Being a Digital Leader - the Good, Bad AND Ugly of Digital Transformation

The Intersection of Empathy and Technology in Modern Leadership

February 15, 2024 AND Digital
Being a Digital Leader - the Good, Bad AND Ugly of Digital Transformation
The Intersection of Empathy and Technology in Modern Leadership
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Come join us for an engaging conversation on the role of empathy in digital leadership with Trenton Moss, a skilled executive coach, former Samaritan, author, and seasoned leader with over two decades of experience in coaching and team training.

Trenton's impressive journey includes founding, growing, and successfully exiting one of the UK's top product design and research agencies, Webcredible. As CEO for 15 years, he transformed the team into client superstars, working closely with leading UK brands. 

Curious about the impact of empathy on executive success? This episode delves into the evolving leadership styles across different generations. We'll explore the challenges traditional leaders face when adopting a more emotionally intelligent approach, dissecting the importance of psychological safety in high-performing teams. Drawing on Google's research, we'll also examine the four key human motivators that drive our work ethic.

Join us as we discuss strategies for cultivating environments where individuals can thrive, and how diverse personalities leverage these motivators to enhance their contributions in the workplace. Tune in for a deep dive into digital leadership and gain valuable insights from Trenton's wealth of experience and his book, "Human Powered."


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Speaker 1:

We all hear a lot about digital transformation, but unless you've been there and done it, it's easy to feel that transformation is a significant challenge that might seem difficult to conquer. That is why we've launched the Good, bad and Ugly podcast series. Each episode, we talk to people who've been at the heart of transformation and we get under the skin not just of what they did and how they did it, but how it felt to be at the centre of it. Welcome to our podcast being a Digital Leader the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of digital transformation. I'm Wendy Stonefield. I'm the London Hub Executive and I'll be your host today. Our guest today is a former founder and CEO of Web Credible, turned author. I have the evidence right here the driving force behind the leadership coaching business Team Sturker joining us to share insights into his fascinating journey. I can't wait to hear more. The dynamics of transforming client-facing businesses with a focus on people skills is none other than Trenton. Marce. Trenton is fantastic to have you with us. Welcome to the show.

Speaker 2:

Thank you, hey Wendy.

Speaker 1:

I know we've highlighted intro, but I'm going to hand over to you to talk a little bit more about yourself by way of an introduction.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, sure. So I'm Trenton, obviously, and what I spent most of my career running a user experience agency. So I started the business of Web Credible around 20 years ago and there was a real gap in the market for user experience. No one was really talking about it. No one was really talking about. Well, let's understand the needs and goals of our users and then design products and services that solve problems. It seems weird that no one was saying that. So I started an agency doing that and I was. Luckily it worked and I was able to grow that agency.

Speaker 2:

It was a bit of a roller coaster ride over 15 years. It was quite a lot of fun and I think there were a couple of real seminal moments for me doing that. One of them was launching a behavior transformation program internally. So we started this program within the business around trying to equip our teams with the ability to have difficult conversations with clients, to really inspire and influence those clients, to kind of influence and persuade clients where need be, to adapt how they communicate in a way that works for clients. And it was really successful. Actually, it worked really well. We saw a real impact in the business. So I saw first hand the power of kind of transforming people's behavior and supercharging them with emotional intelligence and people skills. And that was a real interesting moment for me because it was then that I realized that emotional intelligence and people skills really can be taught and it is just like any skill where it comes naturally to some people more than others and, however, with any skill, you can also learn it and you can improve and get better. So that was my first kind of really real seminal moment within the business. And the second kind of thing that was for me was really interesting was I used to run some communities a community for design leaders and a community for digital leaders within brands, all running large teams, and we'd meet every month and we'd talk about their pain points and it was always people issues.

Speaker 2:

No one's going into these conversations saying, oh well, the tech wasn't built properly. It's just always people issues, that my team can't seem to work well with other teams, or I've got these issues within the team, or we can't influence stakeholders in the way we need to be. Always, always people issues. And I remember thinking, well, you can teach people these skills and you can learn them, and it seems like everyone's got this problem. So I ran my agency for 15 years. We were acquired in the end and I left shortly afterwards and I realized I need to start a company solving this problem, because everyone seems to have these issues with people not having the skills to work well with each other and not having as much emotional intelligence as ideally they should have.

