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How to be an Agile Leader with Chuck Mollor

Aug 28, 2022

This week I caught up with Chuck Mollor and we spoke about all things Leadership.

Chuck “Charlie” Mollor is founder, CEO, executive coach, and advisor at
MCG Partners -  an organisation that specialises in leadership and talent optimisation, aligning business and people strategy for maximum results.

He is the author of his new and best-selling book, The Rise of The Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift?, an Amazon’s #1 best-selling book on management.
As a recognised expert in leadership effectiveness, a former Harvard Business School executive coach, and a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, Chuck specialises in coaching and advising senior, global executives and leadership teams through times of rapid-growth, M&A, and change. 

For over 35 years, he has advised, coached, and consulted executives and organisations across industries, from startups to Fortune 500 and not-for-profit organisations. 

Chuck has served on several boards, was a Cranberry Grower-Owner of Ocean Spray, and is a fundraiser and rider for the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), a 192- mile bike ride for the fight against cancer. Chuck has four children, three dogs, and is a first-generation American. 

My top take aways from this interview were:


  • Throughout most of our careers, it's always about "us". You're trying to climb the ladder and it's all about you. Yet when you get into the realm of leadership, or you find yourself in a leadership position, then it's no longer about you. It's about your people. Where are you currently on your leadership journey?
  • The difference between managing and leading is this - managing is the day to day stuff. Managing people, resources and processes. Leadership on the other hand is about inspiration. Guiding people and motivating them. Creating a deep sense of purpose for your people. Are you currently managing or leading? And is there space for a hybrid?
  • If you want to hold on to talent in your team, you must create a great environment.
  • How do you align your time with a life that truly matters? Do a time audit. See where you spend your time. Look over the past month and be honest with yourself about where you are spending most of your time. Where can you delegate?
  • Create space to check in with people who matter.



Full Transcription


Chuck Mollor, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

Welcome to lead on purpose. I'm James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion, musician, and now an executive coach to global leaders and high performers. In every episode, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you lead your life and business on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today on investing in yourself. Enjoy the show.  


James Laughlin 

Would you like to connect personally with some of my podcast guests? They are arguably some of the most influential leaders and high performers on the planet. Each month, members of my HPC, the High Performers Club, get to connect with a leadership titan in an intimate Q&A. They also get access to powerful high-performance leadership coaching, and monthly masterminds. There are only 20 seats at the leadership table. You can apply today by going to www.jjlaughlin.com/HPC. 


James Laughlin 01:06 

COVID has thrown so many challenges our way. If you're leading a team or your own business, you will know that retaining staff is incredibly challenging. "The rise of the Agile Leader: Can You Make the Shift?" is a new book written by Chuck Mollor. It's a guide for the aspiring mid and seasoned C suite leader and executive that introduces a new leadership paradigm and a roadmap of what makes a great leader and what organizations must do to develop great leaders. I'm so excited to welcome Chuck Mollor to the show. 


James Laughlin 01:59 

Chuck, a massive welcome to The Lead on Purpose Podcast. 


Chuck Mollor 02:04 

James, it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me. 


James Laughlin 02:07 

Yeah, and I'm really glad to connect with you. I know you're over in Boston there. So, if you didn't take the time to connect and share your message, you're a really important message for leaders out there. It's just massively appreciated. And for the leader that's listening right now, Chuck is an incredible author; he's got a book out the rise of the Agile Leader and there's no time like the present to talk about the issues that all of us leaders are experiencing. Post-COVID and some people are still kind of mid-COVID. So, Chuck, please tell me before we get into what the books are about and the changes that can help in a leader's mindset. What got you into this journey of leadership and influencing leaders? 


Chuck Mollor 02:47 

Great question, James. And thank you for mentioning the book, it was definitely a passion to get sort of my message out there. For me personally, I started and my background is in business. So, I've been in management consulting most of my career. And like a lot of people, I acknowledge that I advance in my career, my trials and tribulations, especially when I got into management, when I went from a high-performing individual contributor to starting to manage teams, then start managing practices starting building businesses. And I remember that one conversation I had in 1999, where my CEO mentor pulled me out over to the side and said, Chuck, you ever had a 360 assessment? And of course, I was foolish enough to ask why he was asking. And of course, the reason was, that he felt I needed some feedback, which I did. So, I ended up getting some good feedback, but some pretty difficult feedback. And, of course, my mature reaction at the time as well screw all these people because like, look at my great results. And of course, I was half kidding. And, and he laughed and said, look, you know, you'll be successful, you're smart, you're hardworking. You get results, you care about people, you're passionate, you're strategic, and all great qualities. But if you really want to get to the next level in your career, if you really want to really, maybe be a CEO one day, or just have a larger role, you really never stayed in the leadership part of your job, not just the management part of your job. And, of course, at the time, I didn't really want to hear it. But I, you know, he said, Let's go, you know, think about it for a week or two. Let's get together again. And I did I think I got back to you within a couple of days. And once I got over my ego and got over myself, I really, I started realizing, you know, he was right. And I really did need to understand what leadership was for me. And that really started my journey, James terms, understanding leadership for me and really investing in that as a profession as a skill, as a knowledge. And fast forward I did become a CEO of a global consulting firm, a year and a half later and 15 years ago, I started my own company. And then, as you mentioned two years ago, I wrote a book. So that's my story of how I got into this and how I started focusing on leadership.  


