Glenn Williams: Leveraging a Crushing Career Setback for a Second Chance at Significance #10

Warwick Fairfax

February 11, 2020

Glenn Williams was living a life of success and significance in 2010 as a C-Suite executive with a global nonprofit doing life-changing work.  But it all ended after his integrity was questioned by the CEO, leading Williams to resign and move his family back to his native Australia to figure out what was next for him at the halftime of his life. In this interview with BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host and Crucible Leadership founder Warwick Fairfax, Williams shares the lessons of his crucible experience and what he’s learned and leveraged from that experience.  These lessons inform the work he’s doing today to help leaders align their successes, influence, and opportunities to build a legacy of significance.

To learn more about Glenn Williams and LCP Global, visit www.lcp-global.com.

Highlights

  • The “unexpected conversation” with the CEO that led to Glenn’s crucible experience (6:25)
  • Why he didn’t dive right back into a new full-time job after he resigned (7:54)
  • The devastating impact of having your character questioned (8:47)
  • How being able to process a crucible experience honestly and openly helps prevent leadership challenges in the future (15:12)
  • Glenn’s process of discovering who he was without the “success” of his job (20:15)
  • What do you do when your crucible takes away the life of significance you were already leading? (23:49)
  • What is “halftime” — and the value of recognizing it and re-evaluating your life and career in light of it? (26:15)
  • The danger of tying our identity too tightly to our profession and job (29:32)
  • The importance of good advisers in moving beyond your crucible (32:20)
  • The value of hitting the “pause” button after a crucible experience (35:14)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Hello. I’m Warwick Fairfax and you are listening to the Beyond the Crucible podcast. Today we have a conversation with Glenn Williams. Now before we start, I wanted to update you about a tragedy that has happened recently to Glenn Williams and his family. Glenn’s son, Ryan, 19 years old, suffered a massive stroke and shortly thereafter passed away just an unthinkable tragedy of losing a child. As it happened when we learnt of the stroke that Ryan suffered, we had already scheduled a date for this podcast to be released and we were going to air it pretty soon after it was recorded. Once we heard what had happened to Ryan, we postponed the airing of this episode. The reason that we were so keen to air this episode after we recorded it, was as you’ll hear from Glenn, Glenn shares his story of being a senior leader in a large organization and he suffered a career defining setback when that ended. And he felt he had to leave.

Warwick F:
Very few senior leaders will air with such vulnerability and honesty what they went through and the challenges of bouncing back from this kind of a setback. So we subsequently reached out to and just told him that we would, with his permission, like to air this episode because it was just so powerful and Glenn has graciously agreed. And I want to read what Glenn shared in allowing us to air this episode. He said this, “Experiencing another crucible moment does not diminish the significance of an earlier one.” So we are grateful to Glenn for allowing us to release this episode. And here is our conversation with Glenn Williams.

Gary S:
Welcome everybody to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Gary Schneeberger, the co-host of the program and the Communications Director for Crucible Leadership. And you have come in to a podcast that discusses crucible experiences, those difficult things that can either happen to us that we can be involved in, perhaps helping happen to us, but there’s moments in life that can be painful, can be traumatic, can change the trajectory of our lives. And we talk about them here, not to dwell on them, not to wallow in them, but as leaping off points to lead a life of significance. What can we learn from these crucible experiences? That’s the focus of our conversations that we have here. Joining me as always in these conversations is Warwick Fairfax, the host of the program and the founder of crucible leadership. Warwick we’ve a good one today.

Warwick F:
Absolutely Gary. And thanks so much and I am so excited to have you Glenn on the program.

Glenn W:
Thanks Warwick and Gary. It’s great to be here.

Gary S:
That Glenn that Warwick referred to is Glenn Williams and I’m going to tell you a little bit about Glenn. Glenn is the founder and CEO of LCP global, a company that builds the capacity of leaders to lead themselves, lead others, and lead their business. With more than 25 years working as a psychologist, executive and board member in more than 40 countries. He is passionate about changing the way leaders think and behave. Before founding the firm in 2010, Glenn held senior roles with a global US-based NGO with offices in 18 countries, becoming the chief operating officer for global operations. Earlier in his career, Glenn worked in sales for a multinational company NSK bearings and founded Pro-Fam Australia, which devoted a range of community based programs focused on building stronger families and communities.

Gary S:
These programs found their way into Asia, North America, Europe, South Africa and the middle East. Glenn holds a doctorate in global leadership from George Fox University where he focused on the relationship between leadership, character and performance. He also facilitates executive round tables for Halftime Australia, helping leaders align their successes, influences and opportunities to build a legacy of significance. Glenn is married to Natalie and has three teenage children, which he says here creates their own challenging situations.

Glenn W:
Did you have to pause and just emphasize that. You don’t leave that just hanging there?

Gary S:
No. I mean, we have to make sure… because again we’re talking about crucible experiences and a life of significance and raising three teenagers is definitely a life of significance.

