N D Thomas  0:02
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 near Thomas, as we talk today’s knowing self, knowing others guest

listeners today, I’m absolutely delighted to be joined by Neil Jurd. And Neil is the author of the leadership book. And I came across the leadership book about a year ago. And and if you’re interested in hearing a little bit more about it, I did a YouTube review of it. And I describe it as an encyclopaedia of leadership, because I think it’s absolutely brilliant. So yes, Neil is the author of the leadership book. But Neil is lots of other things as well and has a very interesting background. So Neil, do introduce yourself.

Speaker 2  0:51
Hello, Nia. So yes, I’m the author of a leadership book. And I also founded leader connects, which is an online leadership platform where there are videos about leadership and team development. And we also run leadership courses, live leadership courses, and online leadership courses. I’m also the Director for the Army Cadet forces National Adult officer leadership training course, I have also founded a charity in memory of my wife, which promotes adventurous training for young people, and supports military charities. And by way of background on was an Army officer for 17 years. And I’ve been in leadership development since then,

N D Thomas  1:38
so many strings to your bow nail. So I would imagine you’re extremely busy at the moment, talking about leadership and developing programmes with people all around the country. And one of the things that I really liked in your book was, I think it’s section two, chapter two, where you talk about people, and you explore self awareness, and how understanding your own beliefs, views thoughts, and modus operandi, how that impacts on everybody else within your team. So it’s a really good segue into our questions. So the very first question that I have for you is, how do you define self awareness?

Speaker 2  2:16
I define everything in really simple terms. And for me, self awareness is knowing yourself and knowing what that means. So understanding how you behave what you value. But then the so wat because of the way that you think the way that you behave, the things that influence you? What will that lead you to do? What’s your effect on events? People? What sort of impact do you have on yourself? So I think it’s a very applied, for me is the applied self awareness, self awareness is essential. But it has to lead to something, knowing yourself, it has to be put to some use in effective leadership.

N D Thomas  3:03
And I guess through your army career, you have been in some tricky situations where you didn’t really have time to think about who you were at that particular time, your self awareness it, I guess it became something automatic. How do you reflect on that, that the self changes when you’re put in different situations, and you have to behave in such a way that you bring a team with you that you have to behave in a calm way so that actually you are able to move your mission forward?

Speaker 2  3:37
I think it’s about doing the work first. I think one thing that the army is very good at, but of course, anybody can can choose to do is training is putting yourself in situations which do test you. And then having gone through those reflecting on what happened, how you behaved, what would improve your performance. And we do that on our courses. We put people through scenarios, some of them are quite complicated. Some of them go on for hours, if not days, and then we gently but insistently have a conversation with them about what happened, how how they responded to pressure. I think if you’ve trained well, most situations have got a degree of familiarity to them.

N D Thomas  4:27
Absolutely. So it’s about putting yourself in a situation of testing out your behaviour and your style, when you don’t necessarily need it so that when you do need it, it becomes second nature. Yes.

What are your thoughts on the relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?

Speaker 2  4:51
I think it’s so 100% of connection actually, I think a leader who isn’t self aware will have very little Law control of their actions, what what will come out will be pretty random, because they they won’t understand the effects of pressure or situations or people. And you know, there’s a lot of pressure at the moment in probably every business. At the moment, I would think pretty much every business is under pressure in some way, with a looming recession with people not necessarily signing up for or being careful with their money. I think that that pressure is there. So I think we’re all under pressure. And I think knowing how we behave under pressure, what effect it has warned us whether it constricts our thinking, whether we behave carelessly whether we find it hard to make decisions in those situations, I think you’ve you’ve got to really know yourself, and that you know, your tendencies in order to then I mean, I think I feel I’m saying the same stuff I said earlier, but I think it all comes down to really knowing yourself in order to that you can either control yourself. And another thing I think it’s very useful is knowing your limitations and your your strengths. And building a team around that. So knowing that, you know, maybe under pressure you you overreact if you’ve got someone else who can keep you calm, or perhaps you don’t spark enough, and you need somebody else to say, look, it’s, you know, this is serious, I think we need to act. So I think self knowledge morphs really nicely into Team knowledge. And you use that information to create the best group around you to work through situations.

N D Thomas  6:33
Yeah, absolutely. And leadership is not something you can do in an empty room. So that idea of building a team around you is quite essential. Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels? And why?

