Podcast Transcripts

Andrew Prior, Consultant, and Mentor, on Courageous Leading

Colin Hunter 0:07
Hi, folks; welcome to another episode of the Leadership Tales Podcast. Today I’m delighted to be joined by a fellow Scott, who had followed similar paths when we had our conversation has been quite amazing how many connections he now lives in the south of France and works as a culture and organizational transformation expert building a new business based around Leadership and alchemy, and teams. So today, you’ll hear his story from Motorola all the way through to his work with different consultancies to David Clutterbuck. And there’s a nice officer, a narrative to the way he’s explored his work as an engineer in the teams into Leadership. And now into that space where he’s working with Leadership, leaders, and their teams to craft a journey for them. So delighted, you’ll find his style to be very thoughtful, very laid back, really deep in his thinking of love, both conversations I’ve had with Andrew, and yeah, I’d love to hear your feedback. Enjoy.

Colin Hunter 1:16
So anyway, how are you?

Andrew Prior 1:22
It’s a good question. You know, I COVID Last month, my son was at university and, you know, the whole kind of university things started off again, and a couple of days, he was really sick. And I thought, oh, here we go.

Colin Hunter 1:37
Here we go.

Andrew Prior 1:38
Yeah, So we all caught it. And we were in quarantine for most of last month. And it’s actually taken me, I think, three weeks or so just to come back to full health again.

Colin Hunter 1:52
Yeah, I got my second dose last month as well. So

Andrew Prior 1:55

Colin Hunter 1:55
Went up to Newcastle to the football match and got it. And the second time I’ve had it less extreme, but still I had to take four or five days off, you know, just yeah go with it. So

Andrew Prior 2:08
If I was to put a percentage on it, I would say I’m probably up at 90,95. I’m still not 100%. But

Colin Hunter 2:15

Andrew Prior 2:16
If you might hear me coughing. That’s the reason.

Colin Hunter 2:20
Yeah. Well, the editor can do something about that. The background, I must say, actually, that the one thing that lingers is the cough once you’ve got it. Yeah. Well, I was thinking about you, actually, because I was going back to our roots. So up in Edinburgh, and I was working up there, we were doing design for the 500 that we’re kicking off as a project. And every time I go back up there, as we were talking about when we talked the last time, there’s that sort of energy you get from your roots, your history, and maybe just tell people about the background you because I find it fascinating. We have so much in common, but I find it fascinating and your journey. So maybe give people a background.

Andrew Prior 3:00
Yeah, sure. Colin, my mother, and my father both grew up in Scotland. And I was born in London and grew up in Scotland with them. And I asked my mom, you know about her history. And she’s got a Scottish line, but also a polish line. Right. And we talked a little bit.

Colin Hunter 3:18

Andrew Prior 3:18
About the Scottish ancestry, My mum’s mother’s name was Finley. And if you look back over the history of the name Finley, it goes right back to Macbeth. And you know my mum’s name.

Colin Hunter 3:33
The name we (inaudible) mentioned.

Andrew Prior 3:37
Exactly. I love that play. But, you know, 1000 years ago when Macbeth was, you know, as you said, the first King of Scotland. I’m not saying I’m royalty or anything like that.

Colin Hunter 3:49

Andrew Prior 3:49
I’m just saying that.

Colin Hunter 3:50
You are (inaudible). So you are on this podcast.

Andrew Prior 3:54
But it’s quite nice to be part of the family that goes back so far. And then on the other side, my mum, her father polish. He came over during Second World War.

Colin Hunter 4:06
Oh, wow.

Andrew Prior 4:07
Yeah. So I can relate a lot to what’s going on. And for example, in Ukraine.

Colin Hunter 4:12

Andrew Prior 4:12
I mean, he was like 17 at the time, and he managed to escape, you know, from that situation and regroup with his fellow countrymen in Scotland, and that’s how, you know, he met my grandmother; basically, my mom was born. And on my father’s side, my father II will he grew up in Glasgow. My mother was more on the, on the five East Coast that is on the west coast. And his parents, they’re coming from Ireland. In fact, you know, grandparents, so there’s the Irish, you know, the prior, and that’s the name prior. It’s got an interesting history too, as well, because the prior was the manager of the monastery. I haven’t done too much research on that, but there are kind of priors in a lot of different countries, you know, in France, for example, and Spain, you know, if you’d like red wine, you know, usually it’s the legally do something.

Colin Hunter 5:11
Yeah, it is. And what I love about the connection with Scotland and France, because if you go way back, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the French connection in there, you know, Mary, Queen of Scotts, there was always a French Connection. And there’s always been a piece of my heart that’s in France, and I’ve always tried to work it out. And I just think there is something there is a connection, there was a religious connection and a lot of ways that that happened and happened to Europe. And those days, when we look back to the days of the primaries, and I own and the Celtic side, and then you go back to Knox, and everything else in there. So there’s that history in there. And then there’s the piece of, you know, for all the English listening for everybody else, there’ll be a translation afterward, there’s from our accents, because my mortgage, probably more Scottish as we go through, as we talk about it. But

Andrew Prior 6:01

Colin Hunter 6:03
Exactly. So there’s this bit about, you know, there’s almost a warmth and an engagement about the Scotts, but there’s something about it that was under duress; it was because of hardship. And there was a Presbyterian piece put into me, which was if good things happen in your life, and very shortly bad things will happen in your life. So there’s a hard work ethic that goes into it. So I’m fascinated by that background. And if we go back to Macbeth, it’s classic history. So just tell me about you. And that Polish experience from one side, the Irish experience, and the other side. And I don’t know if you’ve ever done any analysis of what that combination brought to your family and to you because I’m fascinated by that.