Warwick F:
Exactly. And what’s interesting Gary is, I know you’ve known Glenn for a few years and I’ve known Glenn for a little bit, so it’s so fun to have Glenn on the program. We met through a mutual Halftime Australia acquaintance and got to chat and he put me onto a tremendous marketing and branding firm in U.S Signal that’s been so helpful to me. So I owe Glenn a lot and so thankful. So really thank you so much for being here. And so, a good place to start is with Crucible Leadership, we always like to understand someone’s crucible experience and what that was like and how they got over it, how they bounced back to what we call the life has significance, a life that’s on purpose helping others. But to really understand the getting Beyond the Crucible part, you have to understand the crucible. So tell us a bit about you and your crucible experience.

Glenn W:
Thanks Warwick. I think my crucible experience, although certainly the one that I’m talking about today really goes back to 2010. I was working in the chief operating officer job for a large global NGO and things have been, I want to say pretty cruisy I guess. Things were going well, although at the time lots of different challenges the GFC hit, there was a significant founder transition, lots of restructuring within the organization. And so apart from those normal, what I would say relatively normal challenges that many businesses go through, one day I had an unexpected conversation with the CEO of that organization, which led me to ultimately resign the position that I was in. Like many crisis points, I probably didn’t see that coming, that particular conversation. And I felt that it was a conversation that really questioned my integrity and that was something that I’d always held very strongly to and attempted to maintain through my working life.

Glenn W:
Ultimately, having had that integrity questioned really felt that I couldn’t continue in the role with the confidence of the CEO and so I felt that it was important at that time to resign. Not an easy decision to be honest. I’d been involved with the organization in different roles in Australia and also in the U.S for almost 18 years. So this 18 years in an organization, it’s 18 years of building great friendships, very strong relationships. You put your roots very deep into an organization and into the people that make up that organization and in this context from all different countries or a host of different countries. So actually resign and leave then for really being in a place of like, wow, what did I just do? What just happened? And the impact of them, Natalie, my wife and my children was, it was also a quite profound.

Glenn W:
And at the end of 2010, my decision to relocate back to Australia, that in itself was a difficult decision to make, but again we felt our hand was forced to do that. And so we relocated back to Australia. I think at that point I had been quite… I think I didn’t realize Warwick how burned out I actually was not just from that experience, but in the lead up to that time and feeling somewhat burned as well from some very close friends. Really went back to Australia and felt like, wow, it really wouldn’t interest me just to move into another role quickly because I really quite frankly didn’t know what I wanted to do. And secondly, didn’t feel that I was really in a position to make a healthy decision about what to do next.

Warwick F:
I mean, it’s interesting what you’re talking about because it’s one thing to be fired. It could be you resigned in your case but you know, you could be downsizing. It could be economy’s going in other direction. Maybe a new investor has come in and want to bring in their people. I mean, there’s all sorts of things that happen in the corporate world, but this is a bit different. This is more… it wasn’t that your intelligence or your ability was questioned. It was more your character and somebody questions your character. I mean that’s devastating. It almost feels worse than if somebody questions your competence. That’s one thing. But this feels like a lot worse. Don’t you think that they’re questioning your character?

Glenn W:
Yeah. I think it is. And particularly if you hold onto that idea was being part of who you are and it’s that reputation. You’ve worked really hard to maintain and build. And I still remember growing up, my father always used to say, “You know what, your word is everything.” And so for me in a way to strive for so long to ensure that my word was my word and then to feel that, that had been not in question but actually brought into disrepute, at that time it was quite difficult. And I think also responding, I guess to the reactions of others at that time as well. I think most people you try and leave any organization, hopefully well there’s no point bringing any organization or any individual who’s been involved in that through dragging and through the mud, so to speak or… as you pointed out earlier, Warwick in our conversation shooting arrows, actually not healthy for anybody.

Glenn W:
But it became difficult to articulate to people why I was leaving. For them it was like, “Hang on a minute. You’re not just going to leave.” And so that made it all the more difficult to move on because I felt like I was being a little bit disingenuous in terms of trying to explain why I was leaving the organization. And I’d been part of, like I said for almost 18 years.

Warwick F:
And that’s got to have been so difficult because I mean, I’ve seen this in different organizations where somebody leaves and it’s like, okay, I don’t get that. Why is this happening? And I’m sure there’s a lot of folks that’s seen Glenn’s doing such a great job. He’s been with the organization for a while. Why would he leave? Doesn’t he care about the mission of the organization? I mean, he lost his belief in the whole mission? What’s the deal here and I’m sure friends would have asked you and for the reasons you mentioned you couldn’t tell them. Because you didn’t want to throw arrows and you’re giving them answers that you know are going to be unsatisfactory.

Glenn W:
Yeah.

Warwick F:
And it’s like, well Glenn, I thought we were good friends and you’re not telling me, I mean what’s this about? That’s got to being unbelievably difficult… Some of those conversations.

Glenn W:
Well, which makes it quite difficult to move on in some respects because on the one hand, there’s a story that as you said it’s quite inadequate, but it’s a story that you tell which is the one that people are hearing. Then there is the other side of the story that only very few and only those closest to you are seeing. Look, I’m sure my wife would do a much better job than me to explain the impact of that time, I still remember making the decision to resign. I literally jumped in my car, I went home and honestly I cried my eyes out.

