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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-021: Simplification of the Challenge Leads to Success

With Gordon Tredgold

ET-021: Simplification of the Challenge Leads to Success

and your host Wayne Brown on November 15, 2022

Episode notes:      A conversation with Gordon Tredgold

I was first introduced to Gordon Tredgold’s work through his book “Leadership – it’s a marathon not a sprint” some years back and has followed him since then.

When the opportunity arose for Gordon to be a guest on the ET project, I was particularly happy as it presented the chance to discuss with him not only his perspectives on business and leadership but also to connect through a common passion in sports.

Gordon is 6 months younger than me and therefore we grew up and competed in the same era, albeit he is far more knowledgeable and experienced than I ever was about the various sports codes. A true veteran in the world of Rugby – both League and Union.

If you visit Gordon’s website, you will see his opening statement

“Simplify, Empower, Excite, Deliver

Gordon helps good managers develop into great leaders” 

And after speaking with him, researching his talks, books, and articles, and getting to understand his character traits of Gordon, it’s clear that he lives this statement.

Regardless of whether you’re a sports fan or a die-hard Leadership expert, there is something in today’s discussion for you. 

Today’s Guest: GORDON TREDGOLD

In our episode today we really have the travel bug and head off to both Spain and England, two of my favorite locations. Escorting us on our journey is none other than one of the world’s top Leadership gurus Mr. Gordon Tredgold

Gordon and I share some common ground having both been avid Rugby League players in our youth before I retired, and Gordon changed allegiance to Rugby Union and continued playing until the prime age of 43.

So, who is Gordon Tredgold’s side from being a sports fanatic? Gordon is a former corporate warrior who has successfully delivered complex $100m projects, ran $300m departments, and led global teams of 1000 staff.

He has helped clients reduce operational costs by $350m, increase performance by 50%-500%, and helped entrepreneurs triple their revenue in just 12 months.

Today, Gordon’s a highly sought-after keynote speaker on Leadership, Employee Engagement, and Operational Excellence. As I mentioned he’s been recognized by Global Gurus as a ‘Top 10 Leadership Expert and Speaker.

Gordon’s work has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fortune, and Addicted 2 Success. He’s written 4 books and his last book FAST was a finalist in the Chartered Management Institute’s, Management Book of the Year.

  Gordon Tredgold | LinkedIn

  Gordon’s website

Gordon Tredgold’s book – FAST (Focus, Accountability, Simplicity, and Transparency)

The full title of this book – “FAST: 4 Principles Every Business Needs To Achieve Success And Drive Results” We speak about this book together with his early one called “Leadership” and as you can see Gordon applies the principles that he preaches in his books through his own brand of Leadership.

Go to Gordon’s book page which is linked below to read more and access his books.

FAST

Leadership – it’s a marathon, not a sprint

CEOWORLD 

Final words from Gordon:

“I think the competition, and the competition levels are harder, but I don’t necessarily think business gets more complex. You make something people want and you sell it at a price that gives you a profit. That hasn’t changed for 5,000 years. And if you start to overcomplicate that, yeah, the means by which we sell it might become more complicated, and the way that people can pay for it might become more complicated. But if you don’t get that first bit right, you’re doomed to fail. I don’t know if you know this stat, 95% of technical products fail.

But of that 95%, 42% do you know what the number one reason for failure is? No market need for the product. That’s not a complicated thing to fix. Market research. So I think we see complexity where there isn’t any. And we overcomplicate our solutions and offerings as a result of that. And I work in IT and when I first started, it was Cabs, you would cab punch and that would get fed in, and then mainframes client server.net and now the cloud and internet. But I just remember one thing all the time. People put data into the system, we manipulate it and store it, and at some point, we give that back to them. That hasn’t changed.

How we do it has changed, but the underlying fundamentals and principles haven’t changed. And I think if we could see more of that, more of the simplicity, people would find it a lot easier. I was doing a workshop with a leadership team and I asked them how many different ways are there of increasing revenue. And they said, “There are thousands.” And I said, “There are only three.” Sell more products to increase the number of things you sell, increase the price of what you sell it for, or sell additional products that say, so sell somebody two things instead of one, sell it for a higher price and sell them more of them. Those are the only three things. And once you get your head around that, then are you sure that with all these different channels, sales, blah, blah, blah, that you’re concerning yourself with, have you addressed all three of those things?” 

[music]

 

0:00:05.1 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, and we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. In our episode today, we really have the travel bug and we head off to both Spain and England. Two of my favorite locations. Escorting us on our journey is none other than one of the world’s top leadership gurus, Mr. Gordon Tredgold. Gordon and I both share some common ground having been avid rugby League players in our youth before I retired, and Gordon changed allegiance to Rugby Union and continued playing to the prime age of 43. So, who is Gordon Tredgold aside from being a sports fanatic? Gordon’s a former corporate warrior who’s successfully delivered complex $100 million projects. He’s run $300 million departments and led global teams of a thousand staff.

