#81: Alice Bromage – Empowering Success & The Leadership Of Queen Elizabeth II

Thursday October 27, 2022

There’s a lot of noise in leadership circles around themes like get comfortable being uncomfortable, bring calm to chaos, control the uncontrollable. But how do we know when we’re actually uncomfortable? Or in chaos? Are we supposed to be scared by these times…or do they offer an opportunity to excel and demonstrate our best at a time when everything says we should be at our worst? 

To answer these questions Alice Bromage joins Fran Racioppi from London to discuss how we actually know when we’re not acting our best and how we first define what our best really looks like.  Alice founded a leadership development program focused on what she calls Resilient Leadership – or the ability to determine what’s your best, when you are not acting your best, and how to get back to your best. 

As an officer in the British Royal Army, Alice served under Queen Elizabeth II, so Fran took the opportunity to ask Alice all about the Queen, her leadership, and how the queen set the example for world leadership for over 70 years. 

Learn more about Alice and Empowering Success at www.empowering-success.co.uk and on social media @empoweringsuccessuk

Listen to the podcast here

About Alice Bromage

TJP 81 | Resilient Leadership


There is more in you than you think: Lets unlock that potential.

A hybrid of 20+ years in the Army, mixed with a family background of entrepreneurial business owners. I bring a practical, output driven approach to growing you and your business.
– Whether in the City of London, the wilds of Africa, or the Middle East – the more challenging the better.

Business reviews, 1-2-1 coaching, team development and motivational speaking. I also take a lucky few to swim with the Orcas in Arctic Norway each year- the ultimate leadership development arena. Next stop lions in Africa & Tigers in India… or bespoke trips to suit your needs.

Businesses I have coached have had up to a 40% growth rate, and entrepreneurs starting out – have grown month on month for the duration of the coaching programme & beyond.

If you want to grow your business & career so that you have an outstanding business culture, high performance work ethic, and are a thought leader and disrupter in your arena – then we will be a good fit.

Dynamic teams bring out the best in each other, and their workforce. I help you navigate the challenges that may put this at risk & embed best working practise throughout the business.

I have led teams of >100; responsible for providing analysis and support to decision makers running organisations 5000+ strong within Middle East, Europe & Africa.

With global politics in flux, business and security situations across the globe require dynamic responders. Resilient leadership, effective change management are essential. I can help you hone those skills.

In my ‘spare’ time, I am the UK Ambassador & motivational trainer for the world’s first female anti-poaching unit (www.Empowering-Success.co.uk/blackmambas), am on the Advisory Council for International Disaster Response Expo, and on the board of TinyG – a group specialising in CT response advice. I am also a coach & mentor for Supporting Wounded Veterans.

Alice Bromage – Empowering Success & The Leadership Of Queen Elizabeth II

There’s a lot of noise in leadership circles around themes like, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable, bring calm to chaos and control the uncontrollable.” We say we live in a VUCA world, a world in which volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity surround us in our decisions. We throw around terms like resiliency, adaptability and drive as traits we must demonstrate to be effective leaders but how do we know when we’re actually in these states or when we’re uncomfortable? What is chaos? How do we even know what we can and can’t control? Are we supposed to be scared by VUCA or does it offer an opportunity to excel and demonstrate our best at a time when everything says we should be at our worst?

To answer these questions, I asked Alice Bromage to join me from London to discuss how we know when we’re not acting our best and how we first define what our best looks like. Alice served as an officer in the British Royal Army where she led soldiers across the Middle East, Africa and Europe. She served alongside US Forces in Afghanistan and Iraq operating under one of our favorite Jedburgh’s General Stan McChrystal in the Joint Special Operations Command.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

Alice has gone on and found a leadership development program focused on what she calls resilient leadership or the ability to determine what’s your best when you’re not acting your best and how you get back to being your best. As an officer in the British Royal Army, Alice served under Queen Elizabeth II, so I took the opportunity to ask Alice all about the Queen, her leadership across diplomatic, informational, military and economic fronts and just how the Queen set the example for world leadership for over 70 years.

Alice is an avid mentor, coach and leadership professional who advises some of the world’s largest companies. Subscribe to us and follow @JedburghPodcast on all social media and check out our website at JedburghPodcast.com. Learn more about Alice at Empowering-Success.co.uk and on social media @EmpoweringSuccessUK.

Alice, welcome to The Jedburgh Podcast.

Thank you so much. It’s wonderful to be here.

You’re joining us from England, which is a first for the show. I will admit that right here at the beginning.

I’m aware that I was meant to come and meet you in Boston. Thank you because I need to do this one online as my trip was slightly waylaid at very short notice. It would be fun. Hello from London.

We’ve been trying to get this one on the books for a bit. We’ve been going back and forth. You had to postpone. I had to postpone, but I’m excited because now we’re here because we have spent so much time on this show. It’s called the Jedburgh show and even though it’s called that, so much of our conversations about leadership have been about US-based leaders. We have to be cognizant of the fact and make it an important part of our show that Jedburghs were three men teams, 1 British, 1 American, and 1 French operator.

I was excited about this episode when I met you because this was an opportunity to start to introduce our oldest friends and our oldest foe, the British into the conversation about Jedburghs, leadership, what we’re doing here, and how we came together. You have set that example as an officer in the British Army, a Sandhurst grad, which is the military academy for the UK. You’ve gone on to become an international professional development coach, a leadership coach, and a mentor to so many.

We’re going to talk about it all. We’re going to talk about your career. We’re going to talk about some of the relationships between the US and Britain and we’re going to talk about the queen, which I’m excited about because the queen has set an example for leadership for 70 years as she has become and will be one of the greatest leaders that the world has ever seen. I’m excited to get your thoughts on that too.

I am looking forward to it and what a great boss. I’ll just put it in there. I couldn’t have asked for a greater boss for the whole of my military career. Hats off to her.

I’m going to ask you all about it, but let’s start with leadership. There’s a tremendous amount of noise when we talk about leadership around these theories of getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, bringing calm to chaos, and controlling the uncontrollable. We talk about the VUCA world, the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity but how do we know when we’re in these worlds or when we’re in these different states?

We always talk about we have to operate well in this state but we never take time to take a step back and say, “When am I perfect? When is everything working? When am I at my optimal self? When am I at my best self?” How do we then analyze and understand, “I’m not feeling right? I might be in this VUCA world. I might be uncomfortable. I might be in this uncontrollable environment if I’ve never actually defined this as perfection.”

You’re one of the few people who’ve made the definition of this a staple of your leadership model. You’ve called it resilient leadership. You said resilient leaders know what takes them from pressure to stress and how to rebalance. Can you take a couple of minutes, to define in your words resilient leadership and what is the difference between pressure and stress?

To start with, is it even looking at where are we with resilience too? For the pressure-to-stress part, I’d take the idea that to create a diamond, you put carbon under pressure. You are taking a raw material. You’re putting it under a lot of pressure and it’s growing. It’s not comfortable, but it’s growing and you’re going to get stronger out the other side. Stress in comparison, if we are talking about solids, you stress something too often and it breaks.

For me, pressure is where you’ve got the adrenaline. You’re being able to bring all of your different skills to the fore. It’s almost being on the crest of a wave. You’re being able to keep up the tempo. You’re in that creative problem-solving mode. We can hold it almost like being in the flow. You might be under pressure, but it’s bringing the best out in you. You’re hoping that it’s bringing the best out in you if you’ve prepared for it and tried to work out where are your strengths and where are your weaknesses so that you’ll be able to put in that high-tempo response when you are working in your areas of strengths and confidence.

When I’d say you are under stress is when you’re in a zone where you are not comfortable with how much you might be out of control because, at the end of the day, you can’t control everything. You might be put into situations where you don’t feel you have the skills, the acumen, or the understanding to be there. You essentially start going more into the fight-flight response, which is your risk of becoming far more emotionally responsive and not having that calm, measured response to a situation.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“Pressure is where you are in the flow, you’re producing the goods, you’re actually kind of thriving on that high tempo piece.”