Glenn W:
I felt like I was letting down all of the people that were reporting to me and so many people who I worked with and who I knew well and I think to an extent, everything that you’ve built and been a part of to see that pushed to the side and now all of a sudden you’re no longer part of it. Which again, I think part of the crucible experience brings into question your sense of who you are and your sense of identity, your sense of self worth and how do you move forward and those sorts of things start to become quite confusing question.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. And I don’t want to dwell on this too much, but when our integrity’s questioned, for most of us, our first instinct is to fight back is to debate. Obviously ultimately the CEO gets to decide what they want to do. I mean you must have at least tried to say, well I disagree, I don’t see it that way and tried to defend yourself. And sometimes we’re in this agree to disagree mode where, I don’t know, you can have this conversation and talking past each other. I imagine with, again, I don’t need to know details, but you had to push back a bit saying I’m not seeing this. What the heck is going on?

Glenn W:
Yeah, you do. And I think you try and do that the best way you can. I’ve come to the realization Warwick that, there are perspectives and in this context they were two different realities and they didn’t align. And so yes, on the one hand there is the temptation of wanting to jump in and defend yourself and how could it lead to this? On the other hand, the fact that it did lead to this and clearly there were two conflicting realities then it probably wasn’t healthy to continue anyway. And that’s what I mean I think, having come to that decision of been realizing I’ve lost the confidence of the CEO and think it was really time to move on in a way it makes it seem like the decision was quite easy. Like let’s just make the decision and move on. But I think moving on became much more difficult and much harder than I ever imagined.

Warwick F:
I’m guessing and I’m going to put words in your mouth here for a second and correct me if I’m wrong, you did what you did because you felt like it was in the best interests of the organization and that some protracted conflict in some sense, whatever the word is, wouldn’t have been good for the organization and whether it was good for you is another question. But you did what you did I am assuming because you thought it was the right thing to do in the circumstances.

Glenn W:
Yeah, I think that’s right. And look, I think there’s an element of truth in… there’s no point hanging around at that point. You don’t want to potentially be seen to be white anting anything or creating undertones that would undermine the CEO and the leadership team. It’s not healthy for them. It’s not healthy for the organization. Ultimately is not healthy to you. It wasn’t healthy to me Warwick. So again, I think tough decision at the time. Lots of people make very similar decisions. I think one of the things that made it difficult for me to move on, and I’ve come to see that this is quite prevalent in society and for many people who move from one organization to another or move out of a particular senior role, often they’re required to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Glenn W:
Things like business you’re not to talk about the particular circumstances that may have led to that departure. And the challenge with that of course is, how do you resolve that? How do you deal with all the conflicting emotions? How do you process that in a healthy way to be in a position where you can make a really good decision about what is next? And so what I’ve discovered in some of the work that I’ve done since then with other CEOs and other executives, they’ve developed some fairly significant… what I would call dysfunctional behaviors within their leadership role and dysfunctional thinking because they have not been able to adequately process and move on from the earlier experience that was perhaps quite hurtful and quite destructive to them. So, how do they do that when they’re being forced to sign something not to talk about it and then they just move on.

Warwick F:
And that’s probably very common. I mean, last question on the particulars. When these things happen, we feel maybe betrayed or hard done by, that’s obviously normal, but it’s also normal to have maybe a thought, maybe 10% that was my fault. Or maybe was I really that person? Like you’re pretty sure you weren’t. But being human, at least for me, when these things happen, I might feel like that wasn’t my fault. I don’t think maybe was it, did you go through any of that self doubt, “Like, gosh, is any of this possibly true?”

Glenn W:
Actually in this context, not really because, what was being brought into question was something that I knew 100% was not something I did.

Warwick F:
Two different realities.

Glenn W:
So not really, but again… you’re talking about moving on from a situation like this. And I think in a way it sounds kind of selfish, but it was just about me. It was just about moving on. In a way I’d like to think I could do that fairly well. We’ve developed skills over the years, we’d acquire experience, we’d come very self sufficient. But I think what I found different was helping the family move on and helping my wife move on. I talk about secondary pain to some leaders where our wives often carry the pain that we’re feeling. And in a way they carry it quite differently because they feel your pain.

Glenn W:
And they also feel the impact of their pain on family. So in our context it was a little bit more complex in the sense that we had left Australia to work in the U.S so we had different issues in terms of visas and green cards and so on and relocation expenses and things like this. So, we were suddenly confronted with, well, do we stay and live in a bit of a fishbowl and be at risk of feeling drawn into different internal battles within the organization by people who wanted to stir the pot or was it best for us just to leave cleanly and then relocate back to Australia, which is the decision that we decided on.

