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Episode Summary

Emmanuel Gobillot has been described as ‘the first leadership guru for the digital generation’ and is a sought after speaker on leadership. He is also the author of three bestselling leadership books and offers a completely fresh perspective on how to tackle leadership successfully. On the show, Emmanuel gives a quick overview of his books, as well as answers key questions on how a leader can really help their team shine and what followers truly desire from a leader.

Leadership Mindset, Disciplined Collaboration, Followership and Purpose with Emmanuel Gobillot

Welcome to the Innovation Ecosystems Podcast. Today’s guest is Emmanuel Gobillot who’s been described as the first leadership guru for the digital generation. He’s the author of 3 bestselling books on leadership with another one being published later this year, called Disciplined Collaboration. He’s worked with organizations like AstraZeneca, Google, the United Nations, and Zurich Financial Services, and is a sought after speak on  the leadership mindset. Welcome to the show, Emmanuel.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you for inviting me.

Well, not at all. Emmanuel, I’m curious. There’s been lots of books written about the leadership mindset over the years. I think I counted 30,000 books on leadership on Amazon. I’m curious, what made you confident that you could add to this body of knowledge when you started to write your first book 10, 12 years ago?

Yes. It’s about 10, coming up to 10 years ago. I think, yeah, 10. That’s a good question, and it’s one I was asking myself when I was writing it. I guess there are some enduring truth in leadership mindset, and many of the books that you can read actually are all around similar themes and coming up with similar truth. I think there were two things I was aiming to do with the first one. One was to update the language of leadership. There has been a lot of developments in terms of technology. There’s been a lot of changes in the way organizations are run. I think some of our language around leadership and a leadership mindset was somewhat outdated. I wanted to test out whether the concepts of leadership mindset out there were still relevant in that way.

Diciplined collaboration leads to a leadership mindset.

The other driver for me was that leadership has always been, and most of the books are on an individual pursuit. It’s very much around what do great leaders do, how do leaders behave, how do leaders make things happen  what is their leadership mindset. Actually, what I wanted to do was to try to understand leadership in context. Actually, how do organizations impact leaders as well as leaders impacting organizations? How does leadership change depending on the context you find yourself in? How do you impact the organization? Is that always the same? There was a lot of things that I wanted to bring out in the first book. I guess I never pretended and never pretend in any of my books to come up with a new scientific formula for leadership that will solve all the world’s problem.

What I want to do is I want to invite conversation. I see my books as ideas that I put out, and that hopefully people discuss some challenges they are thinking, rather than the final saying on leadership, because I think there has been a lot that has been said in the past, and there would probably be even more said in the future.

Yeah. There’s some very fresh themes in your book on the leadership mindset. I think one of them that resonated with me in the first book, The Connected Leader. You talked about this paradox of leadership which is about remaining present in the moment. Again, you wrote this 10 years ago, so it was quite prescient because this is a really important topic today, but remaining present. Also, being able to see the emerging context and remaining connected with what’s emerging. That dilemma, that paradox is … If it was true 10 years ago, it’s even more true today, given the pace of change and of course the amount of demands on our attention that come at us all the time. How does a leader do this? How do they manage this paradox?

Even though you have a leadership mindset, understand that leaders might still fail.

Well, the reality is most leaders manage it by moving on. If you think about leadership in careers, they tend to be about 4 or 5 years long. You come up full of energy and full of ideas, you understand the context you find yourself in, you do what you need to do, and then hopefully you move before the context changes so much that you become irrelevant. I think that’s the sad truth of the way it is currently managed. It has been true, and that’s really what drove me to write The Connected Leader, was a simple truth which is if I look at leaders throughout history, most of them, even the greatest one, always eventually fail. There comes a point … I start the book with Churchill. Here is somebody who took a country to victory, and the country thanked him by firing him.

That somehow didn’t seem so right to me, and incidentally we did the same with the goal in France and so on. It’s not a Churchill issue. I think this idea of being able to see context change is indeed even more critical today, because context change is faster. What it forced me to look at, and this is why I mentioned earlier, this idea of the organization impacting the leader, as well as the leader impacting the organization. What it says to me is that actually our picture of the leader as a hero is misconstrued. We have an issue when we rely on one individual. Actually, for leaders, the success comes from being able to get their followers to inform them about context changes as they see it happen.