James Laughlin 05:12 

It's incredible. And I want to chat a bit about what you mentioned, you know, your thoughts around leadership, what do you believe about leadership? When you hear leadership, one of the first things that come to mind for you? 


Chuck Mollor 05:23 

I think it's a few things I think, I think, and it's in, you know, an interesting, the same characteristics haven't maybe changed the 30 plus years. But leadership is so much more complicated today, for a lot of reasons, right? Social media, the pace of change, consumers and how they purchase, the globalization of economies and markets and consumers, and employees, you know, virtual hybrid workforce, you know, we can go on and on. So, it's so much more complex than it used to be for multiple generations in the workforce. When I think about leadership, I always think about several things, inspiration, motivation, vision, and basically developing others. I think the biggest shift when you move into management or leadership, essentially is, I referenced this in my book as well is, you know, you grew up in your life, James was this, you're the center of your own universe. And for those of us who have gotten married or with a significant other, or have children, we know that you know, the shift occurs that you share that center with another person. And then if you have children, all of a sudden, your world flips upside down, and your children are now the center of your universe. You know managing leading is, especially lead, the leading part of your job is kind of similar. Now, really, throughout your career. You're the center of your own universe. And it's all about you and visibility and getting results and progressing your career and advancing and, you know, getting more money and all those things that you're trying to achieve. But when you move into leadership, it's really not about your people. It's no longer about you. And I think to me, that's probably the best way I can describe what leadership is. 


James Laughlin 07:06 

That's beautiful. And for the leader out there, who is very process driven and not doesn't is people-oriented. For the leader who doesn't get amongst the troops who doesn't roll up their sleeves who sits in a corner office. What advice would you have to them in this day and age whether you know, people have options, people are using their feet and they're walking, and there's a great resignation. What advice would you have to that leader who's not engaging with their people? 


Chuck Mollor 07:34 

Yeah, I guess the good news is it's rare that happens. And I know we use the word managing leading interchangeably, but they're really so it's distinctly different, right? Managing is really about the day-to-day, right. It's about the operational part of you of your job as a manager, managing results, people process, and getting things done, the Leadership isn't mentioned earlier is really about the inspiration, the vision, the communication, the mentorship, the guidance, the facilitation of dialogue, the developing of people, the developing of teams, the recalibration of direction and strategy when needed. It's about creating purpose and motivation and engagement for your people. So, when you think about those descriptors, you can't do those things in a corner office, you can't, you can't really accomplish the people part of your job, and leadership is all about people. And so, I get it. You know, I think one of the biggest challenges for a lot of managers there is they say, Well, I'm not the extrovert, I'm not the people person. Well, here's the good news, you don't have to be, I'm not the biggest extrovert, I'm kind of like the middle of the road. And yeah, so maybe you're not going to be as gregarious and as warm and natural, is connecting as a highly extroverted person, and gregarious person. But there are so many leaders out there that are so effective, being authentic, being who they are. But still finding a way to build relationships, establish trust, and connect with your people. And if you want to retain top talent, or any talent right now, for that matter, you've got to create the right work environment. And it's all about relationships. It's all about establishing trust. If the trust and relationships are not there, James, you're not going to have an effective team, a focused team, a high-performing team, an engaged team, and then retain your people. So, for all those corner office executives and leaders, which I'm sure they're up to their eyeballs with a lot of other responsibilities, they have to take a step back and say, where am I spending time? And what part of my job am I spinning around the people part of my job, the strategy part of my job the vision part of my job, the building relationships and establishing trust with my people part of my job? Because that's critical, especially in any environment that we're in right now had been a lot Two years, huh? 


James Laughlin 10:01 

Absolutely. And when we look at what you were doing with the rise of the agile leader, what are some of the key themes that you were passionate about sharing in there to help the leader, the modern-day leader traverses all the challenges that have been thrown at them? 


