Nia Thomas [00:00:04]:
Hello, and welcome to the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that talks about self aware leadership with thinkers from around the globe. If you want to be a better leader and a better work colleague, Then join me, your host, Nia Thomas, as we talk to today’s Knowing Self, Knowing Others guest.
Nia Thomas [00:00:23]:
A very big welcome to today’s show to Ian Hattao. And Ian is an expert and has a a real deep interest in conscious leadership, authentic leadership, and and Organizational leadership more broadly as well. Ian has his own company called Totally Morpheus, and He runs particular leadership development courses. 1 is lead like Morpheus. There’s also Morpheus Genius. Ian, please do introduce yourself.
Thank you so very much, Nia. It’s wonderful to be with you today. Yeah. My background Actually, it comes from the IT industry, but that was where I learned how bad leadership can be And, and had this sort of growing need for more authentic leadership, including how I led my own team back at Microsoft, many years ago. So, yeah, this authentic leadership, which is now more commonly known as conscious leadership, is is what I’m really passionate about, and And that’s what me and my organization do.
Nia Thomas [00:01:28]:
That’s amazing. Yeah. Absolutely. The the first time that I think I heard you speaking was when you were with, Aoife O’Brien on her podcast. It was really it it was brilliant hearing you speak, and a lot of what you said Resonated with me in terms of self aware leadership, so looking forward to to getting into our questions today. But before we do that, you’ve You’ve mentioned that your background is technical and worked in Microsoft, so really worked in one of the the biggest tech organizations that there is. Something that we often talk about is this shift from a technical to people leadership. How did that happen for you?
It’s a it’s a it was a gradual process. A lot of people say, how on earth could you switch from the sort of hard skill environment to the soft skill environment? And And my normal reply immediately is that soft skills are much harder than hard skills.
Nia Thomas [00:02:21]:
Absolutely. With you all the way.
But, but it was much more of a gradual shift than than than than is imagined. So, yes, I started out on mainframe computer operations, then into networking, then quite seriously into networking, in the days when we were still trying to connect terminals and then switching to PCs, connecting to to mainframes, And and so on and file servers and all of this. So it was quite, a long time ago. But very soon, I rose into being in a management position for all of that, And we did a lot of rollout. So suddenly, my job became about the people. And and as much as I think I was an okay techie, I don’t think I was ever brilliant. And it was the people side that really started to stimulate me so much so that I graduated out of doing technical management into Technical marketing. And started to be doing a whole lot more marketing, and I, ended up being poached by a company that needed a Microsoft product manager, a, a Microsoft distributor. And I worked for them very successfully, and that resulted in me ending up the last 5 years of my IT career was actually in Microsoft, and I ended up as the group product marketing manager here at Microsoft South Africa. So a lot of product launches, a lot of being on stages, and I am a keynote. I do a lot of keynotes. I did 1 on Monday in the USA. Yeah. So a lot of, sort of stage work and training and, motivating people around new products, doing a lot of interviews with the press. So it actually gradually shifted more and more to be people focused. And that then led to the point where I said, actually, I want that to be my career. In fact, very often, Sitting in leadership development courses and watching the the person facilitating going, I want that person’s job. Okay. And and eventually, you know, becoming a facilitator as well and doing a master’s degree in organizational leadership to complete my transition of my careers sort of back in when I was about 39 years old, 40 years old.
Nia Thomas [00:04:22]:
So it sounds like You’ve almost gravitated to where your natural skills lay?
Yes. It that’s a that’s a lovely way of putting it. I I think that the people side, drew me far more than the technical side. I always I still have an interest in gadgets. I’m sort of that gadget guy who likes to have some of the latest things, but the sort of technical support, the problem solving, I’d rather be solving people problems. In fact, A joke I often tell is that, I find people less temperamental than computers sometimes, and and I’d rather work with people than computers in that sense.
Nia Thomas [00:04:59]:
Interesting. Well, in that case, let’s go to our questions. So my first questions I ask all of my guests is, how do you define self awareness? But I’m gonna add a little bit of a twist to that and say, What does self awareness mean to you alongside that definition?
