S7E01: "What do you stand for?"

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S7E01: “What do you stand for?”

It's not about having better answers but about having better questions. In this season of The Impact Multiplier CEO podcast, Richard Medcalf and co-host Davina Stanley explore some powerful questions that every CEO, entrepreneur or senior business leader should reflect on. Engage with them fully, and they'll provoke deeper thinking and shift you into a new realm of possibility.

What does it take to move you onto an entirely different trajectory and multiply your impact? And move from incremental improvement to a step change?

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • What a core conviction truly is, and why you need to know yours
  • Why "values statements" aren't enough
  • How to move past the formulaic answers with a practical approach

“You can't move others until you're moved yourself."

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Transcript

Davina Stanley
What does it take to move you on to an entirely new trajectory and multiply your impact? What does it take to move from being making incremental improvements to making a step change? It's not about having better answers, but about having better questions. I'm Davina Stanley and I'm here today with Richard Medcalf once again, in this new season questions to multiply your impact. Hi, Richard, what have you got for us today?

Richard Medcalf
Hi Davina, Yeah, it's great to be back with this new season. I think it's gonna be fun, because we are going to dive into questions that shift our trajectory right questions that make us think deeper. What I find when I work with senior execs, is that they often come thinking they need an answer to a question that they're wrestling with. But often, they actually leave with a better question to be asking a deeper question or question opens possibilities. I think it was Eisenhower, who said that he never solved a complex problem by breaking it smaller and decomposing, your team would always solve it by making it bigger and I think this is an interesting way because by making the problem bigger, you start to think about what's the bigger the meta level, right? What's a different way of looking at this? What's the better question I could be asking to solve that bigger level problem. And that's where the breakthroughs can lie. And so in this season, we're going to dive into some questions which hopefully provoke our thinking, help us engage, to shift, you know, you as the listener, and hopefully us as well, will play with each other a bit on this and ask ourselves the same questions because when we ask these questions, new things happen, new things emerge.

Davina Stanley
All right, then, well, what is the first question then? What question have you got for us today?

Richard Medcalf
That's questions. Pretty simple. What do you stand for?

Davina Stanley
Oh, okay. So can you unpack that for us

Richard Medcalf
A bit? Sure. So what do I stand for this is important, because you can't move others until you've moved yourself. If you don't know, in the core of your being what vibrates you, you know, what kind of brings you energy, what, what sets you on fire, then it's really hard to be a leader leading the charge, right Pete, where people are going to want to follow you and buy into kind of who you are at a deep level, right? So often we, we don't do that, right, we kind of play it safe, we stay a bit bland. We don't really communicate what what our core convictions are. And so here, I'm not talking about these kind of bland statements, kind of values in which which are good, but they but they can be a bit generic. And what I'm really looking for is something which you're going to suffer for. So what will you suffer for? What would you say what what is so important to you that you will stand by that? Even if it becomes a competitive disadvantage, even if it causes you some personal pain or if it is a cost? So for example, you know, a lot of us might say, you know, honesty is a value fine, which is good. Although the database you will if honesty is a value, but will you remain honest, even if you know, your, your your wife says, Does my bum look big in this? or whatever? In other words, like? Yes. In other words, you might say, Well, yeah, I'm so committed to being completely honest, that I will be, you know, I will sacrifice my pleasant evening with my family, you know, in service of honesty, and sometimes won't go that far. So honesty is a value, but it might not be the thing that we completely stand for that deeper level, because you might say, well, there's other things which might come in, right. So these what we're trying to get to these fundamental convictions. So let me give you an example about how we get there. So I would say dig into your story. Dig into your story. So an example I can tell you about a client of mine. He is a senior, a senior CEO in a multinational and was actually working on him helping him prepare for to kind of communicate to his organization and I said, What do you mean, we need to kind of get some of you into this story, right? What is it you stand for? And we dug into his story, when he was I guess, 18 also, he was all sheduled is he came from a military family. He was going to go into the Army or went to the military leadership. And he went to the officer training course or whatever it was or a niche orientation session or something. And he said he was so put off by the elitism that was shown to him because he came from military family. compared with other people who hadn't got the same kind of family credentials, background, that he felt this was so injust that he was being treated better or had more opportunities than these other people that he left, he totally shifted his life trajectory and went into a totally different industry. Because he was so viscerally repulsed, if you like, by this, this hierarchy and favoritism. And so it's been no secret that in his business, he's really champion diversity and inclusion, and this sense of equality in this organization, right. He never really connected it, though, to his story, but it was something that was really important to him, that came from his experiences, and therefore he was not going to move on, right? He was not, he was never gonna stand for that, you know, he cost him right, he left now he left school or whatever to go and do something different. That's what I'm saying is something that you stand for so much, that you are prepared to suffer for it. And therefore, that's my question today is what do you stand for?