Warwick F:
Well, it’s interesting you mentioned that as listeners from previous podcasts will know, I was in somewhat of a similar situation is that when the takeover of Fairfax Media ended up not working and the company went under, I felt like I couldn’t stay in the goldfish bowl of Australia, especially not Sydney, where the company was headquartered. And the name Fairfax means a lot specially in Sydney. And I had moved to U.S but my wife’s American. So fortunately it gave me that option, but there’s no way I could have continued in Sydney. So I absolutely can relate. And I also can relate that, again, I’ve talked about this in podcasts and blogs and elsewhere many years ago in 1976, other members of my family threw my dad out as chairman of Fairfax Media and they might’ve had their reasons. And I don’t really see that it was my dad, obviously my mother was pretty angry.

Warwick F:
I was 15 at the time and it was devastating for him. But that secondary family reaction, if you will… Yeah, I still remember that it was just how could they do that to my dad? And it’s decades ago, I have a bit of a broader perspective. Still don’t think it was really justified to be honest. But maybe a little bit broader, but I get it. Those who love us, they’re really hurting. So you’re in that space where you’re back in Australia, you’re thinking what’s happened. I think you’ve also talked previously about, who am I, who’s Glenn Williams, my identity, what do I do now?

Warwick F:
I mean talk a bit about that space and then how in the world did you get out of that dark place of just, well now what, I can’t talk about this even with people in Australia, at least not publicly. How did you get out of that hole, if you will… I don’t know, self doubt, what’s my identity, all that. I mean, which I can obviously relate to. How’d you get out of that?

Glenn W:
It’s a great question and I think again Warwick our identity certainly becomes very enmeshed with the work that we do. If you think over a long career, if you think of a lot of the affirmation that you receive for a lot of your achievements, for the promotions that you might get from time to time, some of the amazing people that you get to meet and be part of their lives and fairly influential roles themselves and different parts of the world. It’s only natural for you to feel like, well, you know what, this is part of who I am. I mean I love this role. And of course what happens when you take that away? What is left? And I think that’s probably one of the things I struggled with the most. When you strip away something that has been a significant part of my life and it was more than just a job, it was very much a strong sense of purpose, a strong sense of call that I had to that work.

Glenn W:
And so for that to be pulled away and removed, all of a sudden it was like what is left and who am I? And I’ll never forget just a couple of years later, my 13 year old son at the time saying to me, dad how come you’re not successful any more. And I was like, let’s grab a dagger and stab that through the heart. But really in his eyes and what had been part of his experience was dad being an influencial role, having an impact in the work that he was doing, building teams and building into people and seeing great things happen and perhaps having a great budget to manage hundreds of people or whatever the case might be. So in a way he’s definition success was through that. And so for me, what I had to do as part of my recovery, I guess Warwick from this crucible experience was really needing to redefine success, what was success really about.

Glenn W:
And a friend of mine Andrew, gave me a book almost as I got off the plane in Melbourne, November 2010 he said, Glenn, you need to read this. And partly because of what I was going through at the time. I said, look, thanks Andrew, and threw it on the bookshelf for at least the next six months. I pulled it off one day and the title struck me of all things. The title of the book was called Isolation and it’s written by Shelley Trebesch. She has a very strong Christian faith in that book. I think something that I could connect with was the sense of where your identity is being stripped away. An identity that you’ve become very familiar with, comfortable with and very dependent upon. You’re used to people relating to you through a particular prism I guess or lens.

Glenn W:
And in that, she talks about sometimes we go through voluntary and involuntary periods of isolation where there’s a stripping away process. But the stripping away process is an important part of helping you to recreate a new identity for what is next. Now, at the time, I probably didn’t really want to hear that and I was still hurting but over time I began to see the wisdom in that. And so all of a sudden I realized that it was important for me to have to create a new narrative. Gary, you mentioned earlier to create a new trajectory for your life. I think you can only really do that when you can make sense of what has come before. And you reframe that and leverage that in such a way that you can learn from it and leverage those learnings moving forward into a new season in your life.

Gary S:
Right. And one of the things that we talk about a lot at crucible leadership and on this podcast is this idea of building from your crucible experience to a life of significance. And it strikes me, Glenn that it may have had an extra measure of difficulty for you because what you were doing before, you felt was very significant and it was having impact on families and in communities. It wasn’t like you were just grabbing the bottom line in those experiences. I imagine that added some heft to the difficulty as you were looking to what to do next to make another significance because you’d had not just success, but you’d had significance. How did that play out as you were looking toward next steps?

Glenn W:
Yeah Gary. I think that’s a good observation. I think you’re right. There was that sense where you felt that you were working in an area of significance. I know Bob Buford who wrote the book Halftime, from success to significance, he talks about somebody with a success orientation. It is typically all about them. A significance orientation is about doing something for somebody else. As simple as that. Gary, I think you’re right. I was involved in an organization that was making a difference and it was something I was proud to be part of. And so when that was gone, yes, I think you start to think, well hang on a minute, not only have you taken away success, but now you’ve taken away significance as well. So it probably was made a little bit more complex or more difficult from that.

