Hello and welcome to the knowing self knowing others podcast, the fortnightly podcast that explores self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Join me your host, NIA Thomas, as we talk to today’s knowing self knowing others guest
I’m joined today by Robertson Hunter Stewart and I’m absolutely delighted that Rob has been able to join me today. It’s I’ve been so looking forward to this conversation. Rob is an author, management coach and has a background in the hotel industry. So really has come up through the ranks, seeing what it looks like sounds like feels like and really understands what management and leadership is all about. But without further ado, I’m going to hand over to Rob to introduce himself.
Well, first of all, thank you for having me today. It’s great to be on the floor with you, as you’ve just said, Put him Robertson Hunter Stewart. So a real mouthful. And the thing about that is it’s really great for when you Google me, I’m the only person that exists under that name is very good for my referencing on Google, that most people call me, Rob. Yeah, to introduce myself. Well, I’ve been in the hotel industry, most of my life. I started out actually after a career in finance and other things in Scotland came to France, and discovered will fell in love basically with the hotel industry because I started working at Disneyland Paris when it opened in 1992. And there because I couldn’t speak French at that time, I had to learn speak French, of course. So you speak to my colleagues. At the same time I was what would they call a cast member a so as basically a sweeping up the cigarette butts. So that was and when I left in 98, I was then director of the whole Disney village and the dog food bank basically. And I left to go to the traditional hotel industry, which was then the meridian as well, which is one of those in the 25 bedroom hotel in the middle of Paris. And that took over the housekeeping of that sale, but a team of 160 housemates so I did that. And then I was made rooms division manager. So then I had two or 40 people working with me. But then after that I went to the pool ones came the director of the most famous hotel pool, which is the rovers in Bristol and balloon as director there for four years. They went to Budapest for one and a half years was director of the Royal concert grand hotel there which is which is like the porousness really high standard hotel, came back to Paris because I was asked to run as a general manager, the Conqueror Laforet was 1000 room hotel. So they’re the third highest building in Paris. In fact, as well, same time, then we see you have a chief operating officer for work that tells you that for a year, then Disney called me back and wanted me to come back as their Director General for their biggest volume intelligence, 1 million rooms, nice 1 million people per year. So I did that for two years. And then I went back to Verizon, again last year. And I was then the general manager of battlefield where I started with this housekeeper about two years before and basically us at that stage, I then decided to do my own thing. So I quit all that and decided that I wanted to be my own man and write books as all dreamed about writing books, to write books or management, with with my spirits without, in total 40 years experience of management really. So I decided I want to write I wanted to teach, I don’t want to coach other people or pass on basically a passion for passing on knowledge. So that’s what I’m doing. Now. I’m a consultant, professor at several schools in Paris of management and leadership. And I’m also written three books on management. So the second one, which is very successful in United States, and the third one which has just been released,
having really experienced management and significant roles in management and senior leadership, across a number of organisations, so really does put you in a position where when you are writing your books, and you are coaching, you really know what you’re talking about. What’s really interesting about our discussion is our listeners will have heard me say this before my background is in the public sector, whereas your sector is very, very different. So it’s going to be really interesting to hear your responses to these questions coming at it from that perspective. How do you define self awareness?
Well, for me, self awareness is all to do with from the perspective of a manager or leader and my own perspective. Also, it’s all about being able to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning, and know what you did a good job. And normally you did a good job. You did it the right way. And you didn’t Harmony one, in the way that you approached your work, doesn’t mean you never never do anything wrong. It’s just a having to be aware and be in touch. Basically, the honest part of yourself, I would say, which tells you Yeah, that wasn’t that wasn’t so great, you know, I can improve there, you know, and this happened my whole life, obviously. I mean, like most people, I think we are in order to be in touch with yourself, you have to be honest with yourself, first and foremost. And be able to say to yourself, Who is this there’s basically a conversation with yourself, which is constant, which is, which is basically if you want to improve, you’re always have to be asking yourself the same questions. Was that good that we spoke to that person? Was that a good way to do that interview to the dial drop that person before they were finished? I mean, we’re all constantly asking myself these questions, because I’ll tell you why is like that. It’s because I want to ask the senior colleague at work. When I was young, when I was a young manager, I was very, very full of beans and energy, but not much experience. And so I asked them, I said, Can you tell me what I should improve on? And he said to me, okay, what should we have a meeting acid? Yeah, please, please come to my office and have coffee and tell me how we should improve and so forth. He said, Well, and he came into the team. And he said, I’ve only got one thing to say, No, really. I said, I