Andrew Prior 6:46
Yeah. That’s a good question. Yeah. Maybe just before I answered that I was another thing that maybe I just wanted to put into the story. My father was a Mason. I don’t know if this creates a little bit more intrigue here.

Colin Hunter 7:03

Andrew Prior 7:04
I don’t know if I should say this, but he wanted me to join the Masons. And he said that the priors were kind of linked to the Templar Knights. Again, that’s the connection.

Colin Hunter 7:15
So you’re just you’re building a case for royalty? Yeah, for all those people who are thinking we’re talking stone masons. No, we’re not. We’re talking, Mason. Tell those people listening because the Masons is an interesting organization, isn’t it? Yeah.

Andrew Prior 7:29
It is very secretive. Of course,

Colin Hunter 7:23

Andrew Prior 7:23
They all went underground because of what happened in France, you know, but the French, I mean, I’m not a historian. But roughly, the story goes that the French king at that time was back in 1300. And some I don’t know.

Colin Hunter 7:48

Andrew Prior 7:48
But basically, they owed so much money to the Templars. Because the Templars were the first bankers at that time, they used to accompany young people who were going on a crusade to Jerusalem. So rather than taking all their money with them and getting the risk of getting robbed on the way, they would make a deal with the Templars. And so when they arrived, they’d have their money there, you see?

Colin Hunter 8:11
Yeah. Okay. I know that. Yeah

Andrew Prior 8:13
Yeah, this was the kind of the first origins of the banking system. So they became very powerful. And, of course, in France, the king owed a lot of money to the Templars. So rather than paying the money back, he decided.

Colin Hunter 8:30
To ban them, kill them, whatever else.

Andrew Prior 8:32
Friday the 13th.

Colin Hunter 8:34

Andrew Prior 8:34
That’s where that comes from.

Colin Hunter 8:37
I did know that. Yeah

Andrew Prior 8:37
Yeah, and a lot of the Templars, of course, had to go underground because they were being chased. And a lot of them, so the story goes, ended up in Scotland.

Colin Hunter 8:45
interesting. Yeah.

Andrew Prior 8:49
Where you know, you have them, of course, the Lodge, which goes back a long way.

Colin Hunter 8:57
No, for those who are tuning in thinking this is a leadership tales podcast. This is actually the History podcast today. This is we are getting it. But I think there’s something in there because the banking industry in Scotland has always been so strong. And my great great great grandfather had his name on the Scottish 5 pound. I think it was that he was the head banker of the Bank of Scotland. So he had his signature as I think was the Chief Cashier of the Bank of Scotland, but there was always prudence there was the care with money in Scotland which is a joke you know about we are always caring for our money, but there was care money so there must be something in there. We should actually get that, you know, some sort of analyst.

Andrew Prior 9:38
I think there’s definitely something in that, and somebody who’s maybe listening can check this factor out, but the story goes that these templates, they were warrior knights, basically, with a good, you know, financial understanding of how the world worked. This was the time when Robert the Bruce was So, you know, Scottish King.

Colin Hunter 10:01

Andrew Prior 10:02
Fighting Edward.

Colin Hunter 10:03

Andrew Prior 10:04
And so the story goes is that on the battlefield, you know, the English camp so these warriors you know at the time they’re big horses but knights and never gotten word that the Scotts get these guys. You know.

Colin Hunter10:19
Exactly. Yeah

Andrew Prior 10:20
And so that’s the story was the came became from France. Basically.

Colin Hunter 10:24
Yeah. And you know, I know one person who, if I get him to listen to this, hopefully, is listening to Tom Haywood, who does a lot of research and conspiracy theories, but the Templers everything is that right down his alley, so I’m sure he’ll correct me. He corrects me normally on my grammar, let alone anything else. He’ll correct me on the historical list. I’m sure you’re writing a long email correcting both of us about what we’ve got. No, I love Tom because he is that factual person. He wrote

Andrew Prior 10:55

Colin Hunter 10:55
Something on JFK and conspiracy theories and is invited on to radio program, so I love them. So yeah, so that’s the historical side. So Irish polish, then you move to France? Yeah.

Andrew Prior 11:09

Colin Hunter 11:09
Or was there a little bit in between? Yeah,

Andrew Prior 11:12
It was a little bit in between. So basically, I kind of study as an engineer. I love technology and studied as an engineer, my friends used to call me the RT engineer because I was interested in French. So in my spare time, my friends would go and play football. And I would be going to learn French because I wanted to learn the French language and the culture. And so ended up my first job after university was working as an assistant English teacher at the University and Nice. And I did that for one year and really enjoyed it. And I loved the area, you know, you’ve got the French Alps are very close to the sea, of course, and I really had a fun time. And afterward, the university asked me to do I wanted to stay on. I mean, you know, it seems like you’re, you’re enjoying this, and I was, but deep down, I knew I had this vocation to be an engineer. And I applied for a job with Motorola. And I got accepted because they were looking for a French-speaking Engineer For North Africa, actually.