Speaker 1:

That's great, thank you, and it's interesting to hear your reflections of transforming your own agency Webcredible and the transferability of that work that you did internally into other teams, client side and probably in other customer and client facing organizations as well. That's quite a journey. It's quite a lot of change, I would imagine, from running your own agency to we'll talk about touch on it briefly when you handed me my beautiful copy of Human Powers the experience of writing a book but now actually running a business that is about supporting others in developing high performing teams with great emotional intelligence and people skills. Can you just tell us a little bit more about, for you personally, what that journey has been like and some of the differences and the change that you've experienced?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's been. I'm really enjoying it. I feel like it's my mission, because if everyone in the world had reasonable levels of skill and emotional intelligence, if this stuff was taught in school, if we sat there and we taught our kids how to have really strong skills and empathy, how to build up your self-awareness, and then those kids then came out of schools and universities and into the workplace. I mean, just imagine what the working world would be like no stakeholder politics, no petty disputes, no grievances. We'd be able to work together properly as people, and that's going to impact business performance, obviously, and it's been proven time and time again that a team that works well together outperforms a team that doesn't. The glass door best places to work always outperform the rest of the stock market.

Speaker 2:

So this stuff is, for me, super important and so obviously I started Team Sturker around three or so years ago, just around the time COVID hit, which was an interesting time to start a business, and had to flip the whole way. I envisaged it worked, and I wrote the book at the same time about the skills that I believe everyone needs. I'm a qualified and certified executive coach. I've been a Samaritan in the past, done a lot of work around coaching and counselling, so I've got kind of, I guess, the background in all of this and I've seen it applied within my agency, with clients and internally within brands. So, taking all of that knowledge, interviewing a lot of digital leaders as well, back in 2020, I wrote the book and then, yeah, it came out in 21, which was very exciting, and a couple of weeks later it became a best seller in its category, which was even more exciting, probably mostly for my mother, actually.

Speaker 1:

She was extremely excited, I'm sure.

Speaker 2:

I'm sure Super proud mom, yeah, super proud mom, which was nice and yeah.

Speaker 1:

No, that's really interesting. And it's really interesting that you talk about. Look, emotional intelligence become one of those buzzwords in business as well, and there is. You know, nobody would have been speaking about that 10 years ago. And you allude to the fact that you know there are some people who may be more traditional, who feel that there's a fluffiness to it. And you know, I think you and I, when we touched base previously, I've said you know, we're all human beings.

Speaker 1:

We spend a lot of time at work, more time at work than we spend with our families, friends and loved ones and on a purely human level, who doesn't want to make that the best possible experience? And I think people genuinely don't come to work to not get along and be high performing. So where does it go wrong? Emotional intelligence I think it's a really interesting conversation about the nature versus nurture discussion, Because I think it does seem like there are people who are just more. It comes more naturally than it does to other people. Would you agree with?

Speaker 2:

that. Oh yeah, Look it. As I said, emotional intelligence is like any skill, so there are. Like my son would love to be a football player when he grows up, Like he just dreams of being a footballer, but he doesn't have the natural talent, I'm afraid.

Speaker 2:

And I think he's he's starting, dad, he's starting to realize I've never said that to him. I think he's starting to realize it that you know he's putting the effort in and he's he's pretty good at football but he's never going to make it as a Premier League player or even anything remotely close. So emotional intelligence is like a skill, like football, like any skill, and it comes more naturally to some people who just naturally then realize they're quite good at it, perhaps have an interest in it and then develop themselves further. And some people it comes less naturally to. You know, there's also a case of, I think, waiting for the kind of older school behavior, the people exhibiting that behavior, to perhaps retire and leave the workplace. And I think there's probably another 10, 15 years of that, because you've got plenty of execs in place who come from, who grew up in a very different working environment and who were, who were taught that you know, being fluffy and showing emotions and showing any kind of weaknesses is wrong. That is not what you do.

Speaker 2:

And I remember telling to an exec about a year ago now, a guy probably late 50s, super successful career, working, very senior for large, large multinational businesses, and he he was very honest with me and he said you know, I, trent, and I I struggle a bit with this because I, he said, I get it.

