Podcast interview with Bob Bradley

Podcast with Bob & Rikki

In this podcast Rikki Hunt and Bob Bradley talk about the challenges of business growth and how the best leaders engender confidence in their people whilst also having the humility to recognise they don’t know all the answers. (One reason why many find the MD2MD business leaders community  and groups immensely valuable)

Welcome all things business. I’m working hunt experienced leader executive coach consultant non-exec, director international author and part-time adventure, you’re listening to podcast leaders. The goal of my podcast is to introduce you to authentic business leaders who will share their own story with you and go on to give insights and tips.
I’ll lend the podcast by summarizing key takeaways, which I know you’ll benefit from so let me introduce you to today’s guest. Bob Bradley is managing director of MD2 MD. Peer to peer leadership group. I know Bob from around 15 years and couldn’t help worrying about how his business was going and these particularly challenging times but I have to say I wasn’t really surprised when I found out that he stayed calm go on holiday and rethought it strategy.
Not only that he’s telling me the business doing well so here he is or Bradley Bob how are you doing how things going right no​​w? I believe your itinerary yeah that’s right. I’m feeling really lucky and lots of ways stop being affected by the crisis personally so that’s not hurt me.
I actually quite enjoyed locked down and yes, I feel really sorry for the people but for me it’s it’s worked out well personally at that time right now, it’s first of all this business which is having a bad time. What to do you are the MD of MD-20, of course the the business leadership network tell me about your company a bit more hello audience because I know yeah sure well we’re going to the 2004 and really what we’re about is like many other organizations we’re about helping businesses be more successful how can but we do it in a very specific way which is the what we’re trying to do is have the leader of the business being even better leader than the, They would otherwise be so people join us people in the leading operational leader of a business, how can I do even better here make my business even more success?
Ful what made you set this up your motivator to set up the company and what did you see as to the problem you were solving if you like? Yeah, I love the way you phrase that because I am very strong on businesses good businesses having a purpose in the world of them is how they make money you start with the problem and then you make money as a byproduct apologies, it’s just something I’m very passionate about so yeah, it’s dangerous now sort of helping people be great leaders makes it sound a bit like a, Business.
School and MBA course that we couldn’t be further from that. Not only MBA, I had the good fortune doing MBA myself, but it gives you a great talk. Two things that means that NBA is not like for the people to join MDUMD. Firstly, I got my first MD’s job with an MBA behind me MBAs don’t help you solve what I see is the biggest challenges that people challenge is, you know, those are things that you have to think through and make a judgment call on where there’s all these reasons why you should do why and you have to judge it.
There’s no, you know, it’s not simple.
You know, you can we can I can read all the books you like on how to play golf. I can’t play golf. I’ve got a practice. I’ve got to be in there in the environment where playing golf is my life if you like it. So to read a book and think you can.
Go and do something straight away is explored. Yeah, absolutely, right? I mean, it’s interesting that’s a very good method actually because you can’t let go of the golf clubs. You need to talk it MBA is a useful set of tools. I love my MBR learn more from it doesn’t give you all the answers.
I discovered my biggest really helped me with. Yeah, it was is this people are they really the I website the word the idea that they feel seemed to be me that can’t get the best out. Of them. How do I do this? It’s brilliant. Let me just get another site track here.
It’s really good we’re going in this direction because this analogy again of the of the Gulf. Main resource. To go for. The golf clubs. The golf clubs or in your control what happens with those golf clubs is down to what you tell them to do if you like when we get into business world we’re not telling people what to do because if we are we’re able to get anywhere and of course, they’re all gonna act differently and react differently and react differently at a different time of day on a different day.
It’s people dynamics key in business today.
I know from talking to him that engulfed mindset is critical a lot of it is about the psychology of how you’re feeling at the time you hit the ball and you know, and I think that’s got real power outs of business leadership belief the self-confidence but the humility to know that you don’t know everything is really really important that a leader.