Colin Hunter 12:16

Andrew Prior 12:17
That started my career with Motorola. It was 11 years working for that great company, by the way, fantastic.

Colin Hunter 12:23

Andrew Prior 12:24

Colin Hunter 12:24
Not asking you to name your age, but what era was that? What in terms of Motorola? Was it the flip phones? Was it?

Andrew Prior 12:32
Oh, yeah, flip phones. And also, it was the Iridium. That’s I mean, I can tell you the nice story of Iridium.

Colin Hunter 12:40

Andrew Prior 12:40
I was working in the global product development part of Motorola in Copenhagen. Actually, my wife and I had moved there. My wife is Spanish, and yeah, it’s just the change. In fact, that was the pivotal moment in Motorola’s, I think; the culture of the organization had grown. So big 140,000 employees or something worldwide, all these different types, of divisions. But the communication between them, it was like they used to call it the warring tribes, basically, that was the term.

Colin Hunter 13:17
I love it. Yeah

Andrew Prior 13:10
Yeah. And so these guys at Iridium, this, you know, satellite communication system, the idea was anywhere in the world, you could make a cellular call, basically.

Colin Hunter 13:28

Andrew Prior 13:28
But what happened was they would, And we talked a little bit, spent years making the business plan, then they implemented it. But when it came on to the market, things had changed so much, you know, we had the flip phones, you know, and European seller GSM. And they find that the market that they thought just wasn’t there.

Colin Hunter 13:49
So is that minimal, viable products waited too long market had changed? Yeah

Andrew Prior 13:54
Yeah, that was 1998/1999. Just before the Agile, the whole kind of agile story began, you could see.

Colin Hunter 14:03
Yeah, I always find it fascinating to go back to thinking what it was like then and, you know, we always say it’s the speed of change of sending anybody starts a speech or a key talk, which change is getting faster, you’re going to no shit, you know, it is. But actually, when you hear stories like that. That’s not too long ago in my life, and you think and then the speed of change now, and also just listening on the social impact of that, because that, in theory, would have been great for Africa as a place in the world where you can do that. But actually, the product market went a different way. So whether it was a good thing that had happened and wasn’t ready for it to another question. So yeah,

Andrew Prior 14:44
Yeah. I mean, the company Iridium went into bankruptcy. But they still have clients. I mean, you know, most of the intelligence services in the US and Europe use these Iridium phones. I mean, you see the movies you know when they’re in Afghanistan. Whatever. Yeah, that are using Iridium phones.

Colin Hunter 15:02
Yeah. This is a service. We’ve moved from a History podcast today to a technology Podcast. I love it. I love that story. We will get to something that is Leadership. But you know, it’s somewhere in there. Yeah. But you know, such why not? Why let the truth get in the way of a good story was one expression when I said that, and but yeah. So, that was the Motorola experience. And then, so what was the leap?

Andrew Prior 15:27
Well, yeah, so I had worked, you know, in Motorola, I had met my wife in Motorola had an office in Palma de Mallorca of all places.

Colin Hunter 15:37

Andrew Prior 15:38
Very nice. This was the platform for Africa and the Middle East. And that’s where I met my wife. And then after that, we had moved to back to the UK, and then from the UK to Germany, and then from Germany to Copenhagen, where they ended up in this leadership role to bring, you know, new technologies. I mean, it became it’s really interesting, the kind of the politics, you know, in a big organization, and somehow I got a little bit disillusioned, even though I knew Motorola was a great company, and it was difficult to leave, I knew that I had a calling that I had to take this path. And I’ve been talking to Anna, my wife, about doing an MBA, and she was like, sick of me talking about this. She said no, we just do it. You know, and being Spanish and you know, she loves the light and blue skies and sunshine. And, you know, we had moved,

Colin Hunter 16:41
That’s enough of that under the day because we don’t have that. So just you know.

Andrew Prior 16:45
Yeah, she said, like, you know, we’re going north, why don’t we go back to the south? The project was like, Okay, do a kind of, like an MBA refresh, a little bit, reset, and maybe, you know, start up again, in the south of France. And so I found this great school called Theseus, which is now part of EDHEC, which is the big business school in France. But initially, it was a very small entrepreneurial school that had been started by France Telecom, actually. So there, France Telecom realized that they needed leaders for this new information age; they could see what was going on with the internet and all these technologies that were very quickly developing and changing the world. So that’s what I did. And it was it really opened up my eyes, I must admit, because that was the year 2000, the year of the start-ups and the.com Bust as well.