Chuck Mollor 10:16 

Sure. Well, there are a lot of different themes. I think I've got 23 chapters in the book. It's not a 400-page book, I don't want to scare anybody off, it's like a 200 Plus page book. So, it's really pretty straightforward reading. But what I really wanted to do is provide a roadmap to how to get to the next level for any leader, no matter where you are in your career, no matter what industry you're in, or what part of the world you live in, is trying to provide some very practical tools and knowledge and strategies and techniques to help you sort of that throughout the whole, you know, sort of, you want to call holistic viewpoint of how to be an effective leader, whether you're just starting out, you're mid-level, or your senior executive C level, and you're trying to kind of get to that next level of effectiveness. So that's kind of a message of the book, the whole concept of being an agile leader. And I use the word agile, the verb, not agile scrum methodology, which a lot of people know about, that comes out of high technology that really came out of the software development space 30 years ago. So agile in my book is really about the verb. And it's really the reason that the definition of being agile, is about not just flexibility, it's about being nimble. So, by being able to pivot, and the world we live in, today, we're balancing so many responsibilities with customers, the marketplace, the instability of where things are going, is so drastic and changes so often, by the time you release a product, and I'm told by any product, no matter what the product may be, I mean, you've already got to be working on your next generation of products and solutions. Because you know that the consumer is already going to want something new and different, you know, not far down the road. So as a leader, how that really impacts a leader, we really need to understand how one of the big themes is where do we spend our time? One of the biggest issues today, and COVID, just by way accelerated this is that most leaders are not spending time where they need to, they're too focused on the day-to-day, they're not empowering their teams, they're not giving their team enough decision-making authority, enough ownership, enough independence, and they're not externally focused enough. When I say externally focused, they're not spending enough time with customers, they're not spending enough time looking at the market, looking at the future, looking at their competition, just trying to understand the landscape, and they're not spending a time on self-reflection in terms of being strategic and thinking about themselves as a leader. So, we often talk about leadership, James is like this, you know, this thing that we do when we have people that work for us, right? But often as people go through management, training programs, and leadership development programs, people don't realize that leadership is a craft, it's a skill, and it's no different than any other expertise that you may have, no matter what role or background that you may have. And if you don't dedicate yourself to enhancing and developing your leadership capability and skills and knowledge throughout your career, you're not going to stay on top of being effective as a leader. And that's one of my biggest messages in the book as well.  


James Laughlin 13:25 

That's beautiful. And why do you think leaders are not focusing their time where they should be focusing on what is it that's stopping them from doing that? 


Chuck Mollor 13:34 

Yeah, there are a couple of things. One, they just want one, you know, a lot of leaders that just have too much on their plate. And a lot of leaders, especially as they advance in their careers, they're used to operating at one level. And we all know the cliche, right? It's kind of like, what got you where you are today is that what's going to get you tomorrow. But it's so hard to change that, right? We all operate at this sort of success formula, whether it's sort of subconsciously or consciously, right, we created this formula for success has gotten us to where we are in our career, not just as an individual contributors, but often as a manager, to either maybe little mid-level management. But if you don't start shifting, you know what you do and how you do and your career, you're not going to be able to continue to be successful. And the biggest theme is where a manager spends her time most managers are too hands-on when I said earlier, they're now shifting where they spend their time. And I give an exercise and it's a very simple exercise to most executives that I work with. And one of the exercises I give is very simple. I want people to print out their calendars over the last two or three months. And there's not an executive that looks at me and says, come on Chuck, I mean, that's you know, I know where I spend my time, I go do me a favor printed out and then because your calendar is your calendar, your calendar does not lie. And sure, maybe there is going to be an exceptional you know, nine typical weeks in there, but in general, the last two or three months are going to be pretty typical. Whenever typical is now, right, because the world is changing so quickly every day, but and then why would you do is categorize your time into buckets as you know, day to day, externally focus with clients or in the marketplace, you know, whatever the categories are, and there's usually four or five, some people create six, seven don't really make a difference, then start adding up kind of where you spend your time, in 15 years, even going back throughout my career, over 30 years, I've never seen an executive or a leader of any level, come back and say, I'm not surprised. And most people come back and say, well, I'm shocked, I really thought I was spending a high percentage of my time, you know, being strategic or doing the things that are really going to drive the future of business, by the way, including developing relationships with my key people, not just people working for me, but across the company, in the marketplace with customers. And that's where the reality hits, it's, that you're not spending time where you need to. And so, you know, it's a simple exercise, that's really one of the biggest issues today is that executives are so caught up in the day-to-day, trying to stay on top of everything they want to know, wherever they know what's happening everywhere, they want to stay on top of all aspects of their business. And the reality is it's possible, you've got to trust your people. And if you don't, if you don't trust your people, then you got to make a decision, we either going to trust them, hold them accountable, or I need to get a person that I can trust. And that's one of the bigger issues today is that leaders are just too involved in the day-to-day, they're not trusting their people, and they're not creating the right type of organization. So, they can actually delegate effectively, and be at the level they need to be for their organizations. So that still continues to be the biggest issue. 


James Laughlin 16:52 

And you can see it worldwide no matter where you're working here in New Zealand, Australia certainly sees the same challenges. So, what's the first step? What's the first step for a leader who wants to make a difference? Who wants to start spending their time where it really matters? What could they be doing to start moving in that direction? 


