During this episode, you will learn what makes a great leader - especially during a crisis.
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Episode's guest: Caroline Jane Knight - Jane Austin’s fifth great-niece, Director of The Greyfriar Group and Chair of the Jane Austin Literacy Foundation
Podcast Editor and Producer: Ana Carolina Alves
Additional Voice: Charles The Voice
Music: Have a Smoke by Crowander (CC BY 4.0)
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Welcome to Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass. Jon is the founder and CEO of image group international and award-winning image consulting and personal branding pioneer established in 1989. This podcast will bring you old school wisdom, inspiring ideas, strategies and hacks for the new tech world. Here you will learn everything about personal branding: the system, the techniques and the right mindset to have a successful personal brand, image and reputation.
Jon: Hello, everybody, and today I will be chatting with Caroline Jane Knight Jane Austen's the famous author, fifth great nice. Inspired by a great aunt Jane's legacy, Caroline, carved out a highly successful career in business. She moved to Australia in 2008, becoming the CEO of a large marketing agency. And in 2013, Caroline started her own business, the grey fryer group, I feel marketing and direct consultancy, which now works with many household brands, and clients, including called and mine, Australia. Caroline, thank you for being here.
Caroline: Thank you for having me, Jon, great to be here.
Jon: The topic of this episode is how do leaders combat a crisis. And the current climate, I think is a perfect subject to have a conversation about because the crisis is what we're all combating on a daily basis now. And I thought it was appropriate to speak to a leader that understands crisis. And there's been through this particular subject matter before, because obviously, the aspects of dealing with the crisis are so essential because it's not something that can be brought, you know, from a theoretical perspective, it has to be from a real practical perspective, especially if the leaders have actually been in crisis before. So I thought that's a great opportunity to bring Caroline today. And basically get a sense of her own opinion, what makes a great leader and especially in a climate of crisis, or crisis. But before I get started, Caroline, I'd like to ask you a question. In your opinion, what makes a great leader?
Caroline: That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? I think great leaders are people that have vision belief. And I think great leaders are have got to be or I would hope that you know, I would want to be myself a great leader, who also is a people person, and also wants to, you know, wants to be a great leader of a great organization, a great group of people, whatever it is, and certainly, for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, that's really what has got us through this crisis is, of course, that we were, you know, already a team of people who are very well connected, and all have a passion for something. And I think, of course, the way that you get through a crisis, you know, to a certain extent, stems from the way you manage your business every day. Doesn't that?
Jon: Absolutely, so. So obviously, what stands out for me, in reference to all of that is, do you think courage plays a part?
Caroline: I think courage does play a part. And actually, certainly, in my own experience, obviously, if the current crisis that we're all experiencing with the pandemic, I actually think that for me personally, as a leader, it actually has created some quite unique circumstances, which, in a way, has actually given me more courage as a leader than I think I've ever had before. And those circumstances that I'm talking about, is, first of all, we as an organization anyway, as I said, we're already a group of people that are across the world, we already know how to work together on zoom, we already are a great team. So we had a good platform to start with. But the pandemic itself, or this sort of circumstance also created a real sense of emergency and urgency and need to adapt and do something very, very quickly. And I actually think at the moment that actually crystallized our thinking more than it had ever been before your domain because there was no time for procrastination, there was no time for Well, maybe we'll think about it and have a meeting about it next week. And maybe we'll go back to that next month. At the moment when the pandemic hit, we knew as an organization, that we had to support our community. That was our number one priority. And as I said, I think that sense of urgency created a whole load of decision making in a way that we had never done before. Actually, we've such determination, as I said, there was no time for procrastination. And that actually, I think, at the moment actually produce something from us as a group of people that we'd never seen before. And actually, I think we made better decisions at that moment than we probably ever made for the organization before and the proof is in the pudding. I mean, you know, actually, as an organization, we're doing absolutely fantastically now. And I think that's one of The other thing I think happened in this particular crisis is, is when the pandemic first hit, I also think the environment that everybody was working in, became incredibly forgiving, didn't it? You know, there was a while there were where everybody was incredibly supportive of each other. And that also freed us up as an organization a little bit, because if we, you know, we were making very quick decisions, as I said, with a sort of, you know, crystallized thinking focused on one thing to do very quickly. But also, we were in an environment that felt like, if we made a mistake, if there is such a thing, if we made a mistake, we'd be forgiven, you know, it sort of didn't feel quite so pressurized. And as I said, the combination of those things actually has created something actually much better in terms of the set function of the leadership. And when I say the leadership, I'm not just saying myself there, of course, I'm, you know, yes, I'm the chairman of the organization, I run it. But of course, I'm running it with a team of people who are leading other teams of people. And as a leadership team, we have never functioned as well as we have, since these pandemics hit.