Speaker 2  6:50
I think they should be found at all levels. I think, from your introduction, I think you probably know my book as well as I do. Definitely. One of one of the things I think is really important is that in a vibrant organisation, any anyone can lead organisations are driven by what I define as clear and compelling purpose, something which everybody is working towards. And as long as you’ve got that, right, and everybody buys into it, and understands it, and you’ve got the right people, and you’ve given them the right development. And of course, those two things can’t always be taken as read. But if you’ve got the right people, and you’re clear where you’re going, actually other people can lead anyone in the organisation could lead and you, you don’t want that leadership to be hierarchical, where all decisions and all thinking is in a set of subservient relationships, ideas don’t flow. And just as seriously, the people who carry the bigger responsibilities will find themselves overwhelmed by so much trivia. So it’s actually the stuff that can be led at the tactical level, by anybody stuff that can be led at the operational level, some stuff strategic, you want leadership passing throughout the organisation,

N D Thomas  8:09
in your military experience, as you said that there is a very clear hierarchy, but is it is it as much about delegation, knowing the skills of the team and the people around you to be able to give them those opportunities to lead. So I’ve thought

Speaker 2  8:25
about delegation a lot in recent years, where I am now with delegation is delegation takes a lot of work. Delegation still involves the top leader in the situation, to work out what needs to happen, who needs to do it, and to give them the instructions to let them do it. And I might be being a bit pedantic with terminology here. But there is a danger that delegating is only the tip of the iceberg of the answer. And what you most want is a team of people who are knowledgeable, confident with the right skills, who couldn’t, who can offer who can create who can suggest and who can take action towards an objective. And actually, from the leaders point of view, a big a big part of leadership is getting out of the way, is saying, well, that’s where we’re going. Does everyone get it? Great? What skills have we got? Good? Now let’s, let’s go and let’s work towards it. What can you do? What can you do? And that what can you do? Question that kind of invitation to, to commit keeps the leader out of the thinking loop and lets other people step into it. It applies the combined it allows you to bring in the combined thinking power of everybody in the team, whereas delegation does have that suggestion that the leaders brain is in every loop. And if you’re in every loop, you end up with a kind of a decision action cycle that looks a bit like Mr. Messy in the in the Mr. Ben books.

N D Thomas  9:58
So there is something about delegating autonomy rather than delegating tasks

Speaker 2  10:04
or just building the confidence and the competence and the engagement with an objective and then seeing what happens. And this is probably quite a an idealistic, like a almost a doctrinally pure concept of candidates work. But in my experience it it can if you’ve got the right people, and they feel confident, and they’ve been trained well, because there’s no relationship genuinely I’m sure there’s no relationship between seniority and intelligence or seniority and creativity. Yeah, the only consistent relationship is between seniority and age, people are normally in charge because they’ve been there for longer. But that doesn’t make a lot and I have to say us now in terms of you know, my, I’m on the other side, probably with the age law, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t make us any brighter or better. And we should actually be trying to harness the brilliance of everybody around us.

N D Thomas  11:01
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Speaker 2  12:42
Some do? I don’t, I don’t think it’s uniform at all leaders often perhaps always developing the image of the leaders they’ve seen before them unless they’ve had some brilliant training, which has taken them out of the tracks of the leaders who’ve gone before. There’s a massive tendency just to be a facsimile of the boss you had and didn’t necessarily even like five years ago or 10 years ago. So I think leaders it’s the best senior leaders are hugely self aware. But that involves a degree of vulnerability and soul searching and work and being open to the to developmental criticism. And a lot of old fashioned leadership, old fashioned leadership styles don’t they’re welcome that, you know, the the kind of, you still hear shadows of make a decision and stick to it or the leader is always right. And it’s the insecurity of a poor leader that will often make them very unwilling to show that human side, I saw, I mean, it’s still on on YouTube, but the current Chief of the General Staff, so Patrick Sanders, he, he gave a talk, he was just walking in the garden actually being filmed talking about the pressures of senior leadership, the effect it had had on him, and that he found himself drinking alone in the early hours of the morning. And he talked about how he went through that and had the support of friends helped him and he was absolutely I mean, it’s actually one of the most beautiful examples of a of a leader being totally, totally honest and open about his own, often painful situation. And then how he faced it and came out of the dip he was in. And it was an absolute personification of their senior leader really understanding themselves and not being embarrassed at all to share that with the entire it was a very large organisation.

N D Thomas  14:40
That sounds really interesting. And Neil, I will make sure that I have that link from you because I think listeners would be quite interested to be able to access that themselves. So listeners we will make sure that there’s a link to that video in the show notes for you as well. And our final question What do you think is an effective way to develop self awareness?

