Being a leader at the C-suite is no easy task. And that is why executive leaders shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. Peter Tuybens of TICkA is here to share unconventional methods to boost energy at the C-suite. With Jules as moderator, join Char Miller & Sam Reeve as they get into a fun and informative discussion on leadership. Peter shares anecdotes from his experience coaching companies and shares the strategies that worked. If your executive leaders need some revitalizing, this episode is a must! Tune in to learn creative new ways to build trust and foster transparency within your team!
We’re so excited to have you here. If it is your very first time, I want to officially welcome you. It’s great to have you joining us and, hopefully, you love it so much you keep coming back and become one of our regulars like we were talking about. To give you a bit of an idea of what we do here at the show, it’s a mastermind of leaders. We’re dedicated to creating workplaces where people thrive, employees reward and customers love. It’s all positive here. We have a different guest speaker each and every week.
To introduce you to some of your other hosts, we have Char, who not only consults with CompTeam, she has many years of HR experience. She leads Rocky Mountain Health Advocates as well. It’s good to have you back. We have Sam as well, who brings us the show each and every week. Sam is the Founder and CEO of CompTeam. His superpowers are bringing talent initiatives and great compensation programs into different companies.
I want to talk a bit about what we’re going to be presenting. We’re going to be chatting all about building a team of leaders and who better than Peter Tuybens. He is a Senior Coach and Facilitator. In 2008, his company BCT was acquired. He works with both individuals and teams in professional organizations not just in Belgium but also abroad. What is incredible is he doesn’t do it in English. He does it in French and in Dutch. It’s three different languages. He’s very intelligent. Also, he consults with TICkA. Peter, you’re telling us that it’s more in the sports world.
TICkA has two big competencies. We try to learn from the sports world and the sports world likes to learn from the business world. We are coaching top teams in hockey soccer, etc. That’s one of the elements we share in Europe and abroad. That’s true.
Tell us a little bit more about that, Peter. You were also advising the Olympic team. Is that right?
Yes. A colleague of mine, Jeff, is a part of the Belgian Olympic Committee. When everything is okay, he will be in Tokyo later in 2021 to accompany the Belgian athletes. This is an example. It’s an interesting world with a lot of emotions, performance and goal-setting. Both worlds can learn a lot from each other. This is something I’m convinced about. Personally, I’m not very active in the sports world.
Everything you described in the sports applies to business. There are a lot of emotions and trying to accomplish things in the business world. I see the parallel.
Let me add those emotions are a little bit more hidden in the business world but maybe we can come back to that.
Some of us are emotional in our business but that’s femininity.
Let’s dive a little bit more into that. As far as the different parallels that you see between sports and business, what are the things that we should be learning in business from the sports world and how they conduct themselves there?
What people expect from sports professionals, we’re talking about sports professionals is rather huge. There’s a lot of tension, stress and goal-setting. That’s very ambitious. What the sports world has learned is that there is more than physical preparation. There’s also mental preparation, learning to put emotions aside at some moments and trying to live within the team perspective.
On the opposite way sometimes it’s refreshing. For instance, in the business world in most cases, emotions are a little bit hidden or more hidden. In the sports world, you cannot hide it. Showing that you’re disappointed or enthusiastic is something that the business world can learn from the sports world. This is only one example. I can go on for a few hours. It’s a little bit to the side of the topic but it’s a very interesting confrontation. That’s for sure.
Perhaps we should have another session to go more in detail about that particular concept.
I will bring my colleague Jeff together with me if you want.
That sounds like fun. There’s something to be learned there because, in the knowledge-based worker world, talent is so important. I know that that’s optimal in the sports world. They’re always constantly thinking about, “How do we get the best talent for this particular position?” That’s the mindset of what we’re thinking about as well in the business world.
Also, how do we communicate? How do we keep them engaged? How do we keep morale up and positive? All that becomes more important as we are investing so many dollars and time into our talent. That will be a great conversation that we should put on the calendar for the future. I’m excited about having that discussion.There aren’t a lot of companies that are successful without successful top teams. Click To Tweet
If you invite me, I will be there.
