Scope - Design - Deliver

Belief Systems That Distinguish Leaders

Our Leadership Hacker Podcast Show with Ian Mills and Mark Ridley

Ian Mills and Mark Ridley are leadership development experts. They run the international development consultancy firm Transform Performance International and have co-authored several books. Most latterly, The Leaders Secret Code. In this episode learn about:

How Ian and Mark lead in a VUCA world

What can make leaders iconic

Understand destination beliefs and unlock leadership growth

How journey motivators can assist your development

SPECIAL LISTENER OFFER: Listen in to find out how you can get a FREE psychometric test and a copy of The Leaders Secret Code! (Act now before it’s too late!)


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The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: One-mans dream to spend three years sailing solo round a Pacific nearly turned to disaster after borders started closing around the region; leaving him stranded alone at sea for several months. While people around the globe were, panic buying, stocking up, he was running low on food and fuel as he sailed between islands trying to find somewhere to dock. The sailor who only shared his surname, named himself as Mr. Wong set off from his home country of Singapore on the 2nd of February.

It was an adventure that the 59 year old experienced sailor had been meticulously planning for years. Everything from the exact amount of fuel he would need, weather conditions, food and places that he intended to visit. The one thing he had not planned on, of course, was a global pandemic. The plan was to set sail from Singapore to Polynesia, a journey that would take roughly four months in his yacht. Once there, he would spend, time exploring the region by land and by sea but he would soon learn that even his best-laid plans could go awry, especially in the face of a global pandemic. In late February, he left Indonesia on route for his next destination of Papua New Guinea; where he planned to stock up on fuel and food but a few days in Indonesia. While in Indonesia water, his autopilot broke and when he tried to anchor, he was told that the lockdown had already begun, the Pandemic had arrived and he was chased away. He eventually stopped at a remote Island. Where about 20 or 30 families lived there. They had no TV, no telephone and no communication with the outside world and they had not heard of a lockdown or a pandemic. As soon as he shared the news, however, they chased him off the Island and almost every stop off he could find also chased him away.

He kept on sailing by the 21st of April, he reached waters just outside Tuvalu, a tiny Island in the Pacific ocean. He was still about two hours from land when maritime officials who again told him he needed to leave and despite his plea, it fell on deaf ears, but they said no. Thankfully, he soon received word that the Fiji government had agreed to take him in and despite an horrendous experience, Mr. Wong was now safe. If we can consider the leadership and self-leadership parallels here, what might seem really counterintuitive for us all is to plan for what is completely unexpected, the crazy wildcard outcomes, so strategically, if we could be prepared when things go wrong, so as leaders just keep asking. What if? And we can unlock some great strategic thinking. That’s been a The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or interesting stories that you would like listeners to hear, please get in touch.

Start of Interview

Steve Rush: Excited to be joined today by Ian Mills and Mark Ridley. They are the co-founders of Transform Performance International and they have co-authored a number of books, the latest being The Leaders Secret Code. Ian, Mark welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Both Speakers: Thank you Steve.

Steve Rush: You are our first duo on the show, so I am really excited that we’ve got two leaders to hack into and two great brains to hack into some ideas and some thoughts today. But you guys have been a duo for a while, so I know that certainly from business perspective you work together, but how did you both meet and how have you arrived here?

Ian Mills: Mark and I met some 25 years or so ago when Mark was running a team of financial advisors for a retail bank in Exeter, Devon and I was the regional manager for that bank. And I remember very well my first meeting with Mark, I plan to meet this new leader and our organization. I had heard a lot of great things about him. I planned to take him out for lunch and I now know that in hindsight, Mark was imagining now that I was going to take him out for a very nice steak and a glass of red wine. In fact, I took him to McDonald’s and I think that tells you a lot about our different perspective on motivation, leadership and the way in which you engage them, build a successful teams.

Mark Ridley: I would say just add to that, I pull Ian’s leg remorselessly over the fact that he took me to McDonald’s for my lunch. To our conversation today, Steve, because at the end of the day, at the time, what I witnessed, I did not know it at the time, but what I was witnessing was a belief system from Ian in a style of leadership around focus and a practicality and you know, just getting things done. Whereas I wanted to spend more, time and be more affiliative and get to know this person. So the image of two guys sitting in pinstripe suits somewhere in deepest dark as Devon. Surrounded by kids on half term holiday trying to eat a burger on our first meeting in polite company. You can imagine that for me that was anathema and for Ian it was just business as usual. It is a real interesting way in which we often think about our behaviours and our beliefs. We think they are okay, but others perceive them very differently.

