IAM1601 – CEO Coaches Leaders to Create a Strategy with Purpose

Podcast Interview with Richard Medcalf

Why it was selected: There's great importance to being able to not just charge through things. After you reach a certain level in business it's important that you create space to strategize. In Richard's podcast, we talk a lot about this and how you can go farther by pausing and taking time, asking those legacy questions, and being aware of the intersection of strategy, leadership and purpose (e.g. What's your North Star?) and how to go to the next level.

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Previous Episode:



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Richard Medcalf Teaser 0:00
There are two ways to increase impact, you can go faster or you can change gear. But you can't change gear when your foot is on the accelerator. So you do have to slow down to speed up. It's a bit of a cliche, but when you try to go faster, you just hit the ceiling of complexity and you max out.

Intro 0:19
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of. This is I am CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:46
Hello, this is Gresh from the I am CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Richard Medcalf of X quadrant. Richard, it's great to have you on the show.

Richard Medcalf 0:55
Hi Gresham, looking forward to this. Thank you for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:58
Yes, definitely excited about having you on as well, and about all the awesome things that you're doing. And before we jump into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Richard to hear about some of those awesome things. Richard describes himself as what you would get if you were to put a McKinsey consultant and a slightly unorthodox pastor in an entrepreneur into a blender. He's an executive coach and leadership consultant for some of the top CEOs on the planet and their leadership teams. Richard is by national English and French, lives near Paris and is happily married and proud father of two.

Richard, super excited to have you on the show again and about the work that you do. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Richard Medcalf 1:34
Absolutely. Let's do this.

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Gresham Harkless 1:35
Let's make it happen then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit more on how you got started with what I call your CEO story.

Richard Medcalf 1:43
Yeah, sure. So my life story is always my most interesting topic for me, it's my favorite subject. So I'll try to keep it short. In a nutshell. I grew up in the UK, I went in, I studied at Oxford University, went into strategy consulting in the tech media and telecom sector where I rapidly became a partner there at a pretty young age. And then I was headhunted by Cisco Systems. So I went into the tech industry, in a huge company for about 10 years. And I got to a stage where it was great, I was in a role set up by the team set up by the CEO of Cisco, working with the very top Fortune 100 customers and partners on really catalyzing strategic projects. So really fascinating stuff and working at an executive level. But I realized that it wasn't the story I wanted to be telling my grandchildren when I was 90. It was fine but I wanted to say a bit more than all the financial impact I was able to make in different telecoms operators, or whatever around the globe. And so I realized that what excited me, what my sense of purpose was, helping already impressive leaders get past their own fears and their own success formula, it's gotten to where they are, and helping them really make an even bigger impact on their organization, on their profit, on their people, and also on the world and make a dent in the world. That really led me to set up my own business, X quadrant, where me and some of some of my colleagues work with high level leaders, CEOs, founders, C suite leaders. That intersection of strategy and leadership and purpose, is really kind of what got me going. That desire to make a difference in people's lives.

Gresham Harkless 3:31
Nice. I absolutely love that. And I really love that kind of, I don't know, if you would consider it to be an exercise, but just like one of those legacy asking questions of like, what do I want to tell my grandchildren? Like, what will I tell them about what it is that I do? And, and I love how that seems to kind of translate into the conversations and the work that you do with your clients cause I'm sure they're probably wondering the same things and trying to make sure they set their organizations up to be able to do that.

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Richard Medcalf 3:55
Yeah, I asked the same questions. You know, I say that I, I tend to draw a diagram like a Venn diagram of strategy, leadership and purpose, draw kind of a big circle around it, and right kind of tech and digital and fast moving industries. But for me, it's the intersection of all of those things where the magic happens. And I so often ask my customer, what gets you out of bed? You can't move others until you move yourself. What inspires you, what's the impact you want to make? What's your new North Star? And often people haven't thought about those questions quite enough. They're not quite clear.

Gresham Harkless 4:30
Yeah, absolutely. And I often forget, and I'm sure you have those conversations all the time when we talk about, you know, leadership impact, making a ding in the universe and in all those things that we've been kind of talking about. It often starts with ourselves, and we often think about like, what do we have to do but we sometimes forget about ourselves, and we're trying to make that impact and start to lead.

Awesome. I love that. So I wanted to drill down a little bit more on how your work with your clients. I know we touched on a little bit but can you take us through a little bit more on what that process looks like.