Jon: Yes. So we're talking about leadership in action here, right. But every leadership team needs an act a leader, otherwise, you know, it's gonna be a disparate group of people. So I think you got to give yourself some credit around that in inspiring you're, you know, empowering your team to, of course, you know, stay together and come on board and sort of dying for the cause if I can use that term?
Caroline: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. At that point, you know, we were a team that had been working together, I mean, the foundation would have been running something like six years at that point. And we were the same team that we'd started off, as you know, we've sort of, you know, people stay with the Foundation, which is just absolutely fantastic. So so we have a great platform to work from, but also when that moment hit, and we realize that, of course, our business model absolutely changed overnight, we were an organization before that raise money doing events. You know, I used to spend my time going all over the world talking about Jane Austen, or business or literacy, raising money, and, of course, that just completely and utterly switched off in an instant. So we had to reinvent quickly. And I just called the team together, you know, we call the team together. And within literally two days, we had set out a program of activities, what we were going to do, and six months later, the organization was absolutely transformed. And that has also led to, you know, a complete sort of redo of our mission of what we're here to have, as I said, it is it has actually led the organization in an incredibly positive direction. And that has, yes, I, of course, I'm the leader, and thank you for that. But as I said, it was absolutely a team effort and quick decision.
Jon: Extraordinary. Listen, I just want to ask you a question, now. Is there historically Is there a particular famous leader or a famous person that you admire? And if there is, I'd love to know why.
Caroline: Oh, so Well, I mean, yeah, yes. I mean, the people that come into my mind are women. That's not actually necessarily by design. You know, but and of course, I can't let this conversation go without mentioning Jane Austen, because I grew up in you know, I grew up where Pride and Prejudice come from and where, you know, and I'm the last day's nieces to grow up in our family's ancestral home in the south of England. And growing up with Jane Austen. Growing up with Jane Austen as a role model is pretty that's pretty empowering for a young girl, I have to say, you know, for from a babe in arms. I mean, I've known about Jane Austen since the day I was born and knowing that I had an ancestor who against all odds had stuck to her guns. She knew what her talent was. She knew what she was there for if you're and she didn't give up and she succeeded. And 200 years later, people all over the world, you know, dress up in Regency gear and go to Jane Austen festivals. And I mean, the effect she has on people today. The worldwide audience for her is just phenomenal. Well, that. I mean, that's a phenomenal role model to have in your life. Absolutely. It sounds like Jane had a bit of courage. Oh, absolutely, absolutely. But in a way that was she was one of those, I would call her a quiet radical. You know, she didn't want to, she didn't want to disgrace her family. She didn't want to cause trouble. She didn't want to, you know, so she very much and she was a good Christian woman. And she very much, you know, lived within the social expectations of the day. But she was clearly incredibly sharp, witty, switched on. And she made her observations of the society that she lived in through her writing. And if you read it, right, that you know her observations and her understanding of the society she lived in was extraordinary. She shouldn't have been writing Bye-bye. Look at you know, that wasn't really done in those days, but it was her talent and she was determined.
Jon: Yeah, yeah, absolutely fantastic. So from a, obviously, from a leadership point of view, it doesn't matter if he was a woman or a man. I mean, the reality was she was a leader in her own right. And from other than her writing, as a human being, she certainly had qualities in her that got her to, to sort of present an image, you know, that basically, over, you know, certainly probably over spoke a lot of the norms of the day, because, as you said before, is a woman 400 years ago, to do what she did, I think sounds fairly extraordinary.
Caroline: Oh, absolutely. And she was also just an absolutely pioneering writer. You know, she wrote things that had just been well written, that had never been written before, in that sort of way. Absolutely. But of course, she wasn't a leader in the sort of sense of leading a company or leading a team of people, or that sort of thing. I mean, someone, I mean, of course, this is quite personal, but someone else I greatly admire is my grandmother from Chawton house, you know, she, she was running her, you know, she was running a very large country Manor, and all the events that happened and all of that tenant farmers, you know, and everybody that was there, and she was, you know, my grandfather was the Squire. And he'll, you know, he's very much the one that obviously the history books will record. But behind the scenes, it was Granny, who was running the show. And it was Granny, who, you know, making sure that the wheels kept turning, and that the scones were cooked on Sunday for the tease, and, you know, all of that stuff happened. And, you know, she was somebody also who managed to juggle, you know, 100 things at the same time. Which, which running a mistake as that takes. So growing up there with her, she was probably, you know, the strongest immediate role model of a leader around me, would have been her.