Glenn W:
But there are opportune moments too, we might call them chance meetings or coincidental or whatever, but I came back to Australia and a friend of mine invited me to meet with a gentleman by the name of Jossy and himself had the significant global, not for profit that he was building. And there was some governance issues and global partnership issues that he needed some help addressing. So, my friend said to me, listen, why don’t you just go and help him until you work out what you want to do. Maybe just do a little bit of consulting here and there and be a little bit more patient and process where you’re at.

Glenn W:
Well, I ended up doing that and then it was at that same day I met John Sikkema for the first time and John was on Jossy’s board and John Sikkema heads up the work of Halftime in Australia, but also is the director of Halftime for the global partnership of Halftime outside of the U.S the head office is in Dallas in the U.S and John actually said, “Glenn, you’re in half time.” And I remember reading back in 1994 Warwick when, I think it was the first year that the book was published. And it was a time when Bob Buford, very successful businessman in a very entrepreneurial, and he had tragically lost his only child in a drowning accident. And so went through his own crucible experience and was confronted with, “what do I do now?” At the end of the day, what is more important or most important? And he said, you know what? All of the wealth, all of the trappings of wealth, everything that I’ve accumulated, I’d happily give all of that away to have my son back.

Glenn W:
And so he went through what he calls half time and when we often refer to half time and the combination of a football game or something like that. But in a way it’s very similar. We get to a season in our life and it’s not just a career change. We get to a season in our lives where we begin to question the values that we’ve been living by. We get to question what has happened and how can I leverage that in a significant way in the second half of my life. Bob Buford in his book, he talks about Peter Drucker for example really probably one of the world’s leading management gurus.

Glenn W:
Peter Drucker would make the comment we’re over prepared for life one, we’re under prepared for life two. And so as I met John and John said, Glenn, you’re in half time. Let me walk with you through that journey. John himself had sold a very sizable business and after discovering that he also was in half time and he was at risk losing his marriage, his family and he realized that success wasn’t all cut out to be what he thought it was. And so he said, “Glenn, let me walk with you through this time to help you discover what is going to be more purposeful more significant for you in the second half of your life.” And so some of those incredibly important meetings and learning to look at the first half of my life a little bit differently through a new lens with a view to saying how do I take that and leverage that in the second half of my life. I think those sorts of meetings were very important.

Gary S:
I want to take one second if I can, because I know where the conversation’s going to go here and it’s going to be really interesting. But what you just talked about in describing Halftime, Glenn, is what Warwick in Crucible Leadership talks about in discussing what he calls a refining cycle. And it seems to me that this concept of Halftime is almost a doorway or entryway to this refining cycle from your crucible understanding how you’re designed, understanding what your vision is, crafting a vision and making that vision a reality.

Gary S:
So you guys both independently of each other have come to this model that listeners should pay attention as we have the rest of this conversation because it’s a crossroads of sorts. It’s an entryway of sorts. It’s a refining cycle of sorts at this Halftime. Warwick would you say that what Glenn just described as Halftime is similar to what you went through and certainly similar to what Crucible Leadership’s about?

Warwick F:
Absolutely. One thing I just wanted to touch on first is one of the things that the listeners need to understand is this concept of identity. And Glenn has really talked about in not so many words, a lot of his identity was wrapped up in this global NGO that did a lot of good for people. It wasn’t just making widgets, it was something that Glenn really cared about, felt like was important. And then when that ends it’s like, well, what’s left of Glenn Williams? Who am I now? And I can certainly relate as, again, a lot of our listeners will know, growing up in a 150 year old family media business, my identity was wrapped up in Fairfax Media and it wasn’t just producing widgets, it was producing papers in Australia that tried to serve the country and the community.

Warwick F:
There was a feeling it was a sacred trust that we were trying to do good. So when that ended, and my last name is Fairfax, it’s like, well, my whole mission in life has gone. Well, now what do I do? In one sense there is similar overtones. It took most of the 90’s, they were pretty dark as I was trying to figure out, well now what. It took me years to recover, if you will. So I can absolutely relate. So you’ve had to… it sounds like build a new sense of identity, not just based on success, even success in an organization with a wonderful purpose, that’s great. But our identity should be separate from the organizations we work for. And most business leaders, they’re not there. Right? Their identity is wrapped up in that. So I mean, does that make sense? I mean you know obviously a lot of leaders of organizations, you probably see this every day.

Glenn W:
True. And I think Warwick we have got to be really careful, there’s nothing wrong with success.

Exactly

Glenn W:
In fact part of our new company that am the CEO, often we work with executives and leaders all around Australia and different parts of the world as well. And we want to see them succeed, not only in their respective businesses, but we want to see them succeed in life. We actually want to see them succeed in their marriages, in their families. And research is becoming far more common now that points to, as leaders increase in areas of responsibility as they climb the corporate ladder, the poorer, the quality of their relationships. So at a time when arguably they need those relationships the most, they’re actually in decline. And so we did quite a lot of work with leaders around this whole area.

