Home Page
cover of Episode 1 -Introductions
Episode 1 -Introductions

Episode 1 -Introductions


This is the first episode of Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way. This episode introduces the hosts - John Theron and Christopher Leete. They both have diverse leadership experiences from Business, Sports and Defense Force.

Podcastleadershipleadersleadership developmentleadership skillsleadership trainingleadership challenges


In this podcast episode, the hosts discuss their experiences and insights on leadership. They talk about how the military trains individuals in leadership through obstacle courses and teamwork exercises. They also share personal stories of leadership challenges and the importance of effective communication and problem-solving. They highlight the need for leaders to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and to have a deliberate approach in achieving desired outcomes. They discuss the role of mentoring, education, and learning through real-world experiences in developing leadership skills. They emphasize the importance of understanding the perspectives and motivations of team members and the need for consultation and seeking to understand before taking action. They touch on the negative impacts of fear-based leadership and hint at future topics such as critical thinking. Welcome everybody, this is your host John and Chris. We're doing our new podcast called Lead, Follow and Get Out of the Way. Yeah. Lead, follow and get out of the way. Yeah. Or follow. Or get out of the way. And on today's program, Johnny, what good insights do we have for our fellow listeners? Well, first of all, I'd like to introduce myself as John Theron. I'm operations manager at British Aluminium. I'm also a soccer coach at Marine League Football Club. And yes, I've had a lot of time and experience doing leadership. How about yourself, Chris? Oh, mate. I have spent the last almost nine years with the Royal Australian Air Force as a commissioned officer doing all things aerospace engineering. And I'll tell you what, Johnny, it keeps me preoccupied, mate. But nonetheless, though, I couldn't have done it without a few leadership skills and traits that fell my way through education and through what the military itself gives to us and teaches us via doctrine and all sorts. But we're happy to share those insights, right, Johnny? Of course. Definitely. So, Chris, the first question. How does the military train you in leadership? Oh, geez. I'm going to have to go and blow the cobwebs off. Let's face it, right, you've got to start small. And I kid you not, we had obstacle courses where it was much like being a child where you have a situation with the witch's hat and a few physical obstacles in a field and you pretend this part of the ground or this colour is lava, this is poison or rah, rah, rah. And you'd have some sort of constraint where you're only able to move certain amounts of people through this, let's put it this way, like there's stepping stones, but there's a rule. You can't have more than one person go across and this person in your team is injured and et cetera, et cetera. And your job is to work out how you're going to lead this team who don't know about these challenges, all these obstacles, all these dangerous things that lay ahead of them in this obstacle course because they're completely unaware. You brief separately. How are you going to get them across? So you yourself are educated and explained to by the instructor about how you lead someone through this obstacle course. Oh, correction. What is the obstacle course? And then you yourself have to determine how do you brief your staff to achieve that? What do you need from them? What are their strengths? This person's got physical agility, et cetera. What are their weaknesses? This person has to pretend they're injured and what do you do to coordinate those people to get across an obstacle? And did you fail or did you pass the test? Combination of both. Combination of both. And it depends on perspective. So one for example, one we had to go and get a landing light in true Air Force style, right? A landing light that normally goes along a runway to indicate to an aircraft, hey, this is the runway. Go here, avoid the trees or whatever it may be at night on. We had to get a landing light across a roaring river, fake roaring river, mind you. And the bridge that we had to cross was out, but we had to use certain materials to assemble a replacement and it was rapidly developing with the instructors saying, oh, this is fallen over, this is broken, this is no good. Everyone in my team apart from one died, except for myself and one other. But the mission was completed. We got the landing light across, right? Okay. But you killed everybody at the same time. No. Yeah. So, you know, I mean, leadership success is in the eye of the beholder. One, we got the landing light across and the requirement to achieve what we wanted was based on leveraging our team to achieve that. And we did that. However, everyone died. Yeah. So is that good leadership or bad management? Well, because your instructor was actually showing you leadership, but you, the manager, telling them how to do it and couldn't help yourself. It's not sustainable, right? Yeah. But it was a training exercise. People didn't really die. Perhaps the egos did, but on the bright side, the best education is from falling over, I found. Of course. And, you know, I don't know how that works in Brisbane Aluminium, but if you got and achieved your biggest sales all the ride through leading your team for a massive project, and all your staff died, but you got the sale. Everything's out anyway. You're lovely. Apart from jail, it is a bit of sweet as well, right? Yeah, it is. Yeah. Where did you learn leadership, Johnny? So, I went to Australian Catholic University to do my Master's of Business Administration 10 years ago. And kind of a bit like my father was a mentor at, you know, growing up and at work at Brisbane Aluminium. And over the years, I met people who have been leaders. Where did your father do it? My father was the