We interview Penny Ferguson and Catherine Newman – two people who have dedicated their lives to great leadership, whether that is in theory or practice.
Leadership has never been more important. But what a leader is or does isn’t immediately obvious. Fortunately we have two people who know what to do, and how to do it. In this session, we interview them to find out.
How do you go from a manager that is told how to do something, when to do it, why to do it, to a person that inspires, leads, and takes a stand for what he/she believes in?
To give us phenomenal answers to the above question, we invited Penny Ferguson and Catherine Newman to speak at The Marketing Meetup today about the fundamentals of leadership.
Penny is the founder of the Living Leader, a transformative program that is inspiring millions of professionals and businesses around the world become better leaders.
Catherine is the Chief Marketing Officer at Manchester United. Catherine quit her full-time job of being a Manager at her previous company and decided to become an eminent leader, and is now paving way for many others like her in the industry.
Both of these women have one thing in common; they thrive by leading instead of dictating.
Today, they are going to discuss their top tips that helped them overcome their struggles and bloom into stunning marketing women who lead.
What’s the definition of a great leader?
According to Penny, leadership comes down to 3 simple things:
- Recognizing that you influence the human being you’re leading
- Asking yourself the following questions:
- How do I choose to think?
- Where do I mainly put my attention and focus to?
- Am I always focusing on what’s going well?
- Is it all about looking for what’s wrong?
- How do we sort it out?
These three core points are deeply interlinked with each other.
“In my experience, until you really begin to get it, most people don’t truly understand responsibility,” says Penny.
Understanding the true meaning, structure, and reasoning behind the word “responsibility” is all that genuinely matters.
When it comes to leadership, it is vital to know that outstanding leaders drive people to perform at the highest level they’re capable of. They inspire others to perform that way, all by themselves, instead of just blandly following instructions.
The Importance of Freedom in Leadership
Freedom is an important element of leadership, and is directly linked with leadership. Leadership is based on empowering people instead of controlling them. Leadership is asking yourself the following question:
How do I get people to think for themselves?
That is what gives people that freedom they’re looking for.
According to Catherine, the best leader is someone who is utterly transparent about:
- What they believe in
- What inspires them
- What makes them stand out
Additionally, these people are 100% honest and clear about who they are as a leader.
Leadership is crucial because the current structures and processes are unclear and vague in the world of today.
The core difference between being a manager and being a leader is that, as a manager, you do what you are told to do. On the other hand, as a leader, you have to take responsibility for yourself.
“I recognized that I wasn’t happy with where I was. I remember being in a meeting and my hands were sweating, my mouth was dry. I thought to myself, I shouldn’t feel like this. This isn’t right; this isn’t sustainable,” says Catherine.
“I thought whether I understood what made me happy? I wasn’t sure.”
Catherine decided to take a leap of faith and enroll herself in the Marketing Academy to take the 9-month course, “Living Leader”, by Penny.
As a leader, you really have to be the catalyst that enables people do stuff on their own, instead of completing tasks according to someone else’s instructions.
Penny stated: “When I launched my program, I still didn’t know what leadership was. It took me a while to figure it out, but now, it is an absolute foundation of my life. With leadership, you get to inspire every single person’s life you touch, no questions.”
Finding the Perfect Balance between Hands-on Coaching and Enabling the Right Kind of Freedom for your Team Members
According to Catherine, the key to finding the balance between hands-on coaching of junior team members, and giving them the freedom they need to learn things independently and make mistakes, lies in you giving them a safe space. The idea here is to give your team members an opportunity to do what they want to do instead of being imperative.
According to Penny, the first step to doing this is by you being clear with them, at the very beginning, about the exact outcome they’re looking for.
“Be there to let them take the lead and be there to back them up BUT also let them fail because that’s okay.”
According to Penny, a lot of young people are not confidence enough, but they wouldn’t ever want to hear it.
It is critical to free their capacity to think afresh.
Ask them questions like:
“I understand that’s something you want to do but what if you had 50% more confidence? What would you really do then?”
“What are the things that make you nervous?”
Changing the way you communicate and address your team members’ problem areas is important when it comes to coaching them, because it also allows them to do what they want to do in an independent manner.
Inspiring Your Team to Stay Motivated
According to Penny, YOUR job, as a LEADER, is to inspire your team members to motivate themselves instead of you doing it for them.
If you do the opposite, you’ll end up feeling continuous pressure.
Therefore, to enable them to think for themselves, you need to engage them. One good way of doing this one is by asking lots of useful questions.
“Let them know that you’re here for them, but also know that they need their space. It is also useful to have sessions with them that have nothing to do with work,” says Catherine.
As a team leader, is vital to ask and know their personal objectives. Know the impact these objectives can make not only on their personal lives, but also on the lives of others around them.
Being a Leader in a Toxic Environment Caused by Others in the Business
In a workspace, you may witness people that make their entire surroundings toxic.
The key to tackling this, in the best way possible, is by knowing that you don’t have to give any person that power to impact you, according to Penny.
Penny defines the term “Responsibility” as:
“The ability to respond”
A responsible leader is the one that doesn’t give his/her power away to someone like that easily.
If you want to be a true outstanding leader, you have to ask yourself the following:
-Do I want to be authentic?
-Do I want to be a leader?
-Do I want to be like that in every walk of my life?
-How do I take ownership for everything?
“Recognize that you HAVE to stand up. It’s not okay. Call them out for their behavior. If you aren’t in a position to do so, then inform someone that is. On the other hand, if you are in a toxic environment, leave”, says Catherine.
It is no secret to anyone that toxic workplaces can leave you feeling lonely, in the worst way possible.
“Culture isn’t based on one person. It is a collection of people enabling it. You can be a part of a team of 50 people and still feel isolated.”
Dealing with Your Senior Leaders’ Dismissal
Senior workers not taking their younger colleagues seriously is a common issue faced by many.
According to Penny, you just can’t go ahead and change your senior’s young-people-don’t-know-much mindset in an instant just by telling him/her that you do know much.
So, how does one solve it?