Colin Hunter 17:48
And I think there’s something which if you’ve, you know, I feel like I’ve been privileged to go and do an MBA. And I always remember when I walked into the business school, and I had impostor syndrome coming in here, I never felt I had the intellect to do that. But I went, and suddenly, I was in a group of 60 people. But they won’t mind me saying that there was a whole load of people who are senior in organizations, a bit like France, telecoms, for other places, very, very senior. And the year gave me a chance to benchmark myself against them. And I actually realized, yes, some of them are intellect brilliant. But actually, some of the skills I had were skills that they didn’t have, and it was a great leveler, a great piece in there. And I’m still friendly with the majority of the people that came out of that year. So there’s something about, and we talked about immersions, there’s something about a playground of an MBA, to go experience stuff. And some people go very seriously; I’ve got to do my marketing, I’ve got me, and then there’s the other bit, which is let’s go explore how businesses work. Yeah, and operate.

Andrew Prior 18:54
I mean, it was very tough, I must admit, in terms of it was definitely not a holiday in the south of France but.

Colin Hunter 19:01

Andrew Prior 19:02
And it was a lot of; we just had our first kid as well.

Colin Hunter 19:07

Andrew Prior 19:07
Our daughter was born in Copenhagen. So we arrived with the young one, and it was really challenging, trying to balance all of that, but what I really got out of it. I was really interested in the people side, the cultural side of the business.

Colin Hunter 19:22

Andrew Prior 19:23
You know, so being a technology engineering guy, that was a big insight. I mean, I enjoyed leading teams and Motorola. I really, really loved that. But it was like, Well, okay, let’s look at it. How do we shift the culture in organizations?

Colin Hunter 19:39

Andrew Prior 19:39
You know, how do we put a human being into the organization? That’s where I, you know, really started thinking about culture change initiatives, and luckily, I found a job in Sofia anti-police, which is there’s a lot of technology companies, they’re part of my role in that company. I didn’t go back to Motorola, unfortunately, or fortunately, yeah, that kind of really started me on this journey of what I’m doing today, which is all about accompanying leaders and their teams in changing their culture.

Colin Hunter 20:15
And I’m not surprised because the more I think about design thinking, and the more I talk to people like Tim Brown, who’s, you know, the chair of IDEO, the concept of design thinking, the human-centric design, I’m not surprised that engineers now and particularly with the technology boom, and engineers coming to the for. Yeah, there are certain people who wouldn’t choose to be communicating, talking that much happier coding, or doing anything else in their data analytics. But the engineering side and putting the humor in the center is part of the product. And it’s part of the service, but it’s also part of the culture. So the strides that Googles of this world have made in terms of how we operate and how we work have been massive there. Some people will say it’s good. Some people say it’s bad, but they think about it. So it’s fascinating. You did that. But I’m always surprised when people say I was surprised I came from an engineer to people’s side because you’re a design thinker. You’re thinking around the problem. So that’s fascinating. Now I’m getting a theme. So keeping the sunshine. Yeah. Palma de Mallorca is So Nice. Getting the sunshine, which I first got, is important. Yeah. So you got a bit of sunshine and a bit of an award. So tell me the next bit because the culture and other things and knowing you just a very short space of time, the depth of your thinking is massive. Yeah. And we could wallow in this for quite a while because I love talking to you the last time around this. But what were the key things that you were starting to really get an insight into and working on that?

Andrew Prior 21:45
Yeah, I think that the key insight came when I joined a Finnish consultancy company. And the name of the company is called Innotiimi, which means innovation team.

Colin Hunter 21:58

Andrew Prior 21:58
The company was going through its own cultural change. It was opening up; it was becoming more international. And they brought the partners of this company brought in a CEO who was Dutch; this was the first time that they had a leader leading the company who wasn’t finished.

Colin Hunter 22:17
Interesting. Yeah.

Andrew Prior 22:18
Yeah. And this guy, his name’s Adrian Beckman, he really inspired me it became a kind of a mentor. And one of the things that Adrian brought to this organization was the concept of the horizontal leader.

Colin Hunter 22:34

Andrew Prior 22:35
This is now like, since 2005, so more than 15 years, I’ve been thinking about this.

Colin Hunter 22:42

Andrew Prior 22:43
In organizations, you have that vertical element. It’s all to do with the management, the power; you are given the power to make sure that the organization runs smoothly, right? You make sure everything’s under control.

Colin Hunter 22:59

Andrew Prior 22:59
That’s the vertical element, which you really need, of course, yeah. Especially when you’re growing and scaling up the organization. But you also need this horizontal part, which is not about power at all. It’s about how you create a dialogue. How do you create a process for people to have really quality conversations?

Colin Hunter 23:23

Andrew Prior 23:23
And create a dream together? You know, what is it we want to create? What does it look like in our organization and two or three years’ time, you know, that whole inspiration, ambition, about what we can do if we really put our minds to it? And so that’s the kind of the inspiration part around the shared vision and then steering. Yeah, so we’ve got the dream. But how do we get there, you know, there’s got to be a learning and development process to be able to get to this because we don’t know how we’re going to get there. We’re going to learn as we go step by step. So steering, that process is really important. And then the third element is about the coaching. Coaching leaders, coaching teams. And then the last element is the courage to make interventions because some people don’t share the same dream.

Colin Hunter 24:20

Andrew Prior 24:21
What is their dream? And how can we help them to find the process to make their dream a reality?