Caroline: Also, and I don't, I'm not actually saying this, I'm not trying to make any political statement here. But I'm a child of Thatcher. I mean, I grew up, I grew up in England. I was born in 1970. So the late 70s and 80s are my teenage years. You know, that's my formative years. And leaving aside any of Margaret Thatcher's policies, good or bad, or indifferent. She was a woman that had as, you know, she, she, she was a leader. And certainly, I was inspired by her strength of conviction and her strength of leadership. And certainly, I would suggest that I've probably been influenced her a little by her a little bit along the way, as I said, politics aside, but purely and she did what she believed in.
Jon: I mean, all leadership is really self-leadership first. So even your granny that, you know, you said she was not a leader in the business sense. You know, self-leadership comes before group leadership, you know, it because as you would have experienced in the corporate world, and so on, sometimes you meet leaders that have got 100 people under them, and at times that can't lead their own lives. And you're wondering, how are you in that position? Right. We've all seen it over the years in the trenches. So self-leadership is essential. And of course, yeah, you said Margaret Thatcher, and they'll be other countless people like that, that had the conviction of their own way of agreeing or disagree. It's not about that it's about basically are their leader. And that's what we're talking about here. And not only that, it's about a leader, then how do you deal with the crisis? Yeah, cuz you got some leaders for peace times that were not good for war times. You know, I can think of Winston Churchill as a perfect leader for wartime. You know, and that's, and that history shows that right?
Caroline: Yes. And I think I think there will be lots of and I'm only repeating what the commentators say. But I think there are lots of people that would have said, Boris Johnson May, it might have made a good Prime Minister at different times. But not the right Prime Ministers necessarily for a pandemic. I mean, it just I mean, I don't know who he is, but different leaders with different times. Exactly. Different leaders for different times, as you said, but it is something you're absolutely right about. It is all something that comes down to self-leadership. First, you have to, I think, to be a good leader, I think you have to be I think you have to know who you are. I think you know, I think you have to know that I think you have to have clarity about yourself. I think you have to have an honesty about yourself to be a good leader. And I think it's also important, of course, that yes, I mean, when most you know, when you sort of talk about Margaret Thatcher, you know, when I talked about Margaret Thatcher, of course, she's quite an extreme figure in that sort of, you know, self-assured. And it's of course, extremely important, as I said to also be self-aware and to listen and to and to have humanity empathy for other people and all those sorts of things. But the self-assuredness as I said, I think is about knowing who you are. And owning it and being comfortable with it and knowing what your strengths are and and and using them to to the best outcome
Jon: For sure. What you said, Sorry, encapsulates our whole model around, you know, self-leadership. And that's, you know, clients come to us and they say, Jon, you know, we want to increase example of confidence, and confidence if you look at confidence because everyone wants to be confident, even a super confident want to be more confident. But if you keep it from a self-leadership point of view, conferences are is virtually it's, it's, it's basically all underlined by courage. And the more courage underpinned by integrity, the more confident you are, yes, absolutely. Because when you've got the integrity as your foundation, you don't have to play games, then, you know, and you can read somebody when they truly confident as opposed to just constantly faking it. You know, I've been like what, you know, you know, what you see a lot of leaders on television, yes. Okay. Yeah, you know, that just, there's just something not writing this conversation that just doesn't sort of fit, you know, sub. So you're spot on, I mean, and that's our motto, basically, confidence, courage, integrity, you get those three together, and you don't have to worry too much about being more confident anymore. So with that, I just want to ask you a question. If, and there's that sort of fit with, with your thinking as well?
Caroline: It does. Absolutely. And I think integrity is really important because I think it's something that I think you also I think the more integrity you have, I think the more authenticity you have, as a leader, I think the more of that you have, I also think the more you can look at yourself in the mirror. If you're not I mean and feel confident, who's looking back at you. And I completely agree that that that absolutely comes from integrity, it comes from...