0:01:02.5 WB: He’s helped clients reduce operational costs by $350 million. He’s increased performance by 50% to 500%, and he’s helped entrepreneurs triple their revenue in just 12 months. Today, Gordon’s a highly sought after keynote speaker on leadership, employee engagement and operational excellence. And as I mentioned, he’s been recognized by Global Gurus as a top 10 leadership expert and Speaker. Gordon’s work has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Inc., Entrepreneur, Fortune and Addicted to Success. He’s written four books, and his latest ‘FAST’ was a finalist in the Chartered Management Institute’s management book of the year. Gordon preaches simplicity in everything, and he’s developed a highly successful fast approach, which he shared with clients, including Accenture, GE Aviation, Baxter International, Arizona Department of Child Safety, American Airlines, and many others.

0:02:03.6 WB: FAST, of course, is an acronym and it stands for four words, Focus, Accountability, Simplicity, and Transparency. Please join me now as we converse with Gordon Tredgold about all things leadership, or be it through the guise of sport, equally as much as business. So, please get yourself comfortable and ready for today’s episode, which is titled Simplification of the Challenge Leads to Success.

[music]

0:02:37.1 S3: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.

[music]

0:02:54.2 WB: Alright, well, team ET again this week we have another very special guest, and this time it’s a little bit closer to my heart, because we share a number of common interests and common passions. And I’m sure during our conversation today you’ll hear us bounce around a number of topics because of that. But it wasn’t until I started conversing with Gordon Tredgold that I understood the real meaning of six degrees of separation, because Gordon and I share a large number of interests and not only professionally, but also in sports. So, welcome Gordon. It’s great to have you on the call. I really appreciate the time and I look forward so much to our conversation.

0:03:40.2 Gordon Tredgold: My pleasure.

0:03:41.5 WB: I’ve opened Pandora’s box a little bit by leading in with sport. I know you’re an avid follower of many codes. We share a united passion, if you like with Rugby league and even my old coach, Darryl van de Velde was a coach in your area for Castleford and commiserations for being English in relation to the football. [laughter] Great to be able to throw a little bit of banter around.

0:04:11.8 GT: 16 years ago we had Viduka and I forget the other guy, he played on the wing. I can’t remember what his name was back, it will come to me, but they were fantastic for Leeds.

0:04:25.4 WB: Yeah.

0:04:25.8 GT: When we were competing in Europe, we had two Australians leading the charge.

0:04:32.9 WB: I never asked you if you ever played cricket?

0:04:36.8 GT: Yeah, I… So, you know, a lot of times when people talk about diversity and inclusion and ask me what’s my perspective on it, I was the only white player in the Caribbean Kings Cricket team and I used to open the batting and I was probably the worst batsman. And occasionally they would let me ball, and I was a kind of a slow, non-spin, spin baller. [laughter] So I loved it, but I was… If you needed six off the last ball, give me a call. Anything other than that, no. [laughter] No, absolutely no, I was passionate. I did actually… When I was in my last year of high school, I was the only person to play in every single game for the team and I was the 12th man in every one. And I asked the coach, why aren’t you picking me? He said, You’re the only person I know, if I select you as 12th man, you’ll turn up.

[laughter]

0:05:36.9 GT: And you know what if somebody doesn’t turn up, we’ll have a full team. Whereas any of the others, if you put them down as 12th man, they’re not interested enough to come along as a sub. And again, I played every game and I was 12th man in every game.

0:05:53.7 WB: I know you played league until you were 28, but then you went across… You crossed the line and you played rugby until you were about 43, I heard, so…

0:06:03.4 GT: Yeah.

0:06:03.8 WB: Yeah. I’m not sure what possessed you to make that transition, but…

[chuckle]

0:06:06.8 GT: Well, it was… I started playing rugby league at the age of nine. But then when I went to grammar… When I went to school as a grammar school we had to… We had to play Union. So I started playing Rugby Union at the age of 14 and then back at 16 we would play both. And then I started a Rugby League team in Leicester that’s still going today. But back then you weren’t allowed to play both so you kind of had to do it under the cover of darkness. I remember the… You could be deemed to be a professional if you played Rugby Union on a pitch that had previously had a Rugby League game played on it. And we used to get accused of being professionals like I’ve never received a penny ever, playing either sport. I loved them both. A different game certainly and I played hooker so one was all about scrummaging, rucking and malling, rugby league it was just all about defending around the ruck and playing acting half and I loved them both I was better at Union ’cause it requires a lower skill level. [laughter],

0:07:22.2 WB: Hang on I just need to turn the volume up now just to… [laughter] I might need to replay that a couple of times too. [laughter] Very good. I like that little challenge.