Colin Hunter 24:29

Andrew Prior 24:30
So that for me was (inaudible). And then, of course, I learned a lot about innovation participative Leadership, I mean this company, where really I think leading the field there, and those that type of thinking,

Colin Hunter 24:47
I love it. So and because that’s so relevant now. Because the big challenge at the moment do you need leaders, you know this, and it’s not quite as simple as that. And it’s a closed question, but what is the role of the leader and there’s all about this power gradients, you know, Leadership is language market talking about, you got to try to diminish the power gradient so that a great across, you get ownership as you say common vision ownership. But then it’s about how do you steer that, you know, we’re wrestling with that at the moment because as you get new people coming into senior roles, who have worked in more task-oriented type leadership teams, which is command control, get on with your role, and therefore they expect for example, for me, the CEO to come in and lead and then CEO to distribute the operating model and then work it. And for me, that’s not how I wanted to operate. So we’re going through a fascinating piece, which is the horizontal leader piece; how do I work across the spaces but still have that front foot energy towards something?

Andrew Prior 25:49
Yeah, exactly. And it’s really about community. That’s what I experienced with this consulting company, who I think in the heyday, were about 40,50 consultants, you know, in different countries. So it grew quite a bit. And it’s still growing the company, I think it’s over 100 consultants now, but there was that connectedness, you know, you really felt there’s that psychological safety, you know, where you could really be yourself lots of challenges. I mean,

Colin Hunter 26:23

Andrew Prior 26:23
You know, how do you build a business around that and things like that, but

Colin Hunter 26:27
Yeah, it’s boring if we didn’t have the challenges. This point is that Step foot wise, but you know, it’s this too perfect, yeah. But I think if you get an organization that makes it smooth, and feels connected, then that’s great. Yeah, that’s.

Andrew Prior 26:44
Yeah, you’re going to make money, this is the management part, you got to have, you got its smooth operating, you got to have the cash coming in, so you can invest and grow and develop. After that, I worked with a lot of other types of consultancy companies and built up my toolbox. And then what happened was, I wanted to really get my teeth into, I would say, a real big, Agile transformation.

Colin Hunter 27:16

Andrew Prior 27:17
And I had this opportunity to work in the financial industry, which I didn’t do anything about. And
I’m interested in the financial industry because I also believe that we need more horizontal Leadership.

Colin Hunter 27:31

Andrew Prior 27:32
If we really want to progress, that system, how we know, finance ventures and organizations and things like that.

Colin Hunter 27:42

Andrew Prior 27:43
And we talked a little bit And so yeah, so that was a wonderful two years working in this global investment bank. And what was fascinating here was very quickly, I got, you know, sucked into the agile, which is, people, call it agile coaching, but Actually, it’s more like an expert. You know there’s a language to its software development based. And I was kind of distracted, actually, by that.

Colin Hunter 28:14
In a good way?

Andrew Prior 28:16
Well, I learned a lot in terms of, you know, how the whole agile development process works, and it does work. But you need that horizontal leadership part.

Colin Hunter 28:27

Andrew Prior 28:28
If you just done through purely vertical management, it’s almost like we’re doing this to get more shit done. Sorry, to

Colin Hunter 28:38
Yeah, No.

Andrew Prior 28:38
Paraphrase that there. But that’s what was happening in this company. And people were actually resisting it.

Colin Hunter 28:46

Andrew Prior 28:47
And I had this realization. I thought to myself; we need to create an inspiring vision. From the top, middle to bottom.

Colin Hunter 28:58

Andrew Prior 28:58
About why we’re doing this. Why is the Agile transform? Why is that an inch? Why is that an important detail? In the dream of where this organization wants to go?

Colin Hunter 29:10

Andrew Prior 29:10
Yeah, and that’s what got me, really; I don’t know if you’ve read a book called dreams and details. Have you?

Colin Hunter 29:16
No, I ain’t. Yeah

Andrew Prior 29:18
That’s an excellent book; I can really recommend that one. Yeah. So that’s really got me into this present moment, which is making those types of dreams, you know, accompanying the leaders and teams so that everybody can connect to that dream. And kind of instills, that sense of meaning and you know, desire, people want to change something. Of course, you need the mindset to go with your dream, which is the whole leadership development aspect, you know, values, the beliefs. I mean, it’s very different project management to, you know, Product Owner Scrum Master. I mean, that transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Takes months.

Colin Hunter 30:04
And I think what is really useful in this is that you’ve been on a journey of exploration, you’ve had your playground, so you’ve gone off into agile, you’ve gone off and done the horizontal leader, and you’ve captured so. And for me, this is where when I’m encouraging people in their careers, I’m going to say, go play in different places. Because, you know, once you go into financial services, reading Jacqueline Novogratz’s book, which is the manifesto for a memorial society, and she is an investor in her whole thing is how do I make these commercially sustainable businesses? But with patient capitalism? Yeah, so with patient capital, that goes on a long journey, and it’s not all about big profits; it’s about sustainable growth of that. And that’s what you’re talking about in the financial services; then you’re talking about how you keep that in the Agile mode, and again, everything is used, sometimes in a good way, in a bad way. But I’m with you; I think Agile has been used to get shit done. Whereas agile, for me, is about getting, you know, using design thinking, Agile is about getting better, fresher ideas. And then you come full circle back to horizontal Leadership because, you know, as Tim Brown said when asked the questions, so how would you get design thinking better organized into organizations? He said I would want the organizations to run in projects. Yeah, Because that gives you almost an ecosystem to work within that allows it to live and breathe. So you’re getting to the horizontal leadership piece. Yeah.