Let’s talk about our topic. The most important thing that we’re trying to accomplish in this discussion is diving in and exploring how we can create that team in the C-Suite and make sure that it is functional. I talked about this with you, Peter. In a lot of my clients that I’ve started with, one that I’ve noticed in a lot of areas is having a truly functional team in the C-Suite is not as common as one would like to expect. There are often issues in leadership. Maybe the CEO is junior or there’s a member on the team that is not playing fairly or not being a team member. Let’s dive into what creates a good leadership team. What have you found there? What are the top themes that you found there, Peter?
Let me start with this point. When you go to the top of organizations, you have to start mentally with conviction that these people have been successful. I don’t know a lot of companies that are successful without successful top teams. On the other hand, what do we see? We see that a lot of people in the C-Suite have more difficulty positioning themselves as more transparent and vulnerable.
They hide a lot due to the fact that maybe their position is important or they have their own interests that can be different from other interests. This gives us a result that I see at the top level. C-Suite people tend to spend a lot of energy where it’s not needed. This is one element. The first thing that I do in my day-to-day job is to try to convince them that everybody has a loose screw.
Nobody is perfect. Everybody has to have some shortcomings. By sharing this and by helping them to share this with each other, I have the experience that it helps a lot to create more safety and transparency. It makes communication more open. One of the most important learning points is to position themselves more vulnerable than they’re used to.
You can imagine when you have complex issues to solve and complex projects to lead, the impact when it fails is very high. That’s the reason why there is a lot of hesitation sometimes to show emotions, to use that example. Not showing emotions can take a lot of energy. Sometimes it takes energy to show your emotions and to say, “I am completely disappointed.”
These are elements that I see. In 2020, a lot of online sessions have taken place. I have seen that in a lot of companies, the C-Suite had more time to reflect also on these types of elements. The key challenge in a lot of even successful companies is increasing transparency as a result to create more mutual trust and safety within. You know the expression, “It’s lonely at the top,” I’m not convinced. It’s not lonely at the top but as a precondition, you need vulnerability and transparency.
I have to validate your point because I’ve spent many a time in my history in corporate healthcare sitting at the executive table where we spent more time tweaking PowerPoints and decks and creating those decks in order to talk about how we’re going to present those PowerPoints to staff. Every day we had a new presentation. I used to sit in these executive boardrooms with fourteen executives tweaking PowerPoints all day long.
Now that I own a small company of 27 to 30 employees, my CEO is also my significant other. He is also a sports wizard. He used to work in Comcast with mass broadcast control, watching 50 televisions with every single sport in the world. My problem is he’s a big man but all he does is he’s so freaking transparent to the point where I’m trying to hold him back.
The employees when we had our staff meeting were like, “We love you because you’re so transparent. You’re upfront to a default that it makes us feel psychologically safe.” They were standing up, talking and sharing. It’s all the beauty of that new design where a startup is a few years old. My question is, how do you convince that executive, C-Suite member or CEO of either a big 50,000 employee company, a 100 plus company or even a small company with less than 30 employees, that it’s important to have that transparency and relationship-building?
Let me talk from some examples and start with a strange comparison at the first time. You have in mind a typical description of an old couple. What happens at the first glance? Let’s use this comparison. I meet the CEO and the CEO says to me, “We know each other for such a long time. We know what are the strengths of each other.” They’re talking in the first phase as, “We don’t need some support. Everything is all right.”
By asking some questions, what do you see with an old couple? Let’s say there’s a couple, man and wife. The man wants to say something but he doesn’t say it because he knows how his wife will respond. In conclusion, he doesn’t share anything. This comparison you can sometimes see in a lot of C-Suites. It means you know each other and because of the fact that you know how people react, they don’t share information.
One of the convictions that I try to do is by using this type of example. They confirm and say, “You’re right.” We are here with seven people but it has been years since we have given feedback to each other related to our attitudes and performance. We talk, like you said, about the results and PowerPoints and invite people from the organization to present their results in our board meeting and that’s it.