For me, pressure is where you’re in the flow. You’re producing the goods. You are thriving on that high-tempo piece. Stress is where you’ve gone off the other end. You are starting to be running unnaturally on adrenaline and essentially you are going to be verging towards where that’s not sustainable for a long period of time. Your decision-making starts to drop. Your ability to communicate well will often start to drop and also your energy levels. You can’t sustain protracted periods of stress without it starting to impact you and the team.

The resilient leadership part for me and all of that starts with you needing to know yourself. On the premise that resilient leadership starts from within so then you understand what’s going to help bring out the best in you. We help people talk through, “When am I at my best? How do I set myself up for the strong energy?” Looking at your skills, your energy, and your outcome mastery and being able to go, “What’s going to bring my behavioral strengths and my skills to the fore? Similarly going, “What are potential areas that I’m more vulnerable to?” For example, I am not great at spreadsheets. I’m not great at a lot of detail.

[bctt tweet=”Resilient leadership starts within. If you know yourself, you can bring out the best in you. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

Me either. That’s why I studied Journalism.

Whereas if you put a whiteboard in front of me and you ask me to do a strategy session and we whiteboard out, bring out loads of different people’s views, you are there helping lead a session, but bringing everyone with you and I can do that part. I need someone else, or at least I don’t need one. I ask someone else to put down the minutes, put them into a spreadsheet, and so on. For your team, different people will need different forms and styles of information flow, etc.

That’s where for me, asking me to put that into a spreadsheet will potentially be quite stressful. Asking someone who loves detail will think this is the best thing ever and often will find the whiteboarding session potentially quite stressful. This is also where you learn amongst the team where each of your skills. You can dovetail and bring out the best in each other but also like a mesh, you are providing the safety net for each other. You’re bringing out the strengths and optimizing those rather than looking at people’s weaknesses and saying, “You must work on that. Go and do 25 spreadsheets until you’re good at it.”

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“Stress is where you’ve gone off the other end. You’re starting to run unnaturally on adrenaline…Your decision making starts to drop. Your ability to communicate well will often start to drop.”

The question then becomes when are you under pressure and when are you under stress and how do you identify it? One of the things that I have here that I pulled from some of your work is this spectrum. The spectrum asks the question, “How resilient are you and your team?” It says, “Resilient leaders know what takes them from pressure to stress and how to rebalance,” and so on. On one side, you have this equilibrium and then you move to uncertainty, crisis, and chaos. I’m wondering if you can talk through that and about how you identify where you are on this spectrum and what behaviors you have to exhibit to move along it.

I’d say for each different person, it’s different. We again look at triggers. When you’ve practiced something, it’s a little bit like going to a location for the first time or even for me working out how to come onto your lovely show now. Once you’ve been through a system once, twice, or three times, it gets easier and easier. It’s the same if you go through, for example, red teaming, being able to go through scenarios. We talk through potential challenges that are coming up. We get teams to look 10 years out, come back to 5 years or 18 months, and go, “What do you want to achieve?” They can start then looking at, “What are the factors that are going to support us in creating that longer-term success? What are potential vulnerabilities for us?”

You can start almost helping them role-play through and look for triggers of what might cause significant stress. COVID comes along and the teams that are already strong in communication style pivoted into home working relatively easily. We went through some scenarios of how could they engage their team, etc. Some of the business leaders I met didn’t have coaches alongside them to help them navigate that period of change, which was swift, and with very little practice time, they became highly stressed. They lost any sense of growth mindset. It became crisis management and response.

That’s where I look at where you are going from equilibrium, what your day-to-day is, what it’s going to create, and what you are good at. What’s going to help you keep that flow? What are the areas that worry you? Are you trying to hold onto control too much? Do you have weaknesses in the team? Do you have financial vulnerability? Are the structural issues leave you vulnerable in the team? Those can then become stress areas for one team.

I’d give an example of we’d started looking at the Chinese ability to create software products and technical products. They make video technology. We were able to preempt what do we think was going to come during COVID and what could potentially be challenging issues that the supply chain started to anticipate so they could look for being able to create resilience within the team. Mentally for them as leaders, they were also removing some of that stress for themselves by pre-planning. Also, helping them have the knowledge of, “I can start to say I’m getting tired. My communication style isn’t as strong. I’m maybe starting to get short with people.”

Realizing you are almost getting to a crisis point in your own self, bringing them back of how to be calm, how you get your energy back, and how you set yourself up for success in a steady environment working out when you need to take a step back and saying, “Team, I’ll be back in 5 minutes or give me 2 minutes,” and you come off Zoom. Give them space to think and bring yourself back rather than an uncontrolled response to being able to come back into, “I’m back into my flow. I feel comfortable with this. I’ve had a moment to think.”

As simple as even saying to the team, “Let’s take a quick five-minute coffee break.” Everybody comes off Zoom or if they’re in an office, take a few moments. You are able to bring yourself back into the creative headspace where your brain is allowing you to find practical solutions to problems and it hasn’t gone into the fight or flight. “My creative has closed and I’m now just responding through emotion.”

When we talk about leadership and when we talk about, “How do you start making a definitive change?” There are a lot of people who think, “I can read a book. I’ll sit in a lecture or I’ll go to this keynote and I’m going to walk out and I’m going to be a great leader.” I tell people that I work with all the time that it doesn’t work that way. There’s no number of times that I can stand up in front of you, pump you up, get you excited, and all of a sudden, you’re going to walk out and you’re going to be some great leader of an organization. It comes down to self-developmental work and that work starts with that internalization.

When you have that internalization, that’s where you’re able to know when am I being short with somebody. Normally, I start a meeting and I talk about this at my company, Analytix where I’m the Chief People Officer for it right now. I talk about it with the leader in the leadership program that I’m running with the executives and I say, “How many times have you gone into a meeting and you sit there and you realize that something’s not right?”

Normally, you start the meeting and you start asking people, “How was your weekend? How are the kids? How’s your family?” but now, you’ve jumped right into it. You’re asking pointed questions. You’re asking why. You’re trying to move quickly. What has that done to the room? What has that done to the other people? Are they now on edge? Is everybody in the room now on edge because they don’t understand what’s wrong with the boss? Why are they acting like that? What’s now pressuring you?

Are you going to be able to take an internal look for a moment, pump the brakes and say, “Something’s not right? I’m off my baseline.” Like you, I start all my conversations and my developmental sessions with this best self-statement. Let’s do the internalization. Let’s talk about our strengths. Let’s talk about our weaknesses. Let’s lay them out there. Let’s talk about opportunities and let’s define, “I’m my best self when.” Now, we have a starting point when I’m sitting in the meeting and I would go, “I went at that person and I have no idea why or what’s going on.”

Also, creating a psychologically safe environment. I remember when we were in the military. You’ve always got an adjutant or you’ve got your 2IC or you’ve got somebody who potentially if they can see that you’re slightly off-kilter or if you haven’t got the emotional intelligence at that moment because you are in a high-response time. They might come up with a cup of coffee or a cup of tea or whatever it is and say, “Would you like this?” They’d almost break the flow of your tempo not in a bad way, but in a good way to give you that moment for reflection. There are some interesting things about managing up as well.

We do a lot with teams of going, “Don’t expect the boss to know everything and be perfect. They’re still human.” The business will never outgrow your personality. Part of this is helping someone be able to ride that wave of adrenaline and of having more asked of them of their responsibility. Not having that impostor syndrome of, “Everybody’s waiting for my response,” to instead going, “I feel comfortable talking to my team and my team is also going to feel comfortable enough to speak to me and go, ‘This is great. Should we have a quick five minutes?’”

[bctt tweet=”Don’t expect the boss to know everything and be perfect. They are still human. The business will never outgrow your personality. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

If you’ve prepped the team well, you will know. If one of your teams suggests that you have a quick five-minute break, there’s probably something in the leadership that needs to have a pause for breath where they don’t want to be openly subservient or might cause a difficult situation. They can see the leader might well need a few moments to reconsider an option, think through something that’s very challenging, and not make a knee-jerk response.

