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In this episode of #TheSpeakerShow, Sean Pillot de Chenecey interviews René Carayol.

René is one of the world’s leading executive coaches, who works with some of the Fortune 500’s and FTSE 100’s top CEO’s and their executive teams, providing first-hand advice and support for those such as Jim Yong Kim – President of The World Bank, Antony Jenkins – CEO Barclays Bank, Mario Greco – CEO Generali and Maria Ramos – CEO Absa Bank. He speaks with the authority and confidence of the expert practitioner, noting that “the only position in the business that has no preparatory training or development whatsoever is the CEO”.

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Episode #139

Culture is more powerful than strategy

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (00:11): Hello, this podcast is care of Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau representing a select group of the business world’s finest thinkers and thought leaders. Founded in 1999, today Speakers Associates operate out of nine offices across seven countries covering the UK, Europe and Middle East. I’m Sean Pillot de chenecey, author of The Post-Truth Business and Influencers & Revolutionaries, which are being followed by The New Abnormal. In this series, I interview a range of fascinating individuals, proudly represented by the bureau. These change agents and industry experts give an update on their specialist areas of knowledge, and also on their motivations and viewpoints regarding the future of business.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (01:10): So today I’m really pleased to be joined by Rene Carayol. He is one of the world’s leading executive coaches working with some of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100’s top CEOs and their executive teams. Rene speaks with the authority and confidence of the expert practitioner who’s seen and experienced it all before. He’s acquired a reputation for providing firsthand advice and support for a series of successful CEOs around the world. Having worked closely with those like Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, Anthony Jenkins, CEO of Barclay’s Bank, Mario Greco, CEO of Generali, and indeed Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa Bank. He’s acquired case histories and stories from the frontline and firsthand, they are exciting adventures, emotional anecdotes, and enough drama to excite any audience. Rene specializes in delivering performances that show precisely how contemporary leaders can electrify an audience through a powerful and authentic emotional connection.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (02:16): He has covered an extraordinary number of agendas. And so we’ll talk about issues such as collaboration, purpose, and the point of view values led and performance driven, the battle for talent, disruptive innovation, personal leadership, high performing cultures, and corporate culture, diversity and inclusion and transformation. As he says, if you’re looking for an academic to speak theory, then look away, but if you’re looking for someone to help you make the necessary changes happen in your organization, then you’re in the right place. And finally, he’s also the author of the best selling business books, Corporate Voodoo, and My Voodoo and his latest best selling book Spike is leading the strengths based revolution. So Rene, how are you?

Rene Carayol (03:06): Very well, indeed. Sean, that’s a wonderful introduction. I was wondering who you’re talking about there for a moment.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (03:11): Fantastic. So Rene, so here we are, sort of getting into these sort of, autumn of 2020. I mean, it’s been to put it mildly, I mean the most extraordinary disruptive worrying, incredibly, sort of a say to disruptive year, where are you looking at it now? I mean, when you are talking to the very senior audiences that you talk with, or when you are doing your consulting, perhaps just need to start off, you know, talks about some of the key points that are really fascinating you right now.

Rene Carayol (03:48): So look, it’s, this is, I hate to say the word it’s unprecedented. We are in uncharted territory and in all my years of business, I’ve yet to see an experience anything like this. It is seriously, unpredictable. Plans are going out the window. Experience is overrated at the moment. And it’s for many organizations, it’s the opportunity to reimagine what they do. They’re being forced to reimagine what they do. And we we’re seeing all the reports coming out that 65% of jobs that existed before the pandemic will be different after it. So that degree of flexibility in doing things differently is quite amazing. And for some refreshing for others, it’s the most challenging time they have ever experienced in business whatsoever.

Rene Carayol (04:43): I did. I did a session with 10 chief marketing officers a couple of weeks ago, all from retail, non-competing retail. From cooperative bank to Marks & Spencers, a whole variety of them. And two big things came out from them. Number one, they said that the first month working from home was fantastic. It was liberating, family around, great surroundings, no commute. It felt fantastic. But after a month, the intensity of online communications, be it Zoom, be it Microsoft Teams, be it WebEx, be it Google Hangouts. They’re starting at 8:30, the first meeting, and it’s back to back to back all day and they start to feel guilty for even going for a coffee. And so there’s an intensity. That’s unhealthy. There’s a rhythm that they can’t break out of, but many of them can’t wait for something different to happen. Not saying it’s going to be a return to the office, but something away from the sheer intensity of just sitting in one place in front of their PC slave to the rhythm.

Rene Carayol (05:56): The second thing they said, which was far more uplifting was that they’ve been forced to embrace online and in a way that they haven’t had to digitize, they, it was always what they would do, what would be coming. But in the last five months, they have done five years online development by force. So if you look at the likes of Marks & Spencers, corporate society, they have taken to online in a way that’s not just from the, how they’re running their business are in a much better online offering, but they’re capitalizing upon distributed workforce people working in different geographic locations. And I could go on. So our world is changing fast than we’ve ever been. And I think the bit I would say is that focus on the exit. It will come. And I think there’s some things that we should be giving to our people.