0:07:34.0 GT: One of my… One of… There used to be a lot of animosity and one of the popular jokes in Rugby League was that the reason why Rugby Union is more popular than Rugby League is because that the crowd gets to handle the ball more than the players. [laughter]

0:07:54.7 WB: Very good. I’m sure we’re gonna be able to draw a lot of parallels between sport and leadership but in talking with you I’ve noticed that you have a very… I would call it a pragmatic view when it comes to leadership and you like to simplify the approach to its lowest common denominator to make it successful. And I wonder if in sport you could make any parallel in that approach.

0:08:22.3 GT: Yeah no absolutely. So for me, it was sport that really introduced me to leadership. And it’s about… I was… I had the rare opportunity of experiencing both sides of the coin. I played in one team where we only lost one game all season and we had a phenomenally gifted group of 14 other players plus myself. And we would turn… And we would win most games because we had players that were just faster and stronger and who came from a Rugby League background and now played Rugby Union. So we just would run the ball all the time and score up. But I also played in teams where we were… I would say we were below average. So when you’re a below-average team you’ve gotta come up with strategies to win. ‘Cause if you just come out and play straight against the opposition, you’re gonna get beat. They’re better than you. So what can we do differently? Can we make it more of a forward game or a more open game? Or I remember when we played the police when I was at university and we played a game where every time we got the ball we kicked it into their 25 ’cause it was actually… They were bigger than we were but also we didn’t wanna carry the ball ’cause they were beating the living crap out of us. So you just give them the ball and…

0:09:50.7 GT: It was that trying to identify ways we could win and then communicating it. And when you’re trying to communicate a strategy to 13 or 14 players who are playing under crazy pressure at times. Somebody’s right in front of you and you want them to remember what we’re gonna do and we’re all gonna do it consistently. It’s got to be simple. If you complicated it, it’s never… Half of you will get it and half won’t. And now it’s just gonna fall apart. So for me, it’s all about getting… Helping… Communicate to people in a way that they understand so they can do it. And also if they can see how that’s gonna help them win now you’ve got their buy-in as well. This is why a lot of underdog teams win. I would say for me one of the… My competitive nature I was never the greatest at anything. And the number of times that I’ve beaten better teams who just turned up and thought they were gonna dial it in and then the next thing they’re on the back and they’re turned down and they don’t know what set them. And now we’re playing from a position of the lead which is a completely different mindset ’cause now you know what you’re doing is working and sometimes it’s just a question of keep doing it and hanging on.

0:11:24.1 WB: Yeah. I remember when we spoke the first time you were telling me a story about an old coach you had in two different leagues or in two different scenarios and the transformation that he was able to bring.

0:11:38.4 GT: Yeah well that was when we… I was nine and we played in the league and we won 50% of our games but when we played in the cup, we played only those teams we’d beaten. And we got to the final and we played the team that was top of the league. And he told us we weren’t a league team we were more of a cup team and we were unbeaten as a cup team. So we went into that game thinking we were unbeaten even though we’d lost 50% of our games and he said the team we were gonna play that won the league are not gonna be expecting us to do this. And he changed the approach and he gave some of us assignments. For me it was just stand opposite their best player and hit him every time he gets the ball, give him zero space. I don’t know we ended up coming out and triumphing. And it was… I say it was mindset and strategy. If you’ve got the right mindset and you’ve got the right strategy, you can achieve. You can turn an average team into a great team or an average team into a great performance lets put it that way.

0:12:46.2 WB: Which is part of your slogan, I believe, turning good managers into great leaders?

0:12:51.7 GT: Absolutely and it’s one of my favorite leadership quotes is Alexander the Great’s, “I’d rather face an army of lions led by a sheep, than an army of sheep led by a lion.” And what he doesn’t say in that quote, which I think is the reality, if you’ve got an army of sheep led by a lion, you end up facing an army of lions led by a lion. ‘Cause we’ve all got some lion in us, it’s just about releasing that inner lion, and if you’ve got a leader that can do that, then you can achieve amazing things. Whereas, a lot of leaders, when you see especially with, when you look at toxic cultures it’s almost as if they turn lions into sheep, undermine their credibility, create an environment which is not conducive to performance and disadvantage people and for me, leadership, it’s… It’s about mindset and strategy, mindset and strategy. And if you can get that right, then your team will achieve wonders. And the mindset’s the easiest thing, it’s hard to do. But once you’ve done it and then people achieve success, now they’ve got a mind, they’ve got that mindset going forward. You only need to change it once and you’re off to the races and it’s just about strategy.