1) Sit down with them and ask them their expectations of you. Come on a final agreement regarding the outcome
2) Ask them the following:
“If you knew that I could deliver a bit more than that by doing the following things, how would you feel?”
“Would you give me the opportunity to do so?”
“If I can stretch the outcome a bit more, how would you feel about that?”
4) Express your gratitude to your boss.
5) Understand that your line manager is not the only one you should be influencing
6) Ask a lot of questions. Check your understanding. Continuously check-in with yourself.
7) Listen to the people that know more than you. Tell them that you love what they think, but what about they try seeing things from your perspective?
It is all about driving people to see things from your point-of-view, but simultaneously allowing them the space to freely do “their own thing” independently.
These fundamentals are what truly shape an outstanding leader. He/she is a person who isn’t afraid of diverse mindsets and different opinions, but is also not willing to sacrifice his/her own independence and mental peace because of them.
good morning, everyone. And welcome to season 2.5,
before we get going in earnest today, I just want to take a moment to say a thank you all so much for being here today and also be that if you need people to speak to, then we’re around, I can speak from personal experience that this weekend was a fairly rough one. And, I know that we’re going to be today joined by people who are in a really good Headspace.
And then there’s going to be people who feel like a little bit bruised if you’re in the former camp, those folks who are feeling really good right now, it’s our responsibility to bring up those in the latter camp, or, bring them up and help them out.
And really that’s what community is about. That’s what this community is about. It’s about looking after each other. It’s about making each other grow. It’s about making each other stronger than we’d be here before.
With all that said, we’re very lucky today because we’ve got two incredible guests to open up season 2.5. I am pinching myself that they’re here today. And I feel lucky that both you are here and they are here.
the first is the incredible Penny Ferguson. she’s the founder of the living leader. Penny someone, I didn’t think I’d have the privilege to ever meet. earlier this year I took part in the, her program, the living leader, and the course leader at the time spoke about Penny as almost this like angelic figure, this other worldly character, someone who had lived the lives of many people, but come out of it at the end, having developed a course that truly transforms the lives of human beings.
having been the recipient of all this knowledge, I put on this pedestal. but it was only when I actually got the opportunity to be with Catherine that she was like, yeah, I’ll introduce you to Penny. And I’ll confess that on the first call, I entered this call and was nervous as anything, but actually today I feel like she’s one of my favorite people.
So I think we’re all really blessed for her being here today. the second person, is the amazing Catherine Newman. she’s the chief marketing officer of Manchester United, which, for those of you who noticed my confession of being a massive one United fan yesterday means that season 2.5 couldn’t kick off any better.
I won’t. Embarrass Catherine here by outlining the reverence I have for her. but one thing I would just like to show and say is that in the short time that I’ve met her, I’ve been impressed by just someone who’s willing to, take the time, listen, and look to create other leaders, which.
Penny will speak about this later. No doubt, but that truly is the Mark of a great leader. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Catherine just a little bit. And I feel very lucky for her being here today to today’s session is relevant, because if there’s ever a time for leadership, that is probably right now, what a leader is.
But what leader is or does isn’t immediately obvious the all times. fortunately we’ve got two people who, know what to do or have already done it, in the session. We’ll be interviewing them to find out, all about leadership and how to do it. Great. as today is an interview, I’ll just say that you should be wiggling your mouse right now and, getting your questions in via the Q and a feature.
There’s no presentation elements today. So we’re going to be asking questions throughout the course of the session. so it’s one big Q and a. So please do get your questions in right now. finally, before we get going, I just want to take a second to thank the sponsors. again, season 2.5 is no different.
these people are stood by our side that support the community. They mean that we can continue doing what we are doing. you’ve had the folks listed in the email before, this event you’ll have them listed in the email following up. This event. so please do take the time to see seek out those people, that linked in the email that I sent.
And, just say thank you for supporting our community while we’re here. I want to say a big thank you to a content cow pitch, Fiverr red gate, Cambridge Martin college leader, brand further, third light and human. Just do take a second to say thank you. that’s my introduction done. So Penny Catherine.
Welcome. Welcome. Thank you so much for being good morning. Thank you. And let’s launch in for the first question. I’m throwing up, one of definitions there. so let’s start off with Penny. what do you think defines a great leader? I think leadership for me comes down very simply to three things.
First of all, recognize the minute you influence another human being you’re leading. So leadership is not just about being a boss in the workplace. It’s about as a friend, as a colleague. And for me personally, my most important leadership role is that of a parent. And I think really understanding that’s key.
And for me, leadership comes down to three things. and they’re absolutely linked and interwoven and that’s firstly, how you choose to think, what do you put your attention on? Where do you put your focus? Is it all about looking for what’s wrong and how do we sort it, or are you always focusing on what’s going well?
And that’s how you can develop people. So how you choose to think understanding responsibility and from a profoundly different level, in my experience, until you really begin to get it, most people don’t truly understand responsibility. And thirdly communication, and that is your own communication and the impact of that communication.
And those three things absolutely link together. And if I can just add in one of the things that I think is worth recognizing. And I didn’t know this early on is what is the difference between leadership and management. And I think it’s useful to have an idea of that. And this is the definition that we work with, and that is outstanding managers drive people to perform at that the highest level they’re capable of.
It’s very much about control outstanding leaders, inspire them to do it for themselves. And it’s more about freedom. So both are good, but it’s being able to recognize which you need under which circumstances. And for me at the moment, leadership has never, ever been more important. That’s really interesting.
and so why is freedom really important right now, Penny? if you set that leadership has never been more important. why does that feel more important than because I think the challenge is that when you really care about people, the risk is you’re apt to slip into management role. And that means, and I did this with my children.
I brought them up as a manager. I got it completely wrong. By the time I’d learned that all grown up. But it’s very much about controlling them because you love them and care for them so much. You keep wanting to give advice, everything’s going to be fine. And if you do this and this you’re going to keep going, you will retain that job, whatever it happens to be, and you keep doing your best to tell people what to do.
What you’re doing in many ways is disempowering them. What you need to do is completely shift your communicating style so that you can keep asking people. Okay. So if you knew that there’s something you can do today, that’s going to make your life that much better. That’s going to take you closer towards where you want to be.