Andrew Prior 31:33
Exactly yeah. I mean, you know, companies like Spotify they’re famous for their framework with the kolam tribes. Yeah. Going back to the Scottish thing. Do you know?

Colin Hunter 31:44
Yeah. Freedom.

Andrew Prior 31:48
But yeah, so tribes of 120 people, you know, where you can have that strong human connection, you know, people know each other? And, yeah, do you really connect to that, that dream of what you want to create together? And there’s a very strong sense of meaning. I think this is where we are at the moment. I mean, before I joined no team, in fact, I had that reflection moment where I realized that we do need Leadership, you know, and you said, that playground and I have that self-leadership is such a key aspect, we need to be aware of who we are as a human being. And then, once we’ve done that work, then we can work with other leaders. But then we have to have that awareness. Because you know, we would have different mindsets, different beliefs, different dreams. How do you bring all that together? In a way, that’s constructive. And you know, energizes people. And then recently, I’ve been working with David Clutterbuck. I don’t know if you know him.

Colin Hunter 32:56
I know him. Yeah?

Andrew Prior 32:58
And he’s created a really interesting model called the complex adaptive system. Terrell model equals and where Leadership, of course, is the fundamental block, right? Right at the bottom there. He talks about leading systems.

Colin Hunter 33:17

Andrew Prior 33:18
Because we need to understand how these systems are influencing us.

Colin Hunter 32:23

Andrew Prior 32:23
And vice versa. And, of course, systems have a past, a present, and a future. And sometimes we
forget a little bit about the past; you know all these things that are in some way influencing our current behavior, which maybe we don’t need anymore.

Colin Hunter 33:44
One of the things I am really fascinated by is how you take a team to be called high performing. And high performing is one of those other things that, well, that’s used to make people do more stuff. Yeah. And I basically see high performing as the ability to, for somebody to do a really good job on the day that motivates them, that has good for others that moves them forward towards their purpose, and that for me, it’s high performance. And that now there will be different levels in the world, but when you come down to something like the systems and the work in there, and how we’re operating, there’s almost this piece that goes, yeah, there’s all these ecosystems, and there are all these systems to work across. But when you try to get them all to interact and overlap, we have, and then you start to get well who owns the overlapping pieces. Then I can see where the argument comes in, which is Leadership gets in the way because the handoff or the bringing together of the two tribes or the two systems is where the grey area goes; well, it’s your fault. So I think there’s something in what you’re saying and the journey we’ve taken about horizontal Leadership to Agile to David Clarke books work now which I love Leadership or systems. Those systems can be multi-complex. Yeah. Or they can be back to Taylorism. And here’s my system, here’s your system and how they operate. And that goes back to your coaching piece that you’re now on, which is Gestalt if I pronounced it right because I always feel like I’m right pronouncing it wrong when I do that. Yeah.

Andrew Prior 35:20
Yeah. I mean, Gestalt coaching is very interesting. I came across this through John Leary Joyce.

Colin Hunter 35:29

Andrew Prior 35:30
So yeah, John, he wrote a book. Actually, it’s called the fertile void. And I think maybe I mentioned this before.

Colin Hunter 35:39
Yeah, but maybe not to the listeners. No the fertile void. Yeah.

Andrew Prior 35:43
Yeah, the fertile void. And so the whole thing with Gestalt, of course, is that it’s about the present moment. So when we’re aware of what’s going on, something will come up from the fertile void.

Colin Hunter 36:00

Andrew Prior 36:00
That catches our attention. And, you know, because it catches our attention, we want to there’s some sort of need behind that we have you. If we talk about self-actualization, there’s a need there. Yeah. And we get more interested in it until finally, we get that contact. And the contact and Gestalt is, you know, where your need is satisfied, basically. And of course, the whole cycle of experience in Gestalt is that, okay, you have that contact, but then, you know, there’s a period where you know, you kind of like reflect on it, that while that was really good, that was interesting, I’m satisfied and then experience curve is complete. That’s what we call a gestalt, basically, that pattern.

Colin Hunter 36:50
Okay, interesting.

Andrew Prior 36:52
And then something else will emerge. And it’s interesting, just to observe, you know, using mindfulness, for example, as a leadership technique is Yeah, taught, just to be aware of where these ideas where they’re coming from, are they coming from the past? Or are they coming from, you know, intuition, for example,