thought we’re gonna have a meeting. He said, No, there’s only one thing I’ve got to say. You’ve asked me the question, which was, what should I improve? He said to me, he said that we’re all masters of our own silence, and prisoners of what we say. Oh, I thought, so that finished the conversation very fast. And basically, I understood I talked too much I wasn’t listening, there was a very interesting way to tell me that. And that was someone I respected a lot. And that was, that was one of the things that led me to be more inward looking, and try and try and see, fine measure my own behaviour. And to answer your question, and that’s why, for me, it’s the question of being in a mirror constantly in a mirror and seeing if I acted like that, and I was the person that was the other side of that conversation, would I be happy with what I just said? Or would I not. And I think that’s very important in terms of self awareness. And I think the other thing is to know, but self awareness is to know where your limits are. And I talk often talk to my students about this and tell them, you know, it doesn’t matter if you want to be a great leader or a great manager, it’s fine. It’s great. So huge ambition. So that takes a little work. So there’s one thing you have to understand, you don’t know everything. And you’ll never know everything. So be self aware of that. And I’m very aware of that. Because, you know, for example, I’m always dealing with students, someone asks you a question, and you don’t know the answer, just say, I don’t know, don’t say, Well, it’s a little bit like this, or it’s a little point, if you don’t know, you just tune in. And there’s no harm in that. It’s actually much better to do that. And to so this awareness comes comes also to a question, I think, that time of confidence to be able to put yourself out there and say, admit, yeah, I don’t know, sorry, you’re gonna and to be confident enough to say that, and to be aware of that, if you do, tell a little Porky pie, a whole white lie to someone said, well, actually, it’s more like this, and you don’t really know, that can be very harmful. So think self awareness has a lot to do with that really just the self knowledge as well, knowing how you, you know, trying to trying, I mean, not always succeeding, but trying to understand how you’re acting and if it’s in accordance with your own values, what you really believe. And I think sometimes you get it wrong, of course, you know, you as like everyone else, was not cool before and said things I shouldn’t have said, and then I’d regret it and think, Well, I better do better next time.
Do you think there’s a relationship between self awareness and leader effectiveness?
Very, very definitely. And it really goes back to minutes goes back to ancient history of Peter Drucker, who basically invented management by objectives. If you’re not self aware of when you’re trying to take a step back, people talk a lot about taking some distance with what they’re doing or trying to say upon the router. So go higher up or further away from what you’re looking at. And try and have a look at the big picture. Yeah, and not just as we always say, if you’re looking at one tree, you’re only going to see the tree, you’re never going to see the forest. Yeah, I think that’s that’s very important. And if you are aware of yourself, it’s very important to being affected. Because it’s another thing cool from rock crusher, interesting question, actually. Because Peter Drucker himself made a call regarding this question, which was management is about doing things, right. Leadership is about doing the right things. Yeah. So so so there we have quarterly, you know, if you if you are self aware, you’re gonna be more interested in doing the right things and just not doing things. Well. You take time you step back, you think, and you’re affected because of that. Because if people are caught up in the action, yeah, and you’re just reacting all the time, you’re not thinking about things not taking time to think. I think you get yourself in trouble very fast.
Yeah, I agree. Yeah, that time from, I think the phrase is giving yourself time to respond instead of react.
Oh, yeah, exactly. No, no, you’re totally right. That’s, that’s cool it because you often, of course, you’re often often you can be caught off guard, of course, and react to something. But it’s always better. And so I tell people, when they’re in one to one situations, for example, is don’t answer people’s questions for them. For example, you know, just when you ask someone a question, use the silence, give them time to actually think about what you’ve asked, because not everyone’s gonna naturally not, you know, some people are gonna take a bit of time. And it’s not because they want to answer probably, because they’re actually thinking about what they’re gonna answer, you know. So, so yeah, I think, I think definitely, there’s a there’s definitely something very, very important between self awareness and effective being effective. Because it’s also to do with in terms of leadership, as your question was phrased, it’s also to do with giving the example and leading by example, because you know, there’s nothing better than that. I mean, if you if you know, I remember a story I was telling to my students one day, and it was someone who was Shouting, shouting at the staff that was there, they didn’t see me. That was the direct boss. And I saw this incident. And I said to him, I said, did you realise I said, You were shouting at them? Why are you hurting? Again? Can you just tell me clearly? Yeah, because they’re not nice enough to the customers and you’re smiling with a customer service? Would you like you’re smiling? When we’re going up down stairs? You know, your example was exactly they’re going through what you’re just trying to tell them. So sets next day to try and be happy when you’re telling me something that might be might be more effective. Yeah. To you actually behave as you want the others to behave as might be actually a good idea.
Do you think effective leaders can be found at all levels of organisations?