Steve Rush: It just goes to show, doesn’t it Mark that people have a different lens from which they look through and as leaders we need to be really aware of that. Now, Transform Performance International. Just give us a little bit of a summary as to what you currently do and how you can really help your clients.

Ian Mills: Transform Performance International is a performance enhancement consultancy; we work with famous name organizations all over the world. In fact, we have worked in some 50 or so countries for organizations like HP, Cisco, Deloitte, American Express and many more to help them. Predominantly through people changing the way they perform. That might mean changing behaviours. It might be changing a culture. It might mean changing the way the organization engages with their customers and it might mean change the way they lead in a VUCA world. A volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

Steve Rush: Having learned from many, many of your clients and indeed working with each other, you have penned a number of books together, the most recent being The Leader’s Secret Code. What was the inspiration for the book?

Ian Mills: The inspiration for the book was…The catalyst for the book was the fact that I am a member of a group in London called the entrepreneurs exchange. I meet with small intimate groups of entrepreneurs over dinner and typically, you hear one of them sharing their story. One of the things that I found over a number of years is that whilst this group is not in my target market for my business, I found their stories inspirational, intriguing, and beautifully articulated. On reflection one evening, I thought if only I could bought the magic of the way in which they share their success story that would be worth a lot of money. And I remember phoning Mark and say, Mark, I have the title of the book and the title of the book is The Entrepreneur’s Secret Code and we just need to get on and write it.

Well that started a, a dialogue around, well should we really write about entrepreneurs? And in fact, we actually started research into selling and the reason we did that is we believe that everybody sells. Whether you are a leader trying to influence your organization or whether you are a parent trying to influence your children to get a bed on time or frankly. Whether you are a sales person or indeed an entrepreneur seeking to grow a business, so that was our first book. It is almost, I guess an obvious move to then consider how do we then do research into leadership and share the findings in a similar book and that book became The Leaders Secret Code that we’re here to share with you.

Steve Rush: And I am guessing that having that foundation in research and academia removed some ambiguity away from where people might apply their own thinking in their own lenses. Is that right?

Mark Ridley: What we have learned about research is really quite fantastic Steve. If anybody out there is thinking about doing this for themselves, I’d really urge them to give it a go but do absolutely take your idea and then work with somebody who’s got that experience of doing the research because the whole thing will be enriched. It is really has been excellent.

Steve Rush: And Mark, your book has been described when you read it is a bit like dipping into a box of your favourite chocolates, which sounds absolutely delicious. How does it make it so tactile for readers to dip into understanding how they go about The Secret Code?

Mark Ridley: Well that was a massive compliment. I was really gratified to read it. It is a great question because I think it goes to the heart of the philosophy that whenever we interact with people in business no matter what, project we are on, the metaphor of the chocolates I think is all around the different flavours. Everyone will have their favourite chocolate. You know, I know in the old quality street, I like the heart caramel and they took it out. So all of those kinds of things will resonate the people when they look into a book. We deliberately did not write a book that you could literally open up the first page and feel that you have to work your way through it. I am sort of going to sound like I am a poacher turn gamekeeper but, I have never been a particular fan of business books. I have always used them as a reference point. I have rarely read a book cover to cover and I was acutely aware even when we wrote the Salesperson’s Secret Code that what we wanted was, these different flavours and different chapters, different ideas, you know, to mix our metaphors. Sort of a smorgasbord of different things to tempt you rather than to have to Wade your way through something that was turgid from page one right through to page 155 or whatever.

Steve Rush: And that is the appeal I guess for those people who love to read from cover to cover; They can do that, my learning style is fairly similar Mark and having read your book, what I found myself being able to do is just to dip in and you know, and also re-reference some of those things when I was particularly looking at some of the things I was working on too. So I can, I can resonate with that for sure.

Mark Ridley: Every chapter is written in a particular way that even when you read the body of the chapter, there is hints and tips on the psychology that we have applied. There is little reference points, there is little stories that people can dip into, so we have attempted to address every learning style even in every chapter. You could read each chapter once a month and still get something from it.