Glenn W:
How do you make sure that you put in place the right strategies to nurture and build meaningful relationships that ultimately will help you to be more successful in life and in business. And I think the temptation Warwick from me and I don’t know if you felt this way in regards to yourself, yes there’s a sense of I just want to run away and escape and hide and wish I did not have to talk to anybody. But the other part of that is because we’re generally fairly driven to achieve or wired to achieve. We often are looking for the next thing very quickly, in other words, let’s not deal with everything. Let’s just race into another role and take on another senior role and everything will be okay.

Glenn W:
And then I can forget what’s just happened. And so for me and part of the Halftime process was hang on a minute and that could be incredibly detrimental. Why would that be a healthy thing for me to sweep under the carpet everything that’s just happened and all of the conflicting emotions and conflicting mindset and things like this and move into a new role and pretend that never existed and then hope to be really effective in this new role.

Warwick F:
Right. Because, you’ve got to do the inner work before you do the outer work. I mean if you haven’t dealt at least to some level with this stuff within, you probably end up hurting other people, which is not your desire. So you were very wise.

Glenn W:
Well, I don’t know whether I was wise, Warwick I had some wise people around me who were willing to walk with me and again, that’s an important step in moving through a moving beyond a crucible experience, I talked about the importance of minimizing the noise. Everybody has an expectation on what they want from you, what you should be doing. I had good friends who said, “Well Glenn, look, forget it happened. Just go and jump into it. Here’s a few senior roles. You’d be really good at this. Why don’t you take on this, this organization needs help.” But then unfortunately I had some others who said, “Well, hang on a little bit Glenn, don’t rush this. Push the pause button.” Let’s spend some time thinking about what happened, what did you learn from that? What’s going to be beneficial from that experience that you can take with you as you move forward and as you work with others.

Glenn W:
So minimizing the noise was really important. I think the second part of that is just surrounding yourself with some really wise people and wise not necessarily that they have to be highly intelligent. Wise in the sense of, they’ve walked down a similar path and come through that they learned from that, they are comfortable with you being able to be transparent with them in a safe place and a genuine. So I think having some of those people, and like I said, people like John, the John Sikkema’s of this world, walking with you on that journey certainly made it a little bit easier for me.

Warwick F:
And that’s a point I think the listeners really need to understand is when you’re going through the season, the desert is both you and I went through having a couple people that care for us, are with us and can help guide us is so helpful. You mentioned John Sikkema and then you know, with Jossy and the NGO doing some global work in different places. It’s almost seemed like, if you’re a person of faith as we are, that God puts people in our path that helps us when we need that help if we’re willing to listen. And fortunately you listened to John and others and do you look back and say, “Boy, there was some building blocks that helped get me back on the path back to what Gary’s talking about refining cycle of, okay, what’s the first step or the first cycle, the second.” Do you look back and see in hindsight there was a path that led you to the fantastic work that you’re doing now from that dark place?

Glenn W:
Which I must say Warwick at the time you may not have that sense of clarity on the past. In other words, you can’t see the path you’re on it… It’s not clear and so nobody says that you’ve got to enjoy the jumping into new skin to enjoy a refining process. It hasn’t been a process I have enjoyed. I can look back now and say, Wow, what an incredible experience. Look what I’ve learned. Look at the people that I’ve met, look at some of the new opportunities that have emerged. Look at some of the work that we’re now doing with leaders. I can look at all of those things now and say, that’s fantastic. But nothing… I’m not going to sugar coat that and I’m not going to look back and say, wow, I’d love to go through that again.

Glenn W:
No. I don’t want to go through that again. And fortunately I don’t have to go through that same experience and give them up the other personal experiences and there certainly have been some other tough challenges, but we’ve learn to move on and I think again, it is pushing that pause button. It is trying not to race into the next thing. And that gives you the opportunity to look at things a little bit more deeply. And as you said, it’s the internal work and even beyond the internal work. Sometimes it’s other emerging opportunities that haven’t been obvious to you because you haven’t been looking. So, I’ll never forget a doctorate through George Fox University in global leadership and Gary, you’ll laugh at this probably, but I had to make that decisions three weeks before I had actually resigned from the organization that I resigned at.

Glenn W:
And in a way, what an incredible blessing because if I had have waited and resigned and then had to make a decision, I probably would have said, forget it no I’m done, I’m not going to do that. But having already made a commitment and paid the money, all of that stuff and launched into that, I was committed. And so it was part of my life and it was an incredible part of my life in the next three years because we had study intensives in Germany and England and South Korea and Kenya, we went to Hong Kong, South Africa, so I had opportunities to engage leaders from all industry sectors, hundreds of leaders, and talk to them about issues of character, talk to them about leadership challenges that they face in their respective organizations and businesses. And so it opened up enormous opportunities to build new relationships, to do new work, to glean fresh insights. None of that might have happened if I had stayed in my previous role? And so in a way it was just new opportunities that really became more apparent as I went through that experience.

