GCM 217 | Leadership


Often, it is the sudden changes in life that we find hard to deal with. And most of us run away from it. Join Rodney Flowers and Global Leadership Coach and Entrepreneur Jonathan Bowman-Perks as they delve into the perspectives and philosophies of leadership and how we could be better leaders in today’s culture. Jonathan helps us have a clear understanding of exploring new ways of how we should balance our goals and how we could deal with adversities and challenges in our personal and professional lives. As an entrepreneur, we have to develop a mindset that will inspire and motivate our team in providing excellence in their daily goals. So in this episode, Jonathan enlightens us on how to execute effective leadership despite adversities.

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Jonathan Bowman-Perks On Achieving Peak Performance In Leadership With Great Resilience To Sudden Changes

We are going to talk about leadership. I have someone in the studio with me who knows a thing or two about leadership, about finding your true North. I have talked to many people who have a hard time understanding what the heck they are on Earth to do? What their purpose is? What their true North is? What direction should I be going in? How do I even identify what my true North is? I know there’s something that I should be doing but I don’t know what that is. I want to contribute but I don’t know. Nothing has inspired me to the point that it makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning, get to work every day again, stay up late and get up early.

I have someone who has tips for inspiring leaders. He’s written a book. He’s going to talk about that. He’s done many things. He helps CEOs and boards become the best leaders in the world. He’s the Global Leadership coach. He has his podcast, which we are going to talk about. I’m delighted to have him in the studio with me. Jonathan Bowman-Perks is here. He’s a thriving Coach helping early growth businesses and tech companies focus on personal behavior and future business results. His vocation has been shaped by his father’s heroic leadership role modeling and his untimely death as a British Royal Navy Fast Jet Pilot. We are going to talk about that. His life’s calling is to inspire you and your team. To help you find your true North, unlock your potential and make a difference via your business. Without further ado, let’s welcome, Jonathan Bowman-Perks to the show.

Welcome to the show, Jonathan.

Rodney, thank you. It’s a very generous welcome. It’s lovely to be with you. I have been following your show. They are very inspiring. You are inspiring. It’s a joy to be having you in the future coming on my podcast on Inspiring Leadership and I am honored to be on yours.

I’m honored to have you as well as honored to go on your show. I can’t wait for us to get together again. I enjoyed the chat we were having prior to this show. I know we are going to have a good time. I’m grateful for you being here. I just want to talk about leadership. I think as we deal with the challenges that we are dealing with now, leadership is a big topic. I know companies are transitioning. A lot of companies are pivoting. A lot of CEOs and team members are exploring new ways of doing business.

Everything is changing and with that change, leadership is important. Driving change, leading change, showing individual employees and team members, “This is the way to go.” Inspiring them to take on those new challenges, new ways of doing business and being. It can be challenging. No one wants to change. Everyone loves the status quo. We had an abrupt change all of a sudden. Now we are exploring this new way of doing business. For some people, that could be a little challenging. I want to get into the topic of leadership from your perspective and understand your philosophy. Before we get into all that, I just want to understand how are you doing with the shifts that are going on? How has that affected you? How are you dealing with that?

I’m finding when I mentioned the pandemic and I look at the point to the first of April 2020, when I saw business drop off a cliff, many of the big corporates suddenly had almost a seizure. They talk about three things bleeding, breathing and shock. A bit like your first date. Is the organization bleeding to death and is cash hemorrhaging? Is it still breathing? Is it still alive? Some businesses went out of business and shock all the leaders and aftershocks because they have never come across this kind of situation before. They don’t know what to do. There’s no rulebook. They can’t pick up a playbook and go, “This is the way to do it. Pandemic, do 123. All done. Sorted.” They don’t. We need good leadership more than ever. At the moment, as we have seen in the UK, America and some countries, there’s a real dearth of good political leadership. Some people have been desperately failing us in businesses. They have hung back and waited for someone else to make a decision. “Let’s do this and no, let’s do that.” They are just not sure.

I think leadership is a decision that you make and you choose to lead. You may not have people under you but you might take a leadership position in society, about the environment, Black Lives Matter or whatever it might be. You might take a leadership position. That’s what we are talking about. People who are prepared to stand up and make mistakes. They might get it wrong but they learn from it. They have that attitude like you have this game-changer attitude where they are going to go in there, they have the right mindset. Leadership is more important now than ever.