We do that a lot with teams and I found that’s worked well where the psychological safety and that takes a strong leader to be able to do that. Ironically, I learned part of that from being with your US SOF. We had worked for McChrystal for a little bit and saw him open the floor to any questions, any thoughts and he didn’t try and be the person that knew everything.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“The business will never outgrow your personality.”

By default, it removed a lot of the pressure from the room because then it didn’t matter if you were the lowest analyst through to one of the other senior commanders. Everybody knew they could have a voice, but it gave him thinking time that he wasn’t always the one trying to command through the direction. He was allowed to receive ideas and thoughts, process them, and then come back out with the next plan.

We had General McChrystal on Episode 34. It was one of the first episodes that we did in person and it was the first time I had met him. He had such an ability to command the room, but also be inclusive and be able to get everybody to be comfortable voicing opinions and speaking yet, you still know that the input is going to be received. It’s going to be listened to and there’s going to be a decision possibly made off of this. That was one of the few times where I’ve sat across from somebody and been like, “Oh, my God. I’m talking to General McChrystal,” halfway through the recording.

That was a great experience and conversation we had with him on his book, Risk. I want to ask you about the self-assessment piece because when we talk about the self-assessment piece and we dig into it, you used three engines to go through this exercise and you call it the strength engine, the challenging engine, and the feedback engine. Can you talk about these three and what the difference is?

Essentially, the strengths engine is where you put down, “Where are you now?” I’m sure you probably have something similar with the programs. When you’re developing leadership, it can feel slightly amorphous. It’s not like you’ve got start to finish. Whereas, if you’ve been able to say, “Where am I? What’s my strategic intent?” We’ve got four areas we look at, clarity of direction, resilient decision-making, awareness, and your leadership presence.

We have a tool that enables you to put in, “Where do you feel now?” There’s a multi-choice questionnaire of about 72 questions and it’s had thousands of people go through it. The resilience leadership team who put that assessment tool together has been doing it for fifteen-plus years. It’s questions that help you see where are your strengths and where are you potentially vulnerable.

Let’s say, for example, we’ll often find that when somebody’s clear on their strategic intent, they’re often also quite clear about the intention with which they want to lead. Whereas, if you’re not sure, for example, of your determination, you’re then often seeing question marks about how is your resilient decision-making also pairing with that. You can see which of the areas you’re currently feeling confident with as a leader at the start of the program and then which areas we can work on.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“When somebody’s really clear on their strategic intent, they’re also often quite clear about the intention in which they want to lead.”

The challenge engine is then, for example, self-awareness. Within awareness, we have self-awareness, awareness of others, and awareness of the environment. You might be brilliant at knowing your environment, but not that great at knowing your own self. The challenge engine helps pick out almost little coaching questions for you to work on during the week so that you can then be able to write up the answers and almost journal through.

You’ll have the one-to-one coaching, but you’ve also got these little challenges to help spark your mind with things like inviting you to ask somebody you would never normally ask the opinion of what they think of a problem. To try and help you with decision-making bias, rather than saying, “Who are the three people you could ask,” the specific question is, “Who can you go and ask for their view that you would never normally approach to explore this question?”

It’s helping you broaden without berating yourself. It’s helping you view the world through a different lens. The feedback engine is that once you’ve got clear on what you want to achieve, you’ve started to work out your areas of strength. You’re then doing your challenges to help your own growth. It is going back to your team or the people who are going to be having good exposure to where you are.

Let’s say, for example, if you’re a team lead, we invite the person to go back for feedback from their team. It’s like 360 effectively, and they answer the same questions as you’ve answered so you can see how other people perceive you in comparison to yourself. If you are, for example, a CEO, you might get your C-Suite. If you’re wanting to know how the team responds to you or you might get your board and the investors to do it instead if you’re wanting to see.

You look at which cohort you’re wanting to get feedback from. What’s fascinating about our leadership journey is our own self-perception versus other people’s perceptions. Some people can be exceedingly confident. We had a guy. It’s on a circle and it comes out with different colors showing where you are. In his own perception, there was nothing more he could ever do as a leader. Everything was brilliant. “Why are we here? Wonderful. This is going to be easy.” We put it through the feedback loop.

We’re here to talk about you.

It was like, “That’s interesting.” He then got to see how people perceived him and then you can look at why. Because the questions have been the same, it shows they aligned with each other. You can go, “Am I describing my strategic content clearly and regularly to my team? Do they perceive my decision-making to be resilient, flexible, etc.?” They’re giving real specifics of how they do or don’t think you are performing and you can then view it against how you perceive yourself and then we can help work through that.

Again, on the growth spectrum, you’d be amazed at how many leaders might think they’re terrible at something and the team thinks they’re fantastic. They think they’re fantastic at something and the team’s going, “Not from our perspective.” It’s like putting a mirror in front of you. It can be powerful, especially as a team. You can also do that as a whole team. We’ve done it with up to 60 people where we then merge all the results so you can see not just as an individual, but as a team, where is the leaning?

For one of the teams during COVID, there was a group of 1,000 scientists and we had the leaders out of that scientific team. They had no self-awareness between them. It was just blank, which was fascinating. For the other parts, it was amazing, but I went back to the team who do all of the algorithms and I said, “Can you check this?” They said, “No, Alice. We’ve been through it all.” It was fascinating for them to the team because they were finding communication online during COVID as a bunch of very analytical strong scientists quite challenging.

Also, how to manage each other and how to bring out the best in each other. Again, it was helpful of them to realize there’s nothing wrong with any of us. This is an area that isn’t a natural strength. Now, we can look at it and address it. There’s no vilification. There’s no judgment in where you are. It’s helping give you a window to see what your areas of strengths are and where you need to be working.

The most important part of the self-assessment piece is that we don’t conduct the self-assessment. We don’t do behavioral analysis. We don’t do whatever tests you choose to do or whatever evaluation you want to use to understand who you are. You can’t do it under this critical eye. I run these with groups and organizations. You sit there and you look at data. You analyze the data and you sit down with somebody and you talk about their behavioral report. You can never do it in a way that they’ll ask, “Is that good?” I’ll say, “It’s not good or bad.” You can’t look at it like that.

If you’re high in dominance or you have low patience or you are not detail-oriented, that’s not good or bad. That’s just how you are. How do you now think about that? I know that. I like other people to handle the details, but when I have to, I’ll jump into the details and I’ll do it without patience very aggressively to a fine point until I feel that I’ve done what’s required to get it back on track.

Then, I’m going to go back to looking at the big picture and worrying about the next thing. I know that about me, but I also know that if I do that if somebody else was working on that, now how are they going to feel? They might feel that I micromanage them, I was upset with them, I put them down, and made them feel bad about what they were doing.

I always have to approach those moments as a coaching or a teaching point. Let me show you or let me work with you and not come across because I’m also super high in dominance. I can’t come in and say, “Let me tell you why you’re all messed up and here’s how I’m going to do it. Sit there and watch.” You have to have that approach, but I know that about myself and the more I know that about myself, the more I can change my communication and behavior to interact with those people to drive them to the end result that I need.

That’s how I recruit. For our team, we’re probably quite similar from that perspective, but maybe that’s why we’ve had similar backgrounds. When I did my own behavioral profiles and I was like, “If only I’d done this earlier, I would’ve been able to work out how to excel and be less stressed.” I’d be in pressure situations, but excelling rather than going through periods of high stress when someone says, “Read this 25-page document in the next 25 minutes.”

I hire people who love details are and brilliant finishers. When they come to work with us, I’m like, “I’m not seeing whether or not you are suitable for us. You are seeing whether I am suitable for you or I am somebody you can work with because I need your skills. I don’t have it as a natural strength, which means I need you to feel comfortable that I might be coming up with big wild ideas and I need your detailed eye and for you to love what you are doing.”

That’s been a real success for us. Those who’ve tried to come in and be too much the same as me. I’m like, “I don’t need someone the same. I need someone different,” and that’s where you are helping complement the areas that are not my areas of strength. You are helping defuse ever even getting to that moment of needing to dive in, being difficult, etc. but that takes a lot of open communication and reassurance all the time going, “I need you to be your best because your area of strength is the one that is my area of vulnerability. Please do your best and let’s work together.”