Rene Carayol (06:51): And this is they’re screaming for, a little bit more certainty, a lot more clarity and so much more hope. Certainty. Clarity. Hope. They’re the things we need to be giving to our people. And some people say, but how can we be more certain yes, you can in the hierarchy of needs in terms of communication for our people. Number one, good news. Number two, surprisingly bad news. At least we know what we have to deal with. Number three is no news. Uncertainty is the killer much better to fess up and be upfront with our people. They know what they have to manage. They’re adults, they’ll help us find a way through it. The worst thing is to release no information whatsoever. I’m remaining optimistic. This will be the toughest ever, but, you know, I live through 2007-2008, the big global financial meltdown. It was really tough. Not many people remember it. We got through it. We got through it, not on skate, but we got through it. We get through this again.

Speaker 3 (07:58): Yeah. Yeah.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (08:00): Can we just talk in terms of, you’re talking there about sort of, you know, uncertainty and dealing with issues like that. I mean, you’ve had a, obviously a, an absolutely fascinating career path already. So I think be really useful perhaps just for the listeners who maybe unfamiliar with, if you like, how you got to be, where you are now, just talk us through that. Exactly what your journey has been?

Rene Carayol (08:24): Sean, you know, I’m the accidental coach. Absolutely accidental coach as did most things. Most good things in life is never quite where you plan to be. So I did, usually my parents came from Gambia, West Africa in the early 1960s. Son of immigrants grew up in very cosmopolitan London. Managed to get to university, did 10 years at Marks & Spencer’s, left there as a merchandiser, did three years on the board at Pepsi based outta New York initially, and then did five and a half years on the board of IPC media. We did a management buyout, 10 of us on the board raised 860 million, bought the business, sold it to Time, AOL Time Warner, three and a half years later in January of 2000. And we all 10 of us each had 1% of the business. And most of us retired at that stage. Two weeks later, my wife kicks me out as usual, not to be working at home, get back out there, go and do something useful.

Rene Carayol (09:23): And I started, I realized that I’d worked for one of the best of the British Marks & Spencers. They taught me everything about management, but not that much about leadership. I’d worked for one of the best of the Americans. Pepsi taught me everything about leadership, but not that much about management. So I started bringing the two things together. If we could bring the best of management, the best of leadership, what a great place we would be as business. And with that saying that culture is more powerful than strategy. And I started writing, reading, speaking about leadership and culture all around the world. I was lucky enough over the next five years to walk on every continent, every industry, charities, public sector, private sector, speaking with just about everyone, Fortune 500, FTSE 100, really lucky and smoking some of the most spectacular place on, of doing a talk on the great wall of China behind the Victoria war falls on the Eiffel tower.

Rene Carayol (10:16): You name it’s statue of Liberty. Really lucky, but by accident, I hit upon where I spend most of my time at the moment, there is one job in the whole business that doesn’t have the development, the training that all the other roles and jobs do. And that’s the chief executive, normally when you’re appointed chief executive and you walk into the cockpit for the first time to fly the plane. You’ve never flown the plane before. And what I’ve realized that having worked with so many chief, having been a chief, having been a chairman, having done all those roles, I make myself available in the cockpit for when the first appointment chief executive arrives. I spent the minimum of 12 months helping them to fly the plane. I’s working with them and their teams. And I suppose not in the dedicated one to one that most professional coaches, executive coaches would do.

Rene Carayol (11:12): I’m more the role model. I’m more showing them how the job might be done. I’m giving the talks, I’m helping with the reprimands. I’m facilitating the Exco meetings. I’m liaising with some of the board directs, whatever it takes to get them on their way. And in that journey over the last 15 years, I’ve been blessed and privileged to work with some of the finest leaders on the planet from heads of state, to chief executives. And the bit I’ve learned through all of this is I never get called when things are going well. You know, I dream of that call that one day. Someone’s gonna call me when things are going brilliantly. I get the call when things are really difficult. And my job really is to step into the fire with the chief executive. Stand next to the chief executive. And it’s the toughest job in the world. It’s the best job in the world.

Rene Carayol (12:06): And for those chief, everyone knows it’s the most rarefied atmosphere. It’s lonely. It’s tough. And one thing we’ve learned is the tough stuff remains on the desk of the chief executive. You can empower everyone, you can delegate it, nearly everything. The very tough stuff stays on the desk of the chief executive.

Rene Carayol (12:26): And I, and I sort of have built a reputation of being there with them to share that burden, to share that pain and to work with them and help them craft the right teams that enable them to deliver. And I suppose with all the great people, I’ve had the opportunity of working with the privilege of working with, I’ve yet to meet one that’s an all rounder. I’ve yet to meet one that’s brilliant at everything. What I meet with the bests of the best is that they know the two or three things they’re outstanding at, but they also have the humility to know the many things they’re not so good at. And in the old world, the nutrition world, you get your performance appraisal once a year, twice a year. And you’ll be told the two or three things you’re outstanding at your strengths. And then the next hour of the meeting is spent on the 120 things you’re not so good at, your limitations, your areas for improvement, areas for development.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (13:16): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (13:17): And the next year is completely fixated on the things you’re not so good at. And this is what was behind me writing Spike, my last book. When I saw the most successful people, they didn’t do that. They focused on their strengths and they built the team around them to pick up the things they’re not so good at to compensate for their weaknesses. It’s no longer feasible for one person to do everything, to call every shot, to crack every problem, to start every initiative. It’s certainly feasible for the team to do that.