You always have a choice in life. You can choose to be a victim or seek out role models and excellently work out ways to achieve your goals. Click To Tweet

Based on your experience, what are some of the tips that you would offer up for inspiring leaders, people that are willing to stand up and take that role as a leader? You have many things going on. You brought up Black Lives Matter and dealing with the pandemic. We have all these things that are happening that require leaders to stand up and take the charge. We have virtual environments that we are transitioning into and currencies that are changing with Bitcoin and blockchain movement. There’s so much happening, much change. What are some of the tips and tools that you have to help us take on those leadership positions effectively?

My upbringing, as you mentioned, was shaped by my father who was a Fast Jet Pilot. He trained in Pensacola, Texas. He did a lot of his early flying in America in the days after the war when the Brits had no money. America was very kind in taking a lot of British Pilots and training them over there. When the weather was good, they could get lots of flying hours. My mother, who was an English-debutante and a beautiful young woman, went over to stay with her American relations in Houston. They met at one of the American and British Navy dinners. They fell in love, went to Padre Island, the rest is of history and came back on the Queen married.

They had a blissful life but at the age of 33, my father was killed. A bit like in a scene from Top Gun. Have you ever remember Goose getting killed? My father was the Commanding Officer. He was test flying all the Mk 1 Buccaneer Aircraft off the aircraft carrier. He happened to choose the sixth aircraft that he was test flying and that was what killed him. There was a fire on board. He got the co-pilot out, Commander Bill White, who lived. He said, “Your father saved my life. He got me out. When he pressed the button to eject, it misfired. The rocket centered into the tailpiece, killing him.” His body was washed up two days later in the South China Sea near over in China. I’m choosing not to be a victim. This was the point.

Leadership: Entrepreneurs should effectively lead their teams and provide a positive atmosphere. People will flourish, grow, and exert their best efforts in the right environment.


I chose to go into the Army. I grew up with my mother bringing the three boys up on her own. She was 33 with three boys under the age of nine. You talk about resilience, she had a lot of resilience. She had the right mental attitude. When it turned out, the teachers kept telling me I was thick and I was going to be a dustman. I don’t know if they call it dustman in America. The guy who gets the bins, a bin lorry man because I couldn’t spell. I couldn’t do my math. I was pretty poor at school. It turns out now, having done a test that I was dyslexic. I couldn’t spell, my reading, writing or Math. I didn’t know at that time. I thought I was a bit of a loser. She said, “No, you are going to get on with people.”

I have made people my thing. I have been fascinated by people like you and your life story and all the amazing things you have done, writing up about that. I had a young man who’s 24. He lost his leg, his arm and the fingers on his left hand to sepsis when he was a small child. He’s choosing to make opportunities, what you are given and what you do with it. He said, “Had not that, I wouldn’t have carried the Olympic torch at the Paralympics. I wouldn’t have been on Apple Studio Show with Apple. I wouldn’t have done a TED Talk.” That’s a guy at 24 and he chooses to see it as an opportunity. I love people’s attitudes. I think that’s powerful.

I think attitude is everything. Attitude leads to perception. Perception leads to belief. Belief drives your behavior and behavior produces results. It’s the source of everything that you do in life. It begins with your attitude. When it comes to leadership I don’t think there’s any difference especially when it comes to challenges. With challenges, the leader has the privilege and responsibility of taking challenges head-on. That’s what it means to be a leader. You create a path for others to follow. You do things that others are not willing to do. You have to step up and figure out how do we navigate a certain thing. Being the leader, you deal with a lot of uncertainty.

You create certainty out of uncertainty. That requires a certain mental attitude to have. Your approach to those things is everything. That’s going to make or break the approach. It’s the mental approach and the emotional approach to a challenge when others would feel defeated before they even get started. You are very optimistic, looking and discovering ways and opportunities to overcome. As a leader, that’s fundamentally one of the characteristics and attributes that we have to have. We have to start with a good mental attitude.

Someone said I suppose it was a fellow pilot, “Your attitude defines your altitude.” With attitude, it was interesting. I went to be an instructor of what we call The Top Gun School, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, which you have West Point. We have Sandhurst its sister organization. I thought I was God’s gift. I thought, “Look at me. I’m so cool. I have had exceptional reports.” That year, I’ve got an average report, “What do you mean I’m average?” Of course, the other guys were better than me, they were. I look back, many of them have become Generals and gone to the very top of the Army because each regiment sent their best officers there. I wasn’t that special because I hadn’t got the right attitude. I was wrong in the title. I thought I was special and I wasn’t. I had a bit of a crisis. It was at that moment that I reached back to find out about the father I never knew because I was three when he was killed. I wrote letters to the Navy and all that kind of stuff. I’ve got twenty letters from all over the world.