Jon: Knowing that you're doing the right thing because when you're in your integrity, you don't have to worry about what the other side necessarily thinks, right? That's, that's all scripted communication. You're just being who you are. That doesn't mean you have to offend people or do any of that stuff. You're just being who you are. You know, so so. So that's the key here. And you mentioned the keyword authenticity before. Yes, we're living in a world where authenticity today is really an equitable asset like no other. And why? Because you've got so much the opposite of that. Absolutely. And unfortunately, it's just sometimes a little bit difficult to work out what's what isn't it? They try, they try. But as we know, when something becomes scarce, it becomes valuable. That's why authenticity is so valuable right now because it's so scarce. Yes, yes, very true. But what I want to ask you is what I want to ask you as a leader, you have certainly faced also challenging situations in your own career. What I'd like to know is how did you deal with this crisis?
Caroline: Right, so yes, of course. I mean, of course, yes, I've had, I've had crises in my career that has been crises that may have hit one of the businesses that I've been managing, leading. And I've also had personal crises whilst I've been managing businesses. I think when the crisis hits the business, and obviously, I have to say the person confidentiality, obviously don't want to necessarily get into details. But I think when that when the crisis hits a business, going back to something that you sort of said a little earlier, actually, at the moment, the first thing that I have to do is it's about self-leadership. And the first thing, the first thing that I I'm focused on in the moment of when that phone call comes when that crisis hits, or whatever, is just knowing that I've got to lead a company and a team and whoever it is through this, and I have to be able to do that. So my first thought, is what, and this thought may only last a few seconds, but am I able to, you know, am I right now, do I have the resilience to do this? Do I need some help? On a personal level? You know, do I need to reach out to anybody? You know, is there a colleague that I might need to get to help with this? Am I strong enough to do this right now? Now, obviously, thankfully, most of the time, the answer is yes. But I think that's important, you know, the first question. Of course, once that is considered, and I know that the leadership is in the right place. Then, of course, it's about pulling, you know, it's about putting the team together. It didn't it's about coming up with plans and dealing with things. Most things are most things if you keep a calm head about it, because the other thing I think that happens when you're dealing with the crisis as a leader Though it's like anything in life, the more you do it, the more you observe yourself mastering it, the more confident you get at doing it. And actually, of course, over time, as you do manage to get through one crisis or another, you do, of course, as I said, gain the confidence that actually, most things, if you keep a calm head, and you managed to as a keep yourself from the team, you know, with clarity of thinking and not panicking, and not sort of, you know, worrying about what the worst-case scenarios are, and you just work a problem. And it's like anything, you just set out what you're trying to achieve, and there are just steps you take out there. And there aren't many crises that don't somehow event, you know, that don't work themselves out, either. I mean, you know, often things at the moment, and actually feel worse anyway than they actually end up being. But I think it starts, as I said, it's about making sure that you as a leader, are not going to burst out of your office door going, Oh, my God, what's going on? or whatever it may be, you've got to get yourself in check. Make sure that you are strong enough.
Jon: That's leadership, right? People are going to be looking out for you. So does leadership then also implies since we're talking about dealing with a crisis, avoiding the things that are sort of the negative things and just concentrate on all the positives? What're your thoughts on that?
Caroline: Well, I think that there are so I mean, I think to be a good leader, I think, yes, you have to be in a or I certainly have to be in a good frame of mind to do it. And I am somebody like many people that from time to time can suffer from depression. And certainly, if my mind is not in the right place, then I can't be an effective leader for anybody. And I personally have a very simple test that I'll ask myself that that will tell me whether I'm okay or not. Is, am I present in my positive? Am I productive? So am I present in my thinking? And of course, you know, because when I'm not, you know, when, when on those rare occasions when the depression does hit me, then that'll be when my mind starts playing on more things that have gone on in the past, or obsessively worrying about what's going to happen in the future. So when that's so the first, the first thing as I said, is, am I present is my market, you understand what that means? Am I positive? So what I mean by that is, in resting moments, if you know, you know, when I'm lying in the bath, or when I'm just in a resting moment, what is my internal dialogue? Is it positive or not? And then the third thing is, is am I productive? Which, of course, speaks for itself. But am I able to respond to emails? Fine? Am I able to pick up the phone with no property that can I communicate completely normally? And what is my work rate where it should be? And as I said, if those three if I can say, tick, tick, tick to those, which thankfully, I can the vast majority of the time, then I know I'm fine. But if I can't say yes, all of those three, then that's my indication that I might need a little bit of reinforcement or, or, or might need to work on my own resilience a little bit, which sometimes, actually, when I think about it, you know, it's not, I think, managing your own resilience. I mean, of course, we're all in extraordinarily difficult times, now. And we are still under extraordinary pressures. But managing your own resilience in normal sort of times, is actually quite, quite basic and quite easy to do. It is about eating the right things, exercising, you know, is connected to some friends, you know, making sure that you've got a balance in your life, you know, all of those things. And often if I find that I've actually gone off, you know, and perhaps my three P's aren't all tics, when I come down to it is it is actually because I've let something go I'm not exercising as I should be. But I do think, you know, yeah, absolutely. Managing your own resilience and managing your positivity as a leader, and everything is extremely important and possible, and possible, very possible to manage yourself.