Yes, absolutely right absolutely, right. Well, I think I know how it was said, but what didn’t Socrates say that the best thing you can know is how much? Don’t know and we don’t it’s not about I always think of as elite a leader you’re in effect trying to orchestrate you’re like conductive of an orchestra there’s a lot of moving parts that actually in the main don’t need you that all specialists in what they do but every now and then they can go out of tune every now and then they can just lose a bit of concentration and you’re there to keep that flow going and keep them all at the pace they want to be at and you’re facilitate any hurdles and any barriers that get in their way.
Yeah, I agree and I also agree with something that you mentioned there, which is they don’t need you and I see one of the biggest challenges that all of a space is scaling businesses are because the typical startup entrepreneur does everything sounds controls everything gets 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 people, which is a typical MD member.
That probably more expenses are average, you know, when they get say you cannot control everything yourself, you have to be able to find a way of getting other people to do things lead them without managing them the detail because. You can’t do it when you get to that sale it’s the biggest challenge.
I have with them when I’m working with companies just getting them to recognize that whatever the problems in the company they’re generally topped down that they’re not possible so so when somebody says to me, you know my team and not performing. They want to get into how are they managing their team not?
I don’t receive the team in the first instance. I want to find out how they’re managing the team because that’s generally worth the floor starts. Absolutely and I often comment when I’m talking about MD trendy that hardly the people that join MD to I use I often use the word the words when I’m talking about what we’re there for that we’re helping to become even better leaders and I use the word even in that deliberately because I perceive that the people in mostly to join MD2 MD never actually do sadly, you know, you you can’t you can leave the horse towards become men and drink because the ones don’t join them ones are too busy.
You know, the people that join MD shendia, the people are already smart enough to realize the importance of stepping back spending a bit of time thinking about how my leading how can I do this even better help like the achieving for more with less, you know, that’s absolutely you know, and this point about a lot of the people who need you and not gonna be there they started the company nobody great idea, they consider themselves very entrepreneurial, they’ve got a lot of skills.
To get. Be wrong there’s a lot of great people out there that are holding themselves back and going back to the coaching thing and the the golf analogy. I say to people my goal is to get 10% that 10% that you can’t get but I’ll guarantee.
All going to be around people it’s all going to be about how are you structuring what you doing strategy stuff we can talk about you know, that this management exercises we can actually the key to this is about leave your ego for the minute and lock it where you’re trying to go get a series of people and group of people who can take you there and then just really take the environment for them to be able to do it and just make it happen for them absolutely it’s really quite strange dynamic because although the few people like me that got MBA most.
People any businesses and you know not mean that any from criticism because some of the best business leaders I’ve met are the ones that score 16 minute qualifications, absolutely because they don’t have arguments somebody who’s been well educated to think I know all the answers no that the challenge though comes up is that I discovered.
Quite often many business leaders. I’ve got to that position by being good at something different to business leadership, you know because director and when they get to being the managing director, they really understand how to do sales but they don’t know how to lead they don’t have to pull together finance persons operations personally have got to the top of the pile they look around and think how did I get here?
What do I do now because what I used to do to be a great salesperson no longer works, so I’ve got this conflicts but in really my heart. I know we don’t and you know, I wrote an article socket knowledge and it was a principle that said. What we need to do is we need to recognize that in a if you want to build the team around you.
Circle and it’s a great point great let’s. Think of the department that you are now as an MD that you weren’t in charge often haven’t been involved in. Here. But now you’re going to manage them. So let’s think of and let’s make assumption. I came up to sales, so what’s the other departments might be distribution there might be legal there might be finance.
Burma. What I did was say if I look at all of those departments if I was running them. Just subjectively how would I score myself out of 10 in each of those areas well in sales? I probably give myself a nine in marketing. I’m pretty creative so I’m up at the eights yeah get me into legal and down at two or three.
Finance six, maybe I am pretty pretty good at finance distribution one or two anyway. I did that for the whole thing number and I grew a circle and I put that number in the circle. I then took all of my directors now. I changed the board at this time, so it’s all my new directors and I said okay.
I’m gonna do it for them now, so it’s just an exercise for myself this it’s cracking the website. I said, for example sales director. The sales director would have come up through a particular channel of sales, they don’t necessarily now to sell everything so for example, my director had come up through retail sales are from ten selling if you like but was now in charge of commercial sales aviation sales, you know, oil distribution is in charge of a lot of different departments, so he hadn’t had any input into yeah and I did the same exercise for each director, okay even finance as we know has got bookkeeping and, Counting auditing cash management, it’s easy to do this.