Davina Stanley
Mm hmm. Okay, so are you thinking about examples for the way we balance work in life, for example, you know, if I'm to think of my own situation, when we moved from one city to another with teenagers, I made a conscious decision to step back, and not work quite so hard to make sure that they transitioned and made that transition smoothly. And people talk about the risk to a mental health of young people when you move them at that sort of time. And I thought, well, if I'm on aeroplanes all the time and I'm not there, then how do I make sure how do I know that they're really, on a really sensible, healthy path in, you know, in the midst of this challenge side, deliberately doubt my business back for a year, while I allowed that to happen? So that cost me in terms of my business, it didn't cost me in terms of my family, it absolutely, you know, helped us have a great transition and helped us move forward in that sort of regard. So I guess that's an example that comes to mind when you're talking about, you know, what were you suffer for my career suffered, but didn't really feel like suffering, it was a very, very easy decision to make.

Richard Medcalf
But there's a cost, right, but the cost, but hopefully, will be an easy cost, because it's what you stand for. So I suppose I'd like to describe it as a core conviction. So you can you can say, like, my core conviction is that every child needs their parents to be physically present during their formative years or whatever, right? And therefore, that applies to you. So that's what you use the choice that you make, but it would also if it's a court conviction, it would then apply to the way that you manage your team, for example, right? Because it kinda look like to you, right? If it's a core conviction is like, what I stand for is parents building families and not like letting work put their children onto the second pedestal. And therefore, I want to see, you know, my, my, I want my organization to live that, right. It's not just words on the page. For me, it's, it's really important. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna like, pretty much forced my, my people to go home and see their family at the end of the day, right? I'm not

Davina Stanley
allow them to make that choice. And not necessarily, I'm not necessarily going to impose that on them. Because I don't that would also impinge, I think on one of my values, but I would allow and make make that very possible for them. Should they wish? Yeah, I'd encourage them to do that. But I don't think I have a right to do that. No. But the point

Richard Medcalf
is, if it's important to you, people are going to know in organization that this is what you believe, and this is what you are recommending to them.

Davina Stanley
Right? Absolutely. So what about you? What about you?

Richard Medcalf
So what will you suffer for? Yeah, so let me kind of put you back into my story, actually, perhaps. So why don't we give you the headline, and then I'll give you the stories. I think, on one level, one of the things I really stand for is fulfilling your potential. I guess my core conviction is that when we have gifts, talents, resources, skills, right, and we're in a position to use those, then we we kind of owe it to the world to make the world a better place. Okay, that's kind of my fundamental thing. Okay. So and then how that works out right, again, is I left my corporate career to create this business where I really stand for, you know, maximizing people's impact, right, hitting the maximize button on competent leaders, to make them even more impactful and do more good in the world and in their organizations and create better results and everything else. It's not just about the money, right? financial reward is part of it for you know, for everybody, right? You need finance. It's the fuel that makes everything work in many ways. But the end game for me is always impact. And I want it to be the end game for my clients so and but if we go into the story, my sister's mentally handicapped, she's still at home. She can't speak as she she's now physically handicapped as well, long story, so she can't walk. She's had epilepsy, she's got autism, she's credibly handicapped. Okay. And so in parallel. Yeah, we started off in the same house as brother and sister, you know, I then went to Oxford, I then went to Paris in Parliament, a consulting company went to Cisco for my own business, to around the world, all this stuff. So he's very two different trajectories. And so for me, this is visceral thing in me, which is, if you can do all that stuff, if you get this incredible opportunity. Don't fritter it away, on just making your life comfortable. Because not everybody gets that chance. And somebody My Mother, she died at age 5059. She actually had an incredible impact she, she ran the charity that was responsible for my, my sister's condition. In the UK, she never wanted to be doing it, she wanted to just be a mother. That was her kind of ambition in life, but because of life event, she ended up working with this charity, and had an incredible impact. So when she died very young, the 1000s of cards that came in people writing to say how much it impacted them, when they when you parent and they just had their kid diagnosed, there was this fun setup, fence set up in her honor, when she died, people donated to it and it was able to pay for your best buy care for family threatening handicapped children. All this impact came out of somebody who was living a quite a modest life in many ways, but was really committed to, to service and to helping, right. And therefore, these two examples in my very close family of like, you can have this massive impact through service. And not everybody gets the choice chance to do that. Really drive me right. So if I see somebody who's kind of like, incredibly competent, and all they're focused on is, you know, just their own, just worried about their own financial future, even though that clearly capable of always providing for themselves, you know, I'm always trying to push them out of their comfort zone and say, How are you serving organization? How are you serving the world in how you make the world a better place? It's not just about the financials, but how can you maximize your impact? So that's, I suppose what I'm standing for, I suppose. And that's kind of why so I'm trying to share the link here between you go into your story, and you come up with something which is, which is really important, right? So I guess my core conviction is that, you know, we all have a new level, we thrive when we change, and when we grow, that playing safe and and staying in your comfort zone is never really a good idea. Yeah. This is all who I am.