I’ve found that teams flourish with that when they’re given the permission to excel and not be embarrassed at being brilliant. So often you hear of the Tall Poppy Syndrome. You want to chop off the person that’s going to excel. There’s a lovely little phrase and it’s probably not what the military would normally lean towards, but the idea that because one flower is blossoming, it doesn’t ask for the flower next door to not blossom too.

When we’re all shining, we can all blossom. You get an amazing response, the business thrives, you grow, you get positive reinforcement from each other and you are dovetailing people’s skills. You’re occasionally going to get a rub, but you realize it’s because of behavioral preference differences, not because of values or something else.

[bctt tweet=”When everyone on the team is shining, the business thrives. People will reinforce each other’s skills. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

Another part of the resilient leadership assessment is your values because helping ensure that people are clear on what’s important to them. The biggest way in which you’re going to start to provide stress rather than pressure is also if you break someone’s value chain. If they are very strong in a value set and you put them into a scenario that is against their value set.

For example for me, protection of life. You protect those that can’t protect themselves. That’s one of the military phrases here. That’s our role is to protect those that can’t protect themselves. I went and worked in a Horn of Africa country as a consultant and the team I was working with is a brilliant team, but the larger employer was more worried about the bottom line in comparison to stopping assassinations every night.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“The biggest way in which you are going to start to provide stress rather than pressure is also if you break someone’s value chain.”

I was there to do the leadership and the analytics development and I was like, “I’m sorry we’re having up to six assassinations a night. I have the skill set to help stop this. We’re training up the team and you’re not enabling us to.” That took me massively not from being high pressure because it’s a high-pressure environment to stress at knowing I have the skill set to save a life, “You are actively not allowing us to use it.”

I left that team the following month because for me that split was too much. They wanted a yes person. The interesting part about personal leadership is that I wasn’t the leader of the team, but my own personal leadership meant that I was not happy to see my values of protecting life not being held, which I was recruited for. There’s an interesting piece there too. I work a lot with investment banks here and I love the financial industry. It’s so fascinating, and to work with teams where you’re helping them get clear on their value system. There is no room for money laundering. There’s no room for fraud. There’s no room for sexism or bullying within the environment.

That’s rewarding for me to help a team develop that and then you see them flourish. The clients are happy, the team is becoming more profitable and all of those parts because you’re setting a strong positive environment for people to work in but it has to have almost a zero tolerance, but without zero tolerance, you start to have question marks of, “If it’s becoming subjective, who makes that choice?”

Whereas if you’ve got the team aligned, we’re all looking after each other and this is our value system. You know your work, so how you do it, the culture you come from, the age you are, and the background you have, all of that doesn’t matter. That’s where you get wonderful diversity but it has to be inclusive where you all have the same similar value set. You’re working towards a common goal.

Trust matters. A common set of values builds trust. You can talk about that in terms of even in training. One of the things that I’ve brought a lot of parallels to in my work with security organizations is what you do in basic training in the military. You show up at basic training and they give you a little manual. It fits in your cargo pocket and it’s called a skill-level one book. They don’t care where you’ve come from. They don’t care what you might know or don’t know but the only thing that matters for nine weeks of basic training is that every single day you’re going to get trained in something out of that book.

When you’re finished, you’re all baseline. Maybe you know a little bit more about something, or maybe you don’t but there’s a bare minimum that everybody knows. In the organization, the person standing next to me knows this. They know that I know it. Those who lead my organization know that I know it and from here we can go. When I work with security organizations and we talk about training. We talk about building values and building culture and ultimately, building trust between each other and trust between leadership and those who are executing operations. It all comes down to, “Do I know what you’ve been trained on? Do I know what you ascribe to do? I know what your values are or what your red lines are?”

Once we have that established, we can do those special things. We can do those more complex tasks. We can do the things that become more challenging, but we have to establish trust and trust comes from knowing what our values are, what our mission is, and what our baseline level of foundation is. Now, we can build upon that. A lot of this comes back into the military.

You spent your time in the British Army. You graduated from Sandhurst, which is the Royal Military Academy. You then served in the Middle East, Africa, India, Europe, and across North America. You talked about your time with JSOC and General McChrystal. You served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why go into the British Army?

I didn’t work hard enough at school. Somebody came to school and recruited me from school and said, “Do you want to see the world?” I was like, “That sounds great.” I did a year in the Army and they call it a short service, a limited commission service as a gap year. You get to go and try before you buy. You do a short commissioning course. I went to university and realized it was expensive to go through the university. I’d been offered a military scholarship. I’m being brutally honest here. Did I have any great aspirations to be the next general? No. A lot of my family had served in the world wars. My father did National Service in the ’50s in Kenya.

I didn’t come from a direct military encouragement to go in, but I like the people. For better or for worse, I wasn’t sure what to do at the end of university. I thought, “I’ll get a Sandhurst anyway. It’s only another year.” I got to the end of the year and I was like, “I’ve done a year now. I might as well stay.” Mine’s been a slight inadvertent career. I bought a house and I needed to pay the mortgage. I got sent to Sierra Leone. We were chasing down war criminals and I was like, “What a beautiful place.” Again, I go to Iraq.

We went to Sierra Leone just as the 2003 Iraq war was kicking off. That was an opportunity to try and keep West Africa stable as they were having lots of challenges there on the premise that they thought potentially if you’ve now got different troops going into the Middle East, is that going to cause a distraction so West Africa can kick off again?

The UK sent a whole bunch of troops back to Sierra Leone. I found that in the nicest possible way, people fight for what they love. People fight for what’s beautiful. I don’t know if you’ve found it similar, but I’ve yet to go to a war zone that isn’t geographically beautiful and very emotive. These people are fighting for their homes. They’re fighting for their lifestyle and what’s been dear to them. To offer something and to try and help create a more stable environment to create a piece, gives you purpose.

That’s hard to replicate when you come home. It’s that existential purpose of doing something bigger than you and the military gives us an amazing ability, for better or for worse. We’re coming onto the queen later. I had my last blood test, having been in the hospital, which is why we’ve had the in and out for the show. I’ve been able to talk to almost every porter there that comes from West Africa, East Africa, Southern Africa, different parts of the Caribbean, and areas out the Middle East.

For me, what a privilege to be able to talk to them about their own homes and to be able to talk through the realities of how have they come over during the Civil War. They’ve had to come over. Some of them, escapers, refugees, and others have come over for education. I see that as a huge privilege to be able to go to these parts of the planet that no one else could go to because I happen to be part of one that hopes for a securing force. When you talk about trust, there’s an interesting model by a guy called Snow who’s American as well.

It’s the idea that you can make a mistake with skills. You can potentially make a mistake with an outcome, but you have to be clear of the benevolent intent that everything has been done with good intent. Everything from us going into countries, whether it’s right or it’s wrong, that’s a political decision but if every day when we are on the ground, we’re going with benevolent intent to help those that we’re meant to be either protecting or supporting.

It’s the same in business. If you are making a business decision and you’re doing it with benevolent intent to look after the client, to look after your team, you can help somebody through it if it doesn’t go perfectly. We’re all human, but you know they’ve gone with the benevolent intent and that’s where that values thing aligns. Probably one for another day is when we hit cultural barriers where we can see the value set doesn’t align and that can cause some real challenges, especially for leadership of going, “I’ve got my strategic intent of what I have to do, but culturally this is now creating quite a few challenges.” We have that in all walks of life. Leadership isn’t simple but is working through what’s important to you and the team and what’s the intent of the outcome you’re trying to achieve.

[bctt tweet=”If you are making a business decision with benevolent intent to look after your client and team, you can still help somebody even if it doesn’t go perfectly. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

One of the greatest places on earth to test exactly what you’re talking about between the overall intent versus cultural differences is Africa. You spent a significant amount of time in Africa across East Africa, West Africa, Central Africa, and North Africa. That’s what you see. Africa identifies as a continent and yes, depending on the day, there are 50, 51, and 52 countries depending on who’s having a coup and what it looks like. They’re also different.