0:14:13.6 WB: Right. We, we’ll jump into leadership in a moment, but before… Before we do that I… I also want to mention to the listeners that you’re also a marathon runner and… [chuckle] You’re at the present preparing yourself for your next run. And you introduced a beautiful strategy to me. The other… When we spoke last time and it was so simplistic, but it was so powerful. I wonder if you’d share that with the audience.

0:14:40.1 GT: Yeah well, again it comes to mindset and strategy, when I decided to do my first of a marathon, my two best friends, told me, “Too fat, too old, too unfit.” And… And I got around the mindset page first of all, because there was Fauja Singh, who was 100 year old Indian guy who run the marathon. So clearly not too old and clearly not… Yeah. ‘Cause if… There’s no way 100 year old guy is fitter than me. I was 52 at that time and then I found this approach, Virgin Marathon training, and it was just from 15 minutes a day for a week, then on the Sunday run 20 minutes, week after run 20 minutes and then 25 on Sunday and build up five minutes every week. And my friends and I, we could see how we could each do the five. We couldn’t see how we could run a marathon, but we could see that we could run five minutes more every week. Now it’s the question of how many weeks before. [chuckle]

0:15:42.5 WB: Yeah.

0:15:43.3 GT: Do you have to start? And my two friends when I explained, said, “We’re gonna run the marathon with you.” And again, we hadn’t made it easier, they just saw how we were gonna be able to do it and that got them to try. 86% of personal goals fail and a lot of them fail right at the start ’cause people just don’t believe it and won’t give it a shot.

0:16:09.1 WB: Back to the simplification of the big picture first, make it simple to understand and then be able to change the mindset.

0:16:16.8 GT: Yeah, absolutely, and I’ll just give you an insight into my competitive, I’m training for the Valencia Marathon. [chuckle] It’s five weeks away. And to say that training could be going bad is probably an understatement. And, couple of days ago one of my friends called me and said, “Hey, Rob Burrow, who played for Leeds. When everything on Leeds, is now got a neuron disease they… They’re doing a marathon to raise money for his Motor Neuron Disease Charity and that’s in May and my friend said to me, “Are you gonna run that?” And before… And that very morning, I’m thinking, there’s no way I can do the Valencia marathon and yet here, I signed up for winning Leeds, which is not flat. Leeds is not flat, but that’s just my competitive mindset, I’m up for the challenge and I always feel I’m gonna, I’ll find a way to defy the odds of gain the system in some way to give me an edge… That will get me over the line. I said, “I think for the Valencia Marathon, the edge is gonna be rocket pants.” [laughter]

[laughter]

0:17:37.5 WB: Very good. I think you personify the whole, mindset topic that you preach in the things that you do. I’d say, you find ways to simplify it so you can see how it can be done, and then it becomes a progressive inch by inch or step by step approach, and you look for small wins to empower you to excite you and then to drive you type of thing.

0:18:06.7 GT: Yeah and there’s a lot of… There’s a lot of examples. I don’t really like Praising Australians at all if possible, but you look at Australia and the cricket for instance, there’s far more people playing cricket in Pakistan, New Zealand and India than Australia and in the UK. Yet Australia, are one of the top two sides every year for the last 100 years. And it’s… It’s all about mindset. That tenacity, that ability to dig in and, and find a way. And, I always, I’m always impressed by that with Australia.

0:18:49.0 GT: So, you can see mindset, and the same with the New Zealand All Blacks, sixth team for me is rugby nation and most successful sporting team ever, 77.3% wins over a 120-year period. And it’s just that mindset and belief that they have. But the other one that I like is the… So Dave Brailsford who was the Performance Director for the Cycling. Prior to him joining, we would win an odd medal here and there, and since him, we’ve won 50% of the medals. We won four or five Tour de Frances in a row having never won one. And this philosophy is all about 1%, finding 1% improvement, and if you can find it in enough things, over time that accumulation is gonna be the difference between not only winning and losing but dominating, and we dominate world cycling.

0:19:54.4 WB: Yes.

0:19:54.7 GT: I mean, having been 20 years ago we won… We participated, but we weren’t a big name. Now we’re number one in World Cycling. And that’s just through 1% gains across the whole world. So that incremental approach can have a huge impact on us.

0:20:15.1 WB: Yeah, it’s extremely powerful. I’ve heard it spoken about in American Basketball, I think it is predominantly where they… Some of the coaches took that approach as well and over time become NBA champions and the same concept.