Unfortunately, the demands that we are under, that we more and more take a view that we should be delivering as individuals, rather than pay attention to the people around us, and what it is that they say. I think that’s the difficult juggling act of a leader, which is able to energize your followers while listening to them at the same time.

Yeah. I think that’s a thing that you talk about in a later book, which we’ll come back to in a minute. Just coming back to this point, the reality is most leaders move on, but of course not all of them do. There are some outstanding leaders that remain in place, arguably fewer than ever before. What are they doing? Are they evolving with the same rhythm that the markets are evolving, or are they just lucky? What makes a difference between someone who either gets fired or moves on before the context change too much, versus someone who actually is able to remain in place and continue to lead the organization?

You mentioned luck, and I think we do underestimate the impact of luck. I think some people are lucky. I think that’s true. I think you also make your own luck. You make your own luck through the networks you maintain. Actually, I think the success, or the leaders will remain successful due, what I call have the ability to work in, as well as on the business. They have an ability to dive down into the details, as well as listen to what is going on, and observe what is going on. It’s a bit like when you’re flying. It’s great to fly at 39,000 feet because you can see far away and it’s pretty smooth. It’s great when you come to land at 2,000 feet, because you can see exactly what’s going on. The trouble is when you fly at 20,000 feet,  because that’s where it’s turbulent and you keep on moving about.

Having the ability to go up to 39, and down to 2, and back up again, I think is what differentiates many of the leaders who survive context change, is they can see it coming, and they do that through their network, through listening, through having a leadership mindset and being curious and remaining curious on challenges they’ve gone thinking, whilst at the same time being able to dive down and energize the organization around the things that need to be done. Going up and down like this constantly is quite difficult to do. Some leaders would rather remain up or remain down, and that’s why it becomes difficult.

Okay. You work across a wide range of industries. Coming at the subject from a different angle, how do you see the leadership mindset changing or varying across companies, tech companies like Google, for instance, which are evolving very quickly, growing very quickly at the forefront of their industry, versus perhaps some more mature regulated long product life cycle industries, for instance, in the insurance or in pharmaceuticals? Do you see any big differences in terms of what outstanding leadership looks like, or even what an average leadership mindset looks like in those 2 extreme environments? Clearly, you don’t need to get into the specifics or the companies you worked for, just an example.

Well, I think the first thing to say is, from organizational point of view, each of them wishes they had more of what the other one had. If have an organization going through a lot of growth and you’re at a startup stage, you’re growing your organization, you wish you had more of the structures the other have, more of the predictability and processes that those structures bring. If you’re in a highly regulated environment, you wish you could recapture some of the energy that you had at the growth stage. I think that happens rather a lot.

I think from a leadership point of view, interestingly, great leadership always looks fairly similar. I think that’s one of the things that you realize is actually some of the great leaders I meet have the ability to operate in multiple contexts with the leadership mindset that they have. Again, I think that also is why some of the people who start organizations are not always the ones who get them to grow. Some of the people who manage to maintain organizations are not always the ones who can grow a new one, and so on. Actually, when you get great leaders, I think they have that ability to work across spectrum.

If you have a leadership mindset, you’ll want to help others get strong.

The question most people ask me when they know what I do is what is it that great leaders do? What’s the secret formula? What is their leadership mindset? I think it’s not so secret. It’s about how do I make the people around me stronger and more capable. Actually, you can look at great leaders in any industry. The reason why people call them great is because at some stage, they make people stronger and more capable – they have the leadership mindset to do that. That’s applicable across industries, irrespective of the context. Now, that’s not to say that any great leader in place A: can become a leader in place, B: there’s some fundamentals that you need to have. You need to understand the playing field and so on.

I think there’s a theme for me, which is around that ability to make other people feel stronger and more capable in the context they find themselves in, and to get their discretionary effort, to get them to give you everything that they have. You tend to find that in many industries.

That’s constant I guess. That’s an aspect of a leadership mindset that hasn’t changed over the time that you’ve been doing this kind of work.

No. I think it hasn’t changed. You are talking about all the literature on leadership. I think that’s a constant you can find through most of the leadership that people call it differently, but actually it’s fundamentally the same idea, which is this idea of how do I get people to be the best they can be by challenging them, by pushing them, by helping them to see a better version of themselves, which is a constant in most organization that I deal with.

Again, then you’re back to different challenges that are going to derail that effort. I think if you’re in a fast paced organization, fairly new, growing, then the context will always try to push you to be more driven by a sense of achievement, doing it yourself because you don’t necessarily have the resources or the time. In some more regulated industry, you might be able to delegate things to other people that you couldn’t. You will be help or hinder them that journey, but actually the fundamental of making people stronger and more capable remains the same.