Jon: Absolutely. And it fits in, of course, with everything we sort of share from a values point of view. So if you so what you're really saying is, is basically, you know, your own mind, body spirit, if I can use that term. And how you manage that, especially in the times that we're living in, is essential. So when you look at, you know, and our model around the Ying Ying Yang, if you look at the yin and yang model, it's if you look at the Ying and Yang, it's about you know, putting, putting work and getting stronger in your inner world. So you can become stronger in dealing with the outer world and the inner world and outer world the times are totally incongruent. So, so from of course, from a focus point of view, as you mentioned before in discipline, if you haven't got that, you know, that concept working in the balance of some description as much as possible, potentially you can be in trouble, right? Not only for yourself but everyone else around you. You know, so self-leadership for us is is really the key before you start managing people. You know, Bring it back to the individual. So that's great that you said that. And of course, through your own experiences now, how are you dealing with COVID?
Caroline: It's a little bit of a question that I have to say you, you might get a different answer, depending on which day of the week you asked me if you're not, I mean, I'm up and down, I think like a lot of people are, I do. Um, and of course, I'm here in Australia, my family are in England, which provides some unique challenges. But then everyone, I think, has their unique challenges in this Don't, don't they, I mean, there are people, of course, that have got children at home, I don't, there are people that are out of work, I'm not, I can't see my family. Which is, which I'm not going to pretend that's not something that I'm particularly happy with. And that is something that that can bother me. But I am also somebody that that as obviously alluding to, I do think that you know, you can talk yourself into being positive you can, you can do the right things to say stay resilient. And that's exactly what I'm doing. I think that I spent the first six months probably the first long lockdown we had here in Melbourne, kicking and screaming. Not literally, but kicking and screaming, and my mind was trying to problem solve, and this can't be happening. And I think this year, I've sort of changed, take a change tack and just realize that it is happening, there is nothing I can do about it. And there is absolutely no value whatsoever in me wasting all this energy being unhappy about it. That doesn't mean to say I'm happy. You know, are you not thrilled at all that it could, you know, I've got no idea when I'm going to get to see my family again. But it is what it is, I'm here, and I've got a choice, I've got a choice, I can, you know, I can be really unhappy about it and be actively unhappy every single day, or I can choose not to be and I have chosen not to be.
Jon: Yeah, so you're focusing on things you can control. And obviously putting less energy on things you can't control. Yes, you know, and you know, I want to give a tip to our listeners as well. Because even for the ones that are thinking the negative aspects, you know, worrying about things that they sort of can't control, you can actually reframe all that negative energy into positive fuel, as long as you reframe it in the narrative. So if something you know, and this is interesting, if something makes you that angry, take that fuel and create possibility out of it. You know, it's a real reframe from a cognitive behaviour perspective, it's a real reframe, you know, because, and this is interesting, because, of course, you know, I had a client call me recently, and he said, john, a bit like what you said, At the start of COVID, this is driving me crazy, you know, and he's very successful, by the way, is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, okay. And he virtually said, I've had enough of this Bang, bang, bang. And I said to him, great, I said, so out of the 16 minutes in a day, do some screaming, you know, yell at the cat if you have to. And then the next 55 minutes get into action. Because that's what his life has always been about a guy but because, you know, been a bit of a control freak is losing a bit of control now, and that's freaking him out. Right. So that exactly, and by the way, He's, uh, he's back on track now. But you know, the good thing about that was at least, you know, he had the guts to have a conversation about it, right, not acting like, you know, like, a lot of people have enduring stages of this, of this crisis, you know, acting really cool that nothing's bothering them. And behind the scenes, they freak it out, right, even if it is just emotionally. So that was, you know, and we've had a lot of stories like that. So from the point of view of, you know, obviously, you've done a really good job getting yourself to where you are right now, in your experience. You've been in business for a while now, a long time. What are some of the mistakes you've seen, basically leavers, Mike, in dealing with a crisis, or actually not even a crisis, but if it's going to be a crisis, what have you seen specifically in your own experience?