Warwick F:
I want to talk a bit about LCP global, but before I do that, I think a couple of things you’ve just highlighted, it’s important for the listeners to hear is one is when you go through something traumatic as you did, and I did, you might be able to get over it and hopefully be functional as I like to think we both are, but they’re going to be scars. That’s just reality. It’s not like the pain ever completely goes away when I go back to Australia and suddenly to Sydney and yeah, it’s not as bad as it used to be, but there’s still memories and reminders and it’s still this some degree of pain obviously, especially when I go back. So that’s one mark. I think it’s important to realize and also just the divine hand, if you will, the fact that you’d signed up for that course a few weeks before resigning.

Warwick F:
Again, that’ feel like there was somebody guiding you even if you didn’t quite realize what was happening at the time, but just amazing. But what you do now with LCP Global, I think is really exciting. I think one of the things you talk a lot about, feel passionate about is character. People think about being successful, being smart in business, but character, what the heck does character have to do with business? I mean, the board of directors typically doesn’t value character or at least they don’t grade you on your character. Let’s grade you on a five point scale and your bonus will depend on how you did on your character index in the last quarter. So, talk a bit about LCP Global in particular character.

Glenn W:
Yeah. So, the work that we do really… rarely do you find leaders who are incompetent, if they’ve worked their way up to a senior role, there may be some blind spots, but certainly, most of them are quite competent. But where they probably struggle the most is they have limited capacity, they’re being pulled in multiple directions and because of whether it’s pressure from shareholders and pressure from the board or the pressure they place themselves wanting to grow a business and to make a business successful, they take shortcuts, the impact of those shortcuts on the business and on the staff and so on. So, often it’s a capacity issue. And so we often talk to leaders about how do we actually build capacity into their lives, where they actually have the capacity to lead themselves to lead others and then to lead their business.

Glenn W:
And usually, what we found typically is most whether it’s executive coaching or leadership development programs, they focus all about business. But there are so many other variables that can impact on a business in the life of the leader. And ultimately the success of the leader. Character is one of those things. And Warwick, I don’t need to tell you really, I mean like in fact, even here in Australia, just this last couple of weeks Westpac Banking Corporation, it’s up on charges of $23 million illegal transactions. So when people talk about what how does character relate to business, tell me how character isn’t related to good business. And I think, sometimes we’ve got to be turn the conversation upside down a little bit here. So we’ve had a number of recent Royal Commissions into the aged care area, into the banking sector, finance and banking sector. But whether it’s politics, whether it’s impeachment hearings, whether it’s whatever, character somewhere is very close to the core of any leader’s journey.

Glenn W:
But rarely will you have a leader come to you and say, look, Glenn, I need some work done on character. Can LCP come and help us work on refining, developing, our character. Usually it occurs differently. Usually there’s a symptom first. And so the symptom might be, Hey listen, I’m losing some fairly significant talent or we just don’t seem to be able to hold on to great talent in the organization as a continued stream that that revolving door or they come in and they leave fairly quickly. What we would ask, is why are they leaving? Is it purely because of the lack of opportunities or growth or is there something else as a part of the culture, is there like a character within the culture?

Glenn W:
So we talk about the importance of aligning the internal and the external brain. Often you’ve got the external facing brain, but internally, often it can be quite different. And really that’s why I embarked on the dissertation topic that I did, that explores the relationship between character and performance. Because as businesses we can put that cool values up on the wall and have it in foyers and say, here’s what we believe in. This is really important. But those that work with you, those that are inside your organization, they have some serious questions about whether those values have been lived out in practice on the inside. So, what we’ve discovered as a result of working with leaders of these five leadership anchors and one of those anchors, which is foundational to successful leadership, is what we call resilient character. How do we help leaders build a resilient character. And having a strong character is part of becoming a resilient leader and a resilient organization in the face of change.

Warwick F:
I feel like you’re highlighting some really important points. I remember as you would Enron that went bust, all sorts of lawsuits. Their mission statement sounded wonderful. We want to respect people and care for everybody, but it was all hypocrisy. They weren’t treating people like that and their customers. And so hopefully as you’re engaging with boards and CEOs, they realize that character impacts the bottom line. Obviously the Westpac, which is one of the biggest banks in Australia and a huge global force that character has an enormous impact. The way you treat people. Nobody wants to be ripped off, credit taking for what they do. So do you find that people in the business world are beginning to realize that lack of character has a huge impact on the bottom line. It’s not just all about touchy feely altruism. Are they getting that, do you think?

Glenn W:
Warwick intuitively, most leaders would acknowledge that truth in practice, it’s difficult to change. Sometimes you’ve got some fairly ingrained practices that have occurred over many years and multiple levels within an organization. And so I understand the challenges that are in front of leaders in managing that. And how do you manage that by contributing and investing in the development of that really healthy culture. I love what Alexandre Havard wrote, the book Virtuous Leadership. And he talks about the importance of virtuous leadership. And I love the way he separates a virtue from a value. So we often talk about core values, but unfortunately even the word value itself in it to an extent has lost its meaning, has lost that sense of value that we would often earlier who contributed to that. And so he would describe a value as being intrinsic value and take integrity as an example.