You took this fundamental and you turn it around or put a spin on it in your book, Follow the Leader, where you actually talked not about … It’s not so much what great leaders do, but it’s more around what great followers want, which is nice. It turns it around. It gives a different perspective. What’s the answer to that question? What do great followers want?

Well, actually, you have to go backwards. It all starts with the realization that if you looked and measured leadership from a point of view of results, from a point of view of feedback, whatever dimension you wanted to look at, actually … You will know that too. There’s a lot of people there who are called by their followers great leaders who seem to share very little in common. I’ve met great leaders who are loud, visionary. I’ve met great leaders who are very quiet. I’ve met great leaders who did a lot of stuff. I’ve met great leaders who step back. They’re all great leaders. It always seem to me that in search of great leadership, we are always pushed to look for average. What is it that they have in common?

Actually, the thing that nobody ever mentions is at some stage they have followers. They have people who have made the decision to give up some of their freedom to act in order to have a better life. What was it that those people are looking for? Then I did a piece of research trying to find the answer. The only answer that came back over and over again was charisma. People said, “I follow that person because they have charisma.” That didn’t seem to make sense, because those people behave so differently that my question was, “Well, they can’t all have charisma because otherwise everything falls into that bucket.” I try to unpack the idea of charisma in the book and said, “Well, actually, what is it that we want?”

Fundamentally, it falls on the 3 headings. The thing that we tend to look for in our leaders is people who share our values. The Americans, we say, “Oh, I could have a beer with that person.” somebody I can relate to, somebody who I know can relate to me. That’s the idea of compassion. I don’t like … I know a lot of people talk about empathy. I think empathy is not that useful of concept. Empathy means, “I know how you feel and I can relate to how you feel.” The trouble with that is I could also manipulate the way you feel. I like to talk about compassion because compassion is about, “I understand the way you feel and I feel driven to change it for your own sake, for your own good, so I want to make you the person you want to be.”

There’s one idea which is about, “Do they share my values? Do they understand me? Do they give me hope in the future?” That’s number 1. The other thing we look for is, “Do they mean what they say?” Actually, it’s one thing to give me hope and to tell me stuff, but actually, “Are you real?” This sense of integrity around, “Is what you think, what you say, what you do aligned, or ware you trying to manipulate me in some way?” That’s the second one. Then the last one is can they actually deliver. Now all of these things go on in our head. I call it emotional logic, because our decision to follow is neither logical and rational, nor purely emotional and irrational. It’s a weird things that goes on in our brain, and it just feels right.

What feels right is when those 3 conditions have aligned, and some maybe think, “Well, look at that person, he’s going to be able to deliver.” In a way, if you had to then say, “What’s the lesson for leaders?” I guess the lesson is be who you are, but a skillful version of you. Give me more of you and a more skillful version of you, understand me. I always say to leaders, the trouble with leadership is it really isn’t about you, but at the same time it’s all about you. Actually, great leaders understand that leadership is about followers. It’s about getting followers to release their effort. Then we’ll only release it if you are the right version of you. That’s about being open, being honest, being practiced at what you do, and understanding what is it that your followers want.

I think if there’s anything out of the book that people should remember, so I’ll save all your listeners the trouble of reading it all. I’d stop after chapter 2 I think it is, or 3, but it’s about this idea of compassion. Fundamentally, do you know what it is that’s going on for the people around you? Are you prepared to change that for them? Are you prepared to help them be the best they can be?

That’s a very, very different model from perhaps the command and control model that characterizes a lot of the literature up until quite recently.

I think it is. For one, you see, I’m not surprised that command and control has stayed around for so long. If you think about organization, organizations are pretty much one of the only place in human life where followers don’t chose leaders. It is actually leaders who chose leaders. It’s the people at the top who are going to point people and say you are now a leader. If you think about politics or life where you live or where I live, it’s the other way around. We decide who we’re going to cast our vote for.

Now, the problem with leaders choosing leaders is it makes you somehow, as a leader, feel secure in the knowledge that you can lead. That’s not actually true. Once people have to give you their effort, nobody can call out someone to give you their discretionary effort. I think the real skill of leadership is not just to get people to do what you tell them to do, is for them to do everything they can do, which might well be more, in most cases, is more than what you tell them to do.