People who were there at my dad’s funeral, who had flown with my father. Anyway, I had about five of them for lunch. We are having a few nice glasses of wine. One of them says, “Jonathan, your dad bought my ticket.” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Your father died in my airplane. He should be here having lunch with his son. I should be dead because it was my aircraft he was test flying. It was the one that had the fire and I should have died in it.” Bill, the guy who was the one I’ve said got out of the cockpit he said, “Jonathan, you have a choice here. Between stimulus and response, you always have a choice.

You can be a victim. Poor me, no dad, single-parent family, living in a caravan, not much money or you can choose to make your father your inspiration and your mother, who’s a philanthropist. Even though she doesn’t have much money, she does so much for other people.” That’s why my wife and I have set up a charity for vulnerable girls around the world modern-day slavery, trafficking, mental health and abuse, which as you know, in the current climate with people being locked down, they are with their abusers. These young women are with their abusers in the same home and they can’t get out. That combination of looking for inspiring leadership role models like my father, learning from them, from you and others, and passing it on or paying it forward. That’s why I do what I do.

Other than mental attitude, what other characteristics do you feel are necessary for effective leadership?

You kindly said that I have written a book. I have written about 2 or 3 books around the topic of Inspiring Leadership. The first one Inspiring Leadership: Leadership Lessons From My Life, and the blunders and mistakes that I made or learning from other people. I think losing my father at an early age, I chose not to be a victim but I chose to seek out other role models, male and female role models that I could learn from. What was it they did that didn’t work? I learned a lot more from people that didn’t work. You would look at British and American politicians at the moment, a good example of how not to lead. The big man is not the way to do it. It’s not about that. It’s not about you. People get the wrong impression.

They think it’s all about me. It’s not. It’s about service. The motto of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was to serve to lead. Officers eat last. They make sure everybody else has got food and then they eat when the others are looked after. I would say in doing the research and the practical tips that my wife and I have. She did Inspiring Women Leaders, I did Inspiring Leaders then we did Top Tips for Inspiring Leaders and Top Tips for Inspiring Women Leaders. Not that women are any different but there’s a certain twist that you could put for International Women’s Day, which we did.

We created an inspiring leadership of compass. It’s got the eight components that we found that people would recognize, make really good inspiring leaders and lead to high performance. The foundation of high performance in your jobs and work. Very briefly data, MQ, Moral Quotient your values have come back to that. PQ what gives your life meaning and purpose. HQ is often not included in many leadership models but health questions, mental and physical health. You are big on this in your show. IQ, everybody knows about smart, clever people making decisions.

That’s five times less important than EQ, which is important to your emotional and social intelligence, then your big theme, RQ, Resilience Quotient, how you get back from adversity. The final two are brand, your reputation, what people say about when you are not there. Finally legacy, what are you going to leave? How are you going to leave things better than you found them? To be a legend in your own lunchtime, as my old Sergeant Major would say, “Sir, you are a legend in your own lunchtime.” I think that was an insult, but he was taking the mickey out of me.

You can’t see what is going to happen to you. It may seem like everything is going along really well, and then there’s a sudden change. Click To Tweet

I liked that because it provides a framework for anyone aspiring to be a leader. Also, a reminder for those existing leaders to go back. I think you are right, sometimes we forget that the thing called ego can get in the way and causes us to forget the fundamentals. Disaster can come out of that. It’s always good to go back to those basic reminders of what it truly means to be a leader. I love the idea of servant leadership. Two big characteristics for me are servant leadership and self-leadership. If you can’t lead yourself, you have a hard time leading yourself emotionally, mentally and physically.

I don’t know if you are fit to lead someone else. Self-leadership is first in this in serving. When you lead, I believe that you want to serve. A lot of times it’s, “Do what I say or I’m the head.” These people, your team members who are below you but it’s the opposite. You are there for them. You are there to serve, help them, make sure they have what they need so they can do what they need to do. You’ve got to care and feeding them, in my opinion, to meet us. That’s the way it should be. I see it as the opposite in a lot of organizations, teams. How do we shift that? How can we create a culture where there’s more servant leadership? Versus more ego-driven type of leadership?

I had a lovely American on my show. I think it was Captain David Marquet. He wrote two books, Turn the Ship Around. He was a Submarine Commander on the USS Santa Fe. It was the worst ship in the whole Navy and he turned it around to be the best in the performance reviews. He also wrote another book called Leadership Is Language where he’s talking about putting masking tape over your mouth almost. Not being the answer man or the answer woman. This idea of the great man having all the answers, it doesn’t work these days.

Particularly, we are in a digital world where people have to make decisions quickly. They are remote from each other. They have to think for themselves. This is where my training when I did Airborne training with the British Army and got my Maroon Beret in my Parachute Wings. They teach us that there are small teams, you know the commander’s intent overall what he needs to do, the end state. How you do it and what you do? You know what needs to be achieved at the end but the way you do is up to you. If he was here, what would he expect me to do? He would expect to do that, I’m going to do it. Doing the right thing.