I then average all of the directors but a linear mind a circle around mine rather and put their number in. And then did it for that their managers. I just spent a couple of. Weeks about with this project. And what I got my board together and I said to look his how we look right now as a where does the knowledge lie in our company because you guys are.
Without know a lot more than me in your specialties. It’s good that’s brilliant, that’s why I want yeah no more than. You but you you compared to the managers it’s out about once. It’s out of balance you so I want you to do the exercise for me the score yourself you still have to balance and what I was saying to them was that’s going to lead you to be.
Driving too much and not developing the people below here because absolute reality is how to clean the floor specialty of the cleaner yeah. I’m not going to go around telling them how to clean the floor turns. And. Concept really transfer when people grabbed it because it was recognition. The whether.
The bottom of the pyramid if you took a hierarchical thing is where the most important people are. Now, how do you manage them now because you can’t keep coming and what to do, you don’t know what they do. I think it’s a really big important point about this going from management to director, you know, I did when I became a manager.
I came to mansion director burner I was trying to death because you go to this process of wanting I want it I want it oh God, can it do it, you know it’s getting up syndrome if you’ve got there by being in your case a great selfless person yeah and then suddenly your goal these other things look exactly as you say, you know less about it’s a massive transition because when you’re first like first let’s first come over to you first management job, you know regularly here and sources for business leaders talk about I can do the job of all my team.
I know I can do it better make. Them and I remember I saw think yeah that’s that’s interesting because actually your job is not to do what they’re doing best and you are doing their job what you’ve got to be is getting them to do that job motivating them are leading and so on and the more seen you get that’s.
The more important becomes I remember working with last year where a big part of conversation. I was having was trying to help them understand that actually what they were being paid to do was make good decisions and the level they had got to it wasn’t really that much about you know day-to-day motivation of the people because they’ve got a good confident director team beneath them, you know, the they needed they were working too hard was what I was saying to them, yeah doing stuff yeah is that time out to think carefully about what was the like decision here?
You get the more decisions become the important thing and the North spaces you have to create in your head to be able to make great decisions they get young brilliant. I mean again, I did an exercise where how much time. A person given their title let’s say again just for this exercise manager director MD how much time should each of them spend thinking and doing.
Cost is too many people at the top doing all of the doing and they’re not doing any of the thinking they’re not so getting into the strategy to change resources, what are the barriers like teams are facing don’t think about that for the second? And they must they must so both interesting questions you said to me before the.
Coming to you.
That there’s a gap if you like and recognize even if there’s no gap in a feeling okay, they want to feel more than okay, they want to feel brilliant. What I did was join the IOD. I mentally became a fellow. From all the learning the main thing I took away from that experience.
Was an incredible boot to my confidence with a bit different the idea is probably the level of depth of the relationship in the ideas a lot of people and they meet for a fairly brief meetings whereas ours are sort of much closer people who make regularly the but you do get the same phenomenon that you.
Some often the feedback I get from a new member when they’ve been to their first meeting is the same problems because when they hear other people’s of managing their team getting the best out of the team doing with you know, motive incentive schemes commissioners, whatever it is when they hear the others have that same problem, it’s like oh not the only one that feels a bit of a Ford here because I don’t know all the answers actually.
Exactly right so. We know who you are what you’re doing why you’re doing it, how did you feel and it? I’m interested because you you’re feeling quite good now in the business, how did you feel when covet first hit your appear to be a network business retains meeting? Yeah, it’s interesting we would be doing okay we’ve grown about 20% per annum for the last or three years but and we got five groups south central England meeting regularly but as you rightly highlight we were meeting in person so yeah, I did consider for a moment not very long stopping because most many people my angel retired and I don’t ever see myself retiring and you know, but I you know would like to slow down a bit perhaps one day.
But what my first thought was I can’t do that my members, you know that they you know, they need and they need the meetings we run more than they ever do because you know how to deal with a covered quest, you know, so first thing I did was realize that the members needed us and I needed to help them at me personally.