0:20:33.0 GT: You look at some of the things that he improved. He got teams to take their own pillows, because people’s pillows have an impact on the quality of their sleep. The quality of the sleep has an impact on their ability to train the following day. So, they examined absolutely, absolutely everything. They took hand sanitizer, because that reduced the amount of time they would get a cold. Which again, is now increasing on returning days so they can… ‘Cause they’re not missing them, ’cause they sat along sneezing. So there’s opportunities to improve everywhere and these are gonna be there. If we’re tenacious enough and passionate enough about winning, we’ll look and find them.

0:21:19.9 WB: You’ve written a couple of books, and I’m not sure if you’re in the process of writing any more, but there’s one called FAST, an acronym with a four words. And we’ll talk about that in a moment. And then there’s a second one which is on Leadership being a marathon not a sprint. And these echo essentially what we’re talking about here, but I wonder if there’s any message in either of those that you would like to emphasize here?

0:21:49.8 GT: So, for Leadership: It’s a Marathon not a Sprint, yeah, absolutely. And it comes back to that 1% gains. Finding 1% is a marathon, not a sprint, because you can find a lot of one percents. If you set off trying to find a 10% or a 20% improvement in one big chunk, unless your team is performing really badly and it isn’t interesting, you’re not gonna find that. So it is about changing small things and then in leadership, it can be about giving recognition on a daily basis. So you’re just doing it each and every day. Getting people into that habit of getting positive feedback, feeling valued. It’s about creating a culture where people feel safe, feel respected, feel trusted. And those are not things that you can just go from, Monday, it’s a bad environment and Tuesday everything is fine. It does take time for people to build up.

0:22:57.1 GT: And then FAST It’s about, there are a common set of reasons why we fail. And if we eliminate them, what’s gonna stop us from succeeding? [chuckle] And that comes from… I have a background as a turnaround expert, and I say this and it sounds very flippant, but it’s not. ‘Cause as I said, I like to simplify things and this might sound too simplistic, but it’s what allowed me to get to the answer. As a turnaround expert there are two things I do. I find what’s wrong and I fix it. That’s it. It is as simple as that. And so, once we know of that, then the question is, what is it that’s going on? And then I went away and I just, I came up with this common set of things that tend to go wrong. A lack of focus, poor accountability, people don’t know what their role is, they don’t have the tools, a lack of simplicity, or a lack of transparency in the performance.

0:24:03.3 GT: And I found that those were the four main reasons. So now every time I go to a company, those are the four things I look for. Is it clear what we’re trying to do and the people, they know what their role is, Is it easy to understand what we’re doing and how we’re gonna be successful? And then do we have transparency in the performance? And 99 times out of 100 it’s failing because of one or a combination of those things. So I fix them. Identify it, fix it. Boom. Off you go.

0:24:37.0 WB: I know you told me a story when we first spoke about a project you were working on. We don’t need to mention any names or anything, but yeah, you have a large project objective by a certain deadline, and it was really a case of breaking down, making it simple, focusing on one step at a time.

0:24:57.2 GT: Yeah, so we had with… I think it was on where we were doing this migration of a data center to the cloud, and we had 150 servers. And when you look to it as a big lump, it was difficult to imagine. And I’m not an expert in this area, so I got the team to explain to me how we would do one. And then once they did that, they convinced themselves that we were gonna do one as well as me. And then we trialed that. So we got a roll on the ball of, and then was, Well, how many could we do in one go? We can do 10. Okay, let’s try that. We did 10 in one go, and then we did 10 a week and it took us 15 weeks. So there were 150, but before we did that one, people were staring at the goal like it was Mount Everest.

0:25:50.1 GT: But once we’ve done one and we knew we could do 10 at a time. Yeah, this is gonna be done in 15 weeks. ‘Cause we could only do them at the weekend, but… And people could see this is how I do one. This is how I can do 150 in 15 weeks, and I’m not an expert in that technology, so trust me, that is a simple approach that you want to get people believing that success is a possibility because as soon as you do that. Now the game’s afoot, the dogs are off. They’re chasing down the center of it and It’s completely different… It’s a different mentality and attitude when you start doing things.

0:26:35.0 GT: And I remember when I was at university, I was captain of our rugby team and we played Liverpool University and we got beat 50-0 on the Wednesday, and then on the following Saturday we were playing Liverpool again. But this time at their place, and as we were coming out, our standoff who was our best player, he said, “We’re gonna get murdered today.” And I went, “right, you’re on the subs bench. I’m dropping you.” so why is that? I said, “You don’t think we can win” And I said in front of the team, “Hands up all those who think we’ve got a chance.” And 12 hands went up and he’s looking around as like, “You guys are idiots.” And I went, “Yeah. That’s right. We are idiots who might just pull up a victory.” So I substituted him and we went out, we took the lead. We got beat 49-5 But the team…

[laughter]

0:27:30.1 GT: But they were just sick. They were just so much better than we were, but we went out with that mindset. I will never, I never set foot on a pitch or any project without the belief that, we’ve got a chance. ‘Cause if you believe you’re gonna fail, then that’s it… It’s a done deal.