Chuck Mollor 17:08 

Yeah, well, I would definitely suggest that exercise goes people will be surprised. And then when you look at your calendar, you have to start with okay, what can I change? What can I change in my schedule? Where can I start delegating? What meetings do I not need to be at? Most executives or most of us period, were meeting to meeting mode, right? Most of it's on Zoom or on teams or whatever the technology is, we're on video calls almost all day long. And that's one of the issues, there's no time to do a check-in with a client, there's no time to do a check-in with one of your employees, or maybe a key partner or a peer or another member of the executive team, depending on what level you're at. So you have to start changing where you spend your time look at your calendar, what meetings do you start because the mistake a lot of people make James, and they just start adding hours to their week, you know, and then the next thing they know is why am I exhausted and I don't do anything, my family is not seeing me, my friends are not seeing me. Because the problem is you just added those hours versus changing where you spend your time. So not to say that you can't be in touch with some of the day-to-day, but you have to start thinking about what do I get off my calendar? Where do I start delegating, and what do I not be involved in? And then there's decision making a lot of leaders are involved in decisions they don't need involved in James. So, you got to start with where am I spending my time using the calendar exercise, it's the most practical, accurate exercise out there. And then start changing it by looking at your future week or weeks to say, where do I start shifting where I spend my time? And how do I make sure that I'm adding to my calendar time, or that I need to be? A lot of people, for example, says James? Well, I know I know, I need time to think in time to reflect and I don't do it. I'll just do it after hours or before hours, let doesn't happen to me. Because you got to spend time with yourself. And whether it's exercise or meditation or going for a walk or whatever. Spending time with your family and your friends. That's your time, create time during your day and your week to be able to do that. And most there's not an executive out there or a leader out there James that doesn't struggle with this. So, start with the calendar, start making slow changes, incremental changes, it's really hard to just rip the band-aid off completely when it comes to this. But you can start changing and there's also another aspect of this we forget about there's behavioral conditioning that's happened when you're spending your time in a very hands-on way involving in meetings involving in decisions that maybe you don't need to be involved in. What ends up happening is your people around you are conditioned to go to you for things uh, frankly, they don't need to go to you so it's going to take time to change their behavior, and you have to recalibrate your expectations and your conversations? And often I've had executives and leaders literally tell in a sort of collaborative way. Yes, this is how I'm going to really change how we work together. Sometimes you actually need to have those conversations, because people are conditioned to work with you a certain way when you're too involved. So those are the steps, I would suggest starting with good advice, 


James Laughlin 20:26 

really good advice. I recently spoke with an amazing lady who was the EA to Steve Jobs. And we talked about his day-to-day and what his calendar looked like. And she was incredible. And she said, look, one of my roles was to make sure that he had you know, massage booked in, a personal training session several days a week that he had time for meditation, that he had time to leave and go and watch the baseball game with his children. So, she was really instrumental in managing his time. So, from your experience, how important and valuable is a great EA. 


Chuck Mollor 21:02 

It's funny you say that, because I actually mentioned this in my book, I you know, in the one chapter I'm talking about where you spend your time, especially if you're at the level where you need to have an EA, an executive assistant or administrator to help you out or a Chief of Staff, depending on the level responsibilities this person has. Every organization now has a little bit of nuance to this, but it to get too Good to Great and if you know the book itself, they go from good to great as a leader often is about how good your EA is. And if you don't have a person that's managing your account, effectively, they're screening out calls or screening out meetings, that's rerouting people who are trying to get to you. And it's hard to find one, but often has to do about are you managing expectations or being clear about how you want to work together. And that takes a lot of communication, especially early on, to really kind of feel each other out. And for the EA to get comfortable with a leadership style, their calendar, their role, their organization, the culture, the nuances of kind of day-to-day, that doesn't happen very quickly. So, it takes time to do that, James, but it's critical, especially if you have a large complex organization and a lot of responsibility. You know, it's really critical to have a really, really good EA, it makes a huge difference in one's success or where you spend your time. 


James Laughlin 22:33 

And one thing I hear a lot of clients talking about, you know, real high-performing leaders and CEOs is email, and email takes up sometimes two to three hours of their day. And so, what advice do you have to that leader who's stuck on an email issue and always in an email two to three hours a day? What's What are some processes you've seen work really well, to help them get out of that and into the business? 


Chuck Mollor 22:59 

Yeah, again, it's a combination of having a good EA, because very often an EA is going to respond to most of those emails, believe it or not, am I sure that Steve Jobs, EA mentioned that but a good executive assistant administrator is actually going to respond to the majority of those emails. Again, going back to my comment earlier about reconditioning people around you, those emails start to get reduced when people realize, you know, these are the parameters where you come to me with, or you don't come to me with. And it's not about limiting communication, or limiting transparency, not wanting to be connected to people, it's actually really getting people to use email the correct way, which is it's an epidemic around the world, right? We're all we're all email communication crazy on some level. And now it's no longer even email. Now it's a text messaging or instant messaging, depending on the technology platform you're using. So again, I would say it's about having a good EA, especially if you're very senior, for those of us who don't have any day, then I think it's a really going back to when you're getting emails that you feel you shouldn't be getting, how do you nicely and politely say, you know, here's how we should be communicating with each other. So, you know, again, most executives are going to do emails during off hours, or, you know, at the beginning of the end of their day. It's hard to do it during the day when you're very, very busy. A part of it, again, is really establishing what I call communication parameters and expectations. So that way, you're not spending all day or 200 emails a day. And if you can have someone screen those and respond on your behalf. 


James Laughlin 24:37 

That's a great, great way to approach it. And just think a little bit about the modern environment like through COVID and post COVID, virtual teams, and hybrid teams. It became a real thing for a lot of companies. And there are challenges that come with managing those. Do you have any advice on how we can manage and get the best out of teams that are virtual or hybrid? 