I need to facilitate the conversation them so we switched. They got to do your do this. Bob you got to go for it so we switched immediately in April because I don’t remember that time but you know things are moving so quickly yeah people find me out which way was up, you know, so.
We switch to immediately to online and weekly pay groups meeting we dropped our normal professional speakers for the time being and then bought the speakers back in went to meeting formatly then meeting every three weeks and so where we are, you know, we we’ve moved on massively now we are more of an online business we’re totally online obviously, you know next year.
I’m hoping we will we introduce the face to face meeting but they will be a long side the online model. Ing to it, well more free too, it’s really incredibly dead why you were thinking about it and never did it because. Appear tends to be face to face in because we’re of that era but you’re right there, you know trying a new model in it works is it’s a great thing but but you will keep that the face as you say that must help with speakers because I know you having spoken for you.
I know your meeting should bring speakers along must be a lot easier to get them online. I mean the way I see it is the online is equal, but different. To in person so for example speakers when you’re one person the depth of understanding discussion is definitely more when you have an in person meeting when whether it’s being to pay or whether it be with the seeker yeah, but to balance that what I’m able to do with an online model is off of people seekers globally.
I’ve always used speakers around the world. Australia, South Africa US News even, Always use them it’s always been a bit on organized so we had to fit in with their you know, European tour, you know, they come over doing some doing speaking ex over here with it and the dates don’t work and they’re just at work yeah now I think next week I’ve got to speak barley in January of South Africa and Australia, you know, we can use the speaker from around the world yeah, you know, it’s easy from the UK sorry Ricky, you know, you’re the fact that you’re only sort of 30 miles from me.
And that doesn’t give you any advantage, you know, it’s it’s it’s impossible so yeah yeah difference you see it’s possibly online isn’t quite as engaging but I can get you the best speaker in the world online the other thing we’ve done is we’ve switched to having a speaker every week now we give our members a choice they get so many speakers sessions a month and they can choose which speaker they want to see and do they want to see the speaker next week or the speaker on managing.
So whatever they confuse the speakers appears appeals, most of them and their needs sorry good very good, so Bob we can talk forever even me and I won’t say it’s you it’s both of us fabulous talking to you as usual. What can we say would be the four or listeners what’s to take away given the market within right now, we don’t believe it’s gonna change dramatically they’re going out but it’s never ever gonna be doing business but it’s gonna be different.
We have somebody to take away what can we tell our clients it’s something I’ve been which yeah you’ve got me talking about quite a bit but it’s not just me it’s our members as well but you know, I suppose it’s me doing what I think is don’t waste a good crisis and therefore more sluggish competitors and that’s what we’ve done.
You know it’s been fantastic for us but it’s also a number of members have done I’ve got members of double and tripled the size their business over the last eight months, well we’ve we’ve doubled our membership in the last statement we’ve got twice as many people actually paying us and what’s more wiki.
I’ve got the same number again on the southern induction poses before this are paying us so yeah luck with any luck in six months time will have quadruple on membership in 12 months and that’s something I can never have done without Christ and could never done without pivoting as the jargon is nowadays without chain word.
Ing out what is it that our members really need and how can we do it better in the circumstances we find ourselves how do we outplay our competition everybody could do what you’ve done but everybody hasn’t done it people are being left behind in your sector and I think you’re right.
I think that’s true of everybody right now, we know undoubtedly businesses are going to fail but also businesses those businesses. Have got the the insights are going to grow and they’re going to take the opportunity.
And I would finish on a really positive notes my own belief is in three to five years time we will be in a great place as an economy because although it will be a very painful transition and the will be many people who get hurt in the process which is bad and businesses that get hurt in the process the outcome will be smart businesses will still be around, you know, if you take the extreme hospitality and events, so really really suffering, you know, the, Some around it for you both.
Playing membership thanks very much for your time today, really appreciate. It thank you for environment it’s been a great pleasure to catch you it’s been great great thanks bye, thank you for listening and I certainly welcome some feedback on all podcasts visit our site thinking.com. UK where you can subscribe for podcasts to blogs and more.