Rethinking Leadership

A weekly Business, Management and Education podcast featuring
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Mary Gregory is a leadership consultant and coach and the author of the book Ego: Get over yourself and lead. We discuss the emotional side of change and the need to include the people side of change as a priority. Mary unpicks the ego in leadership and in relationships, exploring how it can be useful, as well as how it can get in the way. We discuss the shadow side of leaders, the importance of self-awareness and making conscious choices in service of the team and organisation. Talking to Mary, I’m reminded of the importance of fine-tuning, to reflect on the choices we are making moment by moment in how we relate to others so that we get the best out of teams as well as bringing our best leadership to work. What small change might you make today to make you more effective as a leader?
Rebecca Mander is the Founder of (GuruYou coaching). As an executive coach, she specialises in supporting people in business who are undergoing personal setback. None of us are strangers to personal setbacks. We all experience challenges in life and work. Rebecca is an inspiring leader who has turned her own personal setback into a business supporting others.  I first met Rebecca two years ago and I invited her to share her personal story on this podcast. Her story is both heartbreaking and inspirational. She has applied what she knows and it works. I’m always struck by what it takes to bounce back from personal setback and how we all do it in different ways. Rebecca is one of the most warm-hearted, generous and giving people I’ve ever met. Her warmth always lifts a room. She’s a testament to the incredible human spirit and what we can overcome. The key thing is reaching out for support – something she does wholeheartedly as well as giving generously. I encourage you to do the same. What’s your biggest challenge and who might support you and give you a new perspective on it?
Rachel Fletcher is the CEO of Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales. Rachel shares the challenges for the water industry of the increased demand for water and the expectations on the environment. She talks about collaboration with different companies, as well as local environmental groups, communities and end users. Partnerships and collaboration are the key to everyone being part of the solution, a message that is very relevant to other businesses and industries too. The subtlety of collaboration requires an ability to have humility, vulnerability and to relinquish control. In talking to Rachel, I’m struck by the delicate balance of problem solving in an emotionally intelligent way using the data and science to inform and guide. Our world is no longer binary, so we need to work in a more systemic and distributed way so that everyone becomes part of the solution. I think this applies to any business and industry.  How can you collaborate with others outside of your team or organisation? (
Jess Lonsdale is Internal Communications Director for Virgin Media. We discuss the importance of engaging in dialogue in a crisis to stay connected to employees. We also discuss the vulnerability of emotional connection, bringing your whole self to work, being more human in the workplace, changing the world, pushing boundaries, empowering others, resilience, and so much more! My head was buzzing after talking to Jess. We covered so much – from remote working to being human. Jess’s warmth shines through and it shows that when there is the desire to create emotional connection, we can drop the masks and just show up as human beings. I love Jess’s view that we should try to change the world. I think if we all do a piece of that, we genuinely can. How does your work make a difference? In your team? Your business? And in the wider world? And how can you create a more human conversation in your team? (
Deb Leary is the CEO of Forensic Pathways, a business she set up in 2001 after overhearing a chance conversation at a police conference. Deb has built her business on innovation, designing products and services that meet specific market needs in the security sector, despite having no prior experience in that market. She talks honestly about the need to know when to let go of products when they are not hitting the mark and to continually look forward, hone those products or develop something new. At a time when every business is having to adapt, it is crucial to consider what needs to be re-designed, dropped or created. I loved Deb’s approach to building a team who are better than her, as well as the stories of the family rows they have had round the table. Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall for those?  Seriously, I’m inspired by her ability to stay focused on pulling the team together despite their differences of opinion, and the ability to achieve a common goal whilst also providing space for the team to make mistakes. I particularly enjoyed her line: “You have to let your team breathe or you’ll stifle creativity.” With the current uncertainty, leaders and teams definitely need to find a more emergent and fluid way of working together, without the need to control. Where do you need to let go of control? What might creativity open up for you and your business?
Rachel Repper led the COVID-19 response for the NHS Supply Chain. She was responsible for ensuring that hospitals had the right equipment to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. People’s lives literally depended on her decision-making. She talks about the challenges of leading in a crisis, the learning curve of working with a new and expanded team and how having a shared purpose generated focus and commitment. She’s frank about her limitations as a leader and aware that others can do things better than she can. Such an enlightened and important awareness to have when she was right at the sharp end of getting equipment out to the NHS right at the heart of the COVID-19 crisis. The image I had talking to Rachel is that her mobile phone is like a brick, full of phone numbers of people she can call on, no matter what the crisis is. Building and using the power of your network is underestimated but Rachel recognises that she can’t solve problems alone and having that extended network literally in the palm of her hand enables her to make better decisions collaboratively. I find it a comforting thought to know that in our mobile phones we might just have the answers to all the world’s problems if we are open to reaching out to others. How willing are you to help others? How willing would they be to help you if you reached out to your network? How might you develop your network in a more collaborative way? Somebody’s life might just depend on it.