Caroline: Yeah, I think the biggest mistakes can be either panicking or not taking it seriously enough. I mean, obviously, there's two ends of the scale there isn't there have not. And I've actually seen both and I've seen leaders who, who, I guess, are probably so overwhelmed by what's going on that it actually takes a while for the seemingly for the penny to drop that there's actually a crisis happening, that can happen. And it is it is panicking isn't is what you do when you panic. I think it's it's leaders who don't do what they would allow, I'm assuming they would normally do what they would normally do to run the business, which is which as I said, you know, you should have a solid team of people that you can maybe not, you know, some crisis obviously, it's not appropriate that everybody's involved but that you should have, you know, if it's a financial crisis, you should have a decent finance person that you can talk to, if it's a legal crisis, one would hope that you have a good lawyer that you should talk to. And I believe as a leader, it is my job to lead and facilitate getting to the right answer. It is not my job to have all the answers. That's not my job. I'm not, you know, I'm one person I can't, I can't be expected to be, as I said, a finance expert, and legal expert and everything else. That's not my job. But my job is to get us there. And that takes collaboration. And that takes, you know, clarity of thinking, and talking, you know, the same sensible steps that you would ordinarily take to come to a good decision.
Jon: They're also suggesting as well that you don't ask them advice from people that can help you either in a crisis situation where you might be inclined to do that, because you think, oh, what do you think?
Caroline: No, absolutely, you've got to be very focused absolutely on exactly what you're trying to achieve, and said, who the right people are, that are actually going to help you get through it.
Jon: So who's your team, right? Who's your crisis management team.
Caroline: Exactly who's your crisis management team, and I'll circle right back to the fact that and part of that crisis management team could be, as I said, somebody to support you, if it's as the leader, if it's a particularly bad crisis, for sure. And there are times, you know, many years ago, when you and I, you know, work together, you know, there was the old crisis that I hit that I picked up the phone and spoke to you about. And, you know, you were there too, you know, to give me some support, and now, you weren't anything to do with the business, you weren't there helping in any practical way with the business. But as a leader, I, you know, was hitting a couple of crises that I'd never experienced before I was young, then as well as a leader. You know, and, and part of the recovery team was support for me just as much as it was supported or, you know, the right people on a technical and, and obviously practical basis to actually deal with the problem.
Jon: I can give you feedback on that, without breaking any conference, though, you had the courage to ask for help, you know, and in the work that I do, when it becomes really hard with clients, especially with big egos, right. And any, you know, and successful people normally have got big egos. The danger of that is trying to work it all out by yourself. And that becomes so soul-destroying, trying to work it out all by yourself. Because you know, what we've discovered, we know this, we're not good judges of ourselves. We're actually good judges of other people putting out ourselves. You know, it's interesting, right? Okay. You know, and also dealing with yourself, it's not so easy. It's easy giving your opinions to other people about you improve your life. But when it comes to my life, hey, my life's perfect, right? I don't need any help. Right? So you had the courage.
Caroline: And it's, of course not of you know, I don't want to make it sound as overtime, there's a problem with picking up the phone to someone going, Oh, I can't do this. It's not that at all. I mean, I was picking up the phone to you and saying, this is happening. This is what I think what do you know, what do you think it's a sounding board, it's just somebody or for a 20-minute conversation, just to be that sounding board. Because the other thing about leadership, particularly in a crisis, is it can be quite a lonely job. You know, you know, when all roads lead to you, and you are the one and you're facing something pretty major, it's a that can be a very lonely spot to be.
Jon: If you recall, I always used to say to you, Caroline, I'm the Sherpa. And you're the general. Because you're gonna make decisions. In the end. That's what leaders do. In the end, you make good decisions, you know, but the sounding board is the key here. And with that, with that, do you actually it Can you think of any times where you're like you made any common mistakes yourself, the farmer during the crisis? Can you think of any examples? Do you personally have examples?