Command and control is reassuring, and it will give you effort. What it won’t give you is that extra effort which we all identify in the great leaders that you mentioned at the start when you say, “Well, look some leaders manage to succeed over time.” I think the reason they’ve succeed is because they manage to release that discretionary effort. They manage to get more out of their people. That’s simply the effort that they contract with them to give.

Obviously, I work with and I’m involved with a number of companies that are more characterized by the industrial long product life cycle, regulated industries, which are beginning to feel under enormous strain because the R&D pipelines aren’t working as well as they used to. There are new entrances coming in with the threat of disruption. I’m curious. How are companies that you’re familiar with dealing with the challenges, the need to innovate, the need to build cultures of sustainable innovation, but at the same time manage the business and deliver the quarterly numbers? How does that tension get, or that dilemma get managed in some of the organizations you work with?

That’s the big challenge. I always joke to say one of the calls that I get the most is when senior leaders call me and say, “well, our divisions aren’t working very well with each other.” which there’s only to point out to them the word division is exactly what it means. Don’t be surprised that you get what you set out for. The challenge for most organization to my mind is this. You cannot reengineer the organization. Part of the challenge, there’s been a wave in time to say, “Well, actually, it’s our structure that’s not helping.” The problem with that view is actually the structure ensures the delivery of the business today.

If you start messing up with the structure, you run the risk of destroying what you’ve got. That’s not really the solution. The other solution that comes in is people say, “We just need to get people on an awayday with each other. If they talk to each other a bit more, and we’ll stick a dotted line in between and say, “Chat with each other.” we’ll get some somewhere. No, that’s not true either, because people don’t have the playing field to make it work. I think the challenge is really, back to my field of the leadership mindset, the challenge is about how do you create the conditions for people to understand what it is that you’re after, the latitude that they have, and are then able to direct that effort in a different way.

It’s a difficult leadership mindset to have, but it’s fundamentally about change management. It’s about how do I make people understand that we have to retain what it is that makes us so valued, but actually search for the next wherever value. The ways in which at an individual level you can establish some of that is to go back to levels of trust, understanding why people lose trust, and most of that is done with value and where does my value lie. It’s about establishing a purpose for the organization that is broader than just do what it is that you targeted to do. It’s about trying to have a new form of conversations amongst people within the organization.

If you think about established organization, most conversations have become problem driven conversation. Here is an issue we need to solve that issue. If that’s your leadership mindset, that everything is looked at through a problem mindset, if you take any MBA class anywhere in the world, and you tell them, you give them a case study of an organization, and you say, “Okay. Go away, and come back in an hour, and tell me about the organization. Then we’ll going to have some kind of analysis, SWOT, PEST, whatever it might be, and that will tell you the problems of that organization, and how those problems are going to be solved, because that’s very much the executive mindset.

My view is the conversation that you need to have, have to start somewhere else, and they have to start with what is it that has made this great. Actually, when everything is working, when we are at our best, what is that we do? Actually, we don’t understand that and we don’t spend much time thinking about it. We celebrate success, but we don’t unpack success the way we unpack problems. If you think from … Okay. Let’s discover what it is that make us great, then we can start to think about how do we have more of that, and what would be the implications of operating at that level all the time.

Sometimes it might not be possible. People might turn around and say, “We are really great. We are working 24/7. We haven’t got the resources to do that.” Then you start to investigate what it is that makes you good. In so doing, you tend to reconnect with what used to happen in your organization. I have a phrase I use which is like, “Most organization start as a purpose in search of assets.” You have an idea, you have a view, you have something, you want to change the world, whatever it may be. You have a purpose,  and you’re looking for assets to grow.

At some stage in your evolution, most organizations flip. They become a great big asset in social repurpose, because everybody has forgotten what it is that they were trained to do in the first place. The challenge is to have new conversation that reconnect you to that purpose. If you do that, actually, the boundaries and the divisions fall apart in exactly the same as they did when you were a startup. You’ve been involved with enough startups to know that actually anybody will do anything at any time in order to get the stuff done, whether it’s within their accountability or not.

If you reconnect to that sense of purpose and energy, then you have a chance to actually get over the new entrance and the disruptors and all the rest of it, but it requires courage on the part of leaders, and jumping into your field of expertise, which is why to me, you’re much more likely to find entrepreneurs at lower levels of the organization, rather than on more senior levels. In France, we have a saying. We say it’s never the kings who start the revolutions. When you’re sitting at the top, there’s a lot of things that could go wrong it’s very hard to disrupt. Actually, within the organization, once you’ve given latitude for people to operate, and you’ve given them the boundaries to say, “Well, that’s the game we play.” then actually people will be more than willing to challenge the status quo, and to actually cooperate and collaborate with other people to make things happen.