Colin Hunter 37:14
Well, I was chatting to another person in this series, my new bromance in my life is Casey Carter, and he has a beautiful book about permission to glow, but he has four levels to that. The way I love it is permission to chill. And that pause and reflection piece as a leader, we don’t know enough of that. So we haven’t experienced, and we’re off to the next one, we’re off and over on one meeting to the next meeting to the next meeting, we don’t have permission to chill is one the second level once you’ve got that is the permission to feel the feels. Yeah, And what I love about that is that he puts a gender bias to it, which is generally, women will do this more than men is they will feel the feelings that go through the motions, and they’ll listen to the emotions. And I can relate to that is that you know, I was brought up not to almost feel emotions, yeah, in there. But then he says, You got to do that work. And then that allows you permission to go to the third level, which is permission to glow in the dark, which is to do your dark work. Now he has a fascinating piece in which he says the fourth level has just come to him. And he’s big into meditation and mindfulness and everything else that goes with it. And he talked about that. Most people stop doing the dark work, the hard work. Whereas he puts the fourth level in there is just permission to glow in the light, which is to collaborate with others. Now a lot of people are listening and really Colin God. But what was fascinating to me is now, the more and more I talk to other people, other leaders, other organizations, mindfulness, meditation, all of these things that built it to go through that cycle, that experience to go through a loop. Yeah. For me, it is a loop to do the hard work, and then thinking about how that impacts the next piece is the important bit. When do we do that thinking?

Andrew Prior 39:08
Yeah, you need some sort of word that comes to mind purpose. Yeah, higher self. I mean, this is why I’ve been thinking a lot about this, because Gestalt is all about the flow experience. Yeah, we’re in that flow. That’s when you start talking about glow; I was thinking of flow.

Colin Hunter 39:23

Andrew Prior 29:23
You know, and when we’re in flow, it’s a very special experience, and we want to have that, and Gestalt makes us very aware of the things that interrupt that flow experience. So for me, it’s very much part of self-actualization.

Colin Hunter 39:42
Help people who are listening, who might not know what I mean, but just talk to them. What do you mean by that? Yeah.

Andrew Prior 39:48
Yeah, I think it was a term coined by Maslow, think?

Colin Hunter 39:52
Yeah, the hierarchy of needs.

Andrew Prior 39:52
When he did his hierarchy of needs, right at the top was this self-actualization. I think I’m just going to pop in another name here that Carl Jung talked about, of course, the psychology of human beings but that there’s a kind of an individuation process that all human beings go through. And if we’re left to be natural and natural human beings not being controlled. Yeah, we tend to self-actualize. And yeah, so that individuation process that Jung talks about and Maslow, I think that’s really, really important, but it’s only one part of the story because there’s another part which has to do with self-realization.

Colin Hunter 40:41

Andrew Prior 40:42
Which is more to do with who am I becoming as a leader? You know, maybe the listeners here, we’re going to say, a spiritual aspect, you know, the, you can say, the moral aspects of Leadership, the ethical aspect. I mean, I think that’s really interesting. It’s difficult. I mean, and I think that you know, for example, the crisis of, of separation, you know, when we’re separated. In our biographies, there are, of course, there are certain moments in our lives where we are separated from people that we love. And this can be an important point in our battle biography to reflect on these things. And another thing that has come to me quite recently is the polarization of the world.

Colin Hunter 41:30

Andrew Prior 41:31
I don’t know if duality is the same as polarization. But that’s the word that comes to mind here. But

Colin Hunter 41:36
That’s for a brainy person me to work out. So yeah. I’m with you on the polarization because it’s there.

Andrew Prior 41:47
How do we synthesize polarities? You know

Colin Hunter 41:49

Andrew Prior 41:49
I mean, now we see what’s going on with the information and how it’s difficult to actually how it’s easy now, with all the technologies that we’ve got global technology, social, how it’s easy to polarise.

Colin Hunter 42:07
Yeah. Jacqueline Grass has a lovely story where she goes to Pakistan. And she’s in a community, and they’re talking about Malala. So and the impact. And it was interesting because she held before she went in this meeting, this natural western view of Malala, which she was brilliant, and she was the one who was challenging, in Afghan worlds, you know, she was the one who is who’s raising the profile of women and went to the tribe that and had a whole group of people in that room. And that was the polarity of the people who agreed with her on that. Malala. And then you had the opposite side who just thought she was, you know, wrong, and was in the wrong mindset and about the role of religion, women, and then went to this real argument, which is it’s the Americans who caused the, you know, the whole Taliban issue, and therefore, you know, so she was in this room, and there was this one person, she talks about this one person, a man sitting in there who had a face like thunder, and she asked him, so what’s your view, and he said, he was the tribe that Malala was part of, and he said, I feel that you know, Malala is just a symbol to the west of the bridge. And it’s that easy access to the bridge of a very complex issue because they were a well-educated driver, well-educated area, but they were impacted by the Taliban. So you get to this point about the system in there.

Andrew Prior 43:38

Colin Hunter 43:39
And when she came out of that, she went to Dubai. And if I’m getting the story, right, apologies if I hadn’t, but she goes to Dubai, and the first session she’s got is a meeting, and a woman asked her just before we start, can I ask you, have you and Malala, and so she came from this beautiful place where she said, Well, it’s complex. I saw her, and she just repeated everything she learned from that session; they said, okay, good, we can meet now. So there is this self-actualization, Self Realisation. And then there’s this stuff that happens when you get the polarity in the world, whether it’s fed with the right information, the wrong information. So leaders, how the hell do you do this? Yeah, now

Andrew Prior 44:20
that’s it. And you know, and I see it in my own life, kind of a spiral, you know, as leaders were spiraling through life with self-actualization, but self-realization and becoming more and more aware of what’s going on.