What would you choose to do today? So it’s just different and I couldn’t stop. I love my children so much when they were growing up. I couldn’t stop giving them advice. And all the time, the message I was sending is you’re not up to doing this without me. And by the way, you’re never going to be better than I was yesterday because it can only come out of my head.
So leadership is how can I get people to think for themselves? That’s what gives them the freedom. I love that. Thank you so much, Catherine. You’ve been up until three o’clock in the morning.
Yeah. How does that feel in practice? you’ve obviously been through literally the course yourself say you’ve been armed with a lot of this knowledge, but obviously sometimes it’s easier said than done, in those moments where you’re like, It is three o’clock and I’d actually quite like you to go to sleep.
is it easy to be a leader for you or do you just have to constantly remind yourself to step out of manager mode? to be honest, I think at three o’clock in the morning when your child won’t sleep, you end up being a servant. You’re like, I’ll give you literally anything so that you will just relax and go to sleep.
but that I have to say having a dumb pennies calls, I was lucky enough to do it. physically in person last year when we could all actually leave our houses. And, and so you do your first two days, and then you come back two weeks later for your third day. And I can honestly say the biggest difference was in my home life.
so I have a six year old called Georgia. And if we about called Poloma and, the six-year-old is assessing as you will. And, and was not doing very well on his spelling tests, had to drag her to the table to do her homework. and, between myself and my partner, we just thought we can’t continue to do this.
He was struggling and I was struggling. And, and I remember Penny, reading us a letter. From a parent who previously be on a course, whose son had really struggled. and, w was having the same issues that we were. And, and I remember thinking about this concept of responsibility and thinking.
and I had it when I was a child. I remember my physics teacher saying to my parents at parents evening. We don’t understand why her homework is like an a or a plus. And her working class is like a D and it was because I was getting so much help at home. And I wasn’t able to translate that into what I was doing in the classroom.
And with Georgia, we sat down and, even at a young age, they can understand the concept of responsibility because they take responsibility for their toys. They take responsibility for their friendships because they do understand from an early age that they liked to play with that person.
And maybe not that person. and we started to put some of it into practice. we said to her, look, if you don’t want to do your homework, when you come through the door, that’s fine. But between now and going to bed, you have to make a decision. So what do you want to do? I’ve decided I don’t want to do homework and I was like, that’s fine.
But what would you like to tell mrs. Miller? No, you’ll have headmistress in the morning, should we write her a letter about why you won’t do your homework? and you keep just asking questions that the power of the questions I’ve learned from petty is huge. and eventually, she was like, Oh, maybe I’ll do it.
As soon as I come in. if I could have maybe some milk and a biscuit or something, I’ll do it. As soon as I come in. It’s okay, that’s up to you. you do that now. And, Genuinely the teachers at the next parents evening said she’s very different in class. Whereas before we have problems with her trying to focus, now, she’ll say to somebody, if you don’t want to do it now, when do you want to do it?
It’s like we have a little Paddy in a, it applied risk because she said so much about her. But, but I actually I’d like to go back to your, your first question about what makes a great leader because. the there’s two things which really stand out for me as well. and something I feel really passionate about.
For me, the best leaders have always been clearly identifiable about what they believe in. if I think of, some of the great leaders through history and things like that, and they spent an awful lot of time telling us about what they stand for. About what they believe in about what they’re driven by.
and when I think through my professional career and now particularly working in spores, it’s incredibly important to understand what somebody is driven by. And I don’t think you should be afraid to show that. because I think there’s a weird authenticity about it and people can understand. and I think these people are also very clear about who they are, and who they’re not prepared to be.
And I don’t know about anybody else. but it’s taken me quite a while probably to work out who I am as a leader, as a manager, you’re very clearly defined you follow structure, you follow process. Someone tells you send a report on a Monday, send a report on a Monday. Someone tells you have to do a budget or you have to reach a.
20% increasing your sales target, that’s what you do. Nobody takes you to one side and says, what kind of leader are you going to be in this organization? and so I think that’s something that’s worth spending time on and thinking about for yourself. and, it can be really profound.
I think because also it will enable you to work out if you’re in the right culture, it will enable you to work out if the people in your team, are either adding to that or perhaps challenging now, but it can also be equally as exciting. and it’s just something for me is a personal journey over the past.
Probably about 18 months. It has been really interesting. And I think when you talk about why is leadership so important now is because actually we’re in a world where the structures and the processes are not clear. Because we’ve never dealt with something like this in this, modern world.
And so therefore it comes down to, what do you believe? What is your, views on risk? What are your views on the elderly, or what are your views on family, on, civil liberties, freedoms and things like that. And so I think if you’re. Very clear about who you are and who, and what values you’re driven by.
I think that also helps as well. So apologies going back to that, but, I feel really strongly about that. I think that’s really important too. And. I think there’s something in that as well, which is, you say that you’ve been through this process over the last 18 months. was there any sort of identifiable steps that you had to go through or was it quite a natural progression?
And I’ll ask that first to you, Catherine, but I’d be interested in Penny if there’s any sort of, we always try our best to eke out any sort of process or journey that people could go on, to identify this themselves as well. I think the first part for me was recognizing that I wasn’t happy where I was and recognizing why.
and I remember being in a meeting, hands were sweating. Mouth was dry. And I thought, my God, I shouldn’t feel like this isn’t right. This isn’t sustainable. and then of course, once you have that moment go home, have a bit of a think about that and think, this is quite interesting.
This means some changes are referred. I thought actually, do I understand, what would make me happy? and I didn’t actually, I wasn’t entirely sure. I, I was at a bit of a crossroads. I thought I wanted to stay as a CMOs or I want to be a CEO. so I actually did the marketing Academy.
So I did the fellowship and went on this nine month course. and it’s really interesting because you have to stand there and literally make a stand. You have to talk for a couple of minutes. About who you are and what you stand for and they feed you up with carbs and Kitzbuhel, you don’t see daylight.
and there’s soft music on, in the background, a roaring fire in order for satin and forgets, incredibly emotional and, and talks about, who they are. but it was really a series of events, and really culminating in, when I did the living leader course. And, and Penny is one of those leaders that will tell you exactly how it is, which sometimes you do need that dose of you don’t need a parent to go there.