Yeah. I guess if you’ve got a very clearly defined purpose that has attracted people into the organization in the first place, this north star, these conversations become much easier as well. An intrapreneur is doing is actually in support of that purpose.

Yes. I think we forget our humanity when we work in business, because we surround it with processes, so we become part of a process. Actually, we forget that at our peril that we are human beings with a brain, and a body, and emotions, and sense. All of these things are massive, but they’re also a value. I think if you can reconnect to that sense of purpose, then actually people start thinking differently. It’s the same as saying, “Well, okay. I work for a huge pharmaceutical.” That will speak to a different part of your brain than to say, “I work for one of the biggest curing, biggest enemy of everything that goes wrong in the world.” It may be the same thing, but it’s-

It’sa different energy. Yeah.

It’s a part of your brain. It’s a different energy.

Just going back to that point that you raised about the intrapreneurs, people further down the organization. What advice would you give to those kind of individuals who might have aspirations to enter leadership roles longer term in their career?

You have to understand I guess a life lesson. Maybe I’ve just grown old. I don’t know. You have to understand I guess that in a fight between you and the system, the system always tends to win at the end. I think once you understand that, then it enables you to operate differently. I guess what I mean by that is you have to be able to challenge without being rejected. That’s the hardest thing, in especially a large established organization, is how can I challenge the system without the system rejecting me?

Now, you will have seen that, and your listeners would’ve seen that I’m sure in organization where somebody comes from outside the organization. They spend their first few months telling you everything that’s wrong. They normally say things like, “Well, in my last organization, we didn’t do it that.” at which point your brain is just thinking, “Why did you come here?” It could not have been right. You always have a tendency to reject challenge.

The trick for intrapreneurs is to think about, “Actually, how do I influence the people around me without challenging them without them rejecting me?” which is a trick, which is all about impact and influence. It’s all about saying, “Okay. How do I help them see the way?” To do that, you have to be in their shoes. You can’t be in yours, because otherwise, you’re constantly pulling them or pushing them, and you have to make them seek you out.

A trick that I use a lot with aspiring leaders is to say, “Just spend a lot of time helping people achieve what they want to achieve.” because actually, you’ll have build sufficient credit in your account at some stage that you’re going to be able to turn it around and say, “No, you help me out.” If you go around being helpful, people will forget that you’re challenging when you are challenging, and then they’ll listen to you. That’s the leadership mindset to have. You’re not helping by telling people everything they’re doing is wrong. You’re helpful by giving them ideas to how they can do it better.

It’s interesting you said it. We had a previous guest, Professor Robert Wolcott. He talked about building bridges and relationships well in advance of when you need them, which is a similar theme. It’s very good advice actually. If I think about some of the times where I’ve been successful is because of that where I haven’t perhaps been as successful. It’s because you take things for granted, or you think that because you got a mandate from the top of the organization, that’s enough to move people. Often it’s quite the opposite. It’s actually a red rag to the bull. That’s very, very good advice.

Also, one of the other pieces I think that’s interesting here is around the concept of co-creation. You talked about it in a couple of books. What does co-creation mean for you in some of your  organizations? Is co-creation limited within the 4 walls of the organization? Another guest we have, the CEO of DSM Nutritional Products, talked about very rarely would you have all the resources that you need within the 4 walls of your company. Therefore, you’ve got to be very good at collaborating and co-creating. Of course your new book is titled Disciplined Collaboration. Where does co-creation fit into it, and what does Disciplined Collaboration actually mean?

It’s interesting you are speaking to somebody from DSM. I was with them only recently, and they certainly are good at reaching outside their own organization, that’s for sure. It’s exactly what drove me to writing the last book, but also a couple of books ago. The idea that actually, for me, co-creation is about lack of boundaries. A lot of that being written about the boundaries inside the organization and how you can get over them. Part of the issue for me was how do you connect the people outside your organization to your purpose. Actually, how do you get customers involved in your effort? How do you get suppliers involved in your effort?