Colin Hunter 44:38

Andrew Prior 44:38
you know, and I’m just fascinated with what’s going on between Putin and his team or his organization. And what’s happening with, you know, the US and of course, Europe and allies and

Colin Hunter 44:58

Andrew Prior 44:59
It says there’s that like kind of polarisation going on, you know, it’s interesting, you know, as leaders, how do we understand that complexity, because at the end of the day, you know, as a leader, you know, you also need to make decisions, right?

Colin Hunter 45:14

Andrew Prior 45:15
You know, you see what’s going on with BP and, you know, for example, yeah, leaving fast in.

Colin Hunter 45:24
it is, and, you know, we could talk and talk and talk and talk. And it was interesting as your story is almost a journey through some of the things that they’re dealing with. So from the engineer, you know, the engineer going off and designing and working and mixing cultures, you know, going to North Africa. And then it goes to this experience, where you’re starting to go into a world of agile, you’re starting to go into worlds of financial services and how we fund and the commerciality of all of this, and then you go into this amazing experience and in the consulting sector, where you started to learn about the horizontal leader, and how to operate, and then, you’re almost going full circle into the coaching and the individual. It sounds like an amazing journey. So but what next? Where are you going? What are you doing?

Andrew Prior 46:15
I’m building a business, Team alchemy, which is an interesting name in itself. How do we create value? You talked a little bit about high-performance teams. And now we talk about creating value for individuals, value for the team, value for the organization, value for the community for the planet; we’re all connected, right? And as we’ve found out with this COVID pandemic, we are all connected. So I’m building a business around, of course, leadership teams, understanding complex adaptive systems, so that we can build organizations that are regenerative.

Colin Hunter 47:09

Andrew Prior 47:09
So it’s a lot, for example, if we go back to the financial industry, just a lot of talk about ESGs, or was that a word I was thinking about? Something B Corp.

Colin Hunter 47:22
Yeah. B. Corp Because we had the conversation about whether we move to a B Corp for our latest

Andrew Prior 47:29
Yeah. So B. Corp ESGs funds. The big question is, what are we measuring? It’s not just the financial value; it’s the social value.

Colin Hunter 47:41

Andrew Prior 47:42
And It’s also the ecological value because I mean, you know, the ecology is right here with us right now. I mean, that’s why we can breathe and have a glass of water or, you know, it’s the ecology is right there with us and it impacts us, so creating value in those three areas is very important. I think going forward, in terms of the financial system, we need to be able to identify companies that are actually creating value in those three areas. And at the moment it’s you can shine a light on the ready direction to make the company look good, but How do you really compare apples to apples?

Colin Hunter 48:26
What is the measure? And you know, it couldn’t end in a better place because when you come to what value Have you added? Yeah. And when it comes to organizations, a lot of people will say yeah, let’s do something radical as long as it doesn’t affect shareholder value. You know, that’s the piece that for me that I want to change, and I know that other people in society, including yourself, on the changes that we get to the societal value we get to sustainable businesses that feed our communities and the world we live in so very deep and to a great conversation so Andrew if people want to find out more about you or connect with you, how would they do that?

Andrew Prior 49:05
Well, you can have a look at our shop window come to www.team alchemy.eu.

Colin Hunter 49:14

Andrew Prior 49:15
That’s probably, yeah, have a look at the website, or you can send me an email at Andrew.prior@teamalchemy.eu.

Colin Hunter 49:25
And prior with a Y or with an I?

Andrew Prior 49:20
With an I.

Colin Hunter 49:28
With an I. Yeah. Brilliant. No, I always get the feedback afterward and go. Why didn’t you ask me? Y or not? That’s great. I don’t want to bother with a Y prior to getting any emails from people going. I want to connect and go. Y?

Andrew Prior 49:43
No, it’s what’s the’ I ‘in the middle of the ‘I’ in the center?

Colin Hunter 49:46
That’s fantastic. Under it’s been a sheer joy to go through that, we could talk more and more, and I hope we do again.

Andrew Prior 49:54
Yeah. Likewise Colin. Yeah, it was lovely, and I really didn’t know where we were going to go with this. I really appreciate your skills and making this a really rich quality conversation. So thank you very much.

Colin Hunter 50:18
Wow, that was Andrew. I could have gone on with that conversation for many, many an hour and when you meet somebody who has that impact on you where you get into thinking but actually brings structure rigor thought process the debit Clutterbuck piece that we talked about the Motorola, the horizontal Leadership, and the flow into Gestalt, there’s a piece in there that there is a thoughtful person who’s considered a journey and, and I think sometimes I think in life that there’s a couple of styles of coaches or facilitators that come and help most people like myself or organizations. One is the deeper thinker and the process thinker who provides the Agile background, the horizontal Leadership thinking and helps you to deeply think around the process and be intentional about what you’re doing. And then there are the other people who come and provide the short, punchy habits and practices that teams can pull together and facilitate in terms of their outputs. And I think Andrew forms and falls into the former, and I love that style because it is very different from mine; therefore, I could talk to him for hours, and I almost feel like I’m going through a therapy session for me as a leader as I listened to him, so hopefully, you enjoyed the same, and I look forward to welcoming you back another episode of the leadership tales podcast very short.