Yes. So, for me, it’s an essential component of anything in the people domain, and all of leadership is leading people. That doesn’t matter how whether it’s technical or nontechnical. It’s always about leading people. And how do we become aware and meet the needs of our people and lead them if we aren’t first Self aware. So for me, personally, let me make it personal. Self awareness, has been a growing quest in my life. I think I Was very unself aware, in my twenties and even a lot of my thirties. I’m not even aware, you know, things passions would rise up or Anger would rise up, and I was never really aware of what was what was really triggering it. It was always looking out there and seeing the cause was this and the cause was that and Pointing to these things out there. And and then I hit a crisis, sort of 11 years ago where I went Through 3 major transitions in my life, I was getting divorced. I, left my business. I sold my shares to my partner, And I was it had been involved in sort of the spiritual community. I left them as well. And this was sort of my real awakening of self awareness And realizing that the finger pointing out there, there were a whole bunch of fingers pointing back, and that the real issues were here, not there. And, and that in fact, even my quest for leadership was misled because I wasn’t at the vital starting point, which is self leadership. And so awareness self awareness became, a massive part of my journey. It meant that I, one of the first transitions, I I kind of grew up with the sort of culture of you’re not allowed to love yourself. You know, look at that person. He loves himself too much, that kind of thing. And And I realized that that was a mistake, and that a lot of the problems I had was because of a lack of self awareness and lack of self love. And I started to, I created this little mantra which we actually talk a lot about in in in the journeys we take leaders on, and that is My number one job today is me. And the idea being that there’s nothing I can do out there if I haven’t first met my needs here. Not my only job today, but my number one job is me. In other words, where am I at? Am I self aware? I mean, we’ve got the classic scenario that Comes up a lot where a leader has an argument with a with a with a spouse or a partner, arrives at work, and and and then next thing they’re having an argument with a staff member, Not even realizing it’s actually about what happened at home first, or they have a bad day at work and they arrive home and kick the dog or something. You know? It’s it’s It’s that lack of self awareness is one of the most fundamental pieces of great leadership. And what I noticed is I as I started to Invest in myself and make myself my number one job, in the leadership work I was doing, I was suddenly having A much deeper impact. And this is in spite of not changing any of my techniques. Suddenly, it was a deeper impact, and it’s because It was more authentic. It was more conscious.
Nia Thomas [00:08:33]:
Fascinating. I’m interested in in what you were saying. As you got older And as you have spent more time in the world of work, the realization of self awareness has increased this constant journey of self awareness and that the journey changes as we change. But do you think in self awareness grows with Maturity, whether that’s age or not, whether that’s time spent in a role or or just getting to know where you fit in an organization. Do you think there’s something about that?
I actually think there’s there’s probably at least 2 main drivers. One of them is maturity and age. The the research on on, for example, emotional intelligence shows very clearly that we be, you know, IQ peaks at about 19 years old, sometimes 20, sometimes 21, but EQ actually peaks sort of in your fifties. And and it’s one of those things that grows gradually, and they’ve they’ve got the research on this. For example, from, the the, what’s called the ECR, the emotional capital report. Their research shows very, very clearly That, emotional intelligence overall in general increases with age. But I do think there’s a Often a crisis point or a point at which we look in the mirror, and we go, oh, the problem is here, not there. And then we really enter that journey. And and, I mean, it’s an ongoing journey. I I I don’t see any termination point other than, you know, maybe leaving this planet Because, the you know, I see for myself, recently, I I suddenly became very aware that I hadn’t been taking good care of myself, and I found myself, emotionally eating or something like that, and then I go, hang on. Hang on. What’s going on here? Now years before, I would have, you know, realized that a week later. Now I’m realizing it minutes later, but I’m, you know, still not always in time. But, it it’s it is something That the intentionality, I think, mixes with maturity.
Nia Thomas [00:10:41]:
And as they say, you can’t change others. You can only change
Nia Thomas [00:10:53]:
Weem self awareness and leader effectiveness. And I know when I’ve spoken to others, this notion of effectiveness Changes. And people talk about leaders versus great leaders and what does success mean to you. So what what are your thoughts on that relationship between leader effectiveness, however you define it?