How do you build an ecosystem of ideas around your organization where people are not afraid to exchange? For me, co-creation is very much a way from the organizational mindset as how do we cooperate better with marketing or whatever to actually how do we reach out and build communities of practice. One of the things that I talk about in that space is this idea of real organizations, rather than former organizations. When you do that, you realize that actually customers are an inherent part of your organization. The trouble is you don’t speak to them in a way that they can relate to. There’s a whole piece in co-creation which is around, again, shared purpose, but also language, and helping people understand what is possible and what is not possible.

The idea of Disciplined Collaboration was very much to try to tackle some of the resistance to engage outside the organization. Part of the challenge of collaboration is the number of fears. We have a lot of tools that people put together and say, “Well, if you follow these processes, you will have no collaboration.” What they never do is address the fundamental fears of collaboration, both an organizational, but also in an individual level. These fears are, simply, there’s 4. One is, “Will I lose value? If I give you my ideas, does that make me less valuable as a result? Could people want to speak to you, rather than me?” I have a fear here, which is an individual one.

As an organization, “If I go out to supplies and tell them what I’m working on, I may likely to see somebody coming up with the product before I do.” for example. There’s that fear of loss of value. There’s another fear which is very prevalent in most organization, which is the loss of quality. Actually, we always have a view that it will be better if I do it myself. If get people … I don’t know if it’s a shared saying. People here in the UK said that a camel was a horse designed by a committee. The idea that when you evolve people you somehow lose quality.

The other one, the big fear I guess for many is the fear of loss of momentum. Collaboration slows things down. The final one for most leaders is complete lack of control. Actually, the very essence of  collaboration is there is no defined outcome. We need to define it ourselves, so if that’s the case, then who is in control of the outcome? I think if you put those 4 fears together, then you have a recipe for disaster.

What I was trying to do with the book was saying, “Look, changing your structures won’t help, making friends won’t help. If you really want to have collaboration, you got to need to have a very disciplined approach to working through those fears.” At an individual level, it’s the realization that actually collaboration is not the opposite of competition. It’s just a different form of impact. It’s a different form of power. How do we evolve that power, of that spectrum that goes from competition to collaboration and, in a very disciplined way, get rid of some of those fears that stand in the way. If you think about …you mentioned DSM. If you think about places like this, inherently, without having read my book, they’ve managed to get rid of some of those fears at an organizational level, which enables them to then reach agreements with partners to co-develop and co-create, and keep on time, and put more resources one way or another to speed things up. I think my only aim with the book was to say, “Look, a lot of that stuff is happening by default, but actually there’s some ways in which you can make it happen quicker by being disciplined about how you approach collaboration.

I think the thing that struck me … I haven’t read the book because it hasn’t been published. It’s coming out in May, right?

Yeah. 12th of May.

12th of May. You’ve talked about the leadership mindset. Again, it comes back to what’s the mindset of leaders and how do you actually shift those mindsets to open these new opportunities. If you hold on to the old leadership mindset of scarcity and of control and of quality, you’re limiting yourself from the outset.

Yes. I guess back to when we were talking about for entrepreneurs. I think the realization that actually those fears are very much alive in your leadership’s head or heads and the ability to say, “Well, okay, if I’m going to change things here, if I’m going to disrupt the status quo around here, then actually I’ll have to prove that you don’t have to be fearful.” It’s true of collaboration, but it’s true of change generally. The things that we’ll make people fear change, whatever shape it takes, are normally loss of either of those 4 things or all of those 4 things.

If you have a plan to say, “Well, okay. I can do this whilst at the same time maintaining momentum around delivery. I can do this while at the same time adding value. I can do this whilst giving you some form of control.” Then I think you’re removing any excuses that people might have to reject your idea.

Okay. Just changing gear and beginning to  this wrap up on the leadership mindset. Tell us a little bit about your plans for the future, Emmanuel. Any other big projects that you’re looking forward to rolling your sleeves up and getting into?

Well, there’s a couple of things in the pipeline. There’s a very exciting piece of work that we’re very looking forward to do to help an organization connect with their customers, and actually change away from being an engineering driven organization to being a customer driven one. That’s going to be good fun, and we’re going to work with the leadership team there.

I have a plan to research and write another book, which is in the pipeline, slightly different, more about trying to look at all these leadership literature that you were talking about and saying actually what are the things you should really know, what are the things that really matter out of all of that. We’re preparing something for mainly for young managers as a kind of dictionary of things they ought to know. Apart from that, the collaboration thing is being rolled out. We’ve got some diagnostics that we are preparing some kind of online tools that we can give people to help them in the change they seek. That’s all coming together. It’s all quite exciting. Yes. Busy, busy ahead.