Even within those countries, different geographical regions of those countries will have a multitude of different languages, tribes, and cultures. You can sit in a room and everybody’s Nigerian. You can have 5 people on the other side of the table and 8 different opinions that will come from those people because of how they aligned politically and culturally, where their tribe is, and where they live versus where they came from.

How do you have that experience as a leader to then take that into organizations? Whenever I talk to somebody who says, “I spent a lot of time in Africa,” that gets my year because I have to ask the question, “Who are you talking to, and what were you talking about?” Those are some of the most complex challenges. We talk about the commander’s intent. Why are we here? The commander’s intent’s pretty simple. Go there and leave the place better than when you got there and stop the bad guys from killing the innocent. You get there and realize that it’s not quite that simple.

I always try and do lots of research before I go anywhere for exactly that piece of trying to understand the cultural dynamics of where you’re going. One of the best pieces of advice I was given when we were going into the Horn of Africa on this specific project where I then found there was a cultural malalignment later was one of the generals who’d been there for several years said, “Don’t do anything for the first two months.” I fed that back into the team and all we did was listen. The greatest privilege is that the team we were going to support came up with all the ideas.

They said, “Nobody’s ever asked us what we want to do.” That development of the trust that they felt we had. The benevolent intent is to look after them, to listen, to help them create a strategy with the amalgam of their own ideas that would work locally and work for them. I got the feeling it was a bit of a first time and we had such a positive response to that because we have to be careful, we don’t go in because we’re used to running our own teams and trying and run someone else’s team.

We were there to help empower them to work out what’s the best cultural fit for their own environment and lead authentically for them and for the team. That’s a big piece about helping someone be themselves. When you get that incongruence between what you think you should be and how you are, that can be very stressful. That’s where you often then see leaders being inconsistent and losing control of their own emotional state.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“When you get that incongruence between what you think you should be and how you actually are…that’s where you often see leaders being inconsistent.”

The more incongruence between what you’re trying to be and what you are, you are using energy to pass between those. Whilst we said there’s no judgment in behavioral profiling, the closer you can be to what you are, where your strengths are and you’re utilizing them in your role, you are removing many of the triggers that will potentially take you to stress. That is where the authentic piece of ensuring you are encouraging someone to be themselves, but with the emotional intelligence of how do you then communicate in the environment that you need to work within.

There’s a behavioral analysis tool that I use with people in teams that maps that. It asks you this series of questions that gives you your behavioral profile and then it asks you this series of questions that shows how you think you should behave in these certain situations. You then show how far apart you are. The assessment is the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Certainly, you will operate on the extremes at times, but if you have that misalignment, you’ve got to be aware of that misalignment because that energy that you talked about that’s being wasted, there’s a lack of efficiency and effectiveness that exists on a daily basis because you are trying to be something you are not.

When you’re trying to be something that you’re not, your focus goes. We talked about your best self and you’re trying to do something else. That’s where you start to get into the cycle of 1 bad decision leading to 2 and then you’re trying to clean it up and then it’s in your head, “How am I supposed to act in this situation?” The further you get from yourself, the deeper that hole becomes.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

The team doesn’t know whom they’re trusting. Do they trust persona number 1 or do they trust persona number 2? They need to trust the leader and the leader needs to trust themselves enough to be themselves. Although, I will say very briefly as we had that quick chat about McChrystal. I ran next to him once on the gym machine and I will never do that ever again. That was the swiftest learning curve going, “What an idiot.” Again, I was like, “What am I thinking?” Not next to the boss. He’s got long legs. This is not a place to have success. It can come in many forms.

He’s got a reputation for that. We can’t talk about leadership with the British Army officer without discussing Queen Elizabeth II and I told you we were going to do that but 70 years on the throne, the second longest-ruling monarch in history behind France’s Louis XIV. She became Queen at 25 when her father, King George died in 1952.

She led through a period of time that has seen the greatest advancement and innovation in technology and industry and globalization. Also, the biggest progression in time of people’s opinions about the monarchy and about, “Why do we have a king and a queen in 2022?” I’ll even say that after watching her funeral, there were times when you were watching the TV and you’re saying, “I can’t believe we’re talking about kings and queens in 2022.”

There is no doubt that Queen Elizabeth II will forever be recognized as one of the greatest world leaders who ever walked the face of the earth. I won’t even quantify male or female, it doesn’t matter because that goes out the window in all cases but certainly here with Queen Elizabeth, because she commanded such presence in every room that she walked into.

We could speak for hours about her, but I thought I would focus this conversation on her in terms of the elements of national power or what we call DIME and that’s Diplomatic, Informational, Military, and Economic, the levers that leaders use at the national and the strategic level to exert influence and power over their country at home and abroad.

I’m going to throw them out there and they’re going to ask you about your assessment of each one of those. I want to start with diplomatic. She took power at 25. Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister and arguably one of the strongest and most revered leaders in the history of the world. She met thirteen presidents. She took power at a time when the UK in so many ways still operated as the Commonwealth.

You had colonies in Africa and across the world. There were territories in every region. We weren’t long past England being the most dominant economy and military, the leader of the world, and one of the greatest civilizations that conquered so much of the world. An empire is the word I was looking for, yet she seemed above politics. She seemed above the fray. She seemed to get along with everyone. She had a quote and it was, “We may hold different points of view, but in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us.” In your opinion, how did she handle diplomacy and why did it always seem that she was above everything that was happening in the world?

When you meet strong leaders, they’re not having to prove themselves. It comes back to that idea of the benevolent intent of what you want to do. She set out in her opening speech, “I’m here to serve you for the whole of my life. I’m here to serve you wherever you are in the world to make sure I have been given the responsibility. In this case, there is a slight oddity of the monarchy, which depends on where you are and what your thoughts are. Some people like it, some people don’t but it provides consistency.

Where a politician has only got a couple of months, days, and years to be able to get this policy and all that policy and they’re having to make sure that they’re keeping the general public happy enough to vote for them next time, for better or for worse, you don’t vote in a monarchy unless you’re one of the countries that chopped the heads off and say, “We don’t want them anymore.” The natural hierarchy of life is that we want somebody to be at the top of the food chain for as much as we don’t acknowledge it.

The reality is that you guys have presidents, I’ve been to the Eternal Flame over in Arlington Cemeteries. People like to have something still at the top of the food chain that makes them feel as if there’s something above. We may not acknowledge it on a day to day because we want to say, “We’re all egalitarian. We’re all equal, yet why is everybody still having people who are famous or whatever. It’s an interesting part. When you are knowing that you are there to serve for your whole life, a bit like becoming an officer, you know that for the whole of your career you are there to serve.

It doesn’t matter which soldier or officer you meet from whatever nation, in whichever country, on whatever operational tour, or in whichever unit, you are serving with your commission to be the beholder of the best you can be as far as leadership and provide well-informed decisions and information. That’s my exposure to being an officer traveling internationally and working internationally.

For the Queen, she has a natural place as a head of state in so many different nations that you don’t have to be the big I am. It’s like Mandela. He could walk into a room, he’s quiet. Also, Gandhi was quiet. Presence doesn’t come with volume and the ability to listen. I was an adjutant. I’m not sure if you did the admiral, but essentially my entire raison d’etre was to do all the background on everybody my boss was going to meet so that when you walk in, you know a little bit about something. It means that you can make that person feel at ease. You’ve learned about their family. You know why they’re with you.

A lot of this is a skill in itself to make people feel at ease and listen to somebody else’s view. You know somebody’s going to listen to yours because she’s the boss. She almost doesn’t need to give it because when she’ll give it when she’s ready, but allowing other people to voice their views so it doesn’t become a clash-on-clash. It’s not fired with fire. You are so comfortable with where you are and I see this with strong leaders both in business and obviously through the beautiful Queen, may she rest in peace. You don’t have to be the big I am when you’re already in it.

As far as navigating, it’s an interesting one I come across in the development of leaders. If you are scared of losing your power, you don’t hold the power in the first place. If you feel comfortable, “I don’t have to be the reigning monarch to be able to still have a benevolent outcome on a nation.” They can choose and if they choose like all of us, if you are offered something for dinner, you’ll choose something you’re going to enjoy. If you’re just forced to have something, you feel like it’s being shoved into your throat.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“If you’re scared of losing your power, you don’t really hold the power in the first place.”