Steve Rush: And those iconic leader stories I thought were great by the way and maybe we could just kick around a couple of those, so I read something that you captured from Michael Tobin who was an OBE. Who ended up taking his team Bobsleigh to help them understand their approach tell us a little bit about that?

Ian Mills: Yes, Michael Tobin or Mike Tobin is one of the iconic leaders that we profiled in the book. Anyone who reads the book will find that yes, we have data based on a thousand leaders, but we decided to profile a number of what we call iconic leaders who display many of the attributes that the research suggests sets top performing leaders apart. Mike Tobin is one of them. One of the things that he does that is, particularly impressive is he uses metaphor as a mechanism to convey a message to dealership teams around the change that he desires. So a good example of that is that one of his frustrations when he was running a public company was that his sales organization seemed to have a frenzy around the quarter end and hitting the sales targets, and he wanted to change their mind-set.

So one of the things that he did is he took them to an Olympic bobsled run. This is the sales leadership team and the reason of that is if you push harder at the beginning, you go faster at the end. And what he wanted the leaders to do is to recalibrate the way they lead their teams when he got back to the operations headquartered in the UK and in fact, one of the things that sets him apart, I think is his, creativity, his innovation, his different way of looking at things. I have already shared the bobsled story.

Another example is that he had a, an executive leadership team that in his opinion lacked the bravery to take the business to the, next stage and what he chose to do is to take that executive team swimming with sharks. And the reason he did that is that he believed that they would learn what it is like to face fear and they would be able to translate those behaviours back into the workplace. And of course, as you can probably imagine, there is nothing quite as scary as facing off to real sharks under the water, so it should be relatively easy to face the challenges and the struggles that they may be facing in the business environment.

Steve Rush: And for those leaders have got that cyclical business. For me, when I read that, it was just a great metaphor, but not only is it a metaphor, you can visualize how wonderful would it be to create an experiential metaphor so people can really make that connection. And I think that’s the difference between what Mike Tobin did and what others may have said and done. You have a number of iconic leader stories in the Secret Code of your number of stories you have. Do you have a favourite?

Ian Mills: One of the leaders that we profiled that I particularly enjoyed the conversation

With was James Knight. James at the time was a major in the Royal Marines. He has a military cross, which I think says something about his, achievements and James is unlike what many of us might imagine a military leader to be like, which before I met James, you know, I imagined it to be quite a command and control. Quite a structured, dictatorial type approach. Whereas what I find with James is a very sophisticated, very curious, very empathetic, very engaging leader. One of the things that he said to me or one of the quotes that he gave me that I feel says an awful lot about James. Is he said to me Ian be interested, not interesting, and that is a good example of a belief that he holds that causes him to behave in a way that is congruent with that belief.

Steve Rush: And the belief of course that we might have is that people from an autocratic military background come with that set of rules and disciplines. And in my experience of having worked with some military leaders is quite often they’re contrarian to what we might perceive. They have got that ability to be different and to be curious and be very entrepreneurial even though they have to follow strict guidelines and rules and routines. Mark, you’ve managed to pull together your beliefs into what you refer to now as destination beliefs and that helps people kind of focus on the key characteristics and behaviours required in order to tap into The leader’s Secret Code. Can you just maybe for the listeners to share a seven destination beliefs are?

Mark Ridley: Sure, okay. Let me just briefly explain what I mean by a destination belief. You will imagine that when we asked, well over a thousand leaders for the research and a lot more since. When we asked leaders about their views of leadership, you will get repeat patterns and they will use maybe different language structure to describe those beliefs. But nevertheless, they will coalesce into, groupings of beliefs. And we bring those together almost into a set, of values if you like but, those are what the seven destination beliefs are. And the reason we gave them the destination epithet Steve, was very simply because what we realized very early on when we were writing the first book. Is that even if they don’t realize it though, those core beliefs are guiding them or helping them navigate the way through what is often known as…going back to the military expression as a very VUCA world as we call it.

You know, disruptive, volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous and so on and so forth and that, is why we decided that we’d use this expression, destination beliefs. Seven core beliefs that we observed and practically every leader that we spoke to, and they are in no particular order. The first one is around control, and the destination belief that we got so often when we spoke to leaders was that, well, control matters as you might expect in a leader, but someone has to be accountable for success. Someone has to be accountable for that success, so that was control.