The first thing when I work with a group of leaders at the C-Suite is investing time. I always have a personal intake with every member beforehand confidentially to know what are their hopes and fears. They’re rather open. When I ask them, “Are you open in this way when you’re sitting together in the weekly meetings?” “No. I have to be careful because sometimes things are tangible and I like to be careful in sharing my opinion.” That’s a good occasion to focus on.
After intakes, what I do is spend a minimum of half a day on their drivers and talents. I use TMA as a tool. Honestly, in my years of experience, it’s the strongest material with whom I ever have been working. It’s a very strong material. The people who have had some other tools in the past to learn about themselves are surprised in a positive way.
By using, for instance, a tool to map their drivers and talents helps to boost self-knowledge. This is important because, believe me, at the top, people sometimes forget their own drivers. They forget it because they are alone in a certain career path or job. They have become successful and are known for doing something very well but they do not get energy from it. That’s the point.Nobody is perfect. Everybody has to have some shortcomings. By sharing this and by helping them to share this with each other, it helps create more safety and transparency. Click To Tweet
By working with this material, there are some feedback moments. I use speed dating as an approach. We have ten people. I invite them to talk for five minutes, two by two and then change. In the end, I ask them, “What are the patterns that are coming back in your feedback?” They always say at that moment, “This was a fantastic exercise. You should do this more.”
My standard answer then is, “You don’t need me. You pay me for doing an easy thing. Continue doing it. Take your last ten minutes to share some feedback.” The first part is always this and then it depends on the goal. Sometimes it’s useful to discuss strengths and obstacles in the cooperation of every day. Sometimes it’s a business plan to be developed in the strategy execution plan to figure out for the next three years. This is a little bit of how the approach is done.
This is the last thing. What I always try to do is not to stop with good intentions. Imagine after two days in the bushes, the Scottish Highlands or something like that, when you stop with good intentions, people say, “These were two nice days,” but nothing happens in practice. What I try to do is translate good intentions into decisions. The decision-makers are around the table. They should make decisions and determine an owner, deadline and then we follow-up.
I relate to that. I have been in the room with executives from both the physician practice side and the health insurance side. It felt like when I was coordinating from an organizational development perspective trying to coordinate some collaboration and union involvement, which also asks the dynamic of the executive team. It was interesting in my perspective because it felt like it was a competition among the executives showcasing their abilities, personal talents and drives and their team’s outcomes and talents. I was like, “This is not a competition.”
It was very difficult, particularly with a room full of 40 executives to try to facilitate that conversation. Also, in a small business owner mindset, even the owners, me and my two colleagues, all self-admit that our personalities are also different. It’s like coordinating, “You’re in charge of operations and finance. I’m in charge of people. Now maybe we won’t conflict so much.”
I have been talking a lot about the TMA. It gives us a common language as far as, “Let’s focus on the positive skillsets, talents and drives and put away the fact that we have different negative things that we disagree on. Let’s talk about our common mutual focus using the TMA methodology.” We have been experimenting with this and we’re not quite good at it but we’re getting there. Do you work with big companies and small companies? What’s your sweet spot?
It depends. I have been working with European banks like corporate banking, chemistry groups some corporate global companies and also some midsize companies. Also, I’m coaching some people in second-generation family businesses. It’s very wide. One element that is always and related to what you were saying is when a CEO says, “Please help me. I don’t have a clue,” that’s a sign of showing leadership. It’s not that long ago that people had to position themselves as strong, knowing everything and having a solution for every issue. It’s not credible anymore due to speed, complexity and the fact that businesses have an evolution that’s far more at speed than many years ago.
This is my focus. I’m so focusing on drivers, strengths and helping them to discover that they have other strengths that they apply in their job. By learning, it’s something fantastic. Maybe this is a small and stupid example but what I sometimes do when I work with C-suites is I ask them, “Give me a piece of music, a song or something that has a special meaning for you.”