They’re there you’ll be fine. And my parents were very much your work it out. And Penny was like, deep down, what you want to do? Get on with it, a nice kind of ask yourself those important questions. So I kept on having check-ins, and, saying to myself, I had at one point, two job offers and I thought to myself, Actually, what is really driving me here?
What am I really interested in? and, it took a couple of sleepless nights, but ultimately I knew what I wanted to do. and apologies if you can hear a munchkin outside the door, so you can not say mommy, maybe that’s a good science. It tends Penny and say, Penny, Yeah. Catherine has described a wonderful process there, which was a series of events, which had, culminated in that.
and I think that was a really beautiful thing. pull across the thing, which was ammo happy, but is there a process that people can go through to determine what kind of leader they should be or would like to be. How could you possibly use the word should we’d like to be it’s of it’s an interesting question.
I’m thinking, what is it? Let me just share a little bit. my last husband was a very good management trainer. Very good. And people used to leave this program saying amazing best program I’ve ever done, but I used to go and meet a lot of the clients six months afterwards. And what I could not get my head around was there forgotten 80% of it within three weeks, what was actually sticking?
What was real behavior change? And it was virtually nothing, and this didn’t fit my values. I wasn’t comfortable, but I knew I wanted to make a difference. And the other thing that I became really aware of. Was when I had a year, when I was doing all sorts of weird and wonderful things after my second son died and my marriage fell apart and end it nothing like anything I’d done before, but one of those things was hypnotherapy and there’s another one that I won’t bother to explain, but where I couldn’t get my, I just couldn’t get comfortable with somebody might come in with, I don’t know, a phobia about flying.
And you have learned a process. There’s a hypnotherapist, you protect the process and suddenly they go off and become an air hostess, but it was me doing it for them. And that’s what I was comfortable with. And I thought. It’s not what I want to do. So I almost discovered what I didn’t want. First. I want to be the catalyst that will help people do it for themselves.
And that was where my journey began. And that was why I’d avoided getting involved in any sort of the training for about God. I don’t know how long, about 18 months, two years. And I found more and more often that people were going on what you’d call personal development programs, nothing to do with work.
And I used to ask people, I used to go and try them and say, how do you use this in the workplace? And basically people would say, Oh, you can’t take this to the workplace. And I began to think. Do people see them to themselves as two different people. They’ve got to remember to pick up the work toolkit when they walk in the work door, they’ve got to pick up the skillset, but you gotta remember to pick the damn thing up.
And I thought this isn’t what it’s about. How. And the more I looked at them or I thought I would have the courage to be authentic. I want to have the courage to be who I am in every part. And also I want to help people do it for themselves. I don’t want to the person who does it for them. And so that was really where the journey began.
When I designed my program, I don’t think I knew what the hell I was doing. It was take everything I’ve learned over the years. Put it together. Managed to persuade six, very brave people to come and try. It was come up, blown away when somebody was head of all training and development for some of Microsystems in the UK.
So that two days it’s just changed my life. I haven’t got the faintest idea why to work out why. And so my. Discovering leadership was almost in a way, a little bit like Catherine finding out what I didn’t want. If a Catherine, it was saying, I don’t want to go on being unhappy. I don’t want to be in a culture that is really awful.
What I began to say is these are the things that make me uncomfortable. These are the things I don’t want. And so through that, I began to find the journey. And I realized when I first launched my program, I didn’t know what leadership was. Yeah. It took me a year running the program before I thought, yeah, I’m beginning to get my head around what leadership is.
And once I got my head around it, I can honestly say it is the absolute foundation of my life, absolute fan in every single part of my life. There’s no part of my life. It doesn’t touch. And if you become an outstanding leader, literally you will positively impact every single person whose life you touch.
No question. Absolutely. I love that. and we’re not just here to speak about the course, having been through it, we’ve got a shared experience. having been through the course when, we spoke about communication styles, I remember listening to my wife on the phone that night, in a different way to what I’ve listened to her before.
And I remember coming away and thinking. That was a great conversation, and it’s not like I thought we had bad conversations before you know that those, there was something about, there’s a couple of points you made that there was one about communication cell, but then also about, helping.
having a truly outward focus, and then looking to elevate the other person. And it was really quite amazing. there’s a question here, from Dan, which links into the difference between leadership and management, and folks, you can get your questions in and if you use the thumbs up feature, I’ll try and ask the questions we’re at the top.
so do make sure to use the thumbs up feature. so Dan says, How would you recognize, find and recognize the best balance between hands-on training slash coaching of junior team members versus giving them the freedom to work things out for themselves and make mistakes? Catherine, if you want to take that first, if that’s okay.
so I would say the first thing to do is to provide them with a really safe space. because you don’t want anything that’s going to damage their career, or damage their confidence. so I think, a good blend of practical, experience is good, so on the job. So giving them the opportunity.
so there’s so many, my team, for example, who, was just, coming to the end of her probation. and, technically she was absolutely fine to pass, but from a confidence point of view, she was perhaps lacking in it. and I thought this isn’t something that you can tell somebody you can’t say to someone be funny, be confident, be brave.
you have to give them the opportunity to try and do it. and I guess one that is about learning the skill set in which to do it. if there are courses which can help them, then of course do that. But for me, I find that by talking to that individual and by asking them, so for example, with this particular lady, she said to me, he said, I’ve just actually not owned anything here yet.
and I said, okay, do you have something in mind? she didn’t. but I had something on my list, which I needed to get started. And I said, how would you feel if. We worked on this together, but you took the lead. So I’m here. If you need me, you can have some check-ins with me, I’m happy for you to crack on and do it.
and it’s been amazing. She has flourished. she’s, she’s a different person. And I wouldn’t say it’s because, technical skills are improved or in fact she’s not even done Penny’s course yet. although I’ve so where you will be signing her up. but, but it was amazing just giving her that opportunity, but I guess it was two things for me.