Yes, I do. And I think it’s not a question whoever wants but I don’t think leaders are born. You see, I think they’re made. And they’ll start by that. And what I mean by that is that they’re, you know, anyone can be a leader if they really want to be, and on the condition that they really do, like people. Because of the door, they’re in the wrong the wrong place and doing the wrong job, I think at all levels, because somehow, there’s a lot of technique, and management and leadership, things that can be learned, and also things that can be unlearned. So unlearn, for example. Like, like I said earlier, like not listening. I don’t learn not listening. And so so that’s one of my terrible faults. When I was younger, you’ve got to unlearn some behaviours and learn other behaviours, which will basically mould you into a leader. And sometimes, in fact, you don’t even need the title. It’s not the title, the nation leader, it’s basic if people are going to follow that person. So, you know, Simon Sinek, you know, the Simon Sinek of course, has the title a leader has the people. And I really believe that because of course, yeah, okay, but title doesn’t mean you’re a leader leaders are people who can convince, can can really Anello and are happy are confident within themselves goes back to the first couple of questions. And they’re able to project confidence and self confidence and make other people confident known ability, and the people will naturally follow a leader don’t have to have a title and think you can just be a leader on your, and it’s just obvious who the leader is, you know, I mean, we see this quite often when I remember a funny incident happened human Hall, they would read some foreign country far, far away. And, and two people wanted to be the boss. So they started talking, yes, just Can everyone listen up. I was I was trying to help them. At one point, I say, Oh, guys, you know, next time, you know, maybe should ask people, you know, you want to talk. And I ended up getting this leadership role button once wasn’t all just because of the way I was acting, but they were acting in a rather poor obstreperous manner. That didn’t help. People just didn’t want to call them at all. So basically, everyone start arguments.
I was interested, you said that leaders can be made rather than born. Within my research. The findings were the opposite. However, I actually think we agree because what you said that people have to want it or have to have the ability that then allows them to move forward. And I wonder if part of the if I’d have gone back to the people that I spoke to in my research they would have said that’s exactly what we mean. We have to have people that are interested a ball and then you put that together and allow it to develop flourish you nurture it, etc training and and all the other things that go with it. So I wonder if actually, we sounded like we disagree. But actually, we’re saying the same thing.
I think I think it’s a disagreement who were agreeing. I think, I think, yeah, I think you’re right. It’s, I’ve got one way to explain it, which comes from a quote by Zig Ziglar. He’s no longer with us. But he was a great, great man. And he basically said, you know, it’s it’s not your aptitude, which determines your altitude, as your attitude. I think there is aptitude, of course, there is some natural aptitude because of course, if you know, if you just don’t have that knack, or you don’t have that little bit of driver within you, in, you’re just not going to do it. As simple as that. But then what’s even more important than having competence and having skills and being able to learn these skills. It’s also your attitude of saying, Thank you, actually, what we goes back to what we said before is what you show to others. Yeah. And I always like to tell people, you know, because people say, Well, yes, there’s always thing about modern management to deliver authenticity, how important Yeah, of course, it’s important to be yourself. This comes back to your first question, you have to be authentic, of course, yeah. But never forget, you’re you’re playing a role as a manager. Yes, true. And how I explain that to my students is very simple. I just, I always tell them, Okay, you’ve been up to the top of the night before, okay, if you’re up there to four o’clock in the morning, you feel miserable, you’ve got ahead, it’s killing you. And the next morning, a massive migraine, you have no rights at all, to act differently than you normally do. And if you don’t feel that you can don’t go to work. You met your leader. So you have to still give the example. Your attitude is going to be copied from as many people mimic your behaviour to start to behave badly. And they are going to do the same. Yeah, yeah,
let’s definitely. Do you think leaders at the most strategic level of organisations have greater self awareness than leaders at other levels of organisations?
Not necessarily sometimes they do great leaders, you know, if you’re a Richard Branson, or you’re these guys, yeah, of course, these guys are massively successful. So of course they do, I think, but not necessarily. I mean, it’s not to do what for me, it’s not to do with level, not what you do is who you are, isn’t it, you can have a really, really bad guy at the top and still have an organisation that works because of the people or other levels, or may account for that, because they’re actually doing the work he should be doing. But or he or she should be doing, but they’re doing well. And so the people that work with them don’t on to realise that I’ve seen that happen. And then the country, of course, if it is bad at the top, eventually it becomes worse as you go down. Because Because just don’t pose them, doesn’t it? I guess not nothing to do with the level I think it has to do more with a person and how how the person sees the world or the worldview of each discussion regarding it’s actually related to this discussion regarding what’s more important as the employee or is it the customer. So I totally believe is the employee argued about this sort of, I know where you’re writing my first book, so actually ended up very well because because, in fact incited man to do something about that, because I couldn’t win this argument that we were a quid pro quo. So so no one stepped back from their position. And I thought, right, this, I’m gonna, I’m gonna write this and prove them, right. So I did. I don’t know whether approved or not, by the way, but it’s one of these situations where you think Okay, so now I’ll take a step back most of time trying really good nine my point. And I think anyone at any level is capable of doing that. It’s just a question of habits, that people learn good habits or bad habits, someone’s capable of being a leader, you know, any, any level, self awareness is really to do with habits. Are people being introspective or No, it’s nothing to do with what level we are. I don’t think I’ve seen some bosses who just don’t think at all, we just, they just give orders. They don’t have to delegate anywhere to situational management, you know, use Kenneth Blanchard, we don’t know, though, you know, they don’t know they’re doing basically. So a lot of time that happens because experts get promoted to managers without any coaching or a known companies in this in this. So that’s, that’s quite quite serious problems.