I ask them to share this with me at the beginning of the day. What do I do with that music? I make a little Spotify list and during the day, in the break time or lunchtime, I put the sound on. Why do I give this as an example? Sometimes you see people and you don’t have a clue. You associate them with classical music and then they have chosen a piece of heavy metal and it’s surprising. They’re tattooed and everything.
It means there is a difference between preferred attitude and shown attitude and little things. It’s a little secret I like to share. If you did not do this before, it’s fantastic. It’s very easy to do. People are joyful by listening and guessing who has chosen what type of music. I shared the Spotify list at the end of the day and they’re happy. It’s a stupid example to show that there are a lot of things hidden at that level in organizations. They’re just people like everybody. Once you start to understand it, it is good in both directions.
I’m going to try that because one of the owners does rap music. He makes his own rap music. Our other owner is into metal octane. It’s a weird metal combination. Some of us like yacht rock because we want to sit by the beach and listen to old yacht rock. I have other leaders that like country music. I’m going to do that. That’s pretty fascinating. It would be funny to do that at a leadership meeting and watch all their non-verbal micro facial expressions.
These are little elements that help to go in a direction of more transparency. There are plenty of things you can do like asking them, “Tell me a hidden passion.” None of your colleagues know about that. Give it to me, we will look for images, share them and people have to guess who has or what hidden passion or even guilty pleasure. These are little things. When it’s confirmed in the business topics and in the targeting of the objectives and strategy execution, there’s no problem. It helps. There’s a reason why I start with that point at the beginning.
Tell me one thing, Peter. A lot of times, there’s a situation where we have a new leader or somebody coming onto the team, specifically a CEO as an example. When that new leader is coming into that team, what should they prepare for? How should they present themselves? What are the best ways that you think they should start that interaction?
Let me use an example. It happens regularly that the young, high-potential guy or girl in their mid-30s comes in the C-Suite. People with average age, White, male, 55. Imagine the situation. What happens a lot when these people are not prepared, they start mostly in two ways. The most intelligent way to start and this is also what I advise is to take their time. Give yourself 100 days to make a tour and listen to everybody without sharing old opinions. Listen to get to know the context of where they’re starting to work.
This is useful. At a certain moment, everybody expects some answers and then people can be coached and can be helped to share the answers in the right way. This is one. What I see in a lot of situations on the other hand is young people coming to the C-Suite in the CEO role start to be bossier than they are by saying, “I know my role. I will take my responsibility for little issues.” They want to show, “I will make the decision because I’m the CEO.” This takes a few weeks and it’s done.
It doesn’t work because credibility is going down. That’s exactly what I mean. This costs a lot of energy to a lot of people. They’re transparent in coaching sessions. It’s up to me to learn them and show the same transparency within their new team by saying, “I have a lot to learn. I don’t know your department. Tell me all about it because I want to learn.” People who are eager to learn, one, likes to listen and two, have a natural dominance where people accept them to show direction and take leadership. These are three elements that create success in my experience.You're not a leader when you have no followers. Click To Tweet
In my opinion, that cascades throughout the organizational culture too. I have worked in a large healthcare system with near 160,000. Even in the corporate offices and some executive change or local offices, it felt like sometimes the executives behind closed doors are getting to know each other. The employees were out there all anxious like, “Who is this person? What’s the direction of our company?” Those executives cascade a rumor mill throughout the organization with what they were misinterpreting or hearing.
Showboating was happening at certain levels of the organization. I’m a candid former HR person from healthcare. The showboating was happening in the boardroom. Meanwhile, the culture was getting impacted if it wasn’t being handled very well. If that executive didn’t come in as a CEO or president of the region and be authentic and transparent, seek candid and brutally honest feedback right from the beginning. They were so focused in the boardroom gaining that credibility and “I’m-the-boss” attitude, the rest of the organization suffered. Would you agree?
Yeah. Let me add one element to that one. Sometimes my first contact in a new company or a new customer of mine is, for instance, a middle manager. Sometimes in the first intake moment, they say, “There is a lack of leadership in our company,” and they point to the top. When I see C-Suite people, as first contact, they say to me, “You have to know there is a lack of leadership,” and they point down.