And this is what one particular boss did to me, which I can. Categorically tell you changed my career. Was there a, they said, you may not have confidence in you essentially, but I’ve got confidence in you and I’m prepared to back you. But the other thing is that I’m prepared to let you fail and that’s okay.
Like you won’t get all of this, because we don’t know every single step from now to January, for example, how could we, at the moment we don’t have fans in stadiums and it’s all well, the challenging. but I said, if this is what you want to do and you’re happy to work with me on it, then I’m very happy to support you and.
So I that’s a particular individual. I think if somebody says, no, I want to have, more support, more training than I think that’s fine. but for me, I think giving somebody the opportunity to rise up and to have that. to be able to develop their confidence and develop the skills themselves, they may not get it right.
first off, but the point is they’ll try. and that’s really encouraging to see. And for me as a leader, that’s a great day. That is a great day at work. I love that. Absolutely love that. Penny, do you have anything to add there, on, how you bring through junior people and identify those moments where you should be taking a sort of more hands-on approach and more managerial approach versus a leadership approach?
Okay. The first thing is, I’ve done quite a bit of, given quite a lot of supportive these last few months. And one of the things that I find often is that. And it almost doesn’t matter what level, but certainly two of the more junior is they don’t have real clarity about. Exactly what they can take responsibility for and what they can’t take responsibility for.
So the first thing I do is sit down and say, and it may be about a task. It might be about a row, whatever it is, and literally agree with them, what is the outcome you’re looking for in whatever it is, and not you telling them, but saying, okay, if you knew you could describe exactly what has to happen with this task, what do you think it would be?
Where do you think you’ll decision authorities? Make sure there’s real clarity. At the beginning. Cause that’s an awful lot of what I find they don’t have, or they don’t own it. They’ve been told this is what they’ve got to do, but it’s not being set. Okay. So if you knew you’re responsible for this, what do you think you could, you need to achieve to deliver that?
And Catherine’s right in that sometimes you do get a lot of people who don’t have the confidence. And to be honest, telling people, of course you can do it. You’re good enough. I know that you’ve got the confidence. They’re not going to hear that if they believe they’re not confident enough. So again, give it a question.
What you’re wanting to do all the time is free that capacity to think. Afresh ask the question. So I understand that’s how you feel, but if you had 50% more confidence, what might you actually do? What’s the first thing that you might do. Okay. And if you had 50% more common, this what’s the next thing you might do.
That sounds interesting. And if you knew that there are some risks attached to here, because you’ve seen something they haven’t thought of, what do you think that risk might be? questions like if I wasn’t here, what decision would you make right now? And if you knew there’s some really good things in there and things would run a bit nervous about what do you think that might be?
Everything is about finding a way to get them to take ownership so that they’re thinking of fresh. And you’re telling them that you’ve got that back. Basically, that’s just adding a little something. I love that. there’s a comment here from Alex who says, I really appreciate Penny’s comments and ownership here.
two years ago, I was fortunate to start a marketing with no experience. I had no clue where the boundaries were, the clear expectation and builds confidence in what I can own slash make my own. Just like what Catherine said with her colleague. So it sounds like you’re resonating as well. so next question, obviously, in the virtual world where we’re doing this right now and leadership or management, become.
Possibly more difficult. so the question from reus is, how do you manage to keep your team motivated and connected to each other and the company throughout the crime scene? And Penny, I know you’re going to love this because it’s hit like one of your light thinking, ding moments. Hasn’t it. So Penny jump, go for it.
Yeah. It’s really interesting. Because whenever I’m running a program or whenever I’m doing the virtual one, I will invariably ask people and say to them, right? I want all of you to put your hands up and tell me how many of you believe as managers your role is to motivate your teams. Nine out of 10 hands go up every time.
And I sat at agree with you guys. That’s not your role at all. Your role is to inspire them, to motivate themselves. And it requires a different way of behaving. It may sound very subtle, but it’s so key. So if you’re sitting there worried, how do I motivate my team? What do I need to do to get them to feel better?
Let go of that. Either have a meeting one-on-one or I have a meeting with your team virtually whatever Wednesday, say, okay guys. It’s interesting being motivated at this time may not be easy. And if we knew as a team, we can get ourselves even more motivated. What do we think we might do ask them, and just say, what is it?
what might you need to enjoy your room? What might you, what’s going on for you at home? Okay. So what else could we do at our next meeting? Tell you what. I’ve had an idea. It get other people to come up with ideas and somebody might say, I tell you what, let’s all get to know each other a little better.
Why don’t we all bring one thing that’s really important to us and tell us what it means for us, ask them, but don’t ever feel it’s your role to motivate them because a that’s going to give you untold pressure. You’re going to keep thinking, what else can I do? And it’s not, what’s required. It’s getting them to take ownership, ask questions and involve them.
That’s my answer. Absolutely a love it. I love the body language. You, since the question was answered, Yes. And you’ve actually walked into this role. Forgive me if this is incorrect, but more or less in an entirely virtual environment. So yeah. how did you manage that? very.
Practical basis. Cause that’s new to us. All right. Yeah. It was real. my dad is a city farm and he was like, you’re joining begrudgingly. like the biggest football club in the world. How does it feel when I was like, Pretty surreal from my front room actually. Dad’s because I’ve not got there.
and then, and then I remember when, locked down, restrictions lifted a little bit. We were, having our driveway done and, and a car pulled up and, I could see the bills is chatting to somebody and I thought, Oh, must be a friend or something like that. And I noticed he was carrying a United bag.
this is in the school holidays. So I’ve been to the front door and accompanied by Julia and Paloma opened the door. When a gentleman who’s been at the club for over 30 years, he came over and he said, Oh no, Catherine, I hear you’re new to the club when I said, yes I am. And he said, you can’t get to old Trafford.
We bought old traffic to you. And they bought me a personalized shirt. You’d got up at five 30 in the morning and he’d driven all the way down. And the fact that my builders saw him in a totally different light, we’re like your actually semi call because you work in football. but I was really touched by it and, and it’s just something about the culture.