Rene Carayol (13:49): So now we don’t fixate ourselves on the best person for the job. That’s the old world. That always ends up with the cleverest white man in the room that that’s just not the way to go. Let’s start thinking about the best person for the team that takes us in a very different place.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (14:06): Yeah. Yeah. Can ask just about that is you of, you mentioned obviously, I mean, you’ve traveled, you know, to a quite extraordinary level, having worked around the world for many, many years, from the point of view of business cultures. Now in 2020, when you look around you, are there certain cultures that lend themselves more to this team approach than to the, you know, heroic individual approach or what?

Rene Carayol (14:35): You know, it’s a really insightful question. There is no universal answer for everyone. It’s not to say we should be hierarchy. We should be team. We should be live from, there’s no universal answer. But, especially in the current times of a pandemic, I cannot see, I’ve not experienced a business where one person big enough, broad enough, clever enough, smart enough, available enough to call all the shots on their own anymore. It just doesn’t exist. The markets are too unforgiving. The world is too fast, way too fast. And the best ideas aren’t at the top anymore, the best ideas tend to form themselves from those who are closest to the customer or the client. So therefore, there was a time when we used to build cultures where we challenged down and support it up. Today, we’ve got to challenge up and support down. That takes a difference of leader.

Rene Carayol (15:35): The, it’s not the person, the most intelligent person at the top who’s locked in the ivory tower, splitting out tablets of stone and bits of strategy that are implemented by everyone else. Those days long gone. Collaboration is a new leadership. We work together as a group, we’re all different. We come from different backgrounds with cognitive diversity. The days of homogenous teams, all thinking the same, behaving the same and aligning very quickly to the wrong answers along gone.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (16:04): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (16:05): To get the best answers, we need a diversity people with different backgrounds. We’re gonna argue a lot more. We’re gonna challenge a lot more. We’re harder to align. We’re harder to get to the right decision, but we get to the right decision, get to a better decision. McKinsey’s 2020 research on diversity states that if you have a diverse team versus a homogenous team, they add 34% of an uplift to your bottom line. Why wouldn’t you? Those days are long gone.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (16:31): Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And then, and what about the idea of, so when you’re giving your case histories, when you’re giving your talks, are there certain, you know, classic ones that you will now point to that may be modern, almost contemporary classics in terms of things changing so rapidly, but yeah. Do you have a how to do it? How not to do it? Sort of, you know favorite lists.

Rene Carayol (16:56): Well, I think we have more, so managers talk strategy, leaders tell stories. Until the lines have their own storytellers, the tells of the hunt will always favor the hunter. I’m into stories. The case study, the old McKinsey, Harvard Business School, impenetrable deck of 700 slides. And God knows how many quad angles and graphs and over, I think there are fabulous stories. And if I look back, I look at, and I wanna say that culture is more powerful than strategy. You can have the best strategy in the world. If your culture’s not enabling that strategy, you’re gonna go nowhere. And if we look at a, so a couple of golden ones to look at Nokia, 70% of the consumer hand phone, consumer mobile handset marketplace, 70%. How did they blow that?

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (17:45): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (17:45): Blackberry, 80% of the business hand phone market said, how did they blow that?

Rene Carayol (17:52): Why did Blockbuster fail? And why did Netflix win? They’re doing really similar things. Blockbuster was sending videotapes to the post. Netflix was sending DVDs through the post.

Rene Carayol (18:04): When the change came, one had a culture to innovate and do completely forget their heritage and the past one didn’t.

Rene Carayol (18:13): So we do have these amazing, and everyone remembers, you know, Apple went out of business nearly went out of business twice. We shouldn’t forget that. And sometimes we have to sail that close to the wind. We have to have a near death experience. And if we go back and we at Amazon look how tough Amazon, how many times they nearly went outta business with a debt pile and making no profits for God. Now, to how many years. There is no universal plan, there’s no universal solution.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (18:49): And so, recently, one of the talks that, I know you, you gave for a couple of months ago was at the extraordinary event, The Recovery Summit organized by Speakers Associates, you know, a week long event at which, it featured an array of absolutely glittering speakers with yourself, very much at the forefront of that patine, just, just talk us through what it is that you spoke about at the recovery summit. And just why, you know, I know, went down, went down incredibly well. So perhaps talk us through that’s,

Rene Carayol (19:18): That’s really kind of, you know, it’s interesting, because again, we looked at the pandemic, we looked at, how would we, what things might we change? And I gave a very strong view about management versus leadership, a blunt instrument of now let’s be clear the, all of us that if we forget management, we’ll get our business tomorrow, but management, we call it hardware. It’s a thing that if, if we couldn’t, you don’t measure it, you can’t do it. And it’s the, it’s your plans. It’s your activities. It’s your strategies. It’s your balance scorecard. It’s your KPIs. It’s all those things you do to prevent failure. And nearly all of us have become really good at it. And most companies, most businesses are really good at management without you got a business, but in times of rapid change, it’s no longer enough on its own.