managing director of Brisbane Aluminium. And he always showed leadership while he was at work. He showed the direction. He showed both the direction of where the company was going and how did we get there. So, it was always good to learn from him, learn from his mistakes and everything else. So, yeah. So, you had mentoring from him? Mentoring from him and also at the university, they taught us about leadership at the university as well. So, you get a mixture of both. I think understanding the theory behind the leadership practices and stuff versus actually doing it as a serious thing. Also, practicing it on my own. And the soccer teams and stuff that I've coached over the last eight years also showed me how to be a leader and all that kind of stuff. So, I've had failures before in the past with the leadership. But most of the time, it comes down to communication. The biggest thing is communication and how to tell your story and the why for it. Well, it sounds like the take home there is that apart from having gone to university, you learn about the theory of leadership, you do as a mentor. And it comes to the same example I've given, right? Even though that was in a training institute. But the fact is, leadership is best learnt through attempt of application. Well, I changed that statement. Not attempt of application, but actually application. Yeah, that's right. Even in the university, we have group assignments. There's a leader and a group assignment, and a manager. The lecturer gives you the assignment, you as the manager has to do it, and the team captain has to do the assignment. So, the team path is defined by how you manage the team, how you break up the task, how you can put strengths and weaknesses on the team, and getting everything down to an outcome for the lecturer to mark. So, that's why university is so good, because it puts you in an uncomfortable situation managing people, and at the end of the day, you can pass the power and find out what they like, and stuff like that. So, go ahead, John. Well, in the real world, it's the same thing. It's a bit more brutal, like in the workforce, where people try to get off, people don't show up, people get sick, and all this other So, I guess in the real world, the leadership is not for everybody. That's just the stories of that. Well, you've got to be comfortable being uncomfortable. That's really a good thing, yeah. Being comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. A lot of times, it's putting yourself out there, and being prepared for the hardest questions. I've got a bit of a story about that, actually. My first induction into being comfortable being uncomfortable. So, fresh-faced junior officer, first posting to South Australia, working with the P3 Orion aircraft. Maritime patrol aircraft, beautiful plane. Anyone that says otherwise, you suck. It's an awesome bird. Some people say, it's old, it's dilapidated, don't care. It's awesome, right? I was in charge of support workshops, 55 staff across six teams, and we had a corporal, which for some of you that don't know, is what we call a non-commissioned officer rank. They're usually a supervisor of sorts, and might have a team of five or six. This corporal was giving a sergeant, his superior, that is, a hard time through, what would you say, belittling comments, and not following through with instruction, and all sorts of, almost on the verge of disobedience, warranting some sort of discipline. When I say discipline, I'm talking about the infringement or charge, which is the military procedures, right? I won't get that whole different thing all together. I couldn't have my sergeant, who was responsible for managing this corporal, and being put down in front of everyone, and being undermined in front of everyone, which discredits his authority and his leadership, right? Couldn't have that happen. So within the first week of me turning up, I get this complaint from the sergeant, and right away I had to do something about it, that the sergeant needed me to. I mean, I wanted to because it was the right thing, but I'm not the one, John, to like... I don't like to cause conflict. I'm not causing conflict, I'm trying to remediate it, but in turn right, I'm ruffling feathers. Anyway, I had to march him in, I had to dress him down. It was my responsibility, I had to take charge for the sake of, not just the sergeant, but the subordinates that need to respect the sergeant. Some would argue the sergeant should address down the corporal. Sure, but he was a soft character, but he needed support too, as a leader, he needed his leaders to provide him support, so he can lead as well. So yeah, being afraid of confrontation is a big thing as a leader. You can't be afraid. You have to go in there, full leather jacket, right on with the confrontation and deal with it. If you let it sink in, and go under the skin for a couple of days or an hour or whatever, it's going to boil and boil, and eventually it's going to explode. You might have to just go in hardcore, deal with it then and then, and deal with it. Because, one of the lessons I've had before, if you're going to sit back and avoid the problem, sit back and wait for a while to see what happens, see if they calm down or whatever, you're just going to fester. And if you're going to come back and bite your arse, you know, ten minutes in, like a week later, you're just going to fester. So, I've said that before. In the past, there was a radio. We used to always work with the radio. Yeah, there was a story on the radio. We have an internal staff member, we've got sales. He can hear the radio from outside the factory, but the factory guys can't hear the radio because of the store. So, they put the radio up, and he didn't like the music that was coming out of the radio. Because it was loud? Because it was loud, and whatever, it wasn't his type. It was rock and roll, and he liked soft 80s. So, he doesn't like Rick Astley, right? No, yeah. Well, poor bugger, I can relate. Anyway, anyway. Anyway, one day, I tried to resolve it. I went to both parties. I wrote it. I set the radio on a level, level