I have to say that. to Penny’s point enables people to inspire themselves to be motivated because that was amazing. And it gave me, a really nice touch point to the club, but, I haven’t been to old Trafford since I started. I’ve not met my team physically face-to-face I work in a management team.
Of which, I’ve met three people. but I have to say, because, at United, and this is definitely one of the things which really appealed to me, the culture is so strong that actually you never started meeting with what are the sales figures. They always start it with, hi, how are you? I must admit I’ve not been used to that.
When someone, how should we say it? Another company would be like, how was your weekend? What they really meant was what were the sales figures? what happened at the call center? did we have any problems, did we leave the presses on time, et cetera. and it’s been really nice.
but I would just add to what Penny said as well with my team. One of the things I’ve given them and also myself is a bit of space. because right now things are difficult. really difficult for some people. I have so many of my team who’s got ms. my sister’s actually got ms and they’ve been really struggling, physically, mentally, as well.
And I thought this is an, a question to say, like how it can maybe make you feel better. I think it’s actually, you need space. You need time. you need to know that I’m here. and likewise, sometimes when we have a weekly check-in, it’s actually nothing to do with work.
which has actually been really nice. And, yeah, we’ll talk about the game if we’ve won. if we’ve not the bowl shuffle past, like on Sunday by, on the half being found, it was where the quieter this house, But, but I think right now, what I’ve been concentrating on doing is getting to know the person before getting to know the role.
I know what they should be doing, but I’m more interested in who they are. and that’s been really nice. and actually I’ll give you an example. There’s seven there’s somebody in my team who, is it a pop group, but I have no idea. In fact, it’s probably not a pop group to be fair. It’s more keen.
And I just happened to say to him, not last weekend, the weekend before, how did you spend your weekend? And he said, I was in the recording studio and I was like, Oh okay. I was like any good, any simple home on Spotify and Amazon. I suppose we’re not bad. And I was like, Whoa, like I could buy this.
And anyway, he sent it over and, and this is just the way, I sit is, I pass it through to the editorial team and the editorial team were like, this is amazing. clearly they need a bit of a lift up to try and help. we’ll try and use this and some of the videos that we use for the fans, because it’s really awesome.
But likewise, do you think you could do something around This, the co the song was called state of mind by Pacific. and, and they were like, what about if we gave you something around some of the themes of the fans, could you think about something like that? And it was amazing.
And he was a great guy before, but now we’re Helping things outside of work as well. It’s been really nice. so when I do my PDRs, for example, I also have objectives that are professional, but I also say, what are your personal objectives? if you want to be a better parent, how can I not help you?
So I’m conscious, Penny will be like, hang on a second. But for example, In my old role, somebody said to me, if I could start work at 10 every day, it would mean that my wife could go back to being a yoga instructor because that’s quite early morning, et cetera. so could we do that? and we did, and bless her.
She texted me and said, you’ve made a difference to this family. It wasn’t actually. Me at all, it was him asking. and instead of it being a kind of personal objective, I’m like, there’s one plan because you’ve got one life. So what are the personal objectives, but what are the objectives that make you a better parent or something?
So I know in my interview with it United, I said to them, if you expect me to be out of the country, On a plane. for 90% of my time, I’m going to be really unhappy because I’m not going to see the girls and I’m not going to see Richard my other half. so that’s not the best way to get, the best out of me.
So I try and. Understand what it is outside, because I think then you understand people’s behavior better. You understand what they’re motivated by better. And likewise, you never know. There may be an opportunity where you can give them a hand with something. And again, that’s pretty special. That’s quite nice when that happens.
I love that. So there was a couple of themes that came out for me there, that there was one about seeking those opportunities. those moments, to drive down from Manchester and give someone a welcome, whatever it is, those extra bits, But then there’s also just the humanity element, which I think is really lovely.
So thank you for that. the flip side to this is that, some people will be operating in slightly quote-unquote toxic environments, which is really hard. And there is a question here from Dan, who says how to, how do you be a good leader in a toxic environment caused by other leaders in the business now.
we can either do that or, we can give you a scenario. What would you, so am I you choose? All right. let’s go for a scenario and, I’m going to read it out. so forgive me for sounding a little bit more monotone than even than usual. so there was, one, so I have a colleague who is also a manager in my department.
At the same level as me, she is famously a person that when she comes into the building in a bad mood, everyone else suffers. And that has a terrible day because she does, does leadership work horizontally. And is that anything either of, you have had to do in a situation like this before? Penny turn to go first because you’re, you put that last bit on the end.
Of course. I haven’t been in that situation. How would you approach it? the first thing is I keep coming back to responsibility, which is one of the key things, the leadership, how you choose to feel it’s down to you. You don’t have to allow that person to upset you. That is your choice. in every moment, recognize what the word responsibility means, ability to respond.
Don’t give your power away. Don’t give it to somebody else to say that person it’s that person’s fault. I’m miserable. No, you’re choosing to be miserable. You don’t have to react to them. You could look at them and think isn’t it sad. They’re like that all the time. That’s tough life. I’m glad I’m not like that.
So you don’t have to, but this is a tricky one and I gotta be really careful here if I was, and Catherine will know why I’m saying this. If you are in a sort of culture and a toxic environment like that, and you choose to stay there, that is your choice. That is your choice. And at the end of the day, okay, it’s not easy at the moment, I believe.
And come back to a lot of what Catherine was saying earlier. If you truly want to be an outstanding leader, the first thing is you need to choose. Do you really want to be that sort of a leader? Do you want to be authentic? Do you want to make that choice? This is how I’m going to be in every part of my life.
Then you have to ask herself, the question is being where I am right now, going to support that. Or if, for whatever reason I do need to stay right now, like in this environment. If I’m a manager, I can choose to make it different for the people who report to me, I can choose to make it different. I can choose to be the sort of leader I want to be.
What goes on around me. I may need to be the mushroom. I need to be protecting my team. But at the end of the day, you have to take ownership for every thing. So circumstances outside of you, you can’t, and we can’t at the moment for what’s outside of us. We can’t, you wrote a wonderful thing on LinkedIn.