Rene Carayol (20:13): It’s a very blunt instrument and a manager, or would behave something like this. And I’ll exaggerate to make the point. Sean, here are three things I want you to do over the next two weeks, go away and do them and come back and check with me before I give you the next set of tasks, I’ll need to go through them with you to ensure that you’ve done them all appropriately. Thank you for those three tasks. These two are really brilliant, but this one needs a little bit more work and you go away and work on them. It is draining and demanding on the management, on the manager and the employee. I would say to you, that’s yesterday’s way of working.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (20:45): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (20:46): Today, what we want more of is leadership, which we call the software. And if management is plans, tasks, activities, balance, scorecard, KPIs, strategy, then leadership is vision, people, teams, culture, purpose. Vision, people, team, culture, purpose. We call it software, management IQ, leadership EQ. We think management, we feel leadership. And instead of that delegation model, we’d have an empowerment model. Sean, here’s what we’re trying to get to. Here are the resources. Here’s the environment. Now I need you to get you and your team to deliver these things for me, need any help need any support. Come back to me. You’re empowered.

Rene Carayol (21:33): Now it’s easier to do model one, but it’s much harder work. It’s more challenging to do model two, but it’s more fulfilling for everyone. You will make more mistakes in model two in the empowerment. But the only mistake is the one don’t learn from. My role as a leader is to create an environment where you can succeed, support you, give you the resources, but not be afraid to challenge you when things aren’t going well.

Rene Carayol (22:00): The difference between the two of them is trust. In the first model. I’m not really trusting you. I’m going to say really close to you, ensure that everything is done to plan to date. It’s very draining on me and it’s very draining on you and it, and you might be highly motivated cause I’m on your back, but morale’s not gonna be that high. The second model morale and motivation is high. You know, I’ve got your back, you know, I’m for you. And in order to challenge you, I have to earn the right to challenge you by support, support, support, support. The more I support you, then I, when it does come to challenge, it’s not a difficult one. It’s Sean, you’re not up to use your standards. Is there anything wrong? How can I support you? I expected a little bit more. I don’t even have to raise my voice, but because I’ve support you for so long, you’ll be very open back with me, but find out what’s not quite right. We’ll fix it in a way we go again.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (22:58): And so in terms of perhaps some of those things taking that point forward where the employee or the member of the team have a one wants to sort of describe that individual or those people will have, you know, an instance perhaps sort of, you know, other issues that are impacting on their input and indeed output. I mean this year has been apart from the enormity of COVID, it’s also been a year of enormous social and cultural issues that have impacted society and culture organizations, businesses of all types. So again, on those sort of things, what sort of things have been grabbing your attention this year? And what sort of things do you think that businesses and organizations should be conscious of in terms of society and culture?

Rene Carayol (23:47): About 120 days ago, my world, and many of our worlds changed forever. Eight minutes, 46 seconds, when the law enforcement officer, the police officer had their knee on the neck of George Floyd.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (24:01): Yep.

Rene Carayol (24:02): It was a convergence of many different things, Sean, because many of us were not at work. Many of us might been working from home, but for many of us globally, we saw on our smartphones, our tablets on our TVs, eight minutes, 46 seconds, that was shocking. And upon reprehensible. And we saw systemic racism at its worst, that police officer, with his hand in his pocket, a rather smug look, listening to George Floyd, pleading for his life and his colleagues doing nothing to intervene. If we ever needed a definition of systemic racism, then that was it.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (24:44): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (24:45): He never thought that he was gonna be reprimanded when he got back to his office. He never thought they’d done anything wrong. He thought he was doing the right thing as did his colleagues, but there was a whole mass of us, different races, different faiths, different generations who just found the whole thing apparent. And the tectonic plates of race moved in a way that I’ve not seen at my vintage. I’ve never seen that for far too many years. Coming up through my career, we were taught. We are lit to believe. And we behaved that challenging some of the outrageous behaviors, some of the outrageous things that were going on was a little career limiting was, would make label losses difficult and more micro, more racist incidents than I care to remember.

Rene Carayol (25:35): But we grew up believing that turn the other cheek say nothing, but we carried those resentments. We carried that pain a couple of mornings after the George Floyd incident. My WhatsApp and my phone went off the hook and it was chairman chief executives, white male, middle class of large business, who I knew I’d work with and I respected. And I would say that we were close as good as friends were calling me saying, I need to do something. I need to say something. Where do I start? What do I do? And I spent days encouraging them that there is no rule, but you can’t be stop thinking. You need to be dead. Right? You just need to engage. You’re gonna be clumsy. You’re gonna make some mistakes. Your language won’t be brilliant. But people spot your intent and forgive you, everything else. But the last thing you need to do is do nothing.

Rene Carayol (26:30): Saying you are not racist is no longer appropriate. You have to be anti-racist. Neutrality doesn’t work anymore. And there’s a generation that’s beyond race that feel this way.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (26:43): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (26:43): My kids, their friends, but you know, I, one of the chairman, a very good friend of mine called me up and he said to me, you need to help me. I said, what’s up? He said, I screwed up last night. I said, what did you do? He said, we had dinner at home. And he said, and my son is packing his bags to leave this morning. My daughter’s not speaking to me. And my wife slept in another bedroom last night. What the hell did you do? He said, well, over dinner. I started to wrap it on about all lives matter. As opposed to black lives matter. He said they just wouldn’t tolerate it. My son, especially my son and daughter, both at university, they just wouldn’t wear it. He’s white, middle aged or class male and he’s. I said, Tim, you know what? We had a long conversation about why black lives matter, why it wasn’t exclusive of any other races, but with seeing them close to the bottom of the pile. And I remember saying to him that, you know, you’ve got 10 houses on the road. Each of them representing a different race at this moment in time, one of them is on fire.