Speaker 2:

I get why I should behave this way. I get the benefits, because so much has been written about the benefits of working in a, in a, you know, in psychological safety, in an organization that can allow people to thrive. So he's like, I completely understand it. But I got brought up in the working world, getting taught something very different and I spent my early years in the working world, the first five, 10 years, perfecting, basically being an asshole, because that's what he was told to do and that's what he was told would help him be successful. And it did help him be successful. So he learned that behavior from the infancy of his career and then just built on that. And he was very honest and he said I know I need to change and I try, I try my best to empower other people and to lift them up and to use principles of positive psychology. And he said sometimes I do succeed and I get there, but other times I don't because I've got this learned behavior that is so difficult for me to change.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, really, really interesting, and I think there's probably not to put agenda lens over everything. There is probably part of a gender discussion around it where a lot of women have always felt they have to suppress that emotional, intelligent aspect of their being in order to be successful as well. So, in some ways, quite liberating for those people who've had to quieten down that aspect of their leadership style.

Speaker 2:

I think that's everywhere. I think it's across all genders. It's all of us have certain ways of being, we all. There are different behavior types, and there are certain behavior types that are more motivated by building up personal relationships, and it's those people in particular, I would say, who had to suppress that, which is completely wrong, because we want everyone to flourish. If we want to be the highest possible performing organization, we need our individuals to be at the highest possible performing level.

Speaker 1:

I'm keen to dig into that a little bit, because you reference the fact that there's a lot of research around why it's important and the business benefits. Can we talk a little bit? Yeah, yeah, sure Around that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure, I mean there was an interesting study by a joint study by Harvard and Stanford universities and they found that 85% of job success comes from well-developed people skills Like 85% Immens. And so there's some research that I did as part of the book. I found that for UK executives, 70% of the problems they deal with they would describe as people issues. So 70% of the time that they have to spend solving issues is due to people, and all of that interferes in your ability to kind of crack on and do a really good job and work on strategy and important things. So there's a clear business case here.

Speaker 2:

I think Google there was a really great study by Google. I mean it's pretty old now, it's probably about 10 years old, but they spent two years going around the organization, looking at all the teams and working out which were the most high-performing teams and the lowest-performing teams and just studying, trying to work out what do those high-performing teams have in common and they thought they were gonna look for you know, certain job roles or certain levels of seniority and so on and so on, and what they found that they couldn't believe, because you know the thing they found that all those teams have in common Psychological safety.

Speaker 1:

That is just remarkable, so proven and well-evident, and I think you know it sounds. You know, when you talk about it like that, it sounds so obvious and we talk about the fact that everybody has good intent.

Speaker 2:

They do.

Speaker 1:

And yet you have formed Team Sturck on the basis of the fact that actually not everybody's there. And these are real challenges that many organizations still grapple with, you know. So my question is what are we still not getting right in terms of the people's skills? You know where we go wrong. What are we missing?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean, for me it's like with any skill that you wanna develop. It's about it's looking at the learning situation. I mean, look, there are so many skills that we need to learn right. So emotional intelligence is one of them. But to be successful in a role, you've got lots of different things that you need to learn and ways to be. For me, given that 85% of job success comes from people's skills, I think that should be a priority and, like you said before, some executives might see it as something that's a bit fluffy, but there's some really basic things.

Speaker 2:

So, like, there's four key motivators that we, as humans, have and that can be relationships I mentioned before can be a big driver for people and where you get your energy from, from having those connections with people. Another one of the key drivers is recognition. So perhaps people who do podcasts and post a lot on social media the recognition is what gives them energy. Another one is achievement, so getting stuff done and feeling like you're making progression. And the final one is kind of crafting and perfecting items. So it's those four things that, as humans, we generally get our energy from, and everyone is different, so there's some people. Take my wife, for example, my wife. I know it's Pro-Vice. She very much gets her energy from personal relationships. So when she goes into a meeting at work, if the people in that meeting just wanna crack on with it and not spend just a couple of minutes having a bit of chat connecting, that's hard for her. That will drain her energy and there's, you know, a quarter of people have that as their primary energy driver. So you've gotta take time to build a human connection with someone like my wife, whereas someone like me I'm the one quite opposite to that.

Speaker 2:

I'm driven by achievement. So I'm very happy to go into a meeting and not even have the other person say how are you? I have no interest in someone saying to me how are you? Yeah, I'm fine. How are you? Yeah, I'm fine. Okay, well, that wasted 10 seconds. Let's crack on and try and achieve stuff, because I very much get my energy from achieving, and it's not that I don't care about people, I deeply care about people. I get my energy from trying to achieve things, though. So I need to be aware. I need to be aware. I need to know how to spot who gets their energy from relationships, who from recognition, who from achievement like me and who from crafting things. And I need to change my conversation style, not my personality, but I just need to change how I communicate to those people, based on those styles.