four. Both parties agreed to it. I wrote a contract, everybody signed it. It was all good. We all agreed. And then, two days later, the guy comes downstairs and smashes the radio on the floor. He broke... He broke the radio. He broke workplace property. That's right. In a fit of rage. In a massive fit of rage in front of the cameras. So, he goes downstairs, right over a warning. He said, mate, it's on camera, mate, and you've got to replace the radio. So, he went on stress leave for four days afterwards and came back. He paid for the new radio that they put in. And now, his solution to the radio problem is to make his own music videos. So, what thought process came to your mind? When it escalated to that point that this bloke has destroyed property at work, how do you... what preparations did you do as a leader? Like, were you obviously thinking of an outcome that you wanted to get? The problem that I didn't think was... I should have come up with a problem solution for him instead of just ignoring it. I didn't ignore it, but I came up with a solution for both parties. I should have had a solution for him. I think if I did... How can I get him to be happy in his place? I think he figured out himself at the airport. But I should have thought of that a week ago when he was complaining. So, that would have been a better way to solve the problem. So, as a leader, rather than going, he's the clown that broke the radio. It's his fault. I'm going to just dress him down. And then he obviously would naturally shut down, I assume. Yeah, well, the thing is, he was like a leading salesman at the time. So, the numbers were there. So, we needed him to keep going. So, it wasn't like an Australian girl. Because that would impact the business quite heavily. But you took ownership. But we took ownership of it. And then he came back and he inspected the yard and... Yeah. But, yeah, that's one of the simmering parts of what happened. So, now I'm on top of everything. But is there a structure in your head for... A structure in my head for... For managing, say, a conflict as a leader. As a leader, my structure is this. I go, what's the worst that could happen? And I try to deal with it like that. So, let's say, is the guy going to be punching... Are they punching each other in the face? Is it physical? We have to call the cops. Let's just go down and see what's happened. And I'll give them a number. It's just verbal. I go, okay. Let's take each... Divide a cop car. Break one off. Take one off. Calm down. You sit there. You sit here. You go upstairs. Divide it. Calm down. You sit there. Wait 20 minutes. Think about your thoughts. And we'll talk about it upstairs. Go upstairs and talk about it. You sit with me. Talk about it. And write down what the issue is. And we'll be checking it off. Write down what the issue is. And we'll come up with a solution together. But, yeah. Just going in there. You just... You go and expect the worst. And deal with it. And calm down. Divide a cop car. It's alright. I don't worry about it. How about you, Christopher? What do you... I think I'm a bit more deliberate. In a sense that everything's got to be outcomes focused as a leader. And then you work out and track back how you get there. Because that changes depending on personalities, right? Oh, yeah. As you'd appreciate. So, if the outcome was to follow the guy. You work back and go, how did we get there? Well, he was exploding now. So, we just got rid of him. Or the outcome was to keep him on board. So, how did we keep him? How did we heal him up and get back on board? Is that kind of what you're thinking of? Yeah. Even higher, right? As an organisation, what are we here to achieve? And is this person putting that achievement at risk? Oh, okay. So, for example, for you, with this gent who was a leading salesman, right? It was greater risk to the company's overall mission, if you will. Yeah, that's right. If you were to fire him, then that would be more of a burden than, say, using some sort of disciplinary measures to remedy the behaviour. Yeah. So, with the outcome in mind, then you can brainstorm how to get there and be deliberate. But there's a few ways to do that, and you want to have all the answers up front. And part of, I guess, the process we're taught in the Air Force, and probably the ADF for all that matter, is to do what we call quick assessment, which is just get the facts, have an independent go-out, what happened, where, why, how, both sides, and then make a judgement call. And a good take-home message for that is, before you do anything, seek to understand. Then seek to be understood afterwards. Afterwards, yeah. So, a lot of consultation is the way forward. And sometimes people that get pissed off and do silly things, right, they have some sort of underlining thing or reason or motive that isn't visible that you need to really unpick to work out what the solution is. Sure, the outcome of him breaking a radio, for example, isn't right, right, but you don't know what's led to that in his mind. Yeah. What caused that aggression? Is it the workplace? Is it a marriage breakdown? Is it friends? Yeah. I found out later that he was, he told me about it, and then the next time he was afraid, he told me, that's the way he reacted. So most of the time it's based on fear, of the boss's reaction, of fear. So, I guess fear is really a dangerous place for people to be. That's a probably good segue then, Johnny. Yeah. Until next episode, for next week. Yeah. I can think of many a times I've worked under a boss who's prime way to motivate staff is through fear, and I'll tell you what, it causes all sorts of anxieties, which in turn doesn't load up anything that we can explore next time. I'm thinking critical thinking, we can talk slow brain, fast brain, all sorts of stuff. Yeah. All right. So that is the end of the first show, episode one. Woo! We've broken a seal, Johnny. Yes. It's been 20 minutes. Oh. Hey. Hey. How good is that? Yeah. Tune in next time. Remember to like and subscribe. Subscribe. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye. Bye.

Listen Next

Other Creators