Rene Carayol (27:51): It’s the black one.

Rene Carayol (27:53): We all need to get our buckets and our water and our hose and run to that one because we don’t which one will be next. But at this moment in time, the priorities, the black one. And a long, long silence. And I’m pleased to say his unpacked his bag and stayed, but I’m, to answer your point emphatically, I would say 80% of the work I’m doing now comes through the portal of black lives matter, but it’s still leadership in culture. We’re talking cultural change and I’m doing some work with, I’m doing some work with Google, some doing some work with Microsoft. They, those guys, a couple of chapters ahead of the pack. I mean financial services, the will in financial services is quite incredible. But I have to say there are a few chapters behind.

Rene Carayol (28:44): And I’m doing some in manufacturing, maybe a few books behind. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Speaker 3 (28:53): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (28:53): People riding up their sleeves as well. And I would say the thing that’s probably sparked most of this is generational. My generation, we still, we’re still a little bit too polite. And if I’m generous, I would say that we seek neutrality. If I’m a little more cynical, we fear engagement. I still find that if I say diversity, everyone’s prepared to have the conversation. If I say inclusion, everyone’s there to have the conversation. I say, race and people run for the hills. We need to overcome that.

Speaker 3 (29:33): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (29:33): And we are, I have to a say will.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (29:37): And so on that exact point, in terms of the device you are then giving to CEOs and other senior figures, now that you say after the appalling incident about George Floyd and all the others, when you are then advising CEOs on, Okay, we’ve now taken stock of this. We’ve had time think about this to work out some sort of, you know, strategic and some tactical responses. What are the actual, if you like, sort of, you know, concrete responses that you are talking with them about, and recommending they consider to actually, as you were saying, do something rather than just saying something nice.

Rene Carayol (30:20): So examples, session with Microsoft, Amir, the president of Microsoft, Europe, Middle East, and Africa, and his team, 50 direct reports, 22 nationalities. Our first, our engagement was going to be, let’s talk about race. And I convinced the leader, the president of Microsoft and me, I convinced him that the session will be called, no one is born a racist. We prepared an exercise. I gave a talk, we opened up, we had a challenging conversation about race, but we needed to, the big challenge we’ve got is not many people have had the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes.

Rene Carayol (31:02): So we did an exercise, which was, if we, if it wasn’t on zoom, it would’ve been straightforward. It’s everybody right down. The one thing that holds Mac Microsoft in terms of inclusion and the one thing that would enable the most and for every organization, it’ll be different. But Microsoft have invested loads. I’ve worked with Mo a number of years around inclusion, and they are really fleeter foot courageous and they’re prepared to tackle things. And so we did an exercise. Each of the management team was a facilitator for a team. And everyone had to write down the enabler and say, but then we swapped everything around. You ended up with someone else’s enabler and someone else’s blocker. And you have to present that with gusta. So something you may not believe in, or you may not think is an issue, or you may violently disagree with you are gonna present with gusta. And it can gonna be facilitated each one by leader. And I think something like eight groups and each of the facilitators was not to come back and tell us what they thought and what happened. But what did, how did everyone feel? What was the atmosphere? Let’s talk about feelings here. Empathy. The ability to walk in someone else’s shoes, the ability to feel inclusive, what the target was belonging?

Rene Carayol (32:26): Can we create an environment where people, no matter who you are, you feel you can bring all of you to work and you feel that you belong a sense of family. No matter what your differences is, be they racial, sexual, faith, no matter what.

Rene Carayol (32:40): It’s a tough gig. And when they came back, the managers, I was facilitating the full session. And I don’t think I’ve been to many things that were more emotionally charged than that session. As they started to share the difficulties around walking in someone else’s shoes, seeing the world from someone else’s reality, the trying to feel the allyship, the camaraderie. And I would say that 90% of people that were trying to get in the right space, it’s hard. It, I can’t tell you how many times we had collective tears. It was really, really painful. And some stories will never go away.

Rene Carayol (33:26): They’ve already booked me for stage two. If that was the awakening, the discovery moment, the next stage is now we’ve realized just how much work we have to do. Let’s go to the next stage. The next stage for them is now that I’ve opened up, that we see the world very differently, but I want you to realize that difference is your strength, your strength is your difference. Let’s, move to the next stage. The next stage, we’re going to try and crack unconscious bias.

Speaker 3 (34:00): Yep.

Rene Carayol (34:00): Now what I’m trying to get them to do is not to separate their home lives from their work lives. There is no right or wrong, but we’re going on a journey with discovery. And for some, it’s gonna be far more comfortable than others, but we’re moving together as a team, as one. It was so, so powerful.