Speaker 1:

And I was gonna say you know, my interaction with you was very much probably read me and adapted your style, asking questions that were more around relationship build in terms of background where I lived, et cetera. So really interesting that you've honed that in yourself.

Speaker 2:

You kind of if you want people to like you, if you wanna. It's not like it's not a sneaky thing, right, it just kind of after a while it just comes naturally. But it's just. If you're able to read what someone's motivations are, then, like with any skill, you start with what is it? It's I don't know.

Speaker 2:

This is a really tricky one to say. You start with unconscious incompetence and you move to unconscious competence. So you go unconscious incompetence, which is basically where you know nothing about it. You don't know what you don't know and you're useless at it. So let's just say, in the context of you know understanding someone's personality type and their motivators, so let's just say you're rubbish at that. You don't even know about it. You don't even know it exists. So I run training programs in this and there's plenty of people who don't even know this stuff exists, which for me is I find crazy, but anyway. But then you learn about it. Right, and just because you learn about something, it doesn't make you good at it. So now you've got conscious incompetence because you're aware of it, but you're rubbish at it because you haven't, like, flexed that muscle. So then you like, maybe learn about okay, I need to adapt how I communicate to different people. So you start practicing and over time, like with anything.

Speaker 2:

Practice makes perfect not quite perfect, but practice helps you get better. And then you get to conscious competence. So then you're in a position where it's like, okay, I get these different personality types, I get how people like to communicate, I get what that people have, different motivations, and I can kind of work out what those are for different people. Okay, I'm working at this and I'm getting quite good at it. And then eventually you get to the best part, which is unconscious competence, where it just becomes a natural part of how you are. And again, if ever, I mean like all of our issues in the world, I mean really pretty much all of them. You know, political, social, and you know, even within business, everything is all just communications. And if we just went into those adapting how we communicate, trying to come up with win-win outcomes, assuming the best of intentions of people, because no one's got bad intentions then the world, the working world, schools, everything would be so much better.

Speaker 1:

I didn't you know. When I woke up this morning, I didn't think we were going to be solving world problems.

Speaker 1:

I do, I love my trance in and I find that really interesting because you talk about, you allude to the different sort of frameworks and tools that are out there in terms of identifying what somebody's natural personal traits are, and we, from an perspective, we use HBDI as our internal tool.

Speaker 1:

But I agree with you, I think it's about how you bed that down and use it, because it's one thing, having awareness and having training in it and knowing what your profile is. It's another thing how do you incorporate that into your way of operating? And I think, as you're saying, it's not a, it's not a sneaky thing, because you're doing it to help achieve your own objectives, but also do do so in a way that is collaborative and conducive to how those other people, to other colleagues and peers around you, how they operate and gain an understanding of that 100%. So we're really interested in that and I suppose, in terms of the work that you do at Team Sturker, and interested in the name and happy for you to talk to us about sort of why Team Sturker and the meaning behind it, but also interested in terms of how you typically, how do the, what challenges are presented to you, like, what's the symptom that comes to you when a client picks up the phone to you.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, that's a great question. Well, the name comes from the Icelandic word for strong, so Sturker is strong in Icelandic, and when I, when I founded the company, I was, I was watching a lot of Vikings on on Amazon, and Icelandic people are actually descendants from from the Vikings, and I was reading about Vikings at the time. I was quite interested and it it turns out that the reason the Vikings were so successful was they broke themselves down into small, self-managed and very high performing teams and I thought, oh, that's very interesting. So most armies would just like attack on mass and there'd be some big, you know Braveheart style battle and whoever had the most numbers would win, whereas the Vikings used to like attack us Brits and so on. It, you know, in what appears to be a very haphazard attack to us, but actually was very well coordinated and the teams were very high performing. So I thought, okay, you know, they were strong teams. So I took the Icelandic word for strong and made it Team Sturker.

Speaker 1:

I love that, taking inspiration from battle to great peace and harmony.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, from like 1500 years ago Exactly.

Speaker 1:

Really interesting. And I mean so then in terms of you know, typically, how does, how does, what problems are presented to you when, when somebody comes to you for support, what are the pain points?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's always people problems. So it's like you know, my, my team struggles to have difficult conversations, be it with clients or be it with stakeholders. If you're working internally, I've got these potentially issues within my team not being able to work well together. And then obviously, we work generally in matrix structures now in organizations. So the days of kind of silos of, say, within digital, you've got your you know designers, you've got your engineers, you've got your product managers, and they used to sit in their three different silos and the directors of would venture out of those silos and communicate with each other, Whereas nowadays, obviously, we're working in cross functional teams, we're interfacing directly with stakeholders and people just just don't have the skills to be able to get the outcomes that they want. And I ideally what we should all be going for is win-win outcomes.