I wanna start off with just clarifying one of the things that I Talk about quite a lot, and that is that I I often talk to people about, are you even a leader? And then they talk about their position. And position is not the core of leadership. It can be a part of it, but it’s not the core of it. To me, leadership is a skill. We all influence. And if you’re a friend, you influence. If you’re a parent, you influence. If you’re a team member, you influence. I mean, that’s that’s leadership in that sense. And so when I talk about leadership, it’s not just the position. And so, Great leadership. So rather than talking about a great leader, let’s talk about great leadership, is having a really positive influence on others That is very effective, and and I think that was the word that you used. So I I use the term conscious leadership. Where does that fit in with, a a with self awareness? Well, emotional intelligence the the cornerstone of emotional intelligence is self awareness, Self emotional awareness. And we and we understand that these layers, in fact, they they now talk about 3 different layers. So that self Awareness resulting in self management would be the 1st level. The next one is is the relational awareness. Aware of other people is emotions, and then how do you how do you work with that relationally? And then there is something called a relational systems intelligence, Which is just another layer on top of that where we can be aware of what’s happening in the dynamic between people. And then from that, how do we work with that And the skills of working with that. So all of that and that’s just on the sort of more emotional and social and relational component requires as its starting point self awareness. But I got a lot further than that. The self awareness of emotional intelligence is basically emotional awareness. But what about body awareness? Are we aware of our bodies? You know, there is this thing of, you know, we’re not just brains on sticks. The the body is not just a transport mechanism for a brain. There’s more to us. Are we aware of our gut? You know, they say that in the gut system, there’s There’s probably as many neurons as you’ll find in a domestic cat’s brain, which means that there’s a whole powerful level of intelligence there, that we could be tapping into. You know, people often put their hands on their hearts and, you know, what are they feeling? And and and when I say feeling, I really mean more like at a belief level than an emotional level. And then we can go beyond that. Is there anything else in our faculties we might be haven’t tapped into? And then we can go, well, what about awareness of our people and the environment around us and the our impact on them? Do we know what the impact is on them. And and then we can go right into the environment itself, you know, the the world, what as their awareness. But It I think all of that is pretty much impossible if we haven’t first become self aware.
Nia Thomas [00:14:09]:
Really interesting what you’re saying. I’ve read a book by I mean, I think It was Bruce Lipton, the biology of belief, that talks about that body brain Link. And you’re you’re absolutely right. If if you’re feeling something, you you feel it in your chest or you feel it in your gut. You you feel it in your body. You don’t just feel it in your head. Absolutely. I’m also very interested in your definition of self leadership. Interestingly, I have, a 3 layer definition of self awareness, which is reflection, which is about internal Self awareness, recognition, which is internal social self awareness, and regulation, which is external Social self awareness. So it’s all about I behave. I recognize that others perceive me. I therefore have an ability to regulate my behavior, which therefore changes other people’s response to me, which comes back to, I can’t change others, but I can only change myself. However, by changing the self, you change the response. So I’m really interested in those 3 layers, so I’m definitely gonna talk to you more about that at some other point. We’ve already had a discussion about your views on leadership actually following individuals as opposed to leadership following a job title. My question then is, do you think that effective leaders can be found at all levels? I think you’ve answered that question. How how do you see that in organizations? Because we are seeing some leaders who are the most senior element of an organization, and they are questionably effective. How are they there? Why are they there? Then we see others who are very self aware, reflective. They are people focused. They’re also at the top of the organization. How how are leaders getting there? What does it look like? What’s going on in that zone?
You know, I think one of the things that when we’re looking at that Sort of positional leadership, especially, you know, at that very senior level is the phases of growth in an organization, where an organization is, what’s actually going on? Are they in a new market? You know, one of my friends always says you’ve either gotta be the 1st or the cheapest or the best. And, and and, you know, depending on what market you’re in, you may have these things. And I’ll give you a simple example. I worked, in my leadership development work for a I did a lot of work with a telecoms company, and this was sort of coming on the back of The explosion of the cell phone industry and in Africa, I think about 90% of phones are cellular. They’re they’re The wired type of phonemes doesn’t exist. So the you know, this was a a a massive revolution. And in this time, What we found is that in the earlier parts, it was this sort of driver type of personality, very task focused, And the technical personality, very detail focused, that we’ve we’ve found predominantly in the leadership roles. But as that industry started to mature and it became a service industry where service became a differentiator, and marketing became more and more important. We now started to see other personality types emerging into leadership roles like, Very service oriented people, people oriented people, marketing people who were more the extrovert people people, these kinds of things. So the team started to be a big word and people focus and service delivery, became big focuses. And I think these things do change over time. And so you will, I think, sometimes find, technically successful leaders who don’t have The awareness that I I still feel like if they could just realize that what they’re leading is people. Yeah. Because, you know, very often, I think that leading an industry, one of the best bits of feedback I’ve ever had at the end of a training program was somebody who said, and he managed a production plant. And he said, when he came on the training, he thought his job was to manage the plant. After the training, he realized his job is to lead the people. And when I see people make that transition, the effectiveness goes up, staff engagement goes up, that awareness starts to, filter through everywhere. And and, yes, we do need visionary leaders. We do need pioneers. But I think Even there, they can be more effective if they are realizing that their effectiveness is through people.