In your experience in coaching and managing, do you find that there are and it’s something that’s spoken to somebody else about and they also mentioned, the tear below that strategic tear, who actually are taking the weight of the organisation because actually, there is a lack of self awareness at that strategic level. Do you have experience of that team below that strategic level, having to take that weight? Is it common? Is it uncommon, when it does happen? Is it detrimental to an organisation? Do you find that people are quiet quitting and very loudly quitting as part of that? How does that look in your experience?
Well, in my expense Your answer depends on on the level of things, I mean, how bad things really are. Because if things are and I’ve had experiences of both where I’ve had someone who’s been senior level, but has someone very senior about me, and then twice or three times my wife, it’s been a fantastic experience, because I’ve had great mentors and great coaches and so forth. And then once or twice, it’s not because people know what the heck you’re doing its own. And then it’s almost impossible to take the brunt or rule, I think, as a manager, or as a leader is basically even if even if this is happening, something negative, something with you or to you, you should be able to translate things so that the level just below you doesn’t see that. But then it gets to a stage where a person where everyone sees it, because the boss will do something stupid, like talk to you badly in front of the people are meant to be working for you. Or, if that happens, it’s finished, you have no longer any grip on the situation at all. And I’ve seen personally no one are telling me something silly. In front of his own kids. We’re also part of a mixed affair. But at the end of the day, if if it’s really the other level can manage things, as long as the person above isn’t being harmful, directly harmful. That’s what I’m trying to say. Someone’s just incompetent doesn’t matter. Because the people that are there. Yeah, the CoolMax or the executive committee, if they’re, if they’re competent, doesn’t matter if the President’s not a complete idiot. The komax gonna see it.
Do you think effective leaders have more self awareness than ineffective leaders?
Yeah, I think we did. I think I think it’s definitely a big yes. Because if effective leaders, in fact, I think if you’re if you’re going to lead people, you really need to know her fuels. There’s this thing about followership. Today, we hear about a lot. And if you’ve been a follower, one time, you know, who a great leader should be doing. So being highly aware of that makes it nearly impossible for someone that’s not self aware to meet, because the others catch on very quickly. This guy really doesn’t. He’s not in touch with myself at all or herself at all. Not only are they don’t touch themselves, but they’re not in touch with reality. And you’ll ask people to do things which are nigh impossible. And again, answers like no, of course, because people at one point you say, sorry, I’d love to do that. But it’s just not possible for me to do. So I think yeah, if definitely, if people are self aware, they’re much more effective.
Towards the tall chill, oh, my two newest books that my Preston VIG was called once one managing quality time with individuals for engagement and success. That book was published one and a half years ago, and is a really great success, to be honest, especially United States and in Great Britain that talks about how to really build relationships with people based on conference. And first, it was written five wh on the cover. Now, what does that mean? Well, it’s the first book in the series, find wh and these are the person questions, what, why, when, where, who, and how. And I address each of those questions and all the books in the series. Here, the subject is one to one formal meetings with your employees. So I tell you, what it’s about what this type of meeting actually looks like, yeah, where it should have these meetings, when you should have these meetings, why is very important, why you should have the meetings, and then I’ll tell you exactly how to go about having these meetings and the techniques that you can use to make them successful. My newest book is time to manage an agenda for effective leadership, five, HR Lotus once again. Now, this book, really is about how to manage when it’s time, but it’s a very particular time management book. This is a book that shows you how to first of all be efficient and teaches you about time management techniques. But then goes on to discuss that being efficient with your time and the time of others. It’s really not enough. You need to become effective as a manager and lead and manage in the right way. So as to ensure that you’re effective. And using your time and the time of others around you. I can tell you there’s some great surprises inside the book waiting for you.
Robertson Hunter, steer it. It’s been absolutely brilliant to have you here. Thank you so much for finding time to have our conversation. It’s been really, really interesting. Thank you once again.
Well, thank you very much for your invitation. It was great. Great talking to you today.
Thank you for joining me your host Nia Thomas at the knowing self knowing others podcast. If you’d like to know more about self awareness, leader effectiveness and leadership at all levels. Please take a look at my website. Now. himself knowing others Dakota, UK. You can also join me on YouTube, LinkedIn or Twitter. Make sure you bookmark for knowing self knowing others podcast and tune into the next episode in two weeks time. I look forward to having you on my learning journey
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