Chuck Mollor 24:59 

Yeah, I spend a focus of no surprise, a big focus for everybody and us as a firm, we've done a lot of work on how to as managers and leaders how to manage a virtual hybrid workforce. And it's, there's no one simple answer. Someone is understanding what's the makeup of my people, right? I mean, there's some really great people analytics out there to kind of understand the strengths, sort of the motivation and drives of people, we use a tool called a predictive index or PI, which we happen also to be a Certified Partner firm, and we use it as a firm strategically with our clients. But what's great about tools like this, as I want you to understand personality, motivation drive, who they are, and behaviorally, it also makes you understand how do I interact with this person? A big part of being effective as a leader is being situationally effective. Situationally effective is the meeting, it's the person right, because we, we just can't interact with people the same way some people, we need to be, you know, frankly, somewhat subdued when it comes to how we interact. For some people, we can be very assertive, and we need to be some kind of understanding personality and drive is really, really critical. But when it comes to hybrid and virtual, the biggest challenge, there's several, one is that right off, managers don't understand their own sort of subconscious biases when it comes to managing people virtually. What do I mean by that? Well, often we have a strong opinion, or maybe not even a strong opinion. But we have a view about whether we want people in front of us or not. And when a person is not in the office, and we kind of have an opinion about that, often there are people that don't get those special projects, or they're the people that are included in some meetings, because they're virtual. So, we have to be careful as managers, and frankly, any employee of realizing it's awful, we sometimes have some biases or are people that are in the office or not in the office, we have to be careful about those biases. And are we being inclusive enough? Are we being consistent enough? Are we being fair enough about how we include people and what our expectations are? The other issue often is, that when some managers, don't see the work happening. They're skeptical. They're like, well, how do I know that person's work? How do I know a person's being productive? Now all the research says that people who work virtually actually happen to be more productive, and higher performing because they're actually probably working too much. They don't take enough time off. So, we're not even getting to that yet. There are all kinds of challenges, which at this point, after two years now, I think a lot of you know, a lot of executives, and a lot of leaders already aware of a lot of organizations, which are some of the challenges of burnout, and mental health of people who are working virtually but going back to the manager part of this. So those are really two major issues. The other issue is, as we mentioned earlier, we're often running from one meeting to another. So, we're not creating enough time to even just, you know, take a breath, you know, go stand up, go for a quick walk, stretch, grab something to eat. So, we're kind of burning ourselves out even as managers and leaders because we're constantly scheduling or participating in meetings. So as a leader, we have to take ownership and say, as an organization, to our peers, to the collective organization, how do we start scheduling meetings with at least 10-15 minutes between meetings, so people have a chance to gather themselves, recalibrate, prepare, debrief, whatever it may be. Another issue is, as managers and leaders, we don't spend enough time having what I call ad hoc conversation, you know, when we're all in the office, we can hang out at the water cooler, or we can get together for a quick cup of coffee in the hallway or in the cafeteria or whatever, whatever work environment, you're in. You can just walk into someone's office and say, you have a second, I'd like to chat with you. So, we have all these ad hoc opportunities throughout the day, that when your virtual human hybrid, you just don't have. So as a manager, we have to make sure and it sounds terrible to say this, but you got to schedule those moments. You know, what are you doing to connect with people without an agenda? Just to check-in. How are you doing? When's the last time we as a manager, said, hey, I really appreciate you. I appreciate all your effort and your hard work. 


Chuck Mollor 29:25 

You know, all the research shows that the reason people are leaving jobs is not mental health. It's not burnout. It's that they're not feeling valued and feeling appreciated by their managers. Why? Because the manager is so busy doing their day-to-day. And in these meetings, they're not building relationships enough. They're not establishing trust, so not doing check-in and seeing how that person is doing as a person. And that's probably the biggest change in the last two years, James, I'm sorry, I'm going off on this a little bit, but I could go I could talk about this for a long time. It's a big topic, but the other thing I'll quickly say is the biggest change in the last two years, honestly, is that, you know, is the line that used to never be crossed, which is as companies, as organizations, as managers, really talking about people what's going on in their lives? That used to be kind of a taboo, right? Oh, we can't cross that line. You know, it's not really professional. It's not our business that lines crossed. We as organizations, and as leaders, and executives, now have a responsibility to make sure that our people are doing okay, as people, how is your family? How is your family through COVID? How are they doing working? Virtually working hybrid. How are you balancing everything? And, you know, these conversations now are critical. And it goes back to what I said earlier, how do we connect how do we establish trust, and how do we build relationships? How do we make sure we care about our people? And the last thing I'll say, celebrations, again, it's harder because it's virtual, but how are we celebrating? It doesn't always have to be a major accomplishment. But it's like, hey, that was a great moment. That was a great day, that was a great advancement of a project, or maybe even a great win. But are we Are we recognizing and celebrating our people? And that's what people need right now more than ever. And that's, that's if anything I'd be recommending to managers in a hybrid or virtual world right now. It's those things. 


James Laughlin 31:23 

Brilliant, really good advice. And yeah, you're absolutely right, you can see that, you know, people do want to feel heard, they want to feel valued, they want to feel loved, and also want to feel that the leader has a trajectory that they can go down, to grow and to improve and to move forward. So, for that, let's say a leader is wanting to connect more, but the leader doesn't have maybe the emotional intelligence that he or she needs to develop the deep connections, what can that leader be doing to heighten their self-awareness and start having these conversations and building this connection with their team? 