Leadership: Companies are transitioning and pivoting because of adversities. With that, CEOs, together with their team members, are exploring new ways of doing business.


This idea of service is got lost in the reality TV show kinds of presidents and prime ministers. We’ve got the populist who was just after themselves, the soundbites and saying the right things on Twitter or whatever else they send their messages out. They make it about the great man but it’s not because they are a feature of clay. They are very human with lots of frailties but they don’t admit when they are wrong. One of the great questions I find to ask any leader is, “When was the last time you were dead wrong?” When one of them says to me, “That’s a difficult one, Jon. It could have been 1980. Maybe it was before that. I can’t think of a time when I was wrong.”

There is a real problem there. They won’t admit mistakes. They are blindsided. The good ones, they go, “Jonathan, I make mistakes all the time but I have an attitude of learning gratitude. I like a teachable moment.” That didn’t work. What do we learn from it? We will do an after-action review. We call that in the military after you have done an event, what worked well? What will make it even better if WWW, What Worked Well, EBI, Even Better If? Always that teachable moment, learning from mistakes. You push yourself to do more and set yourself bold. You will fail at some of them but when you achieve some of them and they are big, bold goals, you win big time.

I think there’s this idea that if we show that level of vulnerability, I’m wrong. We lose respect and credibility as a leader. We don’t want to show that side because we feel we are going to lose respect for the team. Can you speak on why that maybe isn’t popular thinking or we should get away from that type of thinking?

You have hit the nail on the head. This is my favorite topic. I have found that only the strong can be vulnerable. Weak men and women cover-up. The second job they are not paid for is to cover up. They covering their butt, sucking up to the boss and pretending that somebody else’s work was their own. It’s the unpaid bit of most people’s jobs. They’ve got to stop doing it. I find in the coaching that I do with leaders and teams, I go first and I go vulnerable early. They go, “He’s just opened up.“ For example, my brother, who is the President of British Plastic Surgeons.

He’s a very generous man, does lots of cancer surgery to save people’s lives and fill holes that have been removed with cancers. He’s a lovely guy and he’s retiring. There’s going to be a court case going on. I go to be careful of what I say. A colleague of his comes and breaks into his house at night. Pours fuel all over his ground floor up the stairs. While preparing to light it, my brother catches him. He then stabs my brother. He tries to murder him and tries to kill the whole family. Now he runs away and there’s a court case going on.

My brother has been close to death and is recovering. You tell people a story like that they would go, “I don’t know what to do,” because they haven’t had something like that happen to them. I’m not saying it because I want to be a victim. In life, you do not know what’s coming. You didn’t see what was going to happen to you. It was all going along really well and your huge life experience but you have made the most of that. I know my brother will come back. He’s done so much for charity and other people. He’s saved many people’s lives. He will come back to us. It may take him two years to come back but he will come back from it. I learned because I can’t control, whether my brother lives or dies in hospital but I can control how I think about it, how I look after his family and the attitude I take. Don’t you agree? You can control your thoughts and your action but you can’t control an event. I can’t control the pandemic and what goes on but I can control how I respond to it.

Have you heard a quote, I can’t remember who said it but, “Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” A lot of times when we are in certain situations that we don’t have control, “It’s not in my head. I don’t have control,” you may not have control of the outcome but you do have control of how you respond to it. I think that’s more important than anything because as we started the show we said, mental attitude is everything. Everything revolves around the mental attitude. I completely agree. I want to dive into vulnerability a bit more.

Respect has to be earned. It's not your right. You earn it by the way you treat people well, and you inspire and lead them. Click To Tweet

I feel like, we are all wearing masks, as a result of the pandemic. You can hide behind your mask. A lot of times the leaders hide behind their masks. They won’t let people see their softer side or gentler side. It’s always tough, “I’m the head. I’m in control. I’m the leader” side. I don’t know if that’s the most effective way of leadership. It does bring a lot of sense of fear and so people will behave in a certain way based on that. Make sure to do things because they are free.

I find that over time when it’s time to pivot, there’s an issue or some type of difficulty that isn’t most effective because what is needed at that time are a lot of communication, interaction, engagement and most importantly, connection. Without authenticity, you can’t have a true connection. If you don’t have a true connection, you don’t have trust. If you don’t have trust, then there’s only so far you are going to go in terms of execution because it’s a team effort. Every time there’s a leader, that means there’s more than one person involved.