Speaker 2:

So you go into a meeting with a stakeholder or with a client and they may be railroad you, or they suggest this or they want that, and none of those are going to help you achieve your objective. You think they're all terrible ideas. So you either do you do one of two things. You either kind of like okay and you kind of bend. You know. You kind of like bend to their will and you do something that isn't that's a win for them but a lose for you, which isn't ideal. You don't want to lose. Or you might try and argue with them and try and push your way through, which is going to get their back up, because they feel like you don't get them and actually you're far better off going in trying to seek a win-win.

Speaker 2:

So in every conversation you have with a client, with a stakeholder, with a boss, with someone in your team, all of those conversations, before you go into it, just think to yourself what do I want to get out of this? What's the outcome that I want? What does success look like for me? And for really important conversations you might want to discuss that with a teammate and write it down, even. But if you, you know, often you can just think about it and then, once you've worked that out, what success looks like for you, you say, well, what do they want out of this? What does success look like for that person I'm meeting with? And again, you might want to seek advice from a colleague or two to try and work it out. And then you go into that meeting and and you can say, right, we're meeting about this, just so you know. I want you to know. This is what success looks like for me. This is the outcome I want to get to. Now I think maybe you want to get to an outcome that's maybe X, Does that sound about right? And they'll say yes, or they'll say no and they'll talk something else. You say, great, okay, what I need is this, what you need is this. Just so you know, in this meeting I'm gonna take a 50-50 stand for both of those outcomes. Like, for me, it's not okay for me to leave this meeting without getting the outcome that I need, and it's equally not okay for me to leave this meeting without you getting the outcome you need.

Speaker 2:

And if you say that to a stakeholder, a colleague, whoever it is you're with, I mean, how empowering is that for them? They're like, wow, okay, I can't railroad them because they're not gonna accept that, and at the same time, they're gonna be supporting me, hitting my goals, and the conversation that you have just changes, it just transforms when you make them aware that you want that win-win outcome.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, great, I mean it sounds super simple, but in terms of that change in behaviors, I'd imagine that takes a lot of to-your-point practice in developing the muscle memory. But in doing that you also described how almost painted a picture of Nirvana. We're working as cross-functional teams and the old days of silos and I think in some cases that is true. I think in other cases not yet, but in terms of that cross-functional scenario, you are often bringing together people who do approach things from very different personality types and bringing very different ways of thinking and working together. So I'm interested in sort of your take on that and your thinking around that, and I'm also interested in how you think us working post-COVID in a world where there is actually although we're all more back in the office now than we have been for a long time for purposes of collaboration, but we are not collaborating as much in person. Like what impact do you think that has had as well?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, okay. So, in terms of cross-functional teams working well together, different personality types, different drivers, I mean, yeah, you see it all the time and, look, to be honest, it kind of ties back to just the things that I'm saying. So it's about being aware of you, your drivers, your motivations, how you like to communicate, how you like to behave, and understanding that. And it's very easy to learn more about yourself because you just ask people. So, as a first step that I often encourage people to do, talk to three colleagues who you trust, who you feel will be honest with you, who you feel kind of you know safety with, and say what is it that I do to have a negative impact on you or other people?

Speaker 2:

And you just and you let them speak and you don't get defensive, you just like listen to what they're saying, you ask them to expand, you ask questions and you learn, you know the things that you do to have a negative impact on people. And then you say, well, what is it that you value in me and what is it that I do to have a positive impact on you and others? And you know, you hear a bunch of stuff and that's the starting point. And then you say, okay, well, you know, these are certain behaviors that people value in me and these are ones that don't work so well. These are perhaps things I need to work on, and you talk to people about this, and one thing that I also teach is the principle of see it, say it, stop it, which I think is lovely, and it sounds just like if you live in London, you're on the underground when there's a dodgy package.

Speaker 1:

See it, say it, sort it.

Speaker 2:

So it's a little bit similar to that the phrase, but it's essentially if you've got a behavior that you know has a negative impact on other people, obviously you don't wanna keep doing it.

Speaker 2:

No, you know no we all have the best of intentions. So if you have conversations and realize this, you will start to notice it. You will see it. You will be in conversations and you will see yourself say, railroading someone because you wanna push your opinion through, because you're time poor, you've got loads of things to think about, you just want it to happen. So you will start noticing it. You will naturally start seeing it and then the next thing you do is you say it.