Nia Thomas [00:18:45]:
Isn’t that wonderful to have being a part of somebody’s light bulb moment to have transitioned. As you were talking, I was wondering then, because we know so much about Tesla and Elon Musk. He’s he’s constantly in in the media. Do you think that maybe Tesla has hasn’t reached that point of maturity where They are so focused on the tech side, the getting the engineering, getting the mechanical engineers correct, that they haven’t got to the point yet where their light bulb moment hasn’t happened, and they haven’t gone, oh, we’re leading people, And it’s the people who are doing the technical side.
I would be very surprised if the transition isn’t already underway. I mean, look. I’m I don’t know a lot of the detail, within, all his organizations. We’ve certainly seen some interesting things happening at Twitter. Let me not go into that. But what I do follow a little bit is SpaceX. I’m quite, intrigued by that. I told you I’m a gadget person, and I think, You know, there’s something about that that really intrigues me. And there, he has a very strong CEO who is making everything happening. He is still very aware of what’s going on, but actually, the business is run by A strong female leader, that actually heads up that whole business. And it’s it’s one of the most successful businesses in the world. You know, they’ve Reduce the cost of putting a satellite into space about a hundredfold of what it used to be, you know, and maybe even more than that. I can’t remember the exact number, but it’s It’s it’s massively significant and and the very efficiencies that they’ve done. Now who created those efficiencies? Peopled it. Innovative people. And I think yeah. I so, I mean, I don’t know all of the ins and outs, but I do know that that’s one area where he’s delegated a lot. And it’s been very effective so far.
Nia Thomas [00:20:41]:
Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of Organizations have greater self awareness than leaders at other level of organizations. And and, really, what experiences have you had that inform You will view what have you seen out there? What does it look like?
I I this is an area where I see the biggest variance of all, where I have found, at the strategic level, incredibly self aware people. You know, there’s, someone, like the CEO of of a WD 40 Global Organization. In their staff engagement Scores. They score in the 90% staff engagement. Now the global average is sort of 29. They score in the 90% of staff engagement. They have a brilliant, people focus structure. Their profitability has grown ahead of the market, overall. Their, you know, their their revenues have grown. I mean, there’s just so many of the measurables that are are taken from that people focus And come into the bottom line and very, innovative in so many of the things that they do, although they have a very simple product range. And and I also come across leaders I mean, there was 1 organization I worked with where there was a leader who was completely unself aware And, resulted in the 1st strikes that that organization had ever had and losing half of their staff eventually in a very large organization. And And it was just terrible leadership, and the morale was so low, and they lost really good people. You know, when you lose your good people and you retain your bad ones, That is not a good sign, and that was what was happening. So the the actual variance is is phenomenal. And there’s some research on this. In, Emotional intelligence 2.0, they actually have all sorts of research statistics at the back. And they show how on average, the ones where the emotional intelligence, for example, is higher. They actually are more sustainably profitable. Their market growth and everything is is higher. But every now and then, there’s this outlier of somebody who is leading such an organization who is not emotionally intelligent, in fact, scores very poorly. But then people look at that one exception, and they think, well, that’s the rule. The the average is is the exactly the opposite. The average is that the higher the emotional intelligence, the more successful the organization. So I think at the highest level, you get the biggest variance. But for me, there’s no doubt that a team leader, now whether that’s At the bottom of the organization or even leading a leadership team is the critical pivot point of the success of that team. And so you’ll even find within organizations that don’t have a good market reputation, people won’t leave because the team is working so well. And you will find in organizations that do have a big reputation, people say, oh, I would love to work for this company one day or that company one day. But with then you join a team, and the team is terrible. And so leadership at that level is making a difference wherever it is, Whichever level it is.
Nia Thomas [00:23:47]:
What do you think is an effective A way to develop self awareness in that case.