I think it was on Monday. I can’t remember yesterday whenever very recently. Anyway, very easy to be taken down by people. And what’s going on around you. But you can’t do anything about that. You have to compensate. You have to say that without my control. So if I knew there were things that I can do, what is in my control.
Now you might choose to say to that person. and it depends and say, if you knew you can find a couple of good things about today, what might they be? it gives us, are you aware? Are you okay if I give you feedback, are you aware of the impact that you have on other people because you choose to be miserable all the time.
Do you enjoy it? Would you like to meet that as a choice? It’s all about helping people find their choices, but I’m sure Catherine will be able to make comments about choosing to stay in a toxic environment. first of all, I’ve got a good example where I used to work with somebody who was quite erratic.
And, we were friends for a time. and I remember one night saying to her, is this you, is this like your work? You do, you deliberately intimidate people. Do you think it’s part of what being a woman leader is? For example, do you think you need to be the hardest person in the room?
and she was like, no. And it. it seemed to be totally unconscious to her and a kid. she used to send out emails like, I’ve just started a diet, I’m giving up Coca-Cola for the next two weeks, nobody come to my desk and I used to think you will not. You’re absolutely nuts.
Like you cannot work in this way. and also, I was bullied mercilessly as a child for God knows how many years. And so I’ve always had this bit of a thing in me that when I see somebody perhaps acting in a particular way, and I know Penny’s view of, could you go up to them and say, they’re okay.
Paul’s for me, just wants to say. the bloody hell’s wrong with you, you’re in a position of responsibility. If people could choose to do something else, they may not choose to come into work. How dare you treat people like this? and I remember tackling her in the cancer and I don’t know what made me do it that day.
And I never had turning around to me and saying, do you want me to hit you by now? and I’m only just turned around to him. if you do, then that sorts the problem out because you’ll be fired. and to me, a couple of years later, actually I must look, I’m sorry. I was going through some things and, may, maybe she was.
but, but as a person, I think really a leader, then I was more of a manager. But I did think this isn’t right. And actually the people below didn’t know what to say and didn’t know how to say it. So I actually ended up going to HR and saying, do you know, this behavior is going on? This isn’t acceptable.
and they didn’t. And eventually she was managed out of the business and she went, based on performance. I, and this is why I think who you are and your values are so important. I have been in environments that have not been particularly conducive, shall we say at times? but I’m not one of those people that has ever been able to stand by and say, do you know what that’s okay.
Because it isn’t. Okay. And actually, even an, a leader has got nothing to do with status. It’s everything to do with state of mind, it’s everything to do with, taking responsibility. and perhaps sometimes standing up when others won’t. And I’m not saying that because I did anything other than perhaps somebody else would’ve done.
but I think it’s important to call somebody out on behavior. and I think, Likewise, if, for example, you join a new team. I also had, a succumbent when I was at the financial times and I joined a new team and there was a profit there was, some people may call it a problem.
Child has so much to set in the comments. and so I sat them down and I was like, look, we need to, agree how this is gonna work, but let’s be clear if it’s not going to work. You can’t stay. Because this behavior is unacceptable. The people in this team deserve a level of respect. you cannot, conduct yourself in the way that you’re doing it and they decided to leave, which is just as well because it wouldn’t have worked.
I think the advice I would give you all. Oh, I’m sorry. There shouldn’t really be advice, but certainly in my experience, there will be situations where it will be tough and it may take you a little while to get there in terms of the decision that you want to make. But if something’s not right, call us out because if you’re noticing it, there’s probably somebody else who’s suffering more potentially.
And somebody who doesn’t know what to say. likewise, if you’re not in a position to do something about it, give somebody else the opportunity. To do that. so tell somebody, and likewise, if you’re in a toxic environment that you really don’t like them, please leave you. You can, there’s a saying the loneliest place I was at was by your side.
You can be in a team of 50 people and feel totally isolated, in a culture that isn’t right. And unfortunately it was something like that is that it doesn’t just take one person to create that culture. Culture is not based on one person. If it’s a toxic culture, there’s many people that subscribed to it or who are passive and enabling it.
And the best thing you can do for yourself is to decide. That you’re going to leave. Am I would strongly advocate that I think it’s very hard to change it from the bottom up. You can flag it, you can give somebody the opportunity. And I remember having a conversation in Penny and I said, Oh, I don’t know if I’m ready to leave, et cetera.
And she said, we’ll give the company the opportunity to always do the right thing. And if they don’t, then you know that’s not going to work for you. And then it’s not a question of if it’s just a question of when, and that’s a very different, decision to make. I love that. Thank you very much.
And there’s a comment that come here, came through here from Barbara. I think it was, he just said, wow, I think I’ve had an epiphany. I think, you’re both really helping people out this morning. I had a feeling Dan was coming back with more things done did say about Dan still got a challenge and we run out of time.
you can, I’m very happy for you to give him my email address. I’m quite happy to give him 20 minutes. Of my time. I don’t, I left last week. Well done.
I love it. So there’s a question that came in quite early on. So we might have covered a fair bit of it already so far. but I think it’s worth asking them less, not least because Sophie’s a huge man United fan. and she says that she’s a young manager, and that holds her back with a more senior professionals.
They, will often dismiss her, for her age. Are there any tips on how to overcome this element of things? so I guess specifically when you’re a young professional engaging with more senior professionals and, I don’t mind who goes first, Penny, if you’ve got any thoughts on this, perhaps, it’s really difficult.
One of the things that, it’s interesting is. Some people have beliefs about young people don’t know as much or whatever it is, and you cannot actually change somebody else’s beliefs just by telling them. So it’s yet, again, being able to come back to asking questions. So first of all, sir, See, if you can find time with the powers that be, if it’s a boss or more senior people and sit down with them, say, I really liked to know what your expectations are of me.
Again, sit down and see if you can get agreement on the outcome and they, and then ask them and see if you knew, actually I can deliver a bit more than that by doing this, and this. How would you feel? And then ask them outright. Would you give me that opportunity? Sometimes they’re not going to notice.