Speaker 2:

So you're in the meeting and a lot of people are very nervous to do this. You're in the meeting and you say hold on, hold on. You know what? I'm railroading you here. I'm actually steamrolling my idea over the top and trying to push it through, and that's not a good thing to do because you're not gonna buy into it and therefore no one's gonna really be motivated to make this happen. I'm really sorry like I'm trying to stop doing that. Let's reset and start again.

Speaker 2:

And what's quite extraordinary is, if you say something like that, you naturally move to the next stage, which is stop it. You will not do it again in that interaction. It's just as soon as you acknowledge it. And people find that quite difficult because they're like oh, they're gonna think I'm weak for saying this and you know like you know me pointing this out. Maybe they don't realize it, and it's like they do realize it. They're sitting in the meeting knowing they're getting railroaded by you and knowing that you railroad them every single time. So, by acknowledging it, the levels of respect that people then get for you just saw, and they're far more likely to help you achieve your goals.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, in all of these interactions, do you wanna? You need to learn about yourself. You need to have a real understanding of self-awareness. I think self-awareness is one of the most important skills, because everything follows from that. So you learn about yourself. You then learn about other people and try and work out where they're coming from. Always, always, always, assuming the best of intentions. No matter how rude someone is, no matter how badly they behave, no matter how they communicate, that their intention is not to upset, frustrate or annoy you. Their intention is something else and they just happen to have upset, frustrate and annoy you. So don't judge them on their behaviors or their communications. Judge them on their intentions and try and be the better person. And, if you can get those two things working, know about yourself, assume the best of intentions in other people always seek a win-win outcome, then working in cross-functional teams in principle is a breeze.

Speaker 1:

Gosh, it might sound easy.

Speaker 2:

Well, it kind of is once you've got these skills, but then the pressures of everyday life come into it, right, and you've got the pressures of home life and whatever you've got going on in there, and you've got the pressures of work, where we're all trying to do too much and haven't got enough time so and it can be frustrating. So I work with people sometimes who I find incredibly frustrating and I find it really hard to work with them because of my personality type and I get where they're coming from and I get that they're not trying to annoy me. And they do still annoy me because I'm human right, and we all have different ways of communicating and being. So I'm hopefully able to move on from my frustration and see them for the intentions that they have. But yeah, I still need to vent and get frustrated at people so I can move on to that stage of assuming the best of intentions.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think it's all aimed at getting the best possible output, but it's really interesting because you talk about it. It's very disarming the positioning around acknowledging I'm pushing and I'm railroading. It's quite disarming, I would imagine. And actually what that would do in a dynamic, in a meeting dynamic would then, you know, open up a whole different conversation.

Speaker 2:

It changes. It's unbelievable the difference. And I know this firsthand because when I run workshops around this principle of see it, say it, stop it and then I get people to share examples of when they might have seen that happen, so when they just might have been in a meeting where someone said, hold on, I'm really sorry, I shouldn't have said that or I shouldn't have behaved this way. So I've heard I don't know 100 or more examples of this from people in my workshops and every time they say the same thing what you just said that it just shifts the dynamic.

Speaker 2:

And everyone's like wow, and your respect levels for that person, just so yeah.

Speaker 1:

Well, it is about everybody, then, being able to contribute, be creative, be vulnerable in that scenario so that you do have the right outcome. Yeah, or is that psychological?

Speaker 1:

And decision, or whatever it is you're discussing absolutely, yeah, 100%, totally. And you know, in the spirit of we're called the good, the bad and the ugly as a workshop, as a podcast session, without naming any names, but of course we you can if you want to. But can you share the good, the bad and the ugly of senior teams that you have interbased in what would have been the real kind of hard nuts to crack, or, you know, does everybody ultimately get there or just at a different pace?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's a great question To be honest, there's no one I've worked with who I would describe as either good, bad or ugly. Everyone has elements of all of them, right? So you know, some of the things I've been talking about today is like. You know, it's like a nirvana. Like for any skill that you want to develop, no one's ever going to be perfect at it. We haven't got the time to do it or the budgets to do it. So there's no senior team I've ever worked with where they've been good in everything, bad in everything or ugly in everything.

Speaker 2:

There are ugly things that I see and certainly if you're running digital, you're running product, you're running digital transformation.

Speaker 2:

The biggest challenge I've ever had is and this is, I guess, is kind of ugly but for you and this is across so many organizations your goals and your objectives will often clash with other people in the senior team.