The next destination belief was resilience and that was really around this idea that I can withstand pressure, but the point that Ian was making a moment ago, I can withstand pressure and I can spring back into, the shape that I want. It may not be the same shape as I was before the pressure, but nevertheless I can do that and that was the sort of overarching resilience view. The next one was about influence. Practically every leader we spoke to talked about the need to be able to influence the right way. Again, you would be surprised if it was not that way, but the way we defined it was how I make things happen through other people and that was important. It is not how I make things happen. It was how I make things happen through others. Then the next belief was around communication. I mean influence in communications almost go hand in hand but, the belief there was quite simple. That every leader we spoke to understood the importance of the way, the manner and style of communication up and down the organization.

Not only with their immediate teams, however, but with wider stakeholders and audiences perhaps that are external to the business. In other words, they were always aware of the way in which they came across to other people, so that was around communication. Then we came on to strategy. Every leader we spoke to talked about the importance of having a big picture view, and we were very interested into how they came about getting that, view and so the belief is very simply. That everybody in an organization has to understand what the organizations goals are, how the organization is positioning itself and how it will best utilize its resources in order to achieve its goals, so that was the fundamental destination belief around strategy.

The next belief was around empowerment and this is often an overused expression. I can hear people sort of hearing the word empowerment and sort of metaphorically rolling of the eyes takes place. But what was really interesting was that of the successful leaders we spoke to and especially the iconic. The concept of empowerment was never far from the conversation and the destination belief there was that my role is to enable my people to feel empowered, to take the right actions and to be the best that they can be.

Fulfilment was the final destination belief, so many of the leaders talked about desire to reflect that. We might come onto that later on, reflect on success or not as the case may be, and we chose a simple mantra that when we are successful, we will probably feel fulfilment may not be everything, but when we are successful, we will probably feel fulfilment. Again, we will probably explore how people get to that feeling of success, but the overarching desire, destination belief was, look, I am here to lead, but I am here to be fulfilled for myself and probably to help others feel fulfilled too. That is a Cook’s tour, Steve.

Steve Rush: It is brilliant. Yeah, it is a great lens to look through. I really like that whole kind of principle of those destination beliefs but of course, for the folks listening to this, they will all be at different stages of each of those destinations. And to help kind of with that thinking, you created what you refer to as journey motivators. Just tell us a little bit about how that works alongside the destination beliefs.

Mark Ridley: Well, basically when we were interviewing everybody we’ve ever spoken to in the project, and indeed, again, going back to the first book we did, we improve this methodology. We adopt and approach of interviewing people, which is a very loose conversation. I often describe it as a fireside chat, but as you will probably be aware, Steve. In our business, we do a lot of coaching and a lot of the techniques we use around coaching is to create an environment where the interviewee or the coachee creates what we call the metaphors for their own experience. When you ask direct questions, which can be very presumptive, have your own bias within them and so on and so forth, you don’t always get as much out of it. So by following this semi-structured approach, sometimes it is known as clean questioning. What we discovered was that let’s take control for an example.

You know I said a moment ago that the destination belief was all about someone or something being accountable for success.  What we learned is that there is a spectrum of views and as you rightly say, people will be at different points. At some point in your leadership journey, you may be in a situation where that control comes from a place of being quite directive. At other times, you might come at it from a place where you believe that perhaps it is more important to be a little more participative and then allow others to shape that direction of travel. So the idea or the concept of controlling or being participative, directive or participative, it gradually forms into these two, what we call journey motivators. The Secret Code, Steve, is the way in which the top quartile performers appear to balance those often almost opposing views, the sort of the yin and yang, the sort of opposites attract kind of thing.

So you’ve got in the centre there you’ve got almost what I’ll call this constructive contention between two belief systems, so the leader who is all directive is likely to fail. The leader who is over participative is likely to lose respect. The leader who is participative but also knows how to and when to put their foot on the gas and be a bit more directive is probably the leader who is going to be the most successful and that is the process we went through with all of the seven destination beliefs to arrive at the 14 journey motivators.

Steve Rush: Super helpful to get people into that mind-set to understand you know, what their strengths and development areas are at the same time I guess.