This is interesting. This is, in a lot of cases, the situation where one of my first sentences is something like, “You have been saying there is a lack of leadership in middle management. When I talk to the middle management, they say the same.” That is exactly what you say. This should be a credible example. The classical one, walk the talk is crucial. It’s of all times but it will be credible. It will be more important than in the past. Let me say why.
In my experience, younger people in their twenties are more assertive than some time ago. They do not respect authority as such, a lot less in Europe and probably in the States, it’s the same. I see the same thing in Asia. People want to see that their responsibilities have an added value, that they can learn something and that they have opportunities to develop themselves. At that moment, it will get more credibility. This is about that. When there’s no credibility, you cannot change anything at all. When you have credibility as a leader, you can realize fantastic things.
Let’s talk about that. Char mentioned authenticity, building credibility and so forth. What are some ways that can happen for some of those young Millennial leaders out there?
The best thing is to invest and understand the culture and the context. Personally, I think top leaders can be successful when they create a few things. An authentic true leader talks about his or her shortcomings. He or she is transparent about that. This is one. The second element is you’re not a leader when you have no followers.
What I mean by that is you have to be ready to share, in a credible way, a certain vision and strategy. When nobody is following you, let’s forget it. It means it will not work. You cannot do anything alone. It’s somebody who can create credibility by sharing shortcomings, working on safety and developing trust. Trust can be developed by giving mandates to people. It’s being at C-Level and not being busy with operational issues that could be done by other people.
Sometimes you still have people in the C-Suite that want to show that they are the best ones and want to execute even things on the operational level. It’s perceived as a lack of trust. It’s people who can put that down. You know the ABC model. People are motivated when they have autonomy, when they belong to a certain culture and when they are competent. ABC is the Deci and Ryan model. It’s important to keep that in mind being a C-Level leader, in my opinion. Applying this is a nice start to get results.
My executive team went to the TMA and we had the beauty of having talked to Andre Blom, who is the Founder and CEO of TMA Method. We learned that, for example, I’m a very strategic, global and creative person. I’m also a people-pleaser. There are positives and negatives to that. Whereas, my CEO needs to work on delegation and listening. He’s not patient. My other leader is a go-getter. He’s inspirational and has a cheerleader personality. Another one of our executives is more detail-oriented.
It’s interesting that you bring that up and she likes structure. We have been changing based upon the TMA and what we have learned about our personalities. We have been changing how we come across our employee and leadership meetings. We have changed the agenda, the structure, what goes first or who talks next. I’m encouraging our leaders to say, “Let’s talk about our vulnerabilities, the things that we need to work on, delegating and listening.” “Stop going down the rabbit holes, Char. You’re always going down the rabbit hole.” I agree with you on having a tool.
Let me add an example. It is a big European industrial group. I had an offsite with the management team and the board of directors. We worked with TMA. The CFO and one of the drivers, you know on the one hand you have the talent zone of being focused. On the other hand, you have the need for variety and a lot of different things at the same time to work on. What happens? I always do a type of exercise. I give the opportunity to the colleagues to assess their colleagues on the line based upon the drivers.
Typically for a CFO, they put it in the zone of being focused. When we think about the CFO, Chief Financial Officer per definition, a lot of people think, “This is somebody who needs some focus.” In this example, the guy was the opposite. He had a huge need for diversity and variety. He hated focus. In the discussion, he said, “Everybody sees me as somebody who is able to find the last details in my financial reporting and things like that but I hate it. I’ve been doing this for years and I hate it.”
What happened in that company? He got emotional. They were speechless because it was a complete surprise. It was an introverted person for whom it took some courage to share this. What did they do? They hired a new guy or girl and used him more to work on merging and acquisition things. He was the right hand of the CEO and the owners to find new companies to come in the same group.