Speaker 2:

So if you're running transformation, your you know your objectives generally are quite, quite based on long-term change. They're making this organization fit for the modern world and looking at the org structure, the ways of working, culture and so on and so on, and moving things into the modern era, and that often conflicts with the often slightly more short-term objectives that other people in the exact team have and I remember hearing one example from a very, quite senior digital product person and they're trying to get budget and they're sitting there, you know the exact team is all around the table and the CIO says well, I need 50 million quid to invest in this system and at the moment it's being held together by a bunch of band-aids and if you don't have the money, you know you're not going to be able to invest in this system and if you don't give me 50 million quid, this system will probably break in.

Speaker 2:

the next year and our whole business will cease to function. How can you, how can you argue with that? How can you compete with that? How can you say, well, I want to digitally transform the business, I need money, it just it's just difficult.

Speaker 2:

And then you know your CMO sits there and says well, you know, obviously we need to market the business and you know we normally spend X on advertising. I need that money to keep going. You know, marketing budgets tend to be quite large at that scale and it's really hard to compete. And when you're running digital and product in a business, I've seen many businesses where you know that digital senior person lasts for just a few years, not very long, because you just bang in your head against the brick wall every single day and it's exhausting. So you stay for two or three years, you try and bring about some change and you go and the next person comes in to bang their head. And that's the hardest thing around running transformation is that everyone else is thinking short of term and their objectives don't necessarily align with yours.

Speaker 1:

That's a whole nother podcast.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I'm sure you've got plenty of senior digital people who can come in and tell you about their banging heads against walls.

Speaker 1:

But I think it's a really interesting you know, cut through to what is, what do you define as transformation and how extensive is that and what can be realistically achieved within any given time frame, and ultimately bringing those stakeholders together, who all should have a combined and mutual objective that they're trying to hit, and and how do you create the win-win between those different things and it's really hard.

Speaker 2:

Like, look in a smaller business it's actually really easy because you have an overarching objective for your business and then you just let that obviously transcend down to people's individual objectives on the exact level and then through to the people you know in the rest of the business. It's easy in a small business, in a massive juggernaut of a, you know, multi -million, multi -billion pound business, it's incredibly challenging. So we can sit here and say, wow, that's such an awkward way of being, but solving that problem is hard.

Speaker 1:

It's really difficult and I think taking inspiration from how different cultures if you look at Japanese corporations and how they manage that flow in very large-scale global enterprise is quite interesting as well, with structures around corporate objectives that flow down into departments, into country department and then down to individual as well, but in quite a formal, structured, rigorous way.

Speaker 2:

Which is how it should be.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, really, really interesting. And the book we'll hold the book up. Human Powered explores how to supercharge yourself with people, skills and emotional intelligence and I hope everybody will rush out and download Audible or order their hard coffee. But can you give us? I'm all up for practical tools that will help people supercharge themselves. So are there one or two practical tools you can give us that people could take away from listening?

Speaker 2:

I mean, to be honest, it's a lot of the stuff that we've spoken about already. So it's about learning about yourself and the way you do this is you just ask. You just ask people about the impact that you have on them and the impact they see you having on other people, and you do this with an open mind. You have to give that other person psychological safety when answering it, because the moment you get defensive about it, then they shut down. They'll stop giving you honest feedback. So get honest feedback from people about the positive and negative impact that you have on others and, with everyone you interact with, assume the best of intentions. So stop judging people by their behavior and communications that you don't like and assume the best of intentions. And those, for me, are the two kind of core things.

Speaker 2:

There's a really interesting tribe in Southern Africa that I know about, called the Babamba tribe, and they do something really interesting in there, which I love.

Speaker 2:

So if someone in the Babamba tribe commits a crime or some sort of misdemeanor, then what they do in the tribe is they get that person to stand somewhere and they all form a massive circle around them and they don't shout at that person or beat them or anything like that. Instead, what they do is everyone in the tribe takes a turn to talk about that person's positive contribution to the tribe and the things that they value in them, and you have to go into a lot of detail. So this takes ages because the whole tribe has to speak and after a few hours they have a big celebration and that person's symbolically welcome back. So they're not giving that person attention about the negative things that he or she did. Instead, they're talking to that person about the great things they do and trying to get that person to focus on doing those great things more and bringing them up and lifting them up, and that's what we should be doing.