Speaker 2  15:04
I think there are many ways to develop self awareness. Some of them are very obvious. And they do work, you know, things like doing a 360 feedback. And I realised that isn’t necessarily self awareness, but it gives you a perspective of how other people see you which can be really useful to anchor the impact that you’re having on the world around you, I find psychometrics can be really good. There’s there’s one that we use on our courses called 16. personality factors, which has got quite a lot of, it’s got quite a lot of granularity on it, it’s some there are 16 different criteria, but each scored on a scale of one to 10. So rather than just being a red or a blue, or buffalo or a seagull, or whatever you’re you’re, you’re actually you’re able to really look at how you see yourself and how that compares to how others see themselves. You know, a lot of it though, is about just taking time to review when something happens when you lose it. If I ever lose my temper afterwards, I really debrief myself, I think, why did I do that, because it’s almost never helpful. Every now and again, it can maybe spark some energy, but but then the energy, which it puts out, is very disruptive. And in fact, most uncontrolled emotion, and I’m not at all saying suppress emotion, I’m saying understand your emotion. And then think about the effect it will have on the people around you. I think always going through a review process. Why did I do that? What put me there? What was the effect of it, you know, and usually, there’s something below the surface. So if something does annoy me, or actually, the other end actually, being overly enthusiastic about things can be just as dangerous where your emotions carry you away. And perhaps you lose touch with the reality. For me, it a lot of it is about thinking time, often going for a walk, taking breaks, spending time with friends, even things like going for runs. Or for me, I’ve always enjoyed long ski tours, but just things that can clear the mind. And you can kind of get to spend time with yourself. But consciously spend time with yourself. It’s not empty head time, or having music on in the headphones is being alone with your thoughts and maybe even having a conversation with yourself about things.

N D Thomas  17:21
And I guess in today’s extraordinarily busy world of work, that is very difficult for leaders to do to give themselves that time and enough time to really step back, observe their situation from afar to reflect in terms of leaders giving themselves that quality time. What is your recommendation? Is it about how you timetable your day? Or is it about a culture that you instil in your team? Or maybe it’s all of those things? What, how would you promote that within your courses and your learning with your leaders that can come to learn from you. In the

Speaker 2  18:00
courses, we don’t overcrowd the course, we keep the theory simple and probably focus on maybe 10 Major bits of content, and then we create a lot of thinking time. So either coaching or group discussions or going off on a on a walk around the grounds we do most of our courses are in places with a bit of space outdoors, I think a lot of its mindset, actually, it’s about not feeling the pressure of what you should be doing. So a lot of people get sucked into comfort work, it’s like, well, I’m in charge, I need to know every detail, I’ll check that Excel sheet, or I’ll just make sure that this person or that person’s in the right place, and you busy yourself with what you believe a leader should be doing. You’ve got to be quite brave, or to have learned this lesson. But I think being quite brave is a really good stop to just sometimes do nothing, just say I’m going to, I’m going to stop for a coffee before I start work, I’m going to just do nothing for a couple of hours, I’m going to go and spend so I’m going to go on that course or I’m doing things which are not that they’re like one away from productive, you know, there’s this tendency to do and feel validated by the fact that you’re your hands on something. But but often the transformations the bit where you spot the next threat or the next opportunity or you have that breakthrough where you think gosh, I’ve got the wrong people on the wrong jobs here. But instead we get busy in in managing the wrong people in the wrong jobs. Actually, what you’ve got to do is take that morning off and be unashamed about it. The best leaders I know take time off and they don’t worry too much about what they think other people think about them and taking time off. I had a boss in Iraq who used to play the guitar. He’s he used to go off to his he was the commanding officer of a regiment and he would play the guitar for 20 minutes. He’d go back to his tent, and he played the guitar and he clear his head, but he’d come back as sharp as anything, I still look on him as the most impressive boss I had in, in my time in the army

N D Thomas  20:06
that you mentioned that I had a manager, he used to say, we’re very good at checking emails on a Sunday evening, but we’re not going to go into the cinema on a Monday morning. And I think that’s a very similar idea isn’t it is about that you have to step away from the busy work to give your brain give yourself that headspace to do some creative thinking so that you can problem solve,

Speaker 2  20:28
yeah, you often can’t make the ideas come, you just have to create the space. And the and the ideas will come and fill it.

N D Thomas  20:37
Neil, thank you so much for joining me and listeners, I hope you’ve been able to take some creative thinking from that and given you some reflective space to think about how you lead and how you operate as a manager. Neil, it’s been brilliant having you here and we will make sure that there is a link to your book in the show notes. And to some of the guidances you’ve suggested for us, Neil Jurd, thank you so much for joining me.

Speaker 2  21:03
Nia, thank you very much for having me. It’s lovely to see you again. Thank you.

N D Thomas  21:10
Thank you for joining me your host Nia Thomas have the knowing self knowing this 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 doc code at 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 this podcast, open your favourite podcast app, find the knowing self knowing that this 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 of his podcast on your favourite podcast player and tune in to the next episode in two weeks time. The knowing self knowing of this podcast is available on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts, Stitcher, good pods, pod chaser, Amazon music, podcast index, podcast addict, Pocket Casts