In conclusion, I had a call from him. He’s absolutely happy. It’s the first time he gets energy from his job. This is exactly what you say, “When you know from each other what drives you and what gives you energy, you can do fantastic things.” For that, you need to have an open atmosphere, mutual trust and a feeling of safety where you can share your emotions and openness. Otherwise, it doesn’t work.
That’s a great example of a situation where using the TMA Method has shown the particular passion of this individual. It turned out to be a positive situation. A lot of times when we’re hiring new executives, it would have been better to understand this individual’s passions when he was integrating into the team and putting him in the right spot. Have you ever come into a situation where you have looked at a team that you’re trying to consult with and have decided, “This is impossible. They’re not the right people in the right seats.” Have you ever walked away from a particular engagement because they have the wrong people and it was not the right fit?When you feel that you lose energy in doing your job, you have to take a step, make a decision, reflect, and determine what gives you energy. Click To Tweet
It happens. For instance sometimes you see this phenomenon in industrial companies, production facilities and things like that where the most technical people go vertically through the organization. The best technician or engineer becomes responsible for the quality and the team of engineers. I had a few examples where due to this phenomenon, without looking at the drivers of the individual that at a certain moment, there was no vision anymore. People didn’t follow anymore and the execution of this strategy didn’t work.
We organized the interviews based on TMA. What happened is that a lot of people said, “Honestly, I hated to be a people manager. Give me my technical stuff. Let me be innovative and find out new solutions. I didn’t ask for it. It was offered to me and I couldn’t refuse due to the financial package related to it.” It happens that people are relieved at a certain moment when you have this dialogue on this topic. I had it more than once.
My recommendation to people who have a leadership role and they feel that they lose more energy than they get energy from that role, please open up the dialogue with your CEO, HR professional, HR Director or an external person in the first step. It’s so key because your professional life is about 30% to 40% of the time you’re spending, including sleep. It’s 40 to 50 hours a week. It should be energy-giving. This is my conviction. I see too many people who lose all their energy in burnout situations. Burnout is also a medical component.
I’m not medically educated. I’m not a doctor but all the elements related to the job are what I try to focus on. For the medical aspect, I ask them to make an appointment with their doctor. It’s so important that they understand that when you feel that you lose energy in doing your job, you have to take a step, make a decision, reflect and determine what gives you energy. Certainly, in the second part of a professional career, it’s more important to do only those things that give you energy. Modestly, I’m a good example of it. I only do things I really love. I’m absolutely happy at this moment.
I will tell you that with my team, I’m seeing a transformation now that we use the TMA to have the psychological safety and the fact that our executive team is saying, “If you have a talent in compliance, detailed paperwork, marketing or you’re bilingual, let’s talk about your talents, drives, ambitions and the things that you are not passionate about. What gives you energy? What does not give you energy?” I have been strategically and slowly transforming the way that we communicate, do our meetings and talk.
Also, one other point that’s very fascinating to me and I’m a complete example of it including my prior executive healthcare background is things are happening so fast. Every day, there’s something new, new regulations, COVID, the outbreak, the way we run operations and working remotely. The change management is on a fast train. It would be nice to think that our executives are all the same but the reality is in many companies, the executive turnover is constant. Would you not agree with that?
You’re talking about change and transformation. Let me add one element. You have people who are naturally groundbreaking and creative. It means when there are some rules and regulations inside the company, they love to challenge it and say, “Why is this rule there? It should change. Who has invented this one?” My recommendation for those people who get energy by changing transformation is to say, “Please stay like this,” but instead of becoming less groundbreaking, learn to choose your moments and when you show another attitude.
Let’s not be naive. Nobody has a 100% job where everything is related to their personal drivers. When you arrive at 80%, it’s fantastic. For the other 20%, you have to work with people with other drivers and people who have completely different interests than you being the leader. A true leader should be flexible and should show some willpower and discipline on certain occasions. This is also an element to learn without weakening the drivers. This is something else. Keep your groundbreaking attitude but learn when to show another attitude, when to focus on discipline, execution and when to be dutiful. You can learn it. This is personal development.