0:27:54.0 WB: Yeah. Fail to complete. Yeah.

0:27:56.8 GT: Yeah. Absolutely. You win some, you lose an awful lot more without him.

[laughter]

0:28:04.5 WB: Yeah. Very true. By the way, you’re sitting in a lovely part of the world. Right? I’ve been watching out the back of your window there. [laughter] At the villa out the back. So you’re sitting in Spain at the moment, right? So even though people can hear your English accent you’re a little bit across the channel.

0:28:29.1 GT: It’s warmer and it’s never than Australia.

[laughter]

0:28:32.6 WB: Our listeners were wondering, Okay, Gordon, it all sounds great. It sounds so simple, sounds easy, what’s some guidance you could offer to them, to… How can they apply this simplistic mindset and start to change how they’re performing?

0:28:56.9 GT: So what we’ll do is I’ll send you a link so that any of the listeners, if they want an audio copy of FAST download one of those for free. And it’s about a two, two and a half hour book, read. And I’ll give you more detail. But a lot of it it’s just… Again, one of my favorite quotes on leadership is Peter Drucker. Leadership management is about making sure we’re doing things right. Leadership is about making sure we’re doing the right things, and sometimes it’s just a question of taking that step back and making sure we’ve got everybody lined up, prepared and ready to go, and we all know where we are going. And where we are going is the right destination. And a lot of times on projects, I find that’s not the case. And so it can be because we’ve gotta get this done by Friday and we dive in and we do the wrong thing perfectly. It doesn’t help. Doesn’t help us at all.

0:30:04.9 GT: So taking that time. And then just as a leader, we just need to bear in mind that exactly like a rugby coach or a football coach, we don’t do any of the work. It’s our teams that do the work. So we prepared them and we give ’em the right level of… Have we got the right skill level? And we have to introduce them to what they’re capable of and we give ’em the resources and the time. And just keep focusing on setting your teams up for success. It’s never about us, it’s always about the teams. ‘Cause they’re the ones that are gonna go out and do the work. And if you think of yourself, I think there was a lot of talk about servant leadership, but I do feel that my job, given I don’t. Given I do not deliver anything and my job is all about setting them up for success, giving them everything they need, and then helping resolve roadblocks. As they come up. And if you take that mindset and step back and look and don’t just rush into everything, I think that will really, really help people. And the thing about leadership is that if you can get some quick wins, identify some early successes, and give people ignition, your teams will love it and they will surprise you with what they achieve.

0:31:36.4 WB: There’s a few things came to mind while you’re outlying that. So preparation I guess is very important.

0:31:44.4 GT: Preparation, yeah.

0:31:47.2 WB: Yeah, so to be able to ensure that you are ticking the boxes on the basics, so have everything available. Make sure you’re prepared, make sure the strategy is clear. You have a big picture that you can simply tell simply, there’s nothing that I haven’t heard before, but it’s putting it all into practice.

0:32:08.4 GT: Yeah, exactly. It’s almost like we need to be the catalyst. We need to be reasonably good at everything and do all of them, and if we can do that, we’ll go forward. When we talk about preparation, a lot of people… There’s a lot of things that, quotes that I hear that I don’t actually agree with. Things like plan, plan and follow the plan. I disagree with that. The Duke of Wellington was obsessed with planning, but not with plans because the planning helps you to prepare and think of every scenario. And they say that, Mike Tyson says it best. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face. And no plan survives initial contact with the enemy. So to stick to a plan that’s not gonna work. It’s through hard day but if you’ve done enough planning, you can change and adapt the plan as you go. So for me it’s plan and plan and adapt the plan, [chuckle] based on the situation you find yourself in.

0:33:17.1 GT: And with that in mind, when we did that project with 150 service. They kept asking me for a detailed plan down to 99.9% detailed. But we didn’t need that to make the first move. We just needed knock off plan. And sometimes you can get into that planning paralysis, where you spend more time planning and less time doing and we’ve gotta get that balance right. Gotta make sure we do enough that the team start on the right foot, but after we can… As long as we’re one step ahead of ’em, we’re good to go. So don’t prepare, don’t get into that preparation paralysis.

0:34:03.2 WB: Right. And there’s another thing that you implied, you didn’t say directly, but even though it’s the team doing the work as the leader, you still have to be there. You have to be with them. You have to be accountable and lead the way type of thing.

