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E172 | Leadership, Growth Mindset and Learning from a Peer Organisation with Ian Windle

If you’re a leader and you don’t have a coach, then you’re missing a trick. 

Ian Windle is group chairman at Vistage, a global peer board organisation. He’s also a TEDx speaker, executive coach, team builder, author, podcast host. In this latest episode of Mind Your F**king Business Podcast, Ian talks about his obsession with leadership, developing leaders, and having a growth mindset. 

He discusses building high performing teams, what being in a peer organisation like Vistage or YPO, or EO is like, and the value you get from being a part of it. He also shares what you can learn from being a member, and what you can take back into your own organisation, and how to solve problems, either in a peer organisation or with coaching. 

He also talks about building trust, why leaders need to show vulnerability, and how to create and cultivate a growth mindset. 

Finally, Ian has some questions that you as a leader should be asking of your executive team as we end 2021, about to enter 2022, as well as some great book recommendations. 

To hear all this and more, download and listen to the episode now. 

This is a fantastic chat, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it too.

On today’s podcast:

  • The personal growth business
  • Leaders lose more often
  • How do you spend your time?
  • Why you need a coach
  • Why peer groups work


Being in the Personal Growth Business with Ian Windle

Ian Windle is obsessed with leadership. He’s spent the last 20 years working with leaders, coaching leaders, mentoring leaders, speaking to large groups of leaders, working with leadership teams, blogging on leadership, and doing a podcast on leadership called The Gritty Leaders Club. 

“The whole subject absolutely fascinates me because it’s about people. It’s about a growth mindset. It’s about learning more every day, it’s becoming a better version of yourself. It’s about surrounding yourself with great people. And when you do all that, you tend to build a great business.”

The personal growth business

As a leadership coach, Ian is in the personal growth business. However, if you want to be coached by him, you need to have a growth mindset. 

“If they don’t have a growth mindset, if they don’t believe they should read a book, listen to a TED talk, tune into podcasts and become a better version of themselves next year, then it doesn’t really work.”

Leaders lose more often

One of the things you have to understand about growth mindset, says Ian, is that as you grow and change, you need to stretch and go outside of your comfort zone. And when you do this, you aren’t always going to win, you’re going to lose, you’re going to fail, and then what do you do? How do you handle that? How do you re-label what just happened? You call it a growth mindset, and as a leader, you embrace losing. 

“When I’m coaching, I can’t be the person who’s running a rubbish organisation or doesn’t read a book or doesn’t stretch themselves or doesn’t learn and grow. I’ve got to do all those things really well. I can’t sit here and say, have you read this book? If I haven’t read it? Or, you know, how are you growing yourself next year, if I’m not growing myself next year.”

Leaders also do the right thing, whereas managers do things right. Leaders have to figure out what the right things to do are, they have to be looking across the horizon all the time. They have to think of the big picture, they have to think long term, they have to think visionary strategy i.e. where are we going to go with this business? What are we going to do? 

If they’re too heads down and they’re in the weeds and they’re doing the work, who’s doing the thinking?

How do you spend your time?

“The big thing for most leaders is they struggle with the amount of work they’ve got on. And the one thing that they have got control over is when I spend the time. And I’ll say to leaders early on in the process of working with them. How do you spend your time?”

And it always comes back to growth mindset, because when you realise that you’re in charge of your time and how you spend it, and if you aren’t doing the type of work and activities that will get your organisation from where you are to where you want to be, you need to change, to grow, adapt. 

“It’s this bit about this aha, about how I’ve got choices about how I spend my time. And are they in the right place? And often I find leaders are not spending the time in the right place.”

Why you need a coach

“If I meet somebody and they’re a leader, and they’re not being coached, I say: ‘you need to get a coach, you need a coach, because otherwise, who are you talking to?’”

Who is asking you the challenging questions, making you think? Your partner? Your top team? They’re either not interested or they’re telling you what you want to hear, not testing you, pushing you, challenging you. 

Why peer groups work

In peer groups like Vistage or the EO, the leaders aren’t in competing industries, the only thing they have in common is they’re all growing businesses. It’s based on creating high levels of trust in a safe environment that allows you to challenge and be challenged, to get to the really gritty, knotty problems on the table.

“What often happens in a Vistage group is that people join, and they spend a year, and they say to me: ‘this is amazing. I’ve got way more trust, transparency, safety and challenge here where I come for a month, than I’ve got in my leadership team back in the office.” 

Why leaders need to be vulnerable

One thing that a lot of leaders are fearful of in their own teams is showing vulnerability, but it’s again a case of leaders go first. If you’re not doing it, if you’re not being vulnerable, showing you’re not perfect, that you make mistakes, that you’re willing to take a risk, if you as the leader don’t or can’t do this, then it’s unlikely the rest of your employees will either. 

Book recommendations

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