Davina Stanley
Yeah, absolutely. And you can see that in all the work you do, too. So that that notion of our personal history can be quite deeply personal to candidate when we start to unpack that, and really think about what it is that drives us. And I love the way you're describing there about how you don't want to fritter away that opportunity that you've been given to actually help other people. And I think there's, there's a deep, there's a backstory with that for me to around. Why do I work with people who communicate complex ideas? And why do I really love helping people who really struggle to distill out the the key message that they've got, and actually convey that and perhaps people who feel like they're quite misunderstood. And I can relate that to a very person, I'm not going to share the detail of it. But you know, put someone particularly in my family who really struggled with that, and who was terribly misunderstood, because they didn't have great communication skills. And, you know, it can make such a difference when you do have the luck, or the good fortune to actually be given an opportunity, perhaps a framework or some skills that you can then grab and run with and help other people use. It's enormously satisfying, isn't it?

Richard Medcalf
Yes, very

Davina Stanley
Satisfying.

Richard Medcalf
Let me slow you down on that death. So. So I think that this these two levels, one is to really get clear about what those things are, you know, those core convictions and, you know, I would say have, you know, you might come up with three, right, you might, you know, if you push yourself, you might come up with five, but I'd say like, you know, you might just be one, but it's something which you really feel these are the your defining beliefs, you can't kind of get beyond those, you know, that you've got the fundamentals here. It's not something you can prove. It's just something that you stand for. And once you know those, and they do, they're gonna start to help you come out of your comfort zone and into what I call your So get over that, what will people think? Except for, you know, what have I got to lose here, and you get out into now I'm on fire when I'm thinking about this, hopefully you even hear my voice, but I'm talking about the thing. It's really what I'm about, right? This is not just a marketing tactic, it's, it's kind of I say, if you put me through like a stick of rock, you know, you're gonna find impact or something, you know, like, is a core desire to

Davina Stanley
Dandy around Pete or something, Richard,

Richard Medcalf
There we go. This is mainly a podcast, right? People get to. But here's the other thing is, there is also a power in being able to share that. And so, you know, I've got to say, didn't always do it, right. But I'm gonna say too, I will share about my sister My mother is these are like, these are drivers. Again, it's not a marketing tactic. I don't use my family as a marketing device. But in terms of, if you want to know who I am, and what makes me tick, those are two core core influences, right on on my life. And so, you know, when you said, I don't want to share it, that's fine. I'm happy to share it, right. But I would say, Well, what is it? Like? What is it that you could share? And you might be to share something slightly anonymized or, you know, you might want to protect other people, right? So there could be a way of doing it. But there is a power in saying, This is why I this is what I stand for. And this is why I'm going back to it. And it might not be around, you know, the actual field that you're in, right? Say it might not be around why standard communication, right? It might be I mean, obviously, it's a key skill of yours. But it might also be something else, you might be saying, Well, actually, you know, I stand for, you know, I stand for your net, you know, like never, never, you're always being there for my team, whatever it takes yummy, something else that's different. But you know that it's something that is true that you will be on the phone at three o'clock in the morning to your team if they need you, if that's the thing that so