Rene Carayol (34:19): I’m doing. And I think the lesson I’m learning is there are no universal truth, no universal solutions. The only mistake is the one you don’t learn from. We’re gonna make some, we’re gonna make them collectively. We’re not gonna judge. We’re gonna be supporting each other. And we’re gonna say the wrong words and we’ll learn over time, which are the right words. No one is wrong. Everyone is trying to do the right thing. Let’s create a support of environment with some psychological safety where we can be who we want to be and we can speak in a way that we’d like to, and maybe not speak if we don’t feel comfortable to. We’re gonna find a way to try and ensure that every voice is heard. But the most important thing is no one is left behind. It is difficult, Sean.

Speaker 3 (35:00): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (35:00): For some of us who have lived that all of our lives, it may not be that challenging. It’s I’ll give you an example. We’d I sent out some, we can do some very simple part. I’ve got Microsoft best technology you could ever, they could create anything. So we created some polling software.

Rene Carayol (35:18): I sent out some questions. And one of the questions, have you ever been the only one of your race in the team? I gave some multiple choice answers. Have you been, ever been the only one of your race in a crowd? Lots of other sort of questions, but those were the two that hit home. And I would say it was sort of 30% had been the only one in the crowd and the only one in the team.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (35:46): Yep.

Rene Carayol (35:47): Another 50% had to imagine. They hadn’t been the only one, but they had to imagine.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (35:54): Yeah,

Rene Carayol (35:55): 20% couldn’t even imagine.

Speaker 3 (35:58): Wow.

Rene Carayol (35:58): They couldn’t even get their mindsets to say, what would it be like? I was only person and they were being really honest. But can you imagine, we had to create those five multiple choice answers. We had to create a six for those who couldn’t even imagine.

Rene Carayol (36:13): Now I just, it’s not right or wrong, Sean. But it’s just gives us a flavor of where we are. And I felt, and I suppose, given my background where I’m from, I don’t understand what it’s like many times not to be the minority. Not to feel marginalized, not to feel and there are very, very few times I’ve been in the majority. For others, just that moment of being in a minor ity for some of them, it so was scary.

Rene Carayol (36:46): But together there’s nothing we can’t overcome. But it’s only happens when we’re together. It’s very, very powerful. It’s some of the most meaningful, challenging, and highly charged work I’ve ever done with leaders.

Speaker 3 (37:00): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (37:01): But it is leadership again, let’s not lose that. There is inclusion – belonging is another leg of leadership.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (37:11): And in terms of the point you mentioned about there’s, there’s nothing that we can’t overcome

Rene Carayol (37:18): Together.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (37:18): Different subject, but what about the, again, many would argue the, almost like, you know, the absolute ultimate macro overarching, you know, genuinely existential issue of the environment that quite frankly seemed to be that, you know, not many businesses appeared to be taking it deeply, seriously, only a few years ago, but, after people like Greta Thunberg, last year and those like extinguishing rebellion and the activist movement have really, you know, hammered this point onto the public stage. What are you talking about there? When CEOs say to you, quite frankly, you know, what do we do? Where do we go? How do we deal with this challenge?

Rene Carayol (38:03): Do you know, the world has moved on quite a bit here? I think, I can’t think of a board of directors, a company I’m working with where sustainability isn’t on the agenda somewhere, somehow?

Rene Carayol (38:19): We’re even seeing now that, you know, the Wall Street Markets, the London Stock Exchange, they’re getting involved on this. This morning on the radio L and G, Legal and General, one of the biggest investors, pension fund investors around, they made an announcement this morning that they’re not prepared to work with any companies that do not have sustainability race on their agenda.

Rene Carayol (38:42): The world is moving. And the thing is, I think it, the bit I’m learning Sean, it takes a long time to get all the engine running, you know, to get, get everything fired up. It takes a long time. But if you can get it fired up, it can move quite quickly. So, you know, Ed Timber at 92, 93 years of age, what a force.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (39:07): Yep.

Rene Carayol (39:07): Someone who, I’m not sure he offends anyone, but he finds a way of making us all think again. And I mean, think again.

Rene Carayol (39:21): And that’s an incredibly powerful sort of leader, sort of leadership. Yeah. I’m not sure he’s whipping us. He’s cursing us, he’s driving us, but he’s challenging us. And I’m, I may be just lucky, but I, all the chief executives all the business I’m working with, climate change, sustainability, to do the right thing in terms from the very simple to, from simplicity of packaging, to hydrocarbons, it’s all on the agenda. It’s all being spoken about. Is it fast enough? No. Is it big enough? No, but if I look back five years ago, it wasn’t there.

Rene Carayol (40:07): I think that what we need to do is to all of us is don’t be afraid no matter what your job title is, no matter where you work, speak up on everything. I think there was a time when, and look back on myself, how many times I thought career limiting, not the right thing to do. I think we’re in a different place now. I think we’re in a very different place now. And the pandemic is teaching us some lessons about the ability to listen to everyone.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (40:39): I can I say on that point about the pandemic, mean another, leader that, you know, aware, perhaps thinks in a similar way to yourself as Charles Schwab, obviously the founder and chief executive of the World Economic Forum. And you know, so he stated only a few months ago with regards to the 2021 ethos of the Davos summit being, you know, The Great Reset when he’s to talking about, you know, so COVID 19 represents a rare, but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our world. And then he was then quickly quoted on that by the Washington Post, who said, there’s a good chance. The virus will never go away. You know? So even after the vaccines discovered and deployed C19 is gonna remain for decades to come circulating around the world. And that means endless disruption for business. Now, again, I know you talk a lot about this issues of, as you’re saying earlier on just dealing with change. What about an issue whereby business leaders, and teams are having to deal with disruption and change that is never ceasing?