Welcome to Rethinking Leadership podcast. I’m Jude Jennison, the host of this podcast and Founder of Leaders by Nature, a leadership and team development company. I work with senior leadership teams to help them align through behavioural change. I'm pausing the rethinking leadership podcast for the next four weeks, because I've just launched the Innovating Humanity podcast, which is the official podcast for Birmingham Tech week. I'll be interviewing leaders from technology businesses who are at the forefront of changing how we live and work and I’m asking them to share the great work they are doing and challenging them to reflect on how we use technology to be more human and let technology enhance our lives. I hope you find the conversations as enlightening and inspiring as I do. How does technology enhance your life and work? And how can you use it more consciously to be more human? ( 
Jane Ashcroft is the Chief Executive of the Anchor Hanover Group, England’s largest not for profit provider of housing and care for older people. Jane was awarded a CBE in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to older people, some 7 years ago but as you’ll hear, her passion and enthusiasm for older people has definitely not waned. She talks about the importance of listening and collaboration as a CEO balanced with clarity, scorecards and compliance. I think that’s a tough balance to juggle that she seems to have mastered in her organisation.  Jane has encouraged me to think differently about ageing, both in the workplace and for me personally. She was so inspiring in her ideas. I enjoyed hearing about her Grip and Pace approach – the idea that we need to have a grip on the basics and approach change with the appropriate pace. I was struck by the idea that a diverse workforce that spans 4 or 5 generations can work collaboratively together if they have a shared passion and listen to each other’s points of view. That’s so crucial. How do you find the balance between scorecards, compliance and collaborative thinking? How do you encourage diversity of thought as the basis for getting results?
Adrian Packer CBE is the CEO of the Core Education Trust, who run a number of academy schools in the Birmingham area. Adrian has a fascinating career, having started as a teacher at the Brit School, teaching pupils such as Amy Winehouse. He was given the unenviable task of turning around a number of failing schools. He’s keen to point out that academically the children were excellent but the governance and finances were all over the place. Here’s what he has to say about aligning a team in a crisis. I loved Adrian’s dogged determination balanced with a collaborative approach. Those two things might seem at opposite ends of the spectrum but I’m impressed by his ability to hold the polarity of strength and gentleness. He had “One love” as his mantra, knowing that he had tough decisions to make and a variety of stakeholders with differing needs and opinions to manage. I think that speaks volumes about Adrian’s ability to lead and he’s honest about how challenging it is to lead a team in crisis. Where do you need to balance dogged determination with collaboration? Where might a “One love” approach help you with tough decision-making?
Sally Palethorpe is the Managing Partner of Inspired Partners, a change management consultancy. She talks about the need to support leaders and organisations through change, using her Other framework which provides the skills needed to lead change. She explains the challenges of changing behaviour and why change programmes fail when we ignore the human beings behind the change. I loved Sally’s Other framework – tenacity rather than resilience. It’s so strange how we still refer to soft skills which are anything but. Some of the hardest skills we can develop are the soft skills. Empathy is tricky – too much empathy and you lose sight of what you are doing, too little and you lose people. Finding that perfect balance is one of the most difficult things you can do in change. How do you strike the balance of empathy and being human so you have the same clarity of direction in harmony with bringing people with you in a way that works for everyone?
Aaron McCormick is one of my more unusual podcast interviews. Born on the south side of Chicago to a difficult background, he developed an incredible career by bucking every trend and refusing to conform. Instead, he listened to his intuition and inner guidance to be in the 1% of “Best of Best” in IBM as well as running his own tech companies. Aaron’s energy is infectious. I found myself smiling and nodding a lot because he speaks to the need for balance and the polarity and complications of leading our lives. Whilst he talks about listening to our inner guidance and not bowing down to external pressure, I personally know how difficult this is in practice. So many of us have learned to conform, to fit in and belong. If you’re not yet feeling in flow at work or in life, this podcast will encourage to spend more time introspectively. Where are you feeling out of balance? Where do you want more ease and flow? Aaron McCormick is the author of Unbounded - Journey to Your Within available from Amazon and other booksellers.
Denise Bobb is a highly established Portfolio Manager, leading complex change programmes for organisations across both the private and public sectors. I spoke to Denise about how we increase black engagement so that black businesses have a stronger voice as well as BAME employees not being overlooked in organisations. Denise makes it clear that a “spray and pray” approach to racism and black engagement is not going to cut it. She’s advocating a structured systemic approach to educate everyone and that it must be on the agenda of every organisation. We need to plan it in a structured way just as we would a project. The need for greater openness and a willingness to “get it wrong” is crucial if we are to have some of the difficult conversations that need to be had in every workplace and community. There’s lots to be done. What are you doing in your organisation to promote BAME leaders? What are you doing in your community?