0:34:20.3 GT: I was working with DHL and we had a major outage on one of our systems, and the team worked through the night and I was deputy CIO. And me and the CIO we were like mother and father to the team and everybody knows that mothers spend all day with the kids. The father gives one word of praise after work and it’s the same level. So I said to him, “Come on, let’s go down and see the team.” He said, “I don’t know what I’m gonna say,” “but let’s go down and see them. They’ve worked through the night.” So we came down and I just said, “Ask ’em if they need anything.” And he said, “Great job guys. Do you need anything?” And they said, “Just the mere fact that you came down, saw us, gave us some positive feedback, is all we need.” And when we were coming back and he went, “I can’t believe how easy that was,” I went, “Yeah. And I can’t believe you don’t do that more often given how easy it is.”

[laughter]

0:35:13.7 GT: People in leadership positions, I think they feel they might be asked for things they don’t have. But the teams, they just wanna know that they’re seen, they wanna be appreciated. And if you can give them that, they’ll work wonders. Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great, both of them join battle. When the going got tough, would ride down at the front lines and then they would call out people that they were doing a great job. Cashier that’s a great bit of work there, just so that they knew what they were being seen and recognized. And what was true 2000 years ago is just as true now. Recognition is, it’s one of the greatest powers in the world because it costs us nothing and the return on investment is phenomenon. Absolutely phenomenon.

0:36:12.6 WB: I have to ask you, given before we wrap up the conversation, who was the greatest player rugby or union that you played with or against?

0:36:25.9 GT: The greatest that I’ve played against was Ellery Hanley, The Black Pearl. Talking about names of the Premiership. I can’t remember if they won it or not, or I think they got beat in the final and he got injured. But he was a phenomenal player. Not in every case but tenacity and strength. Unbelievable player. And then the greatest I was saying was Darren Lockyer. He’s my… Again, I think it comes from his diminutive stature. And when you see somebody who’s not 6’4, 6’5, and 19 stone bossing these guys around, it always impresses me. So those are my favorite players.

0:37:16.0 WB: You probably don’t know the answer to this, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. What do you think really made it different for those players from the rest of the groups?

0:37:27.1 GT: The first time I heard this was from my uncle who was a mad, mad, mad golf fan, and he went to Moortown in Leeds and he said it was Jack Nicklaus. And he said, he was there from the crack of dawn until dusk. And he said Jack Nicklaus came out and he was on the putting green 30 minutes before everybody practicing and he was on the putting green at the end of the day as the lights came out. And then you hear that Michael Jordan, he would turn up to training earlier. Ronaldo turning up, one of the first to leave, one of the last to go. And I think talent is just… And I’ve seen it myself with people who were way more gifted than I was, but I would outperform them through grit and effort. And I think they have phenomenal skills, but they also have that attitude of wanting to be the best. So they put in, put in the effort.

0:38:34.1 GT: They’ll train harder, they’re more committed that they do not give up. They will fight on until the bitter end. And I think Zig Ziglar said it’s attitude, not altitude. It’s attitude, not aptitude that determines altitude. But actually, if you’ve got aptitude and attitude, now you’re unstoppable. And too many players think that talent alone is enough. And I’ve beaten enough people who were better than me who weren’t prepared, who turned up and thought they would coast in. I was reading about another hero of mine in marathon, Eliud Kipchoge.

0:39:27.1 GT: He trains 12 times a week and he only does two speed runs. Everything else is just easy runs. But he runs 12 miles a day at 6:00 AM and then he runs six miles at 4:00 PM But he does that every single day and then takes either Saturday or Sunday off. And it’s that, that’s got him breaking the world record at the age of 37. The guy’s faster now than when he started. And he won the Berlin Marathon by about a kilometer and a half. And so is it about his speed or is it about that discipline and attitude and the work he puts in off the field that then allows him when he gets on the field to be a completely different class? And the same with leadership, I would say, if you wanna be a great leadership, it’s not about leading, it’s about the work we do to understand leadership, motivation, psychology, and strategy. Once if you master all that, leading becomes a doddle.

0:40:43.8 WB: There’s a lot of talk at the moment about how complex the business world is, how uncertain the world around us is. How are you seeing that playing out with the leaders that you engage with at the moment?

0:40:56.9 GT: I think the competition, the competition levels are harder, but I don’t necessarily think business gets more complex. You make something people want and you sell it at a price that gives you a profit. That hasn’t changed for 5,000 years. And if you start to overcomplicate that, yeah, the means by which we sell it might become more complicated, and the way that people can pay for it might become more complicated. But if you don’t get that first bit right, you’re doomed to fail. I don’t know if you know this stat, 95% of technical products fail.