Rene Carayol (41:45): Twas ever thus.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (41:47): Okay.

Rene Carayol (41:49): Twas ever thus. You know, I think that the days of a static world or even a stable world long gone, forget that. You know, and if I give you a couple of measures that that might help illuminate this, there there’s this mythical business cycle, when, how long it takes for a business to turn itself. And when I started out, it was about five years where a business completely does the full revolution and comes around the way Netflix has done the full revolution, where you completed that business model, you moved to a new cycle and General Electric used to do this better than anyone. That business cycle today is 18 months.

Speaker 4 (42:30): Whoa.

Rene Carayol (42:32): A second figure. When I started out in this world 20 years ago, the average service of a chief executive was, well, my 10 years in Europe. Europe has just gone ahead of America’s just four years at the moment.

Speaker 4 (42:46): Whoa.

Rene Carayol (42:48): Things we can do so much more in a much shorter space of time. And the great quote from Trudeau things will never be this slow again. They’re getting fast and fast and they’ll never be this slow again. When’s the best time to change it? Now.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (43:03): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (43:04): So I think if you are going to be chief example, I’d like to see this, the toughest challenge for the chief executive today is the piece of change. Today’s pristine strategy is tomorrow’s obsolescence.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (43:18): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (43:19): And you know, so, an example I’m dealing with at the moment with three chief executives. We worked really hard, really carefully to get the messaging right. To bring some of the workforce back into their places of work. Six days later, we’re marching them back home. Six days.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (43:39): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (43:40): After a month of planning, a month of communications, a month of checking, how do we make the environments social distance to be safer, to bring all the stuff into have the counseling available. Think about wellbeing available. Thinking about who shouldn’t we ask, what do we do about childcare? What do you do about all that stuff goes in six days later, the grand Duke of York is marching. I’m back up the hill again.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (44:04): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (44:05): But do you complain? No. You just get on with it. You just get on with it.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (44:13): Well, okay. And then another issue. And it’s been actually fascinating. Listen to you running. What about the, okay. Yeah. What about this then the things that actually motivate you or inspire you? So when you are perhaps looking away from the world of business, the world of organizational change and leadership, et cetera. Yeah. Are you a great reader or viewer or a watcher or what?

Rene Carayol (44:36): All the above, Read everything and I drive my Mrs. Bananas. You can’t get enough information. You can’t get enough case studies. You, but I mean, nothing beats being out there, seeing it, dealing with it, touching it, breathing it, I’m busy now via Zoom and the light that I’ve ever been, but nothing will beat the standing onsite with the team and the leader and together collaborating to find a way forward. Nothing beats that. Nothing beats the helping each other, looking out for each other, looking after each other. I suppose, where I get, when I remember far too long ago, when I didn’t quite believe in myself, I had that imposter syndrome and my spirits were down and just waiting to be found out, you know, that horrible feeling, that opening the door, just thinking it’s is this gonna be the day they find me out?

Rene Carayol (45:31): I really don’t deserve to be here. And someone somewhere put an arm on my shoulder. Someone somewhere just said, you need some support. I’m here for you. And I’ve had some of the most incredible mentors who were just there when I needed the most. And so what I, the gifts they gave me, the time they gave me, the attention they gave me, the support they’ve given me fundamentally changed me. I’ve yet to meet anyone who has achieved their full leadership potential without the intervention of a mentor. Yet to me, I’d say it’s just nearly impossible. So therefore, I spend my time with the pattern they gave me, passing that pattern to others for them to help others. And what the pandemic has given me is a chance to mentor even many, many, many more over Zoom. And when I finish with you, I’ve got two mentoring sessions coming this afternoon. I’ve got a fantastic young woman, who’s a, she’s just finishing Oxford. The job that was lined up for her disappeare. The promise she had of a fantastic career doesn’t look like it’s gonna happen. I’ve had one session with her, getting her to understand that there are other opportunities. And today, I’m going to do the quasi interview for an interview she’s having on Friday. For a job she would never have thought about, guess how that makes me feel.

Rene Carayol (46:55): That’s the best feeling in the world. I think if, if all of us could take the time to find someone who we commit and you know, the great two way street of mentoring is

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (47:05): Yeah. Yeah.

Rene Carayol (47:07): The only reason the two of you continues, cause both of you are getting something outta it. And she’s 21 vibrant, see the world were very different from me and it’s an education for me and I try to help her. It just was, nothing beats it.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (47:23): Yeah. And you mentioned there about that. You’re doing that literally, today and saying this afternoon, after this podcast, what about, perhaps just know slightly, further out what’s sort of things are coming up on the horizon for you, Rene?

Rene Carayol (47:36): So, you know, if every year is different. I think this year, I never thought of never, never guessed that A the pandemic, B black lives matter. Those two things coming together, filling my world for the I’m sure for the next 12 months. I’m doing and, you know, October is black history month.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (47:59): Yep.