Ahmed Farooq has been the CFO of Wesleyan Assurance for 5 years. He talks openly about his experience of being an ethnic minority leader in the workplace, about Ramadan, the vulnerability of being curious about other people and the discomfort of having honest and transparent conversations about race and diversity.  Ahmed is such an inspiration and a great role model for future generations. His blend of attention to detail and nurturing others demonstrates his range as a CFO and the ability to bring out the best in others. I’m always talking about expanding our range because the more well-rounded we are as leaders, the more effective we can be in different situations. Perhaps that’s the key to embracing difference too? The more we stretch into new ranges, the more we can acknowledge it in others. Where do you need to expand your range as a leader? How can you embrace diversity in the workplace more?
Piers Tincknell is the MD of AtomicSmash, a creative design agency. He talks about the need to adapt and see failure as part of the evolution of learning. He recognises that encouraging his team to learn, to innovate through trial and error is how the business can push boundaries and do great creative work through technology.  Piers has such a balance between the art and science of using technology for innovation and he recruits and develops his team in the same way. I’m fascinated by how we blend creativity and logic, left and right brain, to solve some of the problems in the world. With technology being a fundamental part of how we live and work, we need to continually be curious about the world we live in and have the humility to recognise when something is not working. How do you balance creativity and logic? Which one might need more attention in your work or your team?
Andy Childerhouse is the CEO of Viewpoint. He talks about the transformation of a business that was close to failure to a thriving business today. He led the team to redefine the strategy, business model and product base, and crucially the organisation’s culture so that everyone was engaged in the transformation.  Andy’s inclusive team approach shows how important it is to achieve results through relationships. His humility and transparency of communication were key to the business transforming in an agile way in a challenging environment. As we continue to deal with the Covid 19 pandemic, these skills are crucial for every business today. How do you bring people with you at times of extreme change and uncertainty?  How do create an environment where communication is transparent and based on collaboration, clarity and empathy?
Amanda Ling is the MD of SFM Limited. She talks about the challenge of transforming organisational culture when it is less tangible than transforming a business strategy. The way she runs her fascinating business shows the potential of focusing on people, profit and planet and how we need to integrate both critical logical thinking with the emotional connection of the heart. Amanda truly embodies holistic leadership. Amanda is clear that if we want to transform the business culture, we need to be open and honest. I loved her story of three people in a room telling three different stories about the same thing. That is so common in conflict where every perspective is valid and subtly different and how easy it is to misunderstand people. Perhaps if we all listened more beyond the words, we could eradicate conflict and misunderstandings earlier. So much easier said than done though don’t you think? How do you resolve differences of opinion?  What changes need to be made in the culture of your organisation for everyone to thrive and what’s your first step?
Derek Redmond is a British World and European champion of the 4 x 400m relay, having raced extensively in the 1980s and 90s. He talks about how he and the relay team bucked the trend and took risks to gain the edge on their competitors, as well as overcoming injury and switching what he knew about sport to building a business.  Derek role models the importance of having humility as a leader in business. He talks openly about his failures, learning from them and taking bold action as a way of having competitive edge. He has picked himself up repeatedly throughout his career and is one of the most warm-hearted people I’ve had the privilege to interview. How do you role model humility and resilience at work? How do create an environment where failure is part of the process of learning, both for you and your team?
Corin Crane is the Chief Executive of the Black Country Chamber and came in to shake up the Chamber for the modern-day. Corin has been CEO at the Chamber for almost 4 years, with a team of 31 people and a £2m turnover. The Black Country is one of the most diverse regions on the planet and Corin passionately champions that diversity.  The Chamber and Corin’s aim is to bring businesses together, find them new customers, new ways of working and shout when they are being held back or doing something amazing. I felt inspired after talking to Corin, confident that with the right energy and enthusiasm, regions can transform themselves for the future and business can too.  What’s the transformation that your organisation or team need to make to position you solidly for the future?
Elizabeth Cronin is Director of the New York State Office of Victim Services. She was appointed in 2013 by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. She has had the most astonishing legal career, specialising in the prosecution of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse and sex crimes and worked closely with crime victims. She continues her work now leading the organization who support victims of crime. As such, she applies her own knowledge of people and human behavior to lead her team.  Elizabeth was the first person I interviewed for y previous podcast Leading through uncertainty, so it seems fitting that she kicks of this new podcast Rethinking Leadership Elizabeth is one of many leaders who have had to adapt rapidly to working remotely. What makes her work different to many though is the fact that her team are on the front line, supporting victims of crime, whilst dealing with the trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic on themselves and their families. The resilience and fortitude needed to do that is beyond my comprehension. How do you build resilience and fortitude in your team so you can adapt quickly, not just to Covid 19 but other disruptive change in the future? ©2020
Jude Jennison launches the Re-Thinking Leadership podcast where she interviews executives and leaders on their experiences of leading change, the challenges they faced and overcame. She asks them how they position their organisation and business for the future and the skills needed for leaders, teams and business to thrive. Jude begins with a look back at some of the people she interviewed for her (Leading Through Uncertainty podcast) and explains the background to the new podcast.  © 2020 (
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Podcast Details

Created by
Jude Jennison
Podcast Status
Jul 21st, 2020
Latest Episode
Feb 9th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
33 minutes

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