Chuck Mollor 31:58 

Yeah, I mean, self-awareness is critical. You know, if you want to be effective as a manager, and as an effective leader, you need to understand yourself first, you understand who you are? What motivates you and drives you? What happens to you under pressure and stress? What's your natural communication style? What's your natural decision-making style? How do you actually deal with conflict? So let me just use conflict as an example here. Because again, talking about another major epidemic, corporate, the corporate world we live in today, you know, you know, we know about social media, we know about all the challenges and whether it's war, or whether what's going on here in the US. And it comes to some of the social issues. But the issue of you knows, whether you want to call it to cancel culture, or everything else has been going on the failure to be able to debate and discuss and have a disagreement, it was becoming a problem five years ago, COVID just made it even worse. So, you know, we can't, you cannot have an effective work relationship, or an effective relationship if you can't, or if you're not willing to put the issues on the table and discuss them. So, a big part of emotional intelligence is, yes self-awareness, understanding your style, your strengths, and what happens under pressure and stress. But it's also to be able to understand how to have healthy conflict. And we need to be able to have those discussions, we need to be able to draw people out where they're comfortable. So, I'm sure you've heard of the concept of psychological safety. So, we have to create a work environment where people feel not only will they be heard, but they can disagree, they can make a mistake, and they can fail. So, we have to realize a failure is one of the key elements of success. If we don't make mistakes and fail, we don't learn, we don't grow. And sometimes we become so focused on perfectionism and getting it done, right, because we're moving so quickly, there's so much pressure to get it right, we have to also understand what success means when it comes to people individually and collectively. So, creating an environment where people can challenge the status quo. They can say, why are we doing it this way? Or why aren't we doing it this way, and fail and make mistakes, creating that work environment, being able to engage in healthy conflict versus unhealthy conflict are so critical, and inclusive of emotional intelligence, but those, the framework emotional challenge is all about self-awareness. But it's also about the awareness of others, James, you have to understand that person's makeup, and you have to be able to navigate your style to be effective, interacting with that person and influencing the person and building a relationship with that person. 


James Laughlin 34:40 

Great stuff and what do your think's the cost to the leader who refuses to adapt, who refuses to build awareness about others and themselves? What's the cost to them and their company? 


Chuck Mollor 34:52 

Well, you know, I hate to say it, but those leaders start to stick out very, very quickly and the scrutiny upon them becomes very heavy. And you know, a lot of organizations' best practice today is that you know, people are getting feedback from Nelly above, but from below, from and from their peers, through pulse surveys, through 360 assessments. So, the leader is not able to adapt to the new world environment. And what those expectations are from the people around them, is going to find them in a hot seat very, very quickly or not in a leadership role. So, my advice to anyone out there, and there's a fine line is like, I get the person or leader that's out there that says, I want to be me, I want to be authentic, I want to be true to myself. You know, what, James, I support that herself. However, you know, a part of that secret sauce that I talk about in my book about being a leader is can you adapt to your environment? You know, can you be situational that's not compromising your values, it's not compromising your authenticity, is understanding how to be effective with your audience, how to motivate, how to inspire, how to influence, how to partner, how to collaborate, how to build relationships, how to establish trust, because if we don't, as leaders learn how to adapt, we're not going to be effective. Because we can't, we cannot naturally connect with everybody. And look, trust me, I know leaders out there that don't adapt, and their lifecycle is getting shorter and shorter as a leader. So, my message to anyone out there that's feeling a little defensive right now with this discussion, I feel your pain, I understand it. But you have an opportunity, which is an opportunity to let go of maybe some of those insecurities or defense mechanisms of why you want to stay kind of where you are and recognize as the brave new world out there that you can learn and embrace, and actually, frankly, still be authentic, more than ever, and be effective and more effective. 


James Laughlin 36:48 

And that's really powerful. And you mentioned situationally. So, I'd love to just chat about that for a second. So, for the listener that is listening right now, what do you think about situational leadership? When you talk about a great situational leader? What would that leader be doing? 


Chuck Mollor 37:06 

Yeah, I'll use the example I was mentioning earlier about the conflict, right. So naturally, there are some people that engage in conflict and think it's a sort of healthy debate, right? You know, think about the two alpha personalities that are blasting each other with their own opinions, the two of them feel it's a very natural thing that's occurring. Now there are people out there that naturally don't like conflict, they're very conflict-averse. We actually sometimes call people like that passive-aggressive, versus the other extreme, which is too impressive, right? And then there's everybody in between. So that is an example Do we understand our audience? Do you understand that there are going to be some people depending on their personality and style, and their comfort level, that runs away from conflict, and conflict to them simply could be disagreeing or not wanting to voice a differing opinion, so may not even be a disagreement? They may not want to simply disagree with the discussion that's occurring in a row. And what ends up happening is the person leaves a meeting, don't doesn't say anything in the meeting. And they start telling all their colleagues after the meeting, how much they disagree, right? And we call that passive-aggressive behavior, right? So that's the challenge. The challenge is and picks your characteristic behaviorally, which is understanding what happens if you don't adjust your style. And we encourage people we know that's who they are, to speak up. And we have to create an environment where they're going to be comfortable doing that. And sometimes, they're not going to be comfortable in a group setting. So sometimes we have to have that conversation with them individually. That's what I mean by situational is understanding the makeup of our people, so we can draw them out. Remember, as a leader, our job is to optimize our people, right? How do we create an optimal environment where people can really feel comfortable being themselves? And that's part of our job as leaders are really bringing out the best of our people creating a work environment where they can be at their optimal best. And often this understanding of what motivates and drives them, and what are some of the challenges and barriers to their success based on their comfort level. Now part of our job is getting them to be more situationally effective as well. But that's a good example of what I mean when I say being situational. 