Rene Carayol (47:59): So I’ve probably got about 20 talks. I’m doing this month for various affinity groups, various businesses, various organizations who are trying to this year, this year specially, given everything that’s happened with the Black Lives Matter Movement and George Floyd, making special efforts to recognize their diverse workforces, to create a culture of inclusion and belonging. To let people know that they really care, that they really matter. You know, it’s just quite interesting. And I did some work last year with Sainsbury, around inclusion with the chief executive and Mike Coupe who was amazin, 170,000 people and it was amazing. They, he gave a talk about having felt invisible early on in his career. He didn’t want anyone at Saintsbury to feel invisible. And we did some work around inclusion with his operating board, the top 40 in the company. On Saturday,

Rene Carayol (48:53): they had an advert which has gone viral. And the advert was them talking about celebrating black history month. And they wanted to be the inclusive store, the inclusive supermarket. And it was fascinating. And I just caught side it. My team sent it around and it was an amazing statement. What was even more amazing. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised was some of the trolling and negativity that came off the back of it. Some people really know better. And Lawrence Fox who’s I think has made a reputation for trying to take on woke culture and they got a lot of sympathy, lost the plot with an outrageous hell damnation of what Sainsbury were doing. And he got it in the neck on Twitter, but I’m not sure what planet is on. And I keep thinking that, why do people not want us to come together? Why would you not want that?

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (49:47): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (49:47): I fail to understand that. Take a look at yourself.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (49:52): Yeah, exactly. Wow. Well, I mean, as we begin to, finish this off running summit, again, I’m aware that time is against us and it’s been absolutely superb and fascinating talking with you. So just in terms of, sort of, you know, key takeaway points or insights for, of the listeners, because we naturally made this series has, fortunate, got a very, very international listening, sort of audience. So, go on then. What is the takeaway points?

Rene Carayol (50:18): So let’s, let’s try and close with a little story. Three men work on a building site in the burning sun. They’re breaking rocks. It’s the toughest work you’ve ever seen. They’re all dripping in sweat. The journalist comes to the first one and says, why do you do this job? Says I haven’t worked for three years. I took the first job I could get. Go to the second one, why do you do this job? I’ve got a wife and three kids to feed. I took the first job I could get go. Go to the third one, why do you do this job? He puts down his shovel, wipes his sweat from his brow, looks up and says, I’m helping to build a cathedral. I’m helping to build a cathedral, mosque synagoge or temple, depending on where you are.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (50:59): Yeah.

Rene Carayol (51:00): That’s the role of the leader? The role of the leader is to ensure that every single one of their charges, their colleagues, no matter how manual mean you repetitive their job is they’re part of something special and they need you to believe in. So the role of the leader is every single day without fail, be visible enough to connect with all of your people and ensure you make them believe they’re building something special. They’re part of something special. It might be a stain glass windows. It might be the spark, but they’re helping to build that cathedral. That’s the role of the leader. Everyone matters. Everyone’s recognized. Everyone’s part of something special. This is inclusivity. This is belonging. And I leave you with some thoughts here that, good leaders create followers, great leaders create leaders. There’s only one thing worse than no leadership. That’s poor leadership. If you are bold, you might fail. If you are not bold, you will fail. This is a time to be bold. You’re not gonna get it right every time, but the only mistake is one you don’t learn from. Give it a go back yourself. Others will support you. We’re so much stronger together.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (52:24): Well, absolutely fantastic. Stuff to put it very, very, very mildly, even from just this end of the, sort of, the like microphone. So really just to, as a final question, I can’t believe that any, the listeners haven’t heard of you already, but just in case there’s some lone individual out there. So how can they track you down?

Rene Carayol (52:44): So we’re trying to be Everest. You’ll get me best places,, but we’re on Instagram. You’ll find me on we’re prolific on LinkedIn. You’ll us on Facebook. You’ll find us anywhere that you are used to getting on Twitter. You’ll find me, but LinkedIn, Instagram, we update daily. You’ll get a daily store, sorry for me on LinkedIn every day. We’ll talk the story about inclusion, 1300 characters on inclusion. And every day we’ll send something out on Instagram, something a quote for the pandemic, a quote for inclusion. And if you get the chance book of the year Spike, you’ll enjoy it. And if you contact me, Gill may will send you a very low cost copy of the audio book of Spike.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (53:32): Well, there we are, who could, not take up that fantastic offer. So Rene Carayol, who is quite simply one of the world’s leading executive coaches who works with some of the Fortune 500 and FTSE 100’s top CEOs and their executive teams. Thank you very much, indeed.

Rene Carayol (53:50): Sean, it’s been my pleasure and a privilege. Keep on doing what you’re doing my man.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (53:54): Thank you.

Rene Carayol (53:56): Thank you.

Sean Pillot de Chenecey (54:07): Thank you for listening to The Speaker Show Podcast. Please leave a rating on iTunes. We’d really appreciate it. And also it’d be great if you could subscribe to the podcast itself. You’ll find it also on Google podcasts, SoundCloud, or your favorite podcast app. Thank you.

Podcast host

Sean Pillot de Chenecey speaker

Sean Pillot de Chenecey

Foresight strategist, author and podcast host Sean Pillot de Chenecey is an inspirational speaker, who’s also consulted for some of the world’s biggest brands.

Sean has a very deep level of knowledge regarding the genuine issues impacting brands from a cultural, social and business perspective.

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