Mark Ridley: Yes, it is and at the end of the day is a very, very brief Cook’s tour of that because I know we don’t have time to go through every, one of them. With resilience to the idea is that Ian already alluded to the journey motivators were about working hard and working smart. With influence, there is a manner and style, which we came to call transactional style of influence versus transformation. I won’t bore you with the detail at the moment, but with communication it was around unemotional and emotional communication. Strategy was very interesting, that was around going with the gut and going, with facts and data. Empowerment was around delegating with the right degree of authority, which we called quite unambiguous empowerment versus a very ambiguous, laissez Faire kind of approach and fulfilment was around achievement for oneself versus achievement with others in an affiliative way.

Steve Rush: So really clear and easy to follow. And Ian, I understand that as a result of the large amount of research you created and your experiences, you’ve now taken this to another level now by kind of applying some science behind this and you’re helping your clients now consider how they’re approaching their leadership style using data science, AI using some psychometric testing. How did that come about?

Ian Mills: When we wrote the book. One of the key things that we decided to do from my business point of view is to enhance our value offering for our clients by building a set of tools and instruments that will help leaders become more like the top performing leader. So one of those tools is a psychometric instrument that is an online self-assessment instrument where an individual will go online, they will answer approximately a hundred questions, and as a consequence we will share with them a 20 page report that will map them against the findings of the top performing leaders. It will provide them with suggestions on what they might consider doing that will help them become a higher performing leader. Essentially, it is about self-reflection, and provocation and insight to help any leader that is curious around what they might do in order to improve the way by which they perform.

Steve Rush: Having completed it myself, I found it really helpful. It also comes with suggested development ideas across each of those belief systems as well. Some of the things to help people move beyond having an opportunity to dip into the chocolate box of The Secret Code is that whole principle of reflective learning and then what happens next. In your reports, you have a section that says, I am at score of 80, and it tells me that I am more prepared to do things. How would that be helpful for me?

Mark Ridley: Well, reflective learning and change readiness. I think are really important aspect of this you know, somebody could, you know, read a book, they could read their leader secret code report. They could, could have an experience with, a family member, with a team member. It really does not matter, but that only has meaning. If you actually then go away and reflect and think about. What did I take from that? And even if you decide that you take in a sense nothing from it and don’t need to change a mind-set or a behaviour from it. The fact of the matter is you have gone through a process of reflection. I have to say I’m continually surprised by the number of people we work with who will say to us, I am so pleased that the way in which you’ve engaged with us has given that space to breathe and to think and to reflect.

And I’ve got to say, I think at the moment, given everything that’s going on in everybody’s world, I think that’s possibly never even been more true. But most people in my experience don’t go through this process of reflective learning and it’s certainly in our experience, a Mark of a reasonably high level of emotional intelligence. When we do give ourselves that space and have that awareness to go away and reflect. But having reflected, of course then you have to decide if you want to do something different and if you do want to do something different, are you ready for that change? And again, in the work that we’ve done, Steve in organizations around the world over the last 20 years. I was particularly passionate about getting this concept across because there is no point in throwing stuff at people. Throwing new concepts, throwing ideas or whatever. If the people in the organization are not in that state of readiness to actually make that change happen, and that might be quite a long process, but I think it is important that the climate of any organization include this ability to say, well, we know what we want to do different. Come on, let’s have this honest conversation. Are we truly ready to do it?

And what I like about this idea of change readiness is this idea that when you might read your secret code report, for example, you might get a surprise and you might think, you know what? That is a shock to me. I had not even thought about that but that might push you into the reflective mode, but you might not yet be ready to do anything about it. On the other hand, you might read another area of the report and you might say, yeah, you know what, that resonates with what I have already been thinking about my career or my life or my behaviours or whatever it might, be.

And that contemplate of readiness is important too. We are at different points of the cycle and what we try to do with the report is Ian his already said. Is to simply to provide some nudges or some provocations so that if people read that report and it’s talking about where they are relative to other leaders, there’s just some ideas there for actually taking action, which of course is the next stage of change readiness. You know, am I currently prepared to try on a new behaviour or a mind-set as a consequence of what I’m learning around me. There is a lot to change readiness and reflective learning and I think very often as leaders and organizations themselves. We overlook that we are very good at delivering stuff to people, but the way in which we implement that is very often left behind and I think a lot of programs of change could be a lot more successful if more thought was given to that.

Steve Rush: Awesome. Thank you Mark. Really, appreciate that. Now this is the part of the show where I get to hack into your minds, so I am going to ask you for your top leadership hack that you could share with our listeners. Ian I am going to start with you first. Ian what would be your top leadership hack that you could share?