Glenn W:
It’s an intrinsic value, but it only becomes a virtue when it can be so habitually practiced over time and it becomes actually ingrained as part of your identity. That to violate that would cause immense internal conflict. And I love that because we see this today in practicing lots of different businesses where here are the values that are really important to us. But then the very next day I might be, well hang on a minute. If we follow through on this and be true to that word. We’re about to wipe some value off the stock market for that company. Or look, if we maintain our word on this and keep our word and then we’re going to lose this sale.

Glenn W:
And so often there’s those inconvenient times where the decision maker might say, look, I know this is what we said we believe in, but today, look, we’re going to navigate around the edges a little bit, but then let’s come back and reassure everybody that tomorrow these are our values. And so I love what Alexandre Havard says about that. He says, really that’s not virtuous leadership because that’s not really a core part of who you are because they’re not being habitually practiced. They’re not part of your identity.

Warwick F:
That’s a great distinction, values and virutes. Virtues almost being when it’s so ingrained that you just on autopilot and it’s so easy to think of the short term profitability, but the reality is if you do that to, let’s say a supplier they’ll say, forget it. We’re going to go elsewhere. So in the long term it’ll really hurt your profitability, but people just think, Oh, I don’t care about tomorrow’s profitability. I just care about today, which is dumb, but it’s normal. So this is an amazing discussion. So is there anything else you’d like to share about LCP Global and its mission and the difference it’s making and why it’s so important?

Glenn W:
Well, I think perhaps in wrapping that up Warwick, you’re talking about Crucible Leadership and I think the reality is, leadership for many people can be incredibly lonely, and yet at the same time, once you move through a crucible experience, for me it is the potential for that crucible experience to transform your leadership and to transform your direction and create, as Gary said earlier, that new trajectory. And I think one way to do that is to, as I said earlier, is to really surround yourself with some really good people who are committed to you, who are committed to your transformation and who are committed to you… creating a new trajectory for yourself and for your business. And so for us with LCP Global, I think what we’ve increasingly come across, over time, leaders themselves are often incredibly lonely. They often feel the need to go through pain and through their own crucible experiences on their own.

Glenn W:
They don’t have time or the luxury of time to process or they don’t feel that they can take the time necessary to process that because there’s the pressure to get the next result, increase the bottom line and so on. So the work that we do with leaders really revolves around these five leadership anchors. And again, as I said earlier, yes, it’s all about becoming a virtuous leader. For us it’s about becoming a successful leader and redefining what that means for you and to create that new trajectory. And part of doing that is really reframing your journey. And so coming out of my own crucible experience, I can look back Warwick and Gary and tell everybody that, listen, I was let down and I was hurt and let’s be really bitter and let’s be really resentful and continue to be angry about that and everything else.

Glenn W:
Or I can say, you know what, it was an amazing experience. I had an amazing 18 years. I learned a lot, I met some amazing people. And here are the things I’ve learned and here’s what I’m leveraging now as I’m moving forward and as we’ve started LCP 10 years ago. And as we’re continuing to expand the work of LCP and coming alongside leaders and helping them to be successful in their businesses and in their relationship. So in a way, what I’ve just done for you is reframed an alternate version, which really is not healthy for anybody for me to stay stuck in that earlier version and so far better to leverage that crucible experience and see it as being transformational in its nature and moving through that now into a whole new season and wanting to be part of transforming others. So I think that’s what it is at the heart of the LCP Global.

Gary S:
And that’s a great place to end the discussion and do what I like to say, “Land the plane.” We’re going to land the plane there. And what I love about that Glenn is what we talk about, I sign off this show every time we do it. This podcast with a statement that says “Your crucible experience is not the end of your story. It’s the beginning of the next chapter of your story that can lead to a life of significance.” And that’s what you’ve just described, which is really fascinating and I hope listeners understand or see the similar experiences even though the details are different from what Warwick went through, what you went through Glenn, but the emotional experience behind that, the difficulty emotionally, the feeling, your competence in your character and all those things are in question. Those are things that the details of our circumstances aren’t necessarily what govern us in those moments. You can find hope and healing through the emotional experiences that Warwick and Glenn have both shared here today. Glenn, how can people find out more information about LCP Global?

Glenn W:
They can visit our website at www.lcp-global.com and read about the importance of these leadership anchors for themselves, but then also have a look at some of the enterprise solutions that we provide to the businesses and leadership teams.

Gary S:
And to learn more about crucible leadership, you can visit crucibleleadership.com. You can also engage us on social media, on Facebook it’s at Crucible Leadership, on LinkedIn it’s at Warwick Fairfax and as Glenn understands, as well as Warwick, Warwick has a silent W in the middle. So on LinkedIn it’s at W-A-R–W-I-C-K Fairfax. That’s where you’ll find Crucible Leadership on LinkedIn. Until the next time that we’re together, do remember what we just summed up in this conversation, that your crucible experience is painful, does change the trajectory of your life, as we’ve talked about, but it does not have to be the end of your story. In fact, as Glenn’s described and as Warwick has described, it’s the beginning of a new chapter of your story, which can be the most resonant one yet because it leads to a life of significance.

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