Excellent. I’ve sent you 3 questions in advance. Let’s just go towards those. Firstly, what are your morning rituals?

I tend not to like rituals, because I think I’m in danger otherwise of doing the same thing over, and over, and over again. I quite like a bit of disruption.

I think that’s the point to the question.

I do read. I do get up. I do catch the news very early on, and I will read at least 2 UK papers. I’ll have a quick look in the US, quick look in Asia. I try to read news from across the globe first thing in the morning. That’s my only real ritual in the morning. I also have an evening ritual, which is that I will always make time at the end of the day to have a proper conversation with my wife and with my children. I tend to ceremonially disconnect in the evening to make sure that we can have conversation. Apart from that, I try to keep myself energized by keeping on my toes.

You travel a lot. Those conversations happen electronically if you’re not there.

Yes, everyday. That will happen every day religiously. That’s the joy of technology I have to say.

Absolutely. Second question, what have you changed your mind about recently?

That was tough. That was a tough one too. I change my mind a lot, and I change my mind probably more often than I would like. I change my mind a lot around the things that I work on. Because I read a lot, and I research a lot, so always come up with … find new ideas and think, “Oh my goodness. That challenge is a lot of what I think.” The one thing that I’m changing my mind back and forth about, which is a very actual one, so you were asking about recently, is that entire debate on Europe. I have to say, I am finding it increasingly difficult to get information, or at least data that I can turn into information on most of the topics that I see in the UK or around which way people are going to vote.

I change my mind on some of the topics at hand quite often. In a way, that makes my head spin sometimes. I also do challenge my mind. I tend to … I have a background in philosophy and logic, so I do tend to see arguments from every angle possible, and I may always make a point to try to change things around and see what happens. I do change my mind a lot, but the whole Europe thing is probably the most recent one, where I’m going from one end of the spectrum to the other, in search of data that has not been filtered through some political lens, and that’s very difficult.

Okay. Third question, what advice do you have for your 25-year-old self?

Don’t worry so much. I think Dan Pink wrote at some stage some advice for young people. He wrote something about the first thing you need to realize is there is no plan. I think my 25-year-old self was very much driven by a sort of plan and the idea that you have to do some of the things that you have to do, and the realization that actually it turns out to be okay even if you throw the plan away. It took me a while to throw the plan away. Don’t worry so much is the thing that I would say, and trust that you’ll be okay if you do the right thing by other people, which is our hope and motto that works.

Yeah. You’re not the first … Several people have answered that question in exactly the same way, perhaps not as eloquently. Certainly, it’s a consistent answer to that question, which is fascinating. Where can people get in touch with you, Emmanuel?

Anywhere. All of social media. I guess Twitter is probably the one that is the easiest to get access to, and my Twitter name is egobillot. Otherwise, I’m online. My email is The website is Somehow, you will find me.

I am always more than happy for people to get in touch and get into a conversation, and I will made the promise that I will never charge you for a call, or an email, or a conversation. I’m not a lawyer or an accountant. I don’t have a time sheet, so please do get in touch. I’m always fascinated with what people are trying to achieve. It’ll be a real pleasure to hear from some of your listeners.

Well, also, as you said, the books are designed to start a conversation on leadership mindset as well.

Absolutely. It was interesting. I was just talking to the publicist who’s going to work with us on the book, and they said, “How do you take reviews? How would you react to a bad review?” I thought, “Actually, the reason I’ve had a bad review … I think a review of somebody who challenges your idea once said … Well actually, it doesn’t work for me. It’s not a bad review. It’s a very interesting review.” I’m always on the lookout for people who’s going to share ideas, challenge ideas. As I say, I always love to hear from people, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Brilliant. Emmanuel, it’s been a great pleasure to talk to you. I’m sure that our audience will find this talk on creating a leadership mindset as interesting and stimulating as I have, and thanks very much for your time.

Thank you, Mark. Thank you for the opportunity. I very much appreciate it.


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Links Mentioned

Innovation Ecosystem
Emmanuel Gobillot Website
Emmanuel Gobillot Twitter
Disciplined Collaboration: Four Steps to Collaborative Success
The Connected Leader: Creating Agile Organisations for People, Performance and Profit
Follow the Leader: The One Thing Leaders Have that Great Followers Want

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