Davina Stanley
That one's a stretch my phone's very, very, very often, they something I stand for, and that's that sleep. But no, I think just sort of coming back. So it's not that I stand for clear communication, I do write, but I see that as a tool. But I don't see that as being the end game. I don't think, you know, clear conversations or clear documents and necessarily, you know, the thing that I'm standing for, I think what I'm standing for is fine. And going out of my way to do is to help people who find it very difficult to be clear. And to help unleash their potential. You know, that's the thing that I love to do. And I think is really important to me, it's really, really upsetting when people have great ideas that they just don't get forward. Because they don't have the skills to actually get the idea out there. And so I don't like seeing people really stuck. Because they can't communicate the thing that really matters to them, that might be a really good idea. I hate seeing really good ideas go to waste. More bit more particularly I hate that people with really good ideas, don't have the ability just don't have the skill to or don't know how to make the most of those ideas and share them with the world. So they don't make the most of themselves. You know, I really, you know, think it's really important that I do what I can to help other people make the most of themselves.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, so if you kind of formulate that a bit, it's, it's that you are put words in your mouth, so I might get it wrong, but

Davina Stanley
Go ahead. Read it the night.

Richard Medcalf
Nobody's like, I know. So it's kind of fundamentally like, you know, what you believe, right? You know, I believe that. That people, you know, people fulfill their, their potential and have the biggest impact on the world, you know, when they can communicate their best ideas.

Davina Stanley
How, okay, yeah, yeah, okay. Yeah,

Richard Medcalf
Right. I believe it will be, will be a better place. If the best people got to share their ideas more effectively, or something like that. Because then what you're doing is you're tying into what I believe will make the world a better place, right? Like, what do I believe is so important that I want to be part of that and that I'm prepared to, you know, make myself look a fool in order to help people do that. I'm prepared to give up some of my spare time on behead and that thicket on you maximizing my personal income, you know, because it's somebody over here that I feel I can help make the world a better place by helping them. I don't know if it's something like that, I don't know,

Davina Stanley
It's a little bit, I think you sort of said help the best people, I think often I'm helping those who, who don't see themselves as the best, and possibly who other people don't see as the best either. And then, you know, finding the gems within them, so they can flourish, and they can be seen as the best. So people who have that potential that's hidden. I think that's, that's where I really love to play, and particularly those who haven't come from an elite background, who haven't gone to the best schools who haven't been given every opportunity, but actually just keep trying, you know, the ones who really give it a red hot go. And they're often not the brightest, they're just really persistent. And really determined to have a really good crack at it.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, that's great. So there's something in there right about helping people. You might be that, you know, I believe that the, you know, that people can thrive. You know, you know, when, you know, when they're, you know, people thrive, when their ideas are heard and acknowledged, or something like that. Right. So you might want to play with it. But I think when you kind of really, but yeah, there's something there, right, that we start to get there. And you start to go, yeah, this is it, right. Like, when I'm doing this work, it's important because it's taking somebody and it's, it's, it's changing their life in some way. Because they get to communicate their their best, their best thinking in a way that actually makes a difference.

Davina Stanley
Yeah. To go from being misunderstood to being understood.

Richard Medcalf
Right. Yeah. Beautiful.

Davina Stanley
Yeah. at a personal level, not just around a topic. Yeah, yeah. I think those two things go together.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. So this is it. Right? So perhaps we can leave the discussion at this point. We've talked a bit about some of our, our points, you start to see as we go into this, and you really tie it in perfectly into your story, but it's trying to find that thing, which really gets to that sense of legacy, I think, and, and values, it's all of this, but what will you stand for? And what what do you suffer for? And what are your core convictions that you will stand by even when they hurt? I think those that every leader should be asking themselves because it will release commitment in you. And actually release commitment in the people around you as well, your people, right, who want to be with you on the journey.

Davina Stanley
Ah beautiful, I think it's a really fabulous question, and quite a challenging one. So I thank you for asking me that today. I didn't know what the question was, until we got here today. So now I've really enjoyed spending a little bit of time thinking about that. And we'll take it away and think some more. So look, thank you for that and for those of you who would like to get the show notes, please visit the website, www.xquadrant.com/podcast and you can find the details of this and also other podcasts that have been shared through this series, and then also previous ones. So thank you so much, everybody, for being with us today. We've really enjoyed this challenging question and I for one, look forward to hearing what the next question is in the next episode and hearing what Richard's got for us in that.

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, fantastic. Yeah, well, let's leave that surprise and people will find out next week. And thanks again, Davina. It's been a good conversation and speak to you next time.

Davina Stanley
Terrific. Look forward to it Richard.

Richard Medcalf
Goodbye.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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