If there’s more than one person involved, those people need to trust each other to execute. If you don’t have this level of connection because there’s no authenticity, a fear of being vulnerable, then you have a breakdown like cancer inside the team. I want to dive into this topic of vulnerability and authenticity in leadership because I think it’s a problem. It’s an issue many people are facing. Not just within organizations, even a family because families are as a team. There are leaders within that team. The heads up of the home, the wife and the husband or in the case of a single parent, that parent is leading a home.

In any case, I feel this is a topic that requires a lot of discussions, if you will, on how do we be more vulnerable, especially now with social distancing. The way we connect is different. I’m not there to touch you and see eye-to-eye. There’s a computer screen and mouse between us. How do we gain that same level of connection? I think it requires a lot of vulnerability and authenticity, which is lacking in terms of leadership. Would you agree?

You’ve got it to spot on and everything you have spoken about is what I have experienced. I’m working with a whole range of different organizations and have done many years. I was 20 years in the military and 20 years as a Managing Director in business in a Public Limited company, and IDM in PricewaterhouseCoopers and working with some fascinating leaders. The best men and women were able to be appropriately vulnerable. Now by appropriately vulnerable, we don’t want sobbing, banging their fists on the floor, crying and ranting their hair. When the time is right, go, “You know what? You are right. I’m sorry, I didn’t handle it well.”

I remember one lady who I had. She was a Chief Marketing Officer both in Facebook and in Microsoft. Now she’s the Senior Vice President in the Trade Desk, Philippa Snare, a very inspiring woman. It was a team event I was facilitating. She was a bit sharp with a couple of the team leaders and put them down publicly. You could see her think about that. A little bit later on, she said, “I just want to say I was wrong there. I’m sorry. I was short with you both. Your points were valid. Can we rewind and start again? I apologize.”

You could see the two of them light up because they felt unsafe. Psychological safety is a key thing for vulnerability and trust. They open up because they knew she was a great leader. Afterward, her boss who was over from the States said, “Philippa, don’t you ever publicly admit mistakes to people and that you were wrong.” She said, “No, I will. That is not what I will do. When I have made a mistake, I will admit I have made a mistake. We will try and find a solution to it. I will apologize. I will thank people for what they have done.”

I have found, personally, now I’m doing more mindfulness, yoga, a bit of hit training but particularly, working on being in the moment and present with people. Using the excellent book, which I commend to you and your readers called The Promise That Changes Everything: I Won’t Interrupt You by an American called Nancy Kline. When you get a good listening to by somebody, they listened to you. You can be so open, vulnerable, and you know what motivates people and where they come from. Do you know their life story with the highs and the lows, and how it shaped who they are? Has the leader shared their life story with you? With some of their highs and lows, and why their values are, what they are? I think that is being appropriately vulnerable, that creates safety, trust, authenticity. People will follow that. They don’t want the big I am media personality star who pretends they are great. I read lots of autobiographies.

I’m enjoying it. I have been enjoying reading Barack Obama’s autobiography. The first part is exceptional. Whoever I’m reading, General Sir Richard Dannatt, Lord Dannatt, my old Commanding Officer. They talk about when they’ve got it wrong in Afghanistan, Iraq or something like that. They went, “I did my best but looking back, it was the wrong call.” It had consequences. The weak ones, they go, “I was great at this and I did that. When this went wrong, it wasn’t my fault. It was everybody else’s fault. Everybody around me.” They have no car crashes but they see lots of car crashes and they don’t make the connection. They think it’s nothing to do with them. It’s everything to do with them. The vulnerable ones, people will work for them. They have learned teachable moments. They learn from it, they are encouraged, built up and they will go forward and try again. Pick themselves up and try again. Back to your resilience, Rodney.

I think when you have that level of connection with people when people can see that, “The person that I’m working for, the person that is the leader is human.” Like that human nature. It’s not this bigger-than-life type of personality. It creates a tone within the team. It’s less stressful and more natural than based on fear. I’m harping on this because that’s what I found in many organizations, many people that I have talked to, some people that I have worked for. Whereas, this natural fear drives the behavior and the team. If you make a mistake, then you are suffering these types of consequences that I don’t want you to suffer. When you are in that type of environment it’s based on fear, I don’t feel you can do your best work because you are doing your best work from a stressed-out space versus a more comfortable, relaxed, natural space.

There’s this thing called burnout. If you are in that space for a long time and it hurts you, as an individual. What’s worst of all, is you passed that leadership style down because that’s all you know. You feel, “This is what drove me.” If you have experienced some type of success, then that condones the style of, which you lead and you feel that’s the way and you are not taught any other way. It becomes a perpetual type of leadership that leads to disaster or is not as effective as it could be. I will just say that, especially during the times that we are in and that we are transitioning into now. I think what we want is ideas, creativity and innovation among the team. You want to create a space where those things can happen. In my opinion, not based on fear but true creativity and authenticity.