Ian Mills: Well, my top leadership hack. It is the first time I have been asked a question in quite that way, but I guess if it is my message for leaders, I believe that probably the thing that would be most transformational is to model people or model leaders who do something that you would like to be able to do. So don’t do that in the broadest, most general way, but find leaders who are exceptional at something. That might be the way they engage people, it might be the way they present on stage. It might be the way that they empathize, whatever that particular behaviour is that you have observed, go meet them. Go buy them a cup of coffee, go have a conversation with them and find out how they go about doing that. Why they do that? What goes on in their head? Deeply immerse yourself in what it is that they do in order you too can copy and paste that behaviour into your leadership role and I think that’s the one thing that I’ve seen others do that can be truly transformational in that performance.

Steve Rush: Love it. Thank you very much Ian. Mark your top leadership hack, what would that be?

Mark Ridley: Well, it actually builds on what Ian just said. Taking what Ian said. The next thing for me is about being aware of the beliefs that lie behind the outcomes that you are already achieving as a leader. Because you know, we hold a belief that behind the belief will drive a behaviour and out of that behaviour you will become whatever that belief is driving you towards. So you know that mantra of believe, behave, become is very crucial. So that my, my advice would be have the courage to investigate where, your beliefs are coming from and have the courage to try on different beliefs. I often say when I am working with leaders and they say, well we can’t do that, and I will turn around and say, well, okay, but what might it be like if you try? Because inviting people to try on different beliefs is so important.

A close friend of mine who has taught me a lot over my career once said to me, Mark changing beliefs is very simple. What happened the day that you first discovered that father Christmas wasn’t real? I hope there is no kids listening to this, but I, you know, the world did not fall in. I adapted and I moved on and my behaviours as a consequence became different up to that point. Of course, Father Christmas was it around that Christmas time, so it demonstrates to me that very often beliefs that we hold can be faintly ridiculous and the willingness to take a long, hard look at ourselves and almost laugh at our beliefs and as he Ian said, model the beliefs that others hold, I think is liberating. It is about creating flexibility and leadership style.

Steve Rush: I love the principle of trying on a belief. I can, again, metaphorically, you can almost feel and belief like a jumper or a hat or a label that you might wear.

Mark Ridley: You got it.

Steve Rush: And of course, by doing so you might bump into revelation, which is another form of how we create our belief system in the first place in this. I now know something today that I did not know yesterday and as a result of me trying on my belief, I might find out something new.

Mark Ridley: Like, exactly, yeah. I mean one of the questions I often say to leaders is. What have you learned in the last 24 hours? And that’s exactly the point you’ve just made, Steve and then the next question of course as well. Okay, but what could you have learned if you have chosen to learn it?

Steve Rush: Love it.

Mark Ridley: And that’s often a bringing people up short moment because you realized then that, you know, very often, again, we’re too busy or we haven’t really got that flexibility of belief to actually notice what we could have learned had we been bothered to try on that different belief.

Steve Rush: Sure, I would like to now get into what we call Hack to Attack. So this is where with our guests, we explore something that has gone wrong in your past. Collectively in your case, maybe as a business partners or as friends and colleagues, but now as a result of that going wrong in the past, you know, use that as part of your foundations to help you in what you do for your life and your work. What would be your Hack to Attack?

Ian Mills: You ask me what has gone wrong. Well I can’t think of anything of significance, but you know, a bit of course, like any business person, there are many minor things that go wrong. You lose a bid, you lose a client, somebody leaves your organization and my opinion businesses a never-ending learning journey. That does not mean that you can become perfect overnight, but what it does mean is that you can begin to adjust your behaviour as a consequence of your own personal experience of what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what have you observed elsewhere and what might you do differently in order to get to your desired destination.

Steve Rush: Sure. Mark, anything else for you?

Mark Ridley: The one that is coming to my mind and as you asked the question Steve, I suppose it has been triggered by the fact that we started this conversation in an area of where Ian and I first met. I am going to spring this one on Ian. We made it a little bit of an error in our career many years ago with rabbits. And the reason we made the error with rabbits was because we use them as a rather clever marketing campaign for financial services products and genuinely we wanted to attract interest in this financial services product. Because there had been a lot of issues around the regulation of this product and it was important that customers came and talked to us about what their options were. The only problem was Steve, but we did not really do enough research into the situation and we ended up being inundated with customers who thought that we were selling fluffy toys. We launched it around March time and it coincided with Easter and people thought we were having egg race in our retail outlets and it was a, shall we say, it did not go quite according to plan, so Ian, I to this day, blame you for signing that one off actually,

Steve Rush: Then it goes back to not working with pets and animals and all the rest of it, I guess.