Speaker 2:

Not just in the workplace, but with our families, in everything that we do. We've got to stop making people wrong. We've got to start seeking win-win outcomes and making it clear that we're on your team. Another great example. I love this example because this also applies to with kids. So one thing I've learned is that with young kids, like a toddler, like a two or three year old, if you give that child a banana and you peel the banana and you hand the banana to the child one thing I've learned that globally this applies because I've talked about this with people all over the world if that banana breaks right you peeled it and the top of the banana breaks off, that child will lose it, regardless of what country they live in.

Speaker 1:

I think I remember that.

Speaker 2:

That child loses it, and you know. And the child goes I don't want this banana, it's broken, get me a new banana, I'm not eating this. And you know what we do as parents all the time. We make our child wrong for feeling that way and we say don't be ridiculous, I'm not getting a new banana, there's nothing wrong with this banana. Now, not for a second saying you should get them another banana. What I am saying is you shouldn't make them wrong for being upset about the banana breaking in half.

Speaker 2:

So you know, often we're saying, oh, you can't get another banana. No, no, no, there's nothing wrong with it. Stop crying, you don't need to feel this way. And actually what you should do with your kid is you get down on their level and you say I'm so sorry, your banana split in half. You really wanted your bananas being one piece and now it's in two. And you're obviously really upset about this. I want a new banana. Get me another banana. You say, oh my gosh, you're so distraught about this. I'm so sorry. You know, I know that you wanted it in one piece and it's in two. And this is just awful for you. And what you're doing is you're showing them so much empathy but you're not for a second making them wrong, and then eventually you can move the conversation on to explain why you're not going to get another banana.

Speaker 2:

But, you're looking for a win-win outcome here, Because they're upset because the banana's broken. They want a banana that tastes nice and they think a banana broken maybe isn't and you're saying you know, I can't get you one because it's going to, it's a waste. We can't always do that when things break, but how can we take this forward?

Speaker 1:

Yeah no, it's really interesting and I'm way off the toddler days with 20 year old now. But you know I think you're when you're relaying that in relation to a child. You know it takes me back to the time pressure. And what are the things that stop you from behaving like that? That don't you think you're saving time, but ultimately you're probably spending more time with a stressed out in the long term.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, you're, and it's the same at work.

Speaker 1:

Patience and all those things come into play.

Speaker 2:

They have to and it does you benefit long term. And it's kind of like you talked about with remote working earlier. You mentioned about that. It's the same kind of thing. Now, especially with remote, you can no longer have like just a quick two minute chat with someone. Everything has to be a teams meeting that's booked in for 30 odd minutes. So we're so time poor.

Speaker 2:

And then there's so many people in these teams meetings that are just really ineffective, so we're so ridiculously inefficient in how we're working and therefore time poor, and therefore we find it harder to do this stuff. And there's, there needs to be a real shakeup in our ways of working. I think.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, no, that sounds great and you know us as, and we will have anti. That denotes the fact that we are, yes, we are up. We have our professional titles that denote what role we play, but we're also human beings that have passions and interests outside of work. My title is Dush and Fanatic. I have a miniature Dush and call Heidi that rules my world and I'm fascinated to know Trent and what your and title would be.

Speaker 2:

My anti to abuse. If I became an Andy, I think I would be and family backpacker.

Speaker 1:

Family.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so last year we took the kids out of school for about six and a half months and we went backpacking around a few countries in Africa and Asia. How incredible, it was fun.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, is there another book coming?

Speaker 2:

out.

Speaker 1:

Family backpack.

Speaker 2:

Well, there's actually believe it or not, there's quite a. There's a reasonable number of families who go off backpacking and homeschool your kids as you go along. And there are some family backpackers who now do this full time and they write a block about everywhere they go and they have. You know they get enough site traffic that the adverts that they have on there generate them enough income to keep going.

Speaker 1:

I love it. We've touched on breaking bananas, world peace, family backpacking and, of course, the topic of digital transformation. Trenton, it's been a real pleasure to have you with us. That's everything for this edition of the good, the bad and the ugly of digital transformation. Thanks again to our guest Trenton. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. Bye for now. If you've enjoyed this episode, please do remember to follow or subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode to enjoy. And digital is on a mission to help close the world's digital skills gap. One of the ways we're doing this is by helping organizations deliver digital transformation more successfully through upskilling and reskilling.

Digital Transformation - The Good and Bad
Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Improving Communication in Cross-Functional Teams
Digital Transformation Challenges and Building Relationships
Exploring Digital Transformation and Skills Gap