If you’ve chosen to become part of the Commonwealth, when you’ve said, “The Empire is no longer appropriate for us. We want independence. We want to be part of the broader family of people who has been part of the empire.” That’s your choice. There are people joining the Commonwealth now that have never been part of the British Empire. They’re from different countries but they want to be part of a community. What she was brilliant at was making people feel comfortable to be true about what they want and being strong enough in herself to go, “How do we now navigate this?”

For better or for worse, after the war, we don’t have the resource to run the world and people need to have self-actualization. If we’re going there with the benevolent intent of being able to raise people’s education levels, etc., you’ll naturally get to the stage like we should all do with our own businesses of being overtaken by the generations coming after us. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself and the whole organization up for failure. You need to be having that succession planning almost from day one and I’d suggest that’s, from my perspective, the same with empire.

You go, “It’s not physically possible for us to now retain this power in its old form. What’s the next version? How do we empower people to choose that this is where they want to be and that we are stronger together?” That’s what she brought with the military. To me, the example is having a matriarch at the top. It’s the first time in my living memory ever and for most people living now in the UK, not to have had a matriarch at the top, which is quite a strong, powerful piece when so much of the rhetoric and the popular discussion is about the diminutive position of women.

Yet, you’ve got one of the strongest leaders in the globe as a female. We’ve got all sorts of pots to unravel underneath that probably for another day but the matriarch is still part of the food chain. It still gives you hope that it’s possible and you see how she can lead as a respected leader in her own way with a feminine touch and a great wardrobe.

The second piece is this theory of information and controlling the narrative matters as a world leader. No one is more front and center than the Royal family, but because they’re the Royal family doesn’t mean they’re not normal. She led through Princess Diana, the world’s love, and the loss of Princess Diana. She had grandsons who had different opinions of the monarchy and what it means to be part of the family. They are questioning their desire to even be in the family and leaving the family. Her son, now King Charles waited his whole life to become the king. He’s well into his 70s.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

As I mentioned as well, there are a lot of people who question, “Why do we have this institution still?” You talked about it a little bit, but as the matriarch, as the one who had to evolve the monarchy and almost be able to show that they were real people who were a real family that had real challenges. How did she navigate those waters and do such a job of maintaining popular support for 70 years? As you mentioned, we have politicians who win office, and before they’ve even been inaugurated, were chastising them and trying to remove them.

It’s an interesting piece as far as if you are serving to serve others, you are already taking yourself beyond needing to raise your own profile because it’s a natural place to be to an extent. There was quite a lot of discussion around her funeral and that period. She was the grandmother that lots of people felt they’d never had. That piece of listening first, speaking afterwards, and feeling for better or for worse, she had Prince Philip with her who was a bit of a wild child at times. It’s not as if it was all roses all the way. There were protests saying, “We don’t want any monarchy anymore,” in different countries.

[bctt tweet=”If you are serving others, you are already taking yourself beyond needing to raise your own profile. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

It’s not been easy or perfect. She’s had fifteen prime ministers during her tenure with all sorts of different shapes and sizes of human beings, different political leanings, and different views on the monarchy themselves, etc. For me, it comes back to, “What is she trying to say? Is there a benevolent intent? Is it creating a unifying purpose? Is it being honest and true to the strategic intent of keeping a unified nation and trying to make sure you’re doing the best that you can for your population base?

It’s not to absorb the power yourself. It’s to empower the others around you. The Christmas speech during COVID of, “We will get through to the other side.” Losing her husband in the middle of COVID where she’s sat solo. She’s always providing an example to the best of her ability. It doesn’t mean it’s perfect. There are many who will give a narrative that they say, “She should have done more in this. She should have done more of that.” Maybe, for me when I hear her, we’re trying to look after the nation. We’re trying to provide something bigger than politics. We are all human and we need to create an environment in which we can all coexist.

Political views and cultural backgrounds, this is all about the bigger piece of living as a unified community and planet. For better or for worse, you scale your impact. If you are a good leader, you work out how to scale because you can’t do it all yourself. Using the family means that you, therefore, got much broader tentacles, so to speak. Prince Philip was our Colonel Commandant. He would come and visit us before we deployed. Every time we had a large dinner with all the officers getting together, he’d come. He’d talk to the soldiers. He’d look at the equipment. He’d ask where we were going.

It was very personal. You’re there in the soaking cold rain. You’ve got all of your kits out before you’re going. For that particular one, it was going out to Iraq and you’re there going, “I’ve got so many things to do. What am I doing here?” You arrive and you have this focus of somebody who’s interested in you. When you’re part of a big machine like the military is, hundreds of thousands of people. They are much smaller now than when you and I both joined but to have someone focus their energy on you and your team, who you know is part of the bigger establishment and go, team.

He always would spend more time with the soldiers and the officers. “What are you looking forward to? Talk me through the equipment. How’s this going to work for you?” Also, always a thank you. “Thank you for your service. Thank you for going through this.” He’s showing gratitude and a unifying purpose. It’s not about begging themselves up, it’s about empowering those around them.

Those are the big bits for me. Those roll into a good piece for when we’re seeing other strong leaders around the globe. They don’t need to be the big I am because they’re doing it for others. It’s got a broader intent. Ironically, it’s like a magnet. They then attract more to them rather than repulsing them by going, “It’s all about you. I don’t want to be part of that.” It’s, “I can be part of this too. Let’s come and join the foray.”

My next question was going to be about the military aspect of it. You had mentioned how you felt that as a military officer, she was your best boss. You’ve answered my question about her impact on the military and also, her willingness to be and be prominently and squarely the number one ally of the United States. She came to the throne shortly after World War II and the dust in so many ways was still settling after World War II. The world was still trying to figure out what was next and who is going to be the dominant power in the world. She squarely aligned alongside the United States.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

You saw that all the way up until she passed. We saw that in Iraq and in Afghanistan. She was the first one in post 9/11 to the invocation of NATO Article 5 to say, “We’re going with you wherever we need to go. Our helicopters are spinning too. Tell us where the landing zone is.” They bled as America did. The British soldiers and the British military bled as well for the cause in Afghanistan and Iraq. There are a lot of very strong bonds that have been created between those two organizations over the years.

That’s part of also looking broader than the political event. It is also then looking at how we all look after each other. Harry came out and fought. He was out in Afghanistan, etc. It’s making sure they are showing they can serve. During World War II, she was out. She may not have done a lot. She was in London still. They stayed in London but her mother was very stoic. The Queen Mother was well-loved as well. They didn’t leave London when everyone else was being bombed. They’ve lived through difficulties. Prince Philip was renowned for having arrived in an orange box where it was taken off having to come out from Greece as a small boy and then come to the UK as a refugee.

Our shores have always been, I hope, and like I was saying, being in the hospital it makes me feel proud that we can be the home for so many nations to come to and that I hope they will feel as comfortable as they can be here given that it’s often a troublesome time to get here. Our population has a mixed view on whether it’s good or whether it’s bad where people have come from and how long they are going to be here and etc. My grandmother arrived as a refugee at the start of World War II and probably between the wars. She ended up serving in World War II. We have an international multicultural piece here and you keep your friends close. We share a language between the UK and the US.

They often say, “It is what both divides us and bonds us.” The UK-US part is interesting and again, it comes back to being bigger than only one person. You’re looking at this with a broader intent. For the military, the officers are commissioned by the Monarch and the warrant officers and soldiers serve the Parliament. It also ensures that you will never have a coup and an overthrow because the way in which you have aligned, you are given your commission or right to serve come from different parts of the establishment as well. It’s an interesting way of helping keep the status quo. That goes back to the Civil War of making sure that we can’t overthrow the Monarchy and the Monarchy can’t overthrow the Parliament.

The last piece is economic. The UK’s the sixth-largest economy in the world. It was number one, at one point, not too long ago, in the terms of history. $3.7 trillion economy estimated in 2022. She led through the formation of the EU. She held firm to the pound over the euro, though. She was there in Brexit when they left the EU.