Mark Ridley: Well, yeah, well it does see the real takeaway was we did that in an atmosphere of speed, haste and we probably did not take enough advice and counsel from wiser Sage heads. I have always carried that lesson with me. Always ask opinions, socialize ideas, Marion Hayes, repentant leisure kind of approach.

Steve Rush: Brilliant story. Thanks for sharing it Mark. Our listeners have got some real value out of listening to our guests on the show. Explore a little bit of time travel and that is exactly what I am going to do with you now, so I am going to ask you to imagine if you would. That you are going to do a bit of time travel and pump into your 21-year-old self and you have a chance to give them that one bit of Sage advice. Ian what would your advice be to your 21 year old self?

Ian Mills: Yeah, maybe the advice as I look back at my 21-year-old self would be to make sure that you get a job with an organization called Google at the earliest possible moment. Open and broaden your lens towards the art of the possible. Be curious, try and learn about the unknown or the unknown unknowns. And that will mean that you are opening yourself up to greater choice,

Steve Rush: Early adoption to new innovation. New companies that are entering the market, Right? Awesome. How about you Mark?

Mark Mills: Yeah, I like that. Mine is a little different if I look back at my 21-year-old self, oh but of a young gun going to set the world on fire, et cetera, et cetera. Hey, we all have those dreams and aspirations and it has been a pretty fantastic life, but looking back, I think I would say to myself four words, be prepared to pause, be prepared to reflect, get better at being open, especially to ideas and thoughts that might come from sources that you would ordinarily dismiss and then be receptive. Yeah, pause, reflect, open, receive.

Steve Rush: Super advice. Thank you so much, so what is next for Transform Performance International?

Ian Mills: What is next? First, Transform Performance International. Well in my opinion, and Mark may differ is I think it is keep doing the same. What do I mean by that? What I mean by that is organizations are continuously trying to perform better. The world, as I mentioned earlier, is a VUCA world. It is becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. What that means is that leaders need to think differently about how they act and how they behave and their mind-set and the whole kind of perspective on what a great job looks like. So probably, more than ever, organizations will need support from organizations like ours that can provide research that can provide insight. That can provide coaching. The main thing that I see that will change is that we need to become more digital in the way in which we deliver content. So think about this fashion right now. This is a, a podcast. When I started my career, there was no such thing as a podcast given right now, the COVID-19 situation where we might have been running a conference, a face-to-face event that is now being delivered virtually, so change is a constant a need for behaviour. Change is a constant; the way by which you deliver the change will evolve further as we go forward.

Steve Rush: So exciting times ahead. Well done. Now we are incredibly excited to be able to share The Leader’s Secret Code with our listeners and in a very different way. Super grateful for you gentlemen being able to provide this service today. For those listening, here is how you can get yourself a copy of the Leader’s Secret Code. Head over to our social media platform on LinkedIn. It is The Leadership Hacker Podcast. You need to shout out Mark Ridley, Ian Mills and that you have listened to the show. The first 10 will receive a free transform performance international psychometric test, which usually costs 100 pounds. So head over there now and the first 50 will be entered into a prize draw to obtain a copy of The Leader Secret Code of which Transformed Performance International are giving away 10; so thank you and providing that to our listeners. So if our listeners wanted to learn more about you both, and indeed the work that you do as Transformed Performance International. Where would you like them to go?

Ian Mills: In order to contact either Mark or myself or my company? Our website address is both of us are active on LinkedIn. So again, my name is Ian Mills. My colleague is Mark Ridley. You can find us on LinkedIn. Please feel free to invite us to connect.

Steve Rush: Brilliant and we will make sure that we put your details; both your LinkedIn profiles and indeed your website will be in our show notes. So as soon as everybody has finished listening to this, they can head onto our website or to the podcasts that they choose. Click on the links and find it straight away, so I would just like to say it has been super talking. It has been really fascinating learning about how the research has pulled together The leader’s Secret Code and sharing some of the secrets with us today. So thanks both Ian and Mark for joining us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Mark Ridley: Thanks for having us.


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