0:41:43.9 WB: Correct.

0:41:44.8 GT: But of that 95%, 42% do you know what the number one reason for failure is? No market need for the product. That’s not a complicated thing to fix. Market research. So I think we see complexity where there isn’t any. And we overcomplicate our solutions and offerings as a result of that. And I work in IT and when I first started, it was Cabs, you would cab punch and that would get fed in and then mainframes client server.net and now the cloud and internet. But I just remember one thing all the time. People put data into the system, we manipulate it and store it, and at some point we give that back to them. That hasn’t changed.

0:42:39.7 GT:How we do it has changed, but the underlying fundamentals and principles haven’t changed. And I think if we could see more of that, more of the simplicity, people would find it a lot easier. I was doing a workshop with a leadership team and I asked them how many different ways are there of increasing revenue? And they said, “There are thousands.” And I said, “There are only three.” Sell more products to increase the number of things you sell, increase the price of what you sell it for, or sell additional products that say, so sell somebody two things instead of one, sell it for a higher price and sell them more of them. Those are the only three things. And once you get your head around that, then are you sure that with all these different channels, sales, blah, blah, blah, that you’re concerning yourself with, have you addressed all three of those things?

0:43:42.3 WB: Right.

0:43:42.6 GT: But if you ask me, you’re leaving money on the table. The world does become more complex, allegedly. And I think it’s true in some senses of how we do it, but of the what we do? No, it’s exactly the sense it’s always been. If you complicate the what, and you’ve got a complicated how, good luck with that. That’s complexity square.

[laughter]

0:44:12.1 WB: Very, very true to your underlying premise, though simplicity is really key. And you have to be able to bring everything back to that simplest starting point.

0:44:23.7 GT: Yeah. In sport, the number of times when… I was reading some stats a couple of years ago and it was saying that 60% of the time, the team with most possession wins the football game. I thought, “Wow, that’s really interesting.” However, a 100% of the time, the team that scores more points wins. [laughter] So do you wanna give them a 60% chance or a 100% chance? Are you focused on… Now that’s not to say possession might not be part of your strategy, but it can’t be the goal. It can’t be the goal. Yeah. What we’re trying to do and let’s focus on that. [laughter]

0:45:12.1 WB: Very good. So Gordon, anything that you’re working on at the moment that we haven’t touched on or anything else you would like to share?

0:45:19.7 GT: Yeah, I’ve written a leadership book that I’m trying to get published, but I kind of, I can’t… I think kind of losing how, and I create about 50 or 60 graphics that explain things very, very simply. And I can’t get publishers interested because they tell me, “It’s too simplistic.” How can something that explains things to people clearly that a thing is complex as too simplistic. So I need to kind of keep pushing ahead. I do post a lot of these graphics. One of ’em got 250,000 views on LinkedIn. And it was just a rowing boat with about engagement, 30% of the team are in… Are actively engaged, so they’re rowing one way, 55% are disengaged, so they’re sat in the middle doing nothing, and then 15% are actively disengaged, rowing the other way. When you look at that, it’s like well, “I need to get rid of those two guys and persuade these like to… ”

[laughter]

0:46:27.4 GT: A lot of it it’s just kinda give people that simplistic insight. But I kind of get… I am persisting, but I do get a little bit disillusioned and I sometimes think, “Is it too simplistic?” But actually no, it’s absolutely spot on and on the money.

0:46:50.3 WB: If people wanna connect with you, Gordon, I’m not sure if you wanna connect with… [chuckle] If people wanna connect with you, where would they go?

0:46:56.8 GT: So it’s that easy. I am the only Gordon Tredgold in the entire world.

[laughter]

0:47:02.7 GT:Bizarre but true. If you just Gordon Tredgold, you’ll find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, on my website, my email address, gordon@gordontredgold.com. Just reach out and as you can see, I’m a very easy-going and passionate about this stuff.

0:47:26.5 WB: I would certainly encourage anyone that has an interest to talk to Gordon about sport as well. [laughter] You should reach out because I found Gordon’s a wealth of knowledge, I think just about any support that you can think of. [laughter] Gordon, it’s been a fantastic conversation.

0:47:42.1 GT: My pleasure.

0:47:43.1 WB: I’ve loved it. Hopefully, our listeners will find infinite number of insights and takeaways. I’m sure they will. Thank you very much for your time today, for joining us on the ET project. And I wish you well with the marathon, by the way.

[laughter]

0:48:00.2 GT: Yeah. I’ll let you know how I get on.

[laughter]

[music]

0:48:07.2 S3: Thank you for joining us on the ET project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, e-books, webinars and blogs@coaching4companies.com.

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