She has also been very clear and a staunch advocate that the UK will be a primary player in the world and in Europe. Only Germany’s economy in Europe is larger than that of the United Kingdom. Wages in the UK are some of the highest in the world. Women are a large part of the workforce. How would you assess her involvement in how she led through economic prowess and economic recovery after World War II through 70 years of her time?

If we take resilience as being the idea that you know you’ll be able to get through whatever’s presented in front of you, I don’t remember her ever discussing economic policy or anything else in detail. It’s almost like that’s a micro event in that context but it’s giving us the faith that whatever we have to live through, be it peaks, troughs, depressions, recessions, etc., is making sure that we as human beings and I see that’s where her leadership strength has been. It is to reassure us that whatever we’re being presented with, we will be able to get through to the other side.

That’s an interesting piece too when we’re looking at economics. Often that’s in the political space and as we’ve seen, it can be very volatile. Again, that piece of a leader to rise above to go, “What’s our longer-term intent?” The stability of the nation. To make sure that we are looking after the population base, that we’re looking after our friends and colleagues around the world. We got the connections that ensure that we have a coherent group of family of nations of which we can all work together and support each other.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

That’s a far more strategic intent which then enables the how bit. If she’s helping create the why and maintains that bigger why, it enables the how, which is the economic drive, having a matriarch and ensuring that there are women within their family who are all still joining. Princess Anne joined the military. We’ve had the Jordanian military being trained. The Royal Family trained here. Sandhurst also has a plethora of different nations that come to Sandhurst to train their royal families.

Again, you are helping create that bond through military acumen and through strong leadership across multiple nations. When politically things get tough, there’s nothing like a quiet conversation with someone like you were describing of going through basic training that you’ve all been in a trench with and getting cold, wet, and muddy. You’ve been through a similar environment to help you relate to what we want to achieve and not what’s going to create short-term popularity. What’s the longer-term intent?

Even economically, she’s almost risen above it but being savvy with making sure they try and have farms where they’re self-sustaining. Working out different ways to make sure that they’re not when how they’re funded has become politically quite sensitive. Different parts of the estate became national holdings rather than private holdings. That’s all been done quite in the background. It’s not done with a big show and dance.

I don’t think they’re too flashy. You still see them. They look immaculate when they need to but like all of us, we put on our dress uniform when we need to and we put on our scruffs when we’re out walking the dog and dealing with the children and all the rest of it is. You also don’t see them being hugely over-flamboyant and extravagant. She was quite humble at that stage. She obviously has amazing things around her and big palaces, but that also comes legacy-wise. You look after what you have and you’re respectful of it. Many of those are now open to the public, etc. It’s a bit of a long-winded answer.

What’s her legacy?

Interestingly, Prince William has got what he calls The Royal Foundation which is part of that is United for Wildlife. Funny enough, I sat and had exactly that thought. We were in a United for Wildlife Summit, which is bringing all the conservation and global leads of all the financial institutions, travel organizations, etc. together to all fight international wildlife crime. As Prince William sat there, I thought, “It’s like having Princess Diana in the room,” even though I was never there with her. You could see her legacy and what’s interesting is that I see the Queen’s legacy. It is that will to serve, that will to put others beyond yourself and that when you are part of the family, the service always comes first. Unless somebody’s on death’s door, the service of the nation will always come first.

I hope that with leaders, as we help them lead their teams, that’s not for you to get sick. It’s to ensure you put the team first. She’s got a team around her to look after her. I hope the legacy will be the Commonwealth, bringing people together and reminding us that we are stronger together. We are all human. It doesn’t matter where you are on the planet, if you have a mutual intent, you can strive towards it. That idea that we are here to serve. If you’re in leadership, you can be strong without being noisy and always put the outcome that you want with your team beyond yourself. The outcome of the nation for us, of a unified nation versus what worked for her, she gave a lot of sacrifice during her life but then, so do many.

TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

“If you’re in leadership you can be strong without being noisy.”

You’ve laid out some simple rules and some mantras to get things done in terms of leadership and building effective teams and organizations. Certainly, we could take a lot of lessons from Queen Elizabeth and your career. I want to do a quick lightning round or a quick hit session where I’m going to throw out some rules. I’m going to throw out some mantras that you’ve developed and you give me the 1 or 2 lines, “This is what it means,” and then we’ll go to the next one. We’re going to start with the rules. “Always believe that people want to work hard, do their best, and are kind.”

I genuinely think if you create the environment for people to do so, then they will.

The second one, “There’s room for everyone to be a success.”

These aren’t my rules. Where have you found these?

I got them off your website.

I don’t see them as rules. More of an ethos so I’m not very good at that which is probably why I’m slightly struggling, but those for me are ethos. There is room for everyone to be a success because we can’t all be equal. In every little team, we’re cogs in a wheel. If every person is aiming to be the best they can possibly be, as a cohort, you grow. You’re scaling your impact and how much good you can do. It’s all relative. It doesn’t mean you have to be at the top of the tree. Your success is your success and that’s intrinsic motivators rather than extrinsic ones. It’s what’s internally good for you and not necessarily what is externally going to be validated by somebody else.

[bctt tweet=”You don’t have to be at the very top. Your success is your success. Focus on what is internally good for you instead of seeking the validation of others. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

The next one is, “We all have our own special gift to offer.”

I do believe that. We’re all different. We’re all individuals. How boring would it be if we were the same? Half of this is enabling each one of us to feel comfortable. You are only you. I am only me. There are no two-one of us. Even if you’ve come out of a tube somewhere, you’ll be having different factors which will affect how you evolve and is allowing you to excel in what’s passionate for you. That’s then you’ve got all the energy going to something that you’re passionate about, then you’ll excel in it.

“Compete to be the best you can be.”

Compete with yourself. Just don’t break yourself too much. I don’t compete with others. “I’ll be better than I was now,” and that’s all you can ever hope for. Do the best you can and aim to be better tomorrow than you are now. It’s that pursuit of excellence.

One that we talked a lot about is, “Build the team around you that optimizes each other’s strengths and builds resilience. The power of many is stronger than the power of one.”

At the end of the day, when you can dovetail and like me now having been out for a couple of days and having been in the hospital unexpectedly, my team has been able to keep everything turning over. They’ve come back to me with a few questions. We’ve still been able to get online. Everything else still kept churning because I’ve given them the strategic intent of what’s our priorities and what we need to get done.

They’re happy with the processes and they trust each other. I’ve encouraged and fostered that connection between them for them to be able to be proactive to get on and do so that I can either be out thinking, coaching, doing whatever and enabling us all to have the freedom to bring our gifts and what we’re good at to bear. Otherwise, we don’t earn anything and the business falls over and people aren’t happy.

I got your mantras here. There are only a couple of them. “Serve to lead.”TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

As you’ve been talking about Queen Elizabeth, you’re serving to enable you to lead. It’s the idea of you’re not leading so that you can be the big I am. You’re serving others and you’ll naturally then lead through it.

I’m particularly interested in this next one. “There is more in you than you think.”

For better or for worse, I went to the same school as Prince Philip and King Charles and that is the mantra from Gordonstoun, “Plus Est En Vous.” It’s the idea that even when the chips are down and you think that you’ve got nothing left, you’re getting to that moment of just going, “I have nothing more to give, is taking a pause for breath and realizing that you will find the answer and the energy. What you need, you will find when you need it.

Whenever you think you’ve hit that wall, you think you’ve hit that barrier, there is always more in you than you may have ever thought was possible. I’ve been in that situation several times where I thought, “I’m at the end. There is nowhere else to go.” You take a deep pause, take a deep breath, then have a moment and go, “I can do this,’” and then you move forward.

How they do that in school essentially is you get sent on a boat to get cold, wet, and miserable with lots of other people that don’t get miserable, cold, and wet. You get thrown on a boat for a week with peers you don’t know and thrown up in the mountains so that you’re having to navigate across the Cairngorms.