That’s a fascinating topic that you brought up because I was having a psychological conversation about how you read all these leadership books, particularly as females become more in the executive role or have more diversity. There are all these books that talk about leaning in and leaning back. As a woman, do you lean in and try to be like the strong, machismo male attitude? Do you lean back and try to figure out how to be a machisma? That’s my own word. How am I going to lean in and lean back?
As you said in your example, it’s like that speed dating thing. I have been analyzing psychology for the sake of my friends and personal about how do you deal with the masculine mindset? How do you become strong and opinionated but not appear weak and emotional? It’s extremely fascinating. How do you lean in? How do you figure that out?
There are lots of publications on leadership that say the future is female leadership. I know a lot of female leaders with excellent male competencies and male leaders with very good female competencies. The classical ones of female leadership are showing empathy, asking the right questions, not being too directing and things like that. I’m a little bit more nuanced.
One thing is for sure. When there is a combination at the C-Suite of all these competencies, that’s the best result with some complementarity. When you have the old macho male style competencies mainly for everybody taking part at the C-level, credibility will go down because you have people with other needs in your organization.
That’s why we’re all about diversity and inclusion. It’s like a whole new dimension. There’s the LBGT community, the whole aspect of diversity and the fact that we’re becoming more global. You layer all that on into the other dimensions. It’s fascinating but some of my colleagues think it’s mind-blowing. They don’t understand. This is our culture. In our employees, particularly our younger generation, we’ve got some fairly new leaders in their mid-twenties and they’re looking at us like, “How are you 50-plus people acting because we’re watching you? We want your job.”
Sam, you wanted to add something, I think.
I enjoyed listening to Char’s question. This is such a big topic about female leadership, inspiring that and making sure that it is fostered among the leadership team. In my career, I have watched a lot of great female leaders come into play. A lot of it was the over tendency to lean in like Char was mentioning. That was the early compensating behavior that was coming out. I thought that was unfortunate because I knew them as younger leaders in the mid to senior section. They were such a joy to work with and very positive. They felt when they got to that executive level, they needed to change their approach. Have you experienced that as well?
Yes. Transparency helps a lot there and openness to understand. What you can see with some team reports or team results, you can map it and indicate what the absolute needs are for a certain top team and what would be the solutions. Sometimes it’s externally sometimes it’s from within your organization but it’s always starting with the self-knowledge also on the team level. I’m convinced about that.When you know your physical talents or mental talents, it's far easier to determine the areas for your development. Click To Tweet
You have to build that culture and environment where people even at the executive level feel psychologically safe. Sometimes people assume, “That’s the executive team so they have a suit of armor. They’re not a vulnerable human being.” It’s so outstanding that vulnerability can be shown.
Peter, if you’re looking for your successor to be as good as you are, what are the important qualities or competencies that you would look for in a candidate?
Let me start with some misunderstandings. You do not need to be an extrovert to be a good leader. You do not need to be the most dominant male or female to be a good leader. You do not need to be dutiful and accept everything within your organization’s culture to be a good leader. Why do I say that? It’s because I have a lot of examples where people who are introverted and reflecting in their decision-making instead of problem-solving very quickly that had some good results.
Personally, my recommendation would be to try to find somebody who when you have some tests, results or assessment centers and when those people look at the results of an assessment center, they use it as an opportunity to show their first vulnerability. What do I mean by that? When that person says, “I know I’m introverted but in the past, I solved it like this by choosing people who could combine their drivers with my drivers and looking for variety in the constitution of a group.”
This is a very good sign from the beginning. With this, authenticity is key. When that person recognizes what has been told in a dialogue or in an assessment center and it’s confirmed and challenged. You have the feeling that is authentic, that’s a good sign. Let’s be careful with the superficial ideas we have on strong leadership. You do not have to be dominant, assertive and extroverted. It’s not needed.
Related to the studies behind talent motivation analysis or TMA, they say when there’s somebody who has a need for showing the direction, for taking responsibility and to work to have some goal-setting in order to achieve something, this has been proven. These are three drivers that give us a result that leadership is giving energy.