Caroline: Yes, but I might be repeating the same kind of content? Because, yes, I think when I was a young leader, I think I misunderstood what the point of being a leader was. And when I was a young leader, I think that I thought that it was my job to have all the answers. I thought it was my job to decide on what the answer was, and, and kind of okay, corral everyone into that direction. I didn't really understand I think it took maturity in me into my sort of 30s 40s now into my 50s, to obviously perceive leadership in a different way and understand that that's not what the job is. You know, as I said, it is about marshalling resources. It's about knowing who you know, it's about putting the right team together, isn't it and, and facilitating and managing it through to the right outcome. But I think as a younger leader, I don't think I understood that. And so made lots of mistakes, lots of mistakes, of Yes, thinking that I had to have all the answers thinking that you know if anyone didn't disagree, you know, and probably when I was a very young leader probably thought if people disagreed with me, they, you know, they didn't know what they were talking about. I don't think I sort of perceived collaboration. As such a positive thing to do. I think when I was a really young leader, I perceived collaboration as a potential weakness in some respects in a moment of crisis. But it's not, it's just not. But I think as I said, certainly in me, I think it took maturity and confidence and all of those things we were talking about in terms of being, you know, comfortable in my own skin, to and just general maturity to understand that that's not so that's not what leadership is.
Jon: Yep, we've all been there absolutely been there. So you know, in you, you mentioned the word collaboration. That's such a keyword today, look at the organization that you've built worldwide now, through major collaborations, major collaborations within the vigils with organizations institutions. Wow. I mean, that's, you know, and what you said about collaboration is what is collaboration, it's really the leveraging human beings, it's leveraging, you know, networks, right. That's what collaboration is. So you're gonna say something to that.
Caroline: I think it's also I think collaboration is about focusing on what you do agree on, focusing on what your common goals are focusing on. It's finding those through those points of the crossover aren't it. And one of the things that I think has worked really well with the foundation is to say, which is run entirely by volunteers. So we have a network of about 77 volunteers around the world that work for the organization all the time, and then they'd be you know, hundreds that would be sort of dipping in and out on various different campaigns and things. And I think what worked so well with the foundation particularly, is really playing to, you know, really playing to people's strengths, and what they're good at, and what they want to do, and putting, you know, teams together that have got the right sort of, you know, skill sets, or the right sort of shared passion or the right sort of whatever it is, that does not mean everyone's the same at all. You know, it depends, obviously, what we're trying to achieve. But that is something that, that, you know, when you get it right, which is not difficult, it really isn't. I don't think, as I said, it's about focusing on the bits that you do agree on, and finding those commonalities. And really, really making the most of those. As I said, it's not difficult and collaboration, when you get it right is, it not only has so many more functional and better outcomes, it's also a very, very nice working environment to be part of.
Jon: It is, and that's fantastic. So I just want to ask you another question. So if you had one tip to give for leaders on how they should combat a crisis, what would that be?
Caroline: I think the overall tip for leading a crisis is to focus on the goal. And keep calm, focus on the goal, keep calm, bring the right people together, and just work out what the steps are going to be. Which is more than one tip. But that really is all it is. It really is all it is. And some of those steps of communication, some of those steps are, you know, all sorts of different things. But um, but I don't actually say as I said, I don't actually think solving the crisis is is is is actually involves any different principles in business, to anything else to doing anything in business, you're just usually doing it in much higher pressure, and much shorter time scale normally. But other than that, all of the principles that you bring to our everyday jobs, every principle that we bring about the importance of said whether it be the importance of engaging people, whether it be the importance of communication, whether it be the importance of conferring with the right people, whether you know all of those things that we do every day, quickly.