Have a crisis.
Nia Thomas [00:23:55]:
You know, so some of us, we We we we gotta bang our heads against the wall a few times before we realize that it stops hurting when we stop banging our heads. But, you know, they’re they’re I think, for it’s gonna be different for different people. I I think we’re all unique, and I don’t know that there is a one size fits all. For me, personally, It took a triple crisis. And that triple crisis really got me stepped into the whole journey of self awareness, and And that was massive. I’ve seen other people who who just get had this little incremental, and they sort of realize, oh, here’s something interesting, and then a little bit more, a little bit more, a little bit more, And then suddenly, they’re really properly on the journey. You know, somebody attend something about mindfulness and they kinda go, oh, you know. And even if they don’t fully accept it, Something starts brewing. So, yes, I’ve seen it all the way from very tiny increments, to people who have Significant transitions. I I remember once working with a group of Nigerian people, but I was in Ghana. And this 1 guy was pushing back, pushing back, and, You know, everything was the people’s fault and the pointing out and everything. And it was a 5 day workshop that we ran. And on the afternoon of day 4, He suddenly asked me a question. I went, oh, something has shifted. And everything changed, and we’ve got a post implementation phase, And he led that. He was by far the most the highest level of implementation, and and suddenly everything in his leadership changed Because he he reached a point where he was convinced, and but it took him nearly 4 days to get convinced, and then everything changed, and, And his career took off as well.
Nia Thomas [00:25:34]:
Isn’t that amazing? And, again, that evidence that there are light bulb moments on your journey, And they will happen at different times for different reasons. But but the fact that self awareness is a continuous journey, I think, is a theme that is Recurring my conversation. And and I think you’re right that that having a crisis certainly puts you on that crossroads that maybe you wouldn’t have been before, But there’s that continuous journey of self awareness?
Yes. Indeed. Exactly that.
Nia Thomas [00:26:06]:
We are at the end of our conversation, But I want to make sure that listeners have access to all of the information that you share and your resources and are able to contact you if they want to. How can they do that?
The easiest way by far is on LinkedIn. Okay. If you go, you know, linkedinforward/ianhatton, one word, you’re gonna find me. I’m pretty pretty prolific there as well. I’ve got a lot of things that I post. So that’s the easiest way. What you’ll also find there is a QR code For doing our conscious leadership assessment, the egg three. And the egg three assessment is, something that you can take your team through, for example, and And you can get where is the conscious leadership state or the the leadership state of my team. And and we even will take people through a debrief of that if they have a team. So The best is LinkedIn. And, and from there, you’ve got the link for doing the, the egg assessment, which is a free assessment. Beyond that, contact me, And my team will take it from there.
Nia Thomas [00:27:05]:
That’s amazing. Thank you very much for that, Shay. We will make sure that there are links in the show notes. So listeners, as ever, if you want to be able To further the discussion or find out more about conscious leadership, just go to the show notes, and you will be taken to those links. Ian, thank you very much for joining me from South Africa all the way. It’s been wonderful to have you on the show today, and we’ve talked about some really interesting things. So thank you once again. It’s been really, really interesting.
Thank you, Nia. I I just I I you know, you you prompted me with the questions, and They’re all questions that engaged me, and, this is the the alignment is fantastic. This is what I believe leadership should be. It starts with self awareness.
Nia Thomas [00:27:48]:
Amazing. And what better way to add this show? Thank you so much.
Nia Thomas [00:27:55]:
Thank you for joining me, your host, Nia Thomas, of the Knowing Self, Knowing Others podcast. After every podcast, I’m going to be doing a top takeaways review of the things that I’ve learned from my discussions with guests, which you can find on my website, knowing self, knowing others .co.uk, LinkedIn, TikTok, and the other main social media sites. Rates, reviews, and recommendations from you are the best way to get the word out about the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast. Open your favorite podcast app, find the Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast, take a listen to some episodes, give it some stars, and write a little review. A little word from you means a big deal to me. Make sure you bookmark the knowing self knowing others podcast on your favorite podcast player and tune in to the next episode within 2 weeks’ time. The Knowing Self Knowing Others podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Goodpods, Podchaser, Amazon Music, Podcast Index, Podcast Addict, Pocket Casts, Deezer, Listen Notes, PlayYourWriting.
Looking forward to having you on my learning journey!