James Laughlin 39:23 

Thank you. That's great. And for the leader, that right now is struggling to recruit really good talent and is struggling to retain really good talent because I know there are many leaders in that position right now. What do you have to say to them? 


Chuck Mollor 39:39 

Well, that's a big topic right there James, how much time do we have left? So, another area that has been spending a lot of my time over the last year, especially to no surprise is culture, right? And culture is not a new concept. We know we know the culture, predominantly because of you know, Country cultures, languages and history, and trends and traditions. But the culture in organizations and corporations also exists and often there's an over, or I call it overlain culture. And then there are subcultures, meaning micro-ecosystems, and every organization, depending on the department, depending on the location. So, when you think about routing, and how I'm tying in recruiting, and retaining talent, is you have that your culture is your brand. Your culture, ultimately is why do you want to work here? Why do you want to stay here? How do we how are you going to get treated? What are your opportunities to learn to grow? But what is his company value? Right? So ultimately, your culture essentially starts with your strategy, right? Like, essentially, why do you exist as a business? What is your purpose? What do you what is your spired state of what your services and goods and products are trying to provide the marketplace? Once you've sort of defined or redefine what is it for a lot of organizations or companies, they've been redefining that the last few years, because of obviously, all the changes in the marketplace, but you got to start there. And then ultimately drives your strategy and then your mission. Now from that is your brand, your brand is a reflection of your values. What are your values, and you think about that brand, right? Think of any organization out there especially really well-known organizations, we think of Disney, we ultimately think of Disney, because of the experience they provide to their parks, and to their movies and their characters, right? There's an experience there. And that's their purpose. That's also their strategy and their mission, right from there, they create values, and their values are both an external value to them their customers, but also an internal value. So, any organization, no matter what your business is, has an opportunity to say how we demonstrated a brand for our consumers wherever they may be, and how do we internalize that brand? So that brand has to be aligned externally and internally. And so, you by doing that, as you create your values that are your external brand, but then how you cascade that internally, how you do that is by taking those values, and essentially defining them, it's a very specific behavior. Those behaviors should be observable, those behaviors should be measurable, and those behaviors then get cascaded to every employee. So, they understand that, yes, your expectation of employees here is based upon our brand, our vision, our purpose, but also our values, which are reflected in our behaviors, and actually become part of the living mantra of every organization. And that ultimately becomes your culture. That culture gets reinforced by all your HR systems and processes, how you recognize and reward how you hire, and how you promote and advance people. So, all those HR systems and processes have to reinforce those behaviors and those values organization. And for some organizations, they have to really think about what we really mean by our values. You know, we all know the story, a lot of companies make a big deal about their values. They have these big billboards and postcards pointed out, it's on their website, it's in every conference room, and now on the internet or extranet. But the problem is, they're not living them, because there's no accountability, there's no way enforcing it, there's no way of people walking the talk. And especially as leaders, we don't demonstrate those values of those behaviors every day, the rest of the organization says this means nothing, and essentially means that you don't really have a culture. So, your culture, your brand, and everything I just talked about is the key drivers of your retention and your recruiting strategy. If you've got a strong healthy culture, where people feel engaged, they feel valued, they understand what those values those behaviors are, and they're and they're being lived, and they're reinforced. And they're being supported with all those systems and tools and processes in your organization. That's why people are going to want to come work for you. And that's why people don't want to stay there. 


James Laughlin 44:20 

Hmm, that makes sense. And going from a toxic culture to a high-performance culture. What do you see as being the key differences? So, if somebody was listening right now gone, hmm, what's my culture actually, like in the place that I lead or that I work? How would they know that it's toxic versus high performance? And of course, there's going to be lots of in between as well but what would do the key differentiator has been you walk into an organization you'll be like, whoa, this is high performing. Versus oh my goodness, this toxic. 


Chuck Mollor 44:51 

For me, it all comes down to leadership. You know, how strong are your leaders? Are? Has there been an investment in the development of your managers to be effective at managing and effective at leading? And if your managers are not equipped with knowledge and skills and abilities, and they're not held accountable, to be effective as managers and leaders and demonstrate those values, and behaviors, it's really hard expected for the rest of the organization, that's the thing you'll really notice is that you're going to see really strong management leadership in the organization. There's clarity on purpose, there's clarity on vision, where we are, where we're going people understand their roles and responsibilities, and how that connects to the vision and purpose of the organization. They understand this the macro strategy, but they also understand the micro strategy, communication is transparent, it's open, it's clear, decision making is happening all the right levels, you know, organization, people are empowered or, you know, teams are empowered, people are spending as leaders where they, they should be spending their time at the right levels that we talked about earlier. These are all the characteristics of a healthy organization of a healthy culture. So, it all starts with leadership. One of the biggest challenges for any organization is what do you do with a top performer, high performer, a high expert, that that's not done strain those right values and those behaviors, because if you don't address that, that's your first step to creating a toxic environment, right? Because people recognize that those values that brand are not being lifted, and that's the inconsistency when there's favoritism when there the inconsistency of behavior and people getting away with wrong behaviors. 


