track back on the flight plan, as soon as you can. So it's very much catching people doing the right and wrong, but being very aware of it and not allowing things just to pass you by whether it's good or bad.”

Paris “That strategy you talked about mindset, process skills that can be applied to different personalities in different leader types that ultimately if it's done properly builds confidence, I guess and that leads us nicely on to the course that you're kicking off, how to lead your team with confidence, because ultimately that's what it all leads to. It's confidence, isn't it?”

Mark “Well, I think it is and from my experience, if you know how to do something, then that's going to give you confidence. Firstly the trouble with leadership is, as a discipline is that you don't see results very quickly. And it's very easy to drop things because you see that they're not working fast enough. It's almost like, you know, fitness regime and, you know, you go to the gym and because you don't see your physic changing or you don't feel as fit you don't stick at it. So it's really important that once you have the recipe, once you know what the right thing to do is you're going to have the confidence to know this works. I know people have used this time and time again. I just need to make sure that I'm consistent, use it and have faith in it. And that's the thing, that’s why I called the course, lead your team with confidence because I think that's what I see time and time again, people lacking in that they don't really feel that they're doing the right thing. They don't really know how to do it once you know this is the right way to do it these are the things that you need to bear in mind.


Paris “That's straight away going to give you some sort of confidence, even though it may feel a bit clunky in that, like with anything when you're doing something for the first time, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's like the recipe it's like cooking. If you do it the first time, you may not do it very well, but by the second or third time, like I'd been baking soda bread for the last six weeks in quarantine, it's getting better and better Mark”

Mark “You know, I have to try. So I actually sent off for a sourdough kit. So I’d love to compare notes with you.

Paris “Yeah, the course then, obviously there are countless courses. Now you can go for something like this books or information. So why would someone want to sort of get involved with your course? What are the key components of it?”

Mark “Well, I think it's a fair point and that there are so there's so much information out there is, there is so many leadership books out there, I couldn't imagine how many, there must be tens of thousands and they're all going to be little snippets that you're going to get from. It'll give you some sort of encouragement and resonate with that, how would I use that information? But I think my role as someone that is bringing out a course is that my plan is to make sure that I am there with them on their journey. So when they start on the course, I, the way I've structured, it is in seven modules. So each week is a different module. Each module there is a group call to ensure the key concepts are understood.So we get together and discuss how you are getting and what do you think about this? Any questions I go through the core elements of that module as well, to make sure that they've been taken on board. My role is the guide here, people might say, you know, are you the expert? But I prefer to be a guide for those people to keep them on track. So when they are wavering on there to say, no, you're doing fine. You just got to keep doing what you know is right. And you know, you'll get some challenging people are always going to be the way you look. Some people will, um, the nature of people when they see something new, they will consciously, or even subconsciously want to test, whether you really do mean what you say. And, and that's where I can be there and understand what's going on, and that's my role to make sure that they don't lose track of what's right. And actually give them the confidence to keep going and be consistent and know that they'll get the results they're looking for if they keep doing them”

Paris “And what underpins all of this market. What I love about this story is that it all comes down from you having been in this situation, having lived the situation and making your own mistakes and realising what you want to do, and now wanting to have that positive impact on other leaders in similar situations.”

Mark “Yeah. I think empathy is really important. I can really empathise with people in that position, if they've got to that position through no fault of their own, they've been good at something, I want to help those people first. I want to help them with the skills, but actually help them understand that they've got an opportunity. They've got a golden opportunity to leave a lasting legacy if they want to. Now I don't try and make people stick at something that they don't want to do, I think that is that's one thing that I don't want to, just to feel that everyone has to be a leader because not everyone is cutout for it, but once you understand firstly, the first module in the program is what I call the mirror. And that is putting up the mirror to tell, and I use two products, one's motivational maps, the other is a color profile in the module. And one tells you why you do what you do and one tells you how you want to do it. And once you understand those two elements, you know, why, what gets you out of bed in the morning? What is it that really drives them? Where do I get my energy from? That's the first thing, secondly, how do I like to do things? And how does that relate to how I see leadership role? And that's sometime as the key thing actually understanding I can still maintain the way I want to do things or just need to make sure that I use the right process and the skills that I will learn and have faith in that, that I don't have to be coach Carter. I don't have to be like that. Cause that's the typical sort of leadership stereotype, that's really important. I think”

Paris ‘There's a temptation to kind of get overly philosophical about this stuff, but just hearing you talking there about the first thing you gotta do is look at yourself and what motivates you and why you get up out of bed. It, it, it can be also quite life-changing, it's not just how this alters how you are professionally within your workplace, you know in your office, it's also about you and your life and your attitude and how you feel about things.”

Mark “Yeah, I feel that and I see it time and time again, people want to do something worthwhile and actually they don't want to feel as if they are treading water. They don't want to feel that they're out of their depth and there's some key things, key motivators that I see time and time again, in that, you know, making a different, do something worthwhile is number one, knowing that you have some sort of freedom on the way you do things is also a key motivator I see and also having a certain expertise in what you do is what we've got to remember is that it's going back to that scenario with the salesman that's been promoted to sales manager, is that you are almost giving up your top skill level and to becoming, going back to a level of not really knowing what you're doing and feeling really comfortable. I was doing really well, all of a sudden now I'm expected to do things I've never done before. I don't really understand how to do them and I've never had any training around it. You are going to ultimately feel out of your depths, but at that point, that's when you need to reach out and get some help and because there’s where my course is going to help in the understanding that right now I'm on my next journey. This is going to take me on a different path, but this is going to increase my skills in the workplace. But I think leadership skills are more than that. I think leadership skills are life skills that you can use in so many different aspects of your life, whether it's social at home with the kids and with your partner, all of those sorts of things, understanding those key principles of leadership will stand you in great stead, I well as in your career. I think one of the things that I think we've all got to be aware of going forward is that we have to take more responsibility for our own development. Because if we give all that responsibility to the business that we work in or operate in, then ultimately that the responsibility is with them and I think we, as individuals, need to realise that actually taking responsibility, someone's ability for our own development to allow us and they take that next step is something that's really, really important.”

Paris”Yeah. Well, Mark, it sounds absolutely fascinating. so tell us if people want to get involved, if they want to register on the course, tell us the details of where and how they can actually do that.”

Mark “Okay. So the details of the course are on my website, which is the reluctant and the structure as I've described is it's not just a course that you can sign up to at any point, it's a group situation where I host the group calls, so these courses will probably run two or three times a year. So they won’t be able to sign up all the time. So that's one of the key elements is I don't want to just put a course out there and hope people do it. I want to make sure that I'm there to lead you through it and make sure you've got the support you need. So that's why you'll find that it's under courses and probably other places within the website as well. You'll see that I do recommend anyone that if you go to the website, you'll see that I've created a free guide and checklist, there's a free download which is a checklist that you can download and use every day, which will give you an insight into how you're doing at the moment. It's a checklist which will ask you certain questions and it will ask you how often you're doing them. And it's a key indicator for you to give you a marker on, where am I? Where am I good at the moment? Where am I maybe not so good at? And that's probably where you'll gain most from the course, those things that maybe you're not doing quite so much off.”

Paris “Brilliant. Well, Mark, it's been an absolute pleasure chatting. Thank you so much for having me on your podcast it's been really interesting hearing your story and I'm now off try and catch flies with chopsticks, much like mr. Miyagi did in the karate kid. So thank you very much, indeed.”

Mark “And thank you Paris for taking the chair, It's been a pleasure and who knows? I might even ask you to do it again sometime.”

Paris “Cheers, Mark. Uh, I'd love to thank you.”



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