A person’s original intent and desire to contribute to the organization and the team. Not based on, this is what you will do but more so, this is what I have to offer. You have created a space where their voices can be heard and they feel they can express themselves even if they mess up. They can correct themselves without feeling that there are going to be some harsh consequences behind a mistake. They disallow this level of comfort where they can truly express themselves. I think that’s what we want in organizations now in the times that we are living in. That’s what’s going to be required because we are going through so much change and transition. The leaders, I don’t think that’s what creativity is going to come from. The leader’s job is to create that space.

I will lay it on the line. My philosophy for leadership is I don’t think we need managers anymore. I think managing is a thing of the past, in my particular opinion. What we need are facilitators. People that can create environments for learning, growth, expression, creativity and innovation. If we rely on the traditional ways of leadership, things that we are talking about stifle that type of growth, experience, innovation and creativity.

When you have facilitators as leaders and let the team do the managing, which sounds a little scary but I don’t think so, we are getting away from this step-by-step, this is how you do it and we are more than an environment of figuring it out. In figuring it out, you don’t need the manager to dictate how you move. The team gets to decide based on the result that they are looking for in the creativity within the team and how you manage that. It can change from team-to-team, outcome-to-outcome. If you have a facilitator who’s good at creating this type of culture and space for that team to execute, you get true innovation and creativity, which leads to positive results, the MRP.

Very insightful. If you look back two and a half years ago to the Chinese, General Sun Tzu. He had different levels of leadership and the greatest leader. The people said, “We did it ourselves.” Great leaders don’t have to claim all the glory for themselves. They are as you say, facilitators. They are rather puppet masters or chess masters who move all the pieces. One of the great guys in the TEDx Talk, The late Sir Ken Robinson moved from the UK to America. He did all the best TED Talks. He said, “You should be a gardener. You are creating an environment for people to flourish.”

Leadership: Effective leadership is about developing and taking care of the people. When you’re angry and scared, you can’t perform at your best. You can’t be creative and innovative when you’re frightened.


He uses his analogies. When I went to live near Death Valley, he said, “In Death Valley, everything is dry.” It’s rocks and dry. There’s nothing. It’s called death for a reason. It’s dead but it isn’t because, in the fall of 2004, there was an amazing, about 2 inches of rain that fell across the whole of Death Valley in one day. In the spring of 2005, they had flowers carpet across the whole of the valley, which goes to show that in the right environment people will flourish, grow and you will get the best out of them.

I worked for a general who was a bully and a bit of a psychopath and fear was what he would shout at people. He would scream if he didn’t get things right. He was full of anger. Everyone was frightened of him. People just seized up that the prefrontal cortex, the front part of your brain just goes blank. You can’t be creative and innovative when you are frightened. Now he gets results but nothing like you can unlock, unleashing. Let them go release them, facilitators, as you say. They can do the best thinking. People say, “We did it ourselves.” They own it. They are not being told, given a fish. They are being taught how to fish. They are also being taught out of mend their rod when that fishing rod breaks so that they can do it themselves. It’s your right.

You can get results from fear-based leadership. What we don’t realize is what we do to the individual that produced that result because there’s a consequence. The result you’ve got is, “We met the deadline or the product was delivered.” We have to analyze what happened to the individual that was under that stress to do that. It had to follow that strict step-by-step process. We talk about people. It’s not just about the end result. It’s about developing the people, taking care of the people and as you mentioned, serving the people. What is the cost of the massive?

Back to your game-changing viewpoints, you touched on something, which I call the three HUMs. This is from my friend, Professor Roger Steare. We are fellow professors at our business school. He talks about inspiring leaders who have the three HUMs. Humanity, which you just talked about, being very human, real, authentic, vulnerable. Humility, the modesty of it and giving credit to other people. When it all goes wrong, good inspiring leaders take the blame themselves. “I am accountable. It was my fault. It went wrong. I will accept the responsibility.” When it all goes right, give the credit to all the people out there. The other thing that the final HUM is Humor. There’s 27% more productivity in a team when the boss, he or she, has a good sense of fun and humor. Not humiliating people and pointing people out, and laughing at them and having divisiveness but they are very inclusive, fun and laugh at themselves and crack a joke about how they’ve got lost. I think that’s just lovely. Humor is important.