Jon: And it's something I want to probably mention there, as well as in my own experience working as a, you know, a crisis image manager for a company that went into serious crisis, and I was brought in right at the start, is don't lose a sense of your heart connection. So in this particular case, again, without breaking confidentiality, there was a death, there was a death and what happened was, you know, obviously, there was an opportunity to communicate to the family in a way that really, it was an accident, total accident, to communicate to the family in a loving manner, and get our keep everybody on board and at the same time create a win-win. But what happened was, specifically because there was so much panic, and of course, when, you know, in this case, they're brought in the lawyers very quickly, Lloyd Wright, and the lawyers virtually said, never admit fault, right. We don't have to play you know, the heart-centred game here and before you know, it became a sham, Maazel, because then it became a legal case. As opposed it was a human case. You know, the family understood it was an act. But something was created that really was beyond what would actually happen. You know, so we brought him, but in the end, look, in the end, it was still a problem. But the hard aspect was really taken away because the hardest part was like, This is whatnot, you know, tough guys don't do this in a crisis, right? You know, and it's like, so disconnected from reality as a human being, right? Because that's exactly what you're doing a crisis, you bring the heart back, you know, and try to pacify everybody that you know what it's not, it's not the end of the world. Of course, it's a death. Yeah, that's serious. It's a tragedy. But, you know, we can't do much about that we could, you know, and if we get into this other stuff, we can make the situation so much worse. So, so that's, like, you know, that was part of my experience. And, of course, that in the end, there became a serious problem for the company. And we, you know, we have to sort of mitigate, mitigate the losses, you know, from a reputation point of view. So from that, you know, mentioning the reputation damage that happened in from my experience with a particular organization that I've just mentioned before we finish, Carolina wants to say that all leaders obviously care about their reputations. So, in reference to yourself, how has personal branding, elevated your leadership positioning in the world that you operate today?
Caroline: So the world I operate in, I represent my family, I represent to say, in some way, I represent Jane Austen, I'm talking about with the Jane Austen literacy foundation. I also, you know, I represent the foundation The foundation is is a worldwide community of people who donate their time, their money for literacy projects, literacy programs, and myself and the board, we choose which literacy programs are going to be funded, you know, there's a lot of responsibility around what we do. And I take that very seriously. And I think that in terms of my own personal branding, again, I think it comes down to confidence. And I think it comes down also to giving yourself a compass. And personal branding is really like any branding, to a certain extent, it is an articulation of what's there, isn't it, you're not making up something, you're, you know, you're putting us, yes, some sort of articulation and some sort of, you know, structure and understanding around who you are, how you want to express that, what your values are. And I think going through a process like that for yourself does exactly the same as it does for any product brand, whatever you're talking about, I think it as I said, I think it sort of puts a stake in the ground, that gives you a sense of security and a sense of, you know, stability. And I think that that then leads to confidence. And I think you get a virtuous sort of circle, don't you were the more confident you become. Because I also think that personal branding, can it's like anything when you sort of, you know, people, and I'm one of them, where I'll set myself a goal, I set myself goals every year. And by setting those goals, that's actually something that really helps me achieve them just the process of thinking through what I want my goals to be the process of actually, you know, committing to them and putting them down and saying this year, I want to achieve these three big things in my life, say, and actually just going through the process really makes it happen. And I think personal branding can do that as well. Because I think obviously when you're thinking through, you're your own brand and what you want, as I said what your values are and things, you always put a little bit of aspirational kind of stuff in there. You know, there's always this sort of, you know, who do I want to be as a leader says, or who do I want to be? And yes, it's authentic. I don't mean you're sort of creating something else. But I actually think that identifying what my personal brand is identifying and knowing what my own values are, has actually made me live them better. Because you know, because I know what they are. So I actually think I have become better as a leader and and and have probably developed more in those areas because I've identified them and attach myself to them.
Jon: Thank you. That's fantastic. Caroline, before we complete for today, where can our listeners find out more about your work?
Caroline: So in terms of the foundation, because of course I have a business as well. But in terms of the foundation, www.janeaustenlf.org is where you want to look. We're also obviously on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and everybody expects but www.janeaustenlf.org You will find all about us there.
Jon: Thank you. Thank you very much. That's fantastic. Well, Carolyn, we've come to the end of the program. I'd like to take this opportunity to really thank you for your input and your authenticity. It was really powerful. I'm sure our audiences are going to love this. And yeah, thank you for giving us your time. It's been an absolute pleasure having you here.
Caroline: It's been great to talk to you, Jon. Thank you for having me.
Jon: Also, I kindly ask you to write the show on Apple Podcasts. For this, you just need to click on the link in the episode description. And if you liked this episode, remember to share it with friends, family and colleagues. Last but not least, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on a platform that you're listening to. So every time we have a new episode, you'll be notified. Thank you all I look forward to chatting again next week. Cheers.
"Jon Michail’s Personal Branding Masterclass" Podcast is sponsored by Image Group International, a global team of practical, digitally savvy personal brand and image strategists, based in Australia, committed to maximizing your impact, influence and authority in the business world. To learn more and apply for your personal coaching, seminars and group workshops please visit imagegroup.com.au or call 1800 631 311.