You’re put into lots of scenarios and then every week, you go and serve. They have a lifeboat unit and they’ve got a fire engine department. You go and serve the old people in the community. It’s all about educating and developing your own performance, but it’s always with the idea that there’s more in you than you think and that you are there to provide service to others. This is probably why so many of us have got a philanthropic arm to what we do as well as our own businesses or going to the services.

It ties a bit into the next one, which is, “Protect those that cannot protect themselves.”

We described it from essentially a lot of the battle groups and task forces I’ve gone to work with, you have to be looking at why are you there and it can’t be the political intent. A lot of that is also going on the ground. What are we trying to do which is to look after those that are not in a position to protect themselves? I got caught on a border and people were trying to get onto our bus when I was on a civilian trip and I hadn’t told anyone I was in the military. They were trying to overrun our bus.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

I was realizing that I had a big enough frame and brash enough manner that I could stand in the doorway and that those inside the bus would not do it. We managed to get rid of the people who wanted to take over our bus by being a brash and difficult Brit who stood in the way. It could manifest itself in many different ways. That was an entertaining day.

This is the last one. “There’s always enough.”

I’ve been learning that. That has been something I’ve been working on. We’re often given this piece that we need to keep on moving forward. We’d need more than we need more and actually, you don’t. Often you have exactly what you need for what you need to do at that moment in time. Rather than this eternal striving for more, where does more take us? We’re using up all of our resources. We’re eternally striving for something that we’re not going to necessarily ever achieve in comparison to taking a deep breath and going, “I have enough.”

[bctt tweet=”We often think that we need more to move forward. Sometimes, we already have exactly what we need at that moment in time. ” username=”talentwargroup”]

You go to some of the most remote locations as I’m sure you’ve been to as well, where in our Western terms, they would be considered to have nothing and yet they smile. They will offer you whatever they have left in the world. They’re the kindest people and they will make you feel welcome. Enough is relative. Most of us have enough, but often we don’t see it or maybe are not grateful enough for it.

I went to Iraq three times and one of those times was for a year. I went with a backpack and one tough box and I didn’t use 50% of the stuff that was in that tough box. I come home and I have a houseful of stuff. You think about those times and you realize, “What do I need? What do I use?” I totally get it. I have one more I’m going to give you as a bonus because it’s mine and I want your opinion on my mantra. It’s the tagline of the show and it’s, “How you prepare today determines success tomorrow.”

It’s that little incremental, whatever we do now, the lead measures that are going to enable us to excel in the future. When you forget them and you become complacent, you learn in a few days’ time that you need to be getting yourself back on track again. In every little piece where we have death by 1,000 cuts, we also make ourselves a little minute. The Kaizen Theory is the nudged piece, isn’t it? That little idea, little by little whatever you do now helps you prepare for the future. I agree with that and I can see when I have days where I thought it won’t matter. Nobody would notice if I don’t. Does it catch you a few days later? It’s consistency and always preparing yourself put you in a good state the next time.

You lose every time. Every day when I wake up and I think, “I don’t have to do that now,” but at some point, I will look back and say, “I needed to do that.” Alice, as we close out, the Jedburghs had to do three things every day to be successful. They had to be able to shoot, they had to be able to move, and they had to be able to communicate. If they did these three things with the utmost precision, habits, and foundations, then they could focus their effort and their intention on solving more complex challenges that came their way. What are the three things that you do every day in your world to set the conditions for success?

We talked about looking at your strengths. Essentially, I’ve worked out what am I not very good at and therefore, what I can delegate. I have a team that looks after my email every day, so I don’t have to look after it and they WhatsApp me if there’s something I need to do. They prep all my drafts, etc. I’m removing the administrative fact that is distracting us during the day. With that, I say thank you to them as often as I physically can be it through WhatsApp, text message, or speaking to them. I’m always saying, “Thank you so much for doing that,” because they’re doing something that otherwise drains my energy. I check my inbox and clear everything before I start the day.

Most people would say that’s a heinous crime. You should be going and meditating for a few hours, etc. Shoot me. I don’t mind but for me, that means I then don’t look at anything else administratively during the day because I’ve woken up, taken a pause, got myself ready, and cleared the box. I checked all the messages and responded to everything that is a timely response and then the team can look after everything during the day so I can focus on speaking to clients and being able to be present.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

You can’t have a conversation like now without being present. I don’t have any notifications on. I don’t look at anything, which is why if they need to get ahold of me, they can see that WhatsApp will pop up but I keep the phone down so it’s not on. I don’t set my day up to have any form of intervention with normal administrative trivia unless I’ve set a time window for it. It’s all about being present with clients and with other people that you’re working with or negotiating with.

The other part is managing your energy. It’s my absolute weak spot, which I have to work on all the time. I’d say the three things that I would say is get a great team and continually say thank you so they can do all the things that would otherwise take your energy. I do that or I try to. Clear all of the stuff that you know has to be instantly done even before you started the day and then you’ve got your day to respond, do things, and set out time for strategic planning.

You’ve got my lovely lions from our Africa trips, but all along my walls, I still put stuff on the wall where I set out what I want to achieve and where are we going to go. You are then running. You’re producing. You’ve got your strategy. Take time out to a white, thinking space, and go out into nature. We do resilience retreats to get people out so you’re taking thinking time and thinking space. Even before coming in to do this, I stood outside. I looked up at the stars. It’s dark out in the UK side and I took a pause for breath before coming in to come and do the show to clear my mind.

Get a great team and always say thank you. Clear all of the immediate stuff so you haven’t got it sitting in your head for the day. Take a moment out to be in nature so you can do your strategic thinking with a better head space so you’re not just in the hamster wheel. You know you are aiming towards a bigger strategic intent. Whatever you are doing, you’re then in the flow towards it.

I like all three of those. Those are three that I think about every day, “Can I start to apply those?”

For any leaders, don’t think you have to do it all yourself. You are creating a point of failure if you think you are the point of strength. Make sure you are creating an environment for you to thrive and that involves having a strong, resilient team underneath you so it’s not only about you.

We talk in a lot of our episodes about the nine characteristics of performance that are used and defined by Special Operations Forces, drive, resiliency, adaptability, humility, integrity, curiosity, team ability, effective intelligence, and emotional strength. These nine are used to recruit, assess, and develop elite talent regardless of what organization you come in. They were used by the Jedburghs. They’re used in the military community. They’re used in great organizations in the private sector.

I coach and teach these on a daily basis in the organizations that I work for. The greatest leaders display all of these at varying times and never all nine at one time because they’re situationally dependent. Depending on what situation you’re in, you might show 2, 3, or 4 of them. At the end of these conversations, I think about my guests, the conversation that we had, and the one that defines them in our conversation and what we talked about.

For you, it has to be resilience and this idea of what we talked about which is so profound and important. I’m going to put it up again because it defines so much and that’s this spectrum. What is resilience because it’s a buzzword that we talk about a lot in leadership? There’s a lot of noise in leadership, but you have done such a great job of defining what resilience is. What are those emotions? What are those behaviors? What are those things that we do as leaders that we can quantifiably look at and say, “Where does resilience come into play here?”

How do I adjust myself mentally, physically, and emotionally, at the moment, of the challenge that I face? What are the tools that I have to bear? How do I move myself across this spectrum? When am I my best self? When am I not? How do I internalize it and get back to it? That’s the definition of resilience. That’s a bounce-back.

That’s being the best version of yourself because we’re not going to be perfect all the time but how quickly can we get back to that domain in which we’re thinking clearly and making the best decisions that we can? You’ve defined that. You’ve done that in your work in the military. You’ve done it since. You’re doing it every day. Thank you so much for spending time with me. This has been a truly impactful conversation and I’m so appreciative of your time.TJP - E81 Alice Bromage Founder, Empowering Success Former British Army Officer

It’s been an absolute pleasure and thank you as a new dad for also juggling between being loyal to your audience and giving me the time and space to be able to work with you. That’s part of it too. It’s creating success for the next generation and you are leading that from home on out. I can’t wait to meet you in person. Hopefully, next year when I come back stateside.

We’ll plan it. Thank you so much.

Brilliant. Stay safe.


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