Another thing I want to bring up here with you, we talked about the puppet base leadership leading from fear. All of those things are done to gain respect. If I put fear in you, then I know you are going to respect me, you are going to maintain the second level of respect for me as the leader. There’s a certain level of expectation that the leader may have in terms of respect from the members of the team. How do we find that balance? Many leaders may not ask that question. Not wanting to be that vulnerable. It’s all about a dance between vulnerability, authenticity and maintaining a certain level of respect.

There are three words, popularity, respect and dignity. A lot of people go for popularity particularly the politicians, many CEOs and leaders of teams but respect is a different one. Respect has to be earned. It’s not your right. You earn it by the way you treat people well, you inspire and lead them. The real word you want to go for is dignity. Do you treat people with real dignity? My professor when I was at Harvard Business School at the Harvard Kennedy School, I’m on a course on Leadership. Professor Donna Hicks has written an excellent book called, Leading with Dignity. Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity. This is part of the problem in Black Lives Matter. People are not treated with dignity. The way the police officer will come up to somebody will be different from one person to the next based on the color of their skin. That is not treating everybody with dignity. You treat them all the same, wherever they are from.

Sometimes, we forget that ego can get in the way and cause us to forget the fundamentals, resulting in disaster. Click To Tweet

I once had a guy who came in and I just caught him being foul to the girl on reception. He turned and he chatted to the CEO and he was sweet and light. After I took him to one side, I said, “Who you are shouts-out so loudly I can’t hear what you are saying. The way you treat someone who you don’t think helps your career. The way you treat someone who you think will help your career, tells me a lot about you.” Challenging situations reveal a person. It reveals their character. Character is the key in leadership. What is someone’s character like? It’s because that shows up when the times are tough. Are they vulnerable enough? Are they authentic enough? Do they treat everybody with dignity regardless of their race, color, creed, sexual orientation or whatever it may be? What would you think?

I totally agree. You brought up a couple of things that leads me to another question, which is diversity and inclusion. I think that’s a very big topic. When we talk about leadership is allowing that level of diversity. Sometimes as a leader, we gravitate to what is familiar in all ethnic groups. That’s all-inclusive. How do we allow or gain? I know companies are having a hard time with diversity and inclusion. There are a lot of initiatives to allow more diversity and be more inclusive within the organization. What are some of the steps forward in terms leaders can take to bring forward this initiative?

It’s a lot of the experiences you have. When I was eighteen years old when I went to the Military Academy Sandhurst, there were people from many different countries and Britain deliberately gets people. My best mate is from Jamaica, Earl Stewart, and his best mate was Devon Harris who was on Cool Runnings, the Jamaican Bobsled Team. He was in the Disney film and he was the captain of the team. Earl and I, we are great friends. Some of the other British officers were quite rude to the overseas students and quite dismissive of them because they weren’t like them. They were different. I had friends who were from Jordan, Nepal, Jamaica and Barbados. They have stayed friends for 40-50 years.

That upbringing was also linked to my mother who when we would be coming back from church would stop off seeing a little old lady shuffling along and would go, “Where are you having lunch?” She goes, “I haven’t got any money for lunch.” She said, “You are coming with us.” She climbed into the car. As a little kid you think, “This lady stinks of urine,” but I will say nothing because mom doesn’t say anything. This is what we do, we would give her everything we had around and now we had hardly anything. I learned that in the end to include people regardless of their difference from you. A lot of people have an upbringing with a lot of people just like them. It might be privileged or they just don’t want to see, people who are different from them. Anything you can do, like working with the charities that we do, that my wife Leigh set up the Inspiring Leadership Trust.

We began by helping people in the slums of Kenya in Nairobi and also in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa where there was 75% unemployment in the Zulu tribe in that valley, in the New Ufafa Valley. Working with people from a whole variety of different backgrounds stops you from thinking you are special and gets you to understand that. In many organizations, getting them out to do projects, to help other people from different backgrounds, to mix with people who are very different from you and realize they are not wrong, they are just different from you. Everybody you meet has something to teach you if only you would listen. That’s the basis of really good inclusivity. Let me know what your thoughts are.

I completely agree. It’s something that leaders should focus on. When you look across Corporate America, you will see there’s a common group of people that sit in leadership positions. With that, sometimes, it’s a challenge to accept or readily reach out to other groups of people, to include them in. I’m not just talking about the Black Lives Matter Movement. I’m talking across all ethnic groups and individuals with disabilities. Someone who has suffered a severe physical injury. You don’t hear that.

I appreciate the Black Lives Matter Movement but then there’s also, what about individuals with disabilities? How will we focus on them or including them in the diversity conversation? We can’t leave them out at all. A lot of Baby Boomers are retiring, they are older and dealing with physical elements and physical challenges and things like that. You have a larger population of individual disabilities because of that alone. You have your veterans and you have these accidents that happen to people along the way that put them in certain situations. They get overlooked when it comes to hiring, promoting within Corporate America. Even in businesses, we seem to overlook those individuals.