It means when you have somebody in front of you who is looking at the journey instead of the objective, who is more introverted and who is following when somebody else shows the direction, it’s not about a leader at that moment. It’s about willpower and discipline. Let’s be careful and not try to be too superficial in this context. I hope this inspires you a little bit.
It does. As a non-sports person who doesn’t understand all the sports and as an individual that gets the pleasure of watching a lot of sports because of my home environment, I’m the one that’s watching. You’ve got the one sports player that loves to be all over the Nike commercials and is all over the advertising. You’ve got the other sports quarterback that seems a little bit more quiet, reserved and studious. They’re very different, even different ages. I’m not getting into sports with you all but I do know there are different ages yet also awesome leaders because of their different personality types.
Let me add one short sports example. The main sport in Europe is football. Why this example? Imagine you have six boys in a junior team and they’re goalkeepers. All six are very talented. You only need one in a team of eleven when they’re adults. The question is, should we say to the sixteen-year-old boys, “You’re the one who will be in the first team. You are the best,” and to the others say, “No. It will be difficult.” That’s option one. Option two is should we say to all six of them, “You have the potential to become the first team when you’re twenty.”
My answer to that is please let’s choose option two, always, even when you know that there are only 1 or 2 goalkeepers needed. This can help to develop their strengths and show some willpower and discipline. It’s not only about talent but one thing is for sure. When you know your physical talents or mental talents, it’s far easier to determine what the areas are for your development.
Sometimes there’s still gap thinking in organizations. They work on the things that are the weakest points. I’m not a big believer. When you are not talented for something and you do not show it organize yourself, find somebody else and try to use the drivers of the person within your organization. This is a recommendation I give regularly to C-level people.
I love all your feedback. I’m going to apply it and also use it with my coaching and consulting. Thank you so much. I love the sports analogy. I need to understand the rules but it still applies in the business world.
I do want to note our sponsor. We have been talking a lot about TMA and how we use it in our practice. If you’re interested in learning more about TMA or would like to try a personal assessment, you can go ahead and sign up. Feel free to leave a comment that you would like to try that out and we will contact you or you can reach out to me personally. My email is [email protected]. I will make sure that we get one of those assessments out to you.
Furthermore, if you’d like to set up some time with one of the experts, feel free to reach out and I can connect you with any of our speakers. In addition, there are other aspects of the TMA tool that are quite powerful such as the free online Competency Library. There are also some apps that you can use in your management life, dealing with your employees, recruiting and so forth. I know a lot of Char’s managers use the TMA platform for that purpose. It can be very helpful.
It works well. It’s a whole different dynamic.
The one thing I would love to stress with you, Peter is it was such a joy having you on and gaining from your experience and rich knowledge. I would love to have you back to talk about the sports angle and how to think about that. We will set that up and that would be a great conversation. I do want to thank you so much for joining us. It was a wonderful conversation. I enjoyed it. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.
With pleasure. I’m available for any questions or discussions later on. You will find me through Sam and his colleagues so there’s no problem with that. I wish you a nice day. See you soon. All the best to all of you.
Peter Tuybens is passionate about guiding management teams and strategic workshops, talent focused coaching of top people, advising organisations (and especially their people) in change.
Getting the best out of people and teams, based upon their strengths, is his professional driving force.
Peter holds a master’s degree in commercial sciences/marketing. He followed a post master course in learning and development in companies.
Peter started his career in 1981 as an assistant at university. In 1988 he first became internal communication trainer, then training coordinator and responsible marketing/communication at the Belgian market leader in insurance.
From 1996, after years of freelance work, he decided to work as a managing partner at BCT Coaching & Training, for which he provided training programmes and individual coaching tracks in and outside Europe.
BCT Coaching & Training was acquired in 2008 by the Belgian HR services group Acerta. Peter was first Business Manager of the BCT team, and since 2011 director and member of the MT of Acerta Consult.
Since May 2020 Peter has been active as senior coach and facilitator in Belgium and abroad, for individuals and teams in professional organizations. He coaches and facilitates in Dutch, French and English.