So it comes back a lot of the time, just some really simple things, agreeing the outcome. And if you think the outcome is not stretching you enough and there’s a lot more, you could do phrase the question in that way. If you knew that I could actually deliver a much more, that could give you even more of an outcome, how would you feel about that?
So it’s all the time. one of the things that I see is people when they get really frustrated, maybe, I don’t know, best example, you’ve got a boss who doesn’t listen to you and you keep saying, boss, you’re not listening to me. People do not, large, like being criticized. I did listen to you and then they quote the last sentence back at you when you want to hit them.
And they’re not really listening. They’re listening superficially and. They keep hearing what you’re putting our attention on is behavior that you don’t want. you need to do is see if you can find an opportunity where by accident, the bosses listened to you. So that’s what you leap on. And you say, boss, I just want to thank you.
Do you know when you listened to me, then you’ve got much higher quality thinking from me and allowed me the freedom to come up with new ideas. I probably wouldn’t have come up with, if you hadn’t listened to me, that meant so much to me. And also I felt more valued now what you’re doing instead of boxing.
that was nice. I quite like that. I’ve got some recognition, got some praise. Now, what you’re doing is putting your attention on a behavior that you want. So if you can begin to do that, it’s the best modifier of behavior that I know. It also doesn’t in my experience come naturally. So you really have to think about it.
So if your boss has got the odd behavior you like, and a lot, you don’t like. Take your attention away from the behaviors you don’t start noticing your behaviors you like and tell them the likelihood is, guess what? I love that. Thank you, Penny. Catherine, any few at all on that front, I guess this could ought to be also, it’d be broadened to answer more general imposter syndrome as well.
Yeah, definitely. I got, I’ve had that undoubtedly I’ve worked in an industry for years where my father had been for 38 years. And I remember turning up to an MPA meeting, sitting in a chair and somebody was like, that’s your father’s chair? And he sat there for the past 20 years and I was asked to move and I was like, bloody hour, and, and likewise, I remember the first time I joined the management team, and I was told I’d have to earn my spurs. and, and I was a bit like, th this is all feeling a bit harsh. but I think a couple of things spring to mind, one understand that, your line manager is not the only person that you should be influencing.
if only think of my career change, which happened, it was because I had to become friendly with another manager in another palace of the business. someone, I was more aligned to someone I had more value shared with. I liked their direction. I liked the way that they were communicating with they’d seen and my line manager was fine.
and it didn’t necessarily have a problem with him, that she was somebody I really got on well with. And actually when she had nothing in her team, she approached me and that’s when things changed for me massively. so I think don’t see that your line manager is your only route. In out of success.
The other thing as well is, all squats of questions. because as a young manager, they don’t expect you to know anything. We’ll find, ask lots of questions, check your understanding. but also that’s a way in which you can understand where they’re coming from and what experience they’re basing it on.
also where divisions lies. So I remember when I. during the first management meeting, I learned very quickly that there were certain people that didn’t get on. Which was really interesting. So I thought, there’s me worrying about being a young manager, but you guys have worked together for five years and you don’t even get on.
So you know what, while you’re busy doing that, I’m going to be busy, just, hanging on in here and trying to make it work. then I think the third thing is, aligned to what Penny said is just find that opportunity. I remember, when I first joined the management meeting, we were under a lot of cost pressures.
And so I thought, okay, I could, take this opportunity, to, to say, look, I think we’ve, should pull our ideas together about how we can do cost measures across the company. I’m not bad at measuring effectiveness, so I’m happy to. To do that. It was also something that none of them had any interest in doing whatsoever.
So they were quite happy for the junior person to do it. but I made that my sole focus I’ve made sure that, I, I over-delivered, I was collaborative, but I executed well and it was a good learning curve for me because I had to all sorts of questions. I didn’t know every element of the business.
So I had a lot of work to do, but also I did gain their respect by the hard graph, by, taking your opportunity to give myself a leadership role. If they weren’t going to give me, then I was going to volunteer to take one. Now, I’m not saying every time I did that, it was a huge success.
It definitely wasn’t, I’d be retired by now if it was, the, but at the same time, I remember my leaving do, and some of them that were still there and they were like, well done. we remember when you first started and we were we’re going to have some fun now with the newest member of the team, she’s quite shy.
She doesn’t really say much. and they were like, you weren’t having any of it. You just kept coming back with lots of questions. and so I think, if you haven’t got the opportunity, try and create it, and just keep asking the questions, because actually, somebody on broadcast mode in a meeting can perhaps.
Come across as quite arrogant, or quite difficult, if you are the junior member and you keep assessing your understanding and asking good questions, that’s hugely powerful. And it also shows importantly that you’re listening and you’re listening to the people that have been there before you’re listening to their views and opinions.
and, and that matters. And there’ll be more likely to give you space. When you say I heard what you said, have you thought about this? I love that I can feel I’ve had a few moments over the course of these webinars where I can feel my shoulders relaxed, w when, and that’s a release of, probably, a bit of forgiveness, given by those examples that you’ve given there, as an exercise, you don’t have to have the answers necessarily.
You can ask the questions and that’s an amazing thing. I feel like we could carry on for the rest of the time. And there are 20 open questions that still haven’t been asked, but it is half past nine. So we need to give folks the opportunity to enjoy their day and not to really see us all Penny and Catherine.
thank you both. so much for spending the time this morning. I hope you get. In the comments coming through now, there’s been a bunch of people just saying, thank you for what a brilliant session has been. they’re really grateful. And so am I, if you would like more of this sort of leadership, like Penny.
Is incredible. And you really do need to check out the living leader if any of this resonated over the course of the session, because it’s this, and then there’s so much more. so yeah, check out the living leader. We’ve got our webinar next Tuesday. please do take the time to thank the sponsors and thank you all so much for being here.
Yep. That’s it for this week. so Penny, Catherine, thank you so much for being here and everyone, thank you for turning up and being, if anybody’s got any further questions, if they want to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. If there’s any big questions, just email me. I love that. I’ll include that in the follow-up email as well.
Sweet. Thank you so much. Have a lovely day. Good luck Sarah. If your interview or see, you’ve got one today.
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