I believe that it should be a level of concentration on all ethnic groups. We should look at the qualifications of an individual. You talked about judgment earlier in the conversation. If we can evaluate someone’s character in the qualifications that they have and we can get away from what looks familiar but focus on what’s going to support the team, what’s best for the team, does it align with the values of the team? Do they have the characteristics and traits that we are looking for that are going to allow us to go forward? It’s going to produce that creativity and innovation of thought that we are looking for within the team. If we can stop there. We can maintain that level of focus, not look at skin color and all of those other things, we will be in a better place in terms of diversity and inclusion.

It’s a great conversation, Jonathan. This is such a broad topic. There’s so much to include in this soup of leadership that we can touch on here. We have talked about a lot but yet there’s still much to discuss in my opinion. I love your insight on things. Thank you for the stories that you have shared with us. I know your father served in the British Military and lost his life. My condolences to you. You are being able to not be a victim, share that and use that as a moment of growth and opportunity. It’s a true example of how we should deal with adversity and challenge in our lives. I appreciate that. Before we end the show, how can people connect with you? If they wanted to learn more about you.

My website is the best place to go. It’s got all the podcasts, book reviews and top tips. It’s JonathanPerks.com. Also, call us if people are interested, they want me on their podcast or their show talking about different experiences and the leaders that I have worked with, I would be delighted to join them. If leaders want to be stretched and grow if they want their teams to become more inspiring or they want inspiring results, get in touch. I would be delighted to work with you wherever you are in the world.

Thank you for that, Jonathan. Before we end the show, we always like to ask our guests. If there’s one thing you would like to leave with us that would help us bounce back from adversity, dominate challenges and consistently win in the game of life, what would that be?

It’s focused on controlling the controllable. Remember, the only thing you can control is your thoughts and actions. When you get stressed, it’s because you are trying to control things you have no control over. Stop it. Don’t do it to yourself. That’s my tip.

Leadership: You can get results from fear-based leadership. But as entrepreneurs, we need to realize that there’s always a consequence behind this. They have met the deadline, but they were under stress to do that.


Jonathan Perks on the Game Changer Mentality Show. Thanks for coming on the show, Jonathan.

It’s great to have you. Thanks, Rodney. I appreciate it being an issue.

There you have it, another successful episode of the Game Changer Mentality Show. Controlling the controllable, that’s such a profound statement. Easy to do and not to do as well. We are caught up in wanting to control everything. Especially us, as leaders who feel that we have the responsibility to make sure everything is exactly the way it’s supposed to be, we envisioned and perhaps, our leader is dictating to us because we want a certain outcome. We want results. There are variables in life and we will have to account for those variables and unfortunately, we don’t always have control of those variables. One thing I do realize that we do have control over is how we respond to the variables of life. That’s the most important thing and skillset that we can develop as leaders is our response to the variables. If we can get that right, then that makes us more effective leaders. Until next time. Peace and love.

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About Jonathan Bowman-Perks

GCM 217 | LeadershipJonathan thrives supporting early growth businesses and Tech Companies; focusing on personal behaviour and future business results. His vocation has been shaped by his Father’s heroic leadership role modelling and his untimely death, as a British Royal Navy fast jet Pilot. Jonathan’s life calling is to inspire you and your team to: find and live your “True North”, unlock your potential and make a difference via your business.

Jonathan recently graduated from one of Harvard University’s top leadership programs. He is Visiting Professor in Leadership and Executive MBA lecturer at Cass Business School in London. He still holds the unbroken world record for the Cyprus double Mountain Marathon.

He is a leadership authority and author of both Top Tips for Inspiring Leaders; The Little Book of Wisdom (2017), plus Inspiring Leadership: Leadership Lessons from My Life (2010). He also contributed to the book published by his wife Leigh: Inspiring Women Leaders (2014). Their next book is “Inspiring CEOs and Boards”. All profits from their books go to their charity the Inspiring Leadership Trust helping vulnerable women and girls across the UK, in Kenya, South Africa and around the world.

He was Assistant to the Head of the British Army, Chief of Staff of the Army’s largest Brigade and commanded his Company on 3 operational tours. He was a leader in PwC, IBM and as Penna PLC’s MD of Board and Executive Coaching. HM the Queen awarded him the MBE (Member of the British Empire) for his services to leadership in training UN leaders who helped prevent the East Timor massacre. Jonathan and his wife Leigh provide a powerful partnership as speakers, virtual facilitators and executive team coaches.