James Laughlin 46:38 

What have you seen? So, in your experience, where have you been working with a client, or you've walked into a company and seen an amazing thriving high-performance culture? 


Chuck Mollor 46:54 

Yeah, I mean, I don't want to pull out you know, companies. I hate to say, in some of the bigger companies, often you see it, depending on who's in charge, right? I mean, in big companies, you will see more inconsistency, because they're so big, you know, certain big companies, you'd have some divisions, departments that are bigger than half the companies in the world. So, and why, because you see some strong leadership and some divisions and some departments, and not so strong leadership. So, the challenge for bigger companies is ensuring that be consistent in how they develop, but also hold accountable their leaders, all their leaders. Because that's the key, how do you create consistency across your organization, especially big companies that have offices and people around the world, and have multiple, multiple divisions and businesses and business units? When I walk into a smaller, or any company? Going back to your question, I just want to make a distinction with bigger companies, because you'll see much greater variance just because of pure size. But I will also work with startups and venture capital and family-owned companies. And where I see really, really healthy, high-performing work environments. The first thing that really stands out to me is when that CEO and that executive team, care, they really care. And people say they care, they want to care, but they don't demonstrate that in terms of how they treat people. You know, when you see high performing, people realize that the company doesn't care if I'm virtual or hybrid, they don't care that they care about what's going on with me and my family. And they're going to be flexing to support me. They care in terms of, you know, how they support us, not only the last two years, personally, but also professionally through development through learning through beat at task forces being on innovative teams, a big aspect of high performing companies is their focus on innovation and change. Some companies and organizations, it's a, you know, don't bring up those words. We don't talk about change here. We don't talk about innovation here, right. So don't be a little dramatic in saying that, of course. But you know, some people, I'll give an example, I have one CEO of a very, very well-known company, a company that we all know, a consumer products company, that's one of the biggest brands in the world. And this CEO did everything to try to create greater innovation, create innovation teams, spoke about innovation all the time, you know, create a new role to drive innovation for the whole company. But as much as he tried the moment there was a failure when a new product was being released, or it wasn't going as well, as expected, instead of just tweaking or making some adjustments, or, you know, recognizing people for their effort doing a great job. It was a very harsh and negative response. And going back to my comments about creating a safe work environment. If you don't celebrate people's efforts, even if there was a failure, it's hard for people to try again, it just is. So, you can't, let's be punitive, and slap people on the wrist or, you know, demote people if they fail. So, to be innovative, you have to accept reasonable failure and mistakes. And so, this all ties back into your question, what do I see when I see the characteristics of high-performing organizations? It's everything we just talked about those additional characteristics as well. 


James Laughlin 50:29 

Beautiful. Chuck, thank you for sharing that. And for the person that's listening right now, that is loving what they're hearing. And they want to be that agile leader. I'm going to put a link in the show notes to The Rise of the Agile Leader. And you know, can you make this shift is the question and the subtitle. And that's by Chuck Mollor, it's going to be in the show notes for please do go and grab a copy of that or get off Amazon or wherever your nearest bookstore is. And, Chuck, before we finish up, I've got one last question for you. And that is fast forward many years into the future. It's your last day, you've been told it is your last day here. And a young person that you love dearly, in your life asks you a question. And this is the last question that you can actually answer in your life. And that is, hey, Chuck, how can I go about leading my life with purpose? What would your answer be to them? 


Chuck Mollor 51:30 

I think I think that's a question you have to ask yourself all the time because I think it changes depending on where you are in your life. I guess that's the first thing I would say. As you probably guessed, James, I'm not really sure per short answer person. Challenges. That's a great question. Now, I think a couple of things, I think I would say to that person, always be curious. Always ask why or why not? Or how or what? Always be curious. Always be willing to learn from others and from the world around you. Never stop learning. Always ask, Am I living the life of purpose that I always dreamed about? Now? What what's the vision you have for your life? Are you living that vision? I actually just posted a very brief media post just earlier today and yesterday about this is, you know, what is your vision for you than the life that you want to live? What's your calling? Are you truly being honest with yourself you truly being true to yourself? Go live that. That will be what I would respond to that. 


James Laughlin 52:36 

Beautiful advice. I love it. Let's check I just want to say a massive thank you for connecting. I know it won't be the last time that we connect. I'm excited for people to get that book in their hands and start to be that agile leader that the world needs in this post-COVID space. So, thanks a million for connecting. 


Chuck Mollor 52:53 

My pleasure, James, I really enjoyed the conversation. Thank you for your great questions and appreciate being here today. 


James Laughlin 53:00 

Thanks a million! 


James Laughlin 53:16 

Thanks for tuning in today and investing in your own personal leadership. Please hit that subscribe button. And I'd love it if you'd leave me a rating and review. I've got some amazing guests lined up for you in the coming weeks. And leaders. It's that time to get out there and lead your life on purpose.