Richard Medcalf 5:00
Yeah. So I'll give you the kind of the big picture and then a couple of bits about the process. But, so imagine you're CEO, you're a founder or you're another senior leader in a complex business where there's all sorts of moving parts. There's people, there's technology changing, and you've probably got big ambitions. And perhaps you've got pressure in your biggest ever leadership role, right? Perhaps you've just taken on a new team or new organization or something's changed and the stakes are high, there's a lot of complexity, a lot of change and you know, that you need to get to your next level to lead it a new level. You know you're clearly doing well, because you're already at this level, but you know, there's more. And, for me, there's normally about four things to work on. The first is extract yourself from low level tasks so you can focus on what truly matters. The second one is think and act more strategically, even when there's complexity and ambiguity. So where you actually put your focus. Third one is, how do you get your leadership team to become more cohesive and create more value? Often leaders, leadership teams, and companies have great sets of functional leaders, functional managers, if you like. Everyone's an expert in their own area, they haven't always come together into a cohesive, strategic aligned, teams really got each other's backs. And then the fourth part is inspiring organization and perhaps even your industry. So kind of growing your influence across various circles of influence, to be able to create the change that you want. And so it's really this idea of changing gear, moving up, and leading at a higher level, leaving the comfort zone of what you know behind a little bit to kind of play the bigger game. And, and that's really what I do, right? So I'll work with leaders individually one on one, there might be some CEOs I meet with every month or every couple of weeks to be a sounding board. Or it might be just leaders who are coming up. And we work for a more defined period of time, perhaps to get them to their next level. Or we might be with a leadership team as a group. And then sometimes I might consult at a higher level when you've got a whole organization, organizational shift to make, perhaps, and that's going to require working on multiple levels. But generally, I say you can't scale until you've transformed and incubated. So I tend to say, start with the leader, then work on their team, and then help that team scale the change to their own organization

Gresham Harkless 7:26
I love that. And I definitely want to put that on a bumper sticker. You can't scale until you transform and incubate it. And I think so many times we try to skip steps to the scaling part. And forget about those foundational pieces. And I almost think each of those four aspects are almost like legs of a stool, so to speak, where they're so important to make sure you try to work on those things. And I imagine as a leader that wants to go to the next level is probably a challenge to try to figure out how to do that. So I love that you've been able break that down so that I think leaders at the end of the day can focus on those high priority things.

Richard Medcalf 7:58
Yeah, there's a framework I have called the Impact Multiplier method. And it's really for the four constraints that any leader is going to encounter in themselves and their team in their organization. Right. The first one is, is a constraint of commitment, you know, are we actually committed to this goal, right? Is it clear? Is it compelling? Do we get really excited about it? Are we actually owning that? Second one is attention. You're where you are actually putting our limited attention? Is it on the right things, is it on the most strategic things? The the third one is action. Do we actually have the skills needed to work the change in different ways? Do we have the ability? Have we got time if we got the right habits? And the last one is, influence. Are we actually bringing people along with us on that journey by? Are we nailing those critical conversations? And I always find that in any event, when you got big goals, you're always looking at which of those four areas do I need to tune up to? And you know what's the one word, if I can get past that barrier? Everything is going to expand. And more results.

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Gresham Harkless 9:00
Absolutely. I love that. And the ability to be able to break that down into something that's a little bit more tangible and probably understandable and impactful. I think from a leadership standpoint of how to get to that next level, do you consider that to be like that the Impact Multiplier method? Do you consider it to be what I like to call your secret sauce, the thing you feel sets you apart and makes you unique?

Richard Medcalf 9:19
Yeah, to some degree. I mean, it's one of the elements, right? I would say, in a way that a deep level of systems thinking. Really understanding where are the levers that are going to change things is definitely part of that. And the Impact Multiplier method is definitely one of those and it's a framework that we'll use with other clients. I mean, at a high level, you can find a lot of consultants will come and speak to you about business and strategy. You can find a lot of coaches who will come and help you with your soft skills. As a leader, you can get your life coaches will help you think about your purpose and your inner game and your fears and confidence and these kinds of things. But I think very few people really master the intersections of all those things. And know where to focus when, in that whole picture, the business skills, the internal mindset stuff, or the the EQ part. And so I think that's kind of really a secret sauce if we want to work in that area, you know, I've spent over 25 years, in the C suite in the corporate world, in the tech sector, so I understand the industry. And, you know, we work with leaders from billion dollar companies, to tech unicorns to other kind of really interesting businesses. And I think being able to speak at that business level is really important and then we bring out these tools. It's important to have a language which we can transmit to our clients so that they can benefit from it. The Impact Multiplier method, those four areas, and they can think about that but they can also pass it on to their teams, because I'm not so much interested in pure personal transformation. That's important but it's also that multiplication part. And I think that's one of the secret sauce. Transforming yourself is one thing, but how do you pass that on to your team and help them pass it on to their team. And so making it simple to do that is another key part.

Gresham Harkless 11:11
Definitely appreciate that. And I wanted to switch gears a little bit to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book or a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Richard Medcalf 11:22
Yeah, I wanted to come with something a little bit different for this. And all I thought about is an app which,  I don't always use, but when I use it, I find it really helps. And it's brain FM, I don't know whether you've come across it, it's basically an app that you have on your phone, and you put your headphones on. And it plays music, kind of computer generated music, that is designed to kind of hack your brainwaves and get you into a certain zone. So whether you're trying to relax, or in my case, I tend to use it when I'm writing and I want to be focused. And it kind of just plays this kind of vaguely inspiring music in the background. But it's been designed to really get your brainwaves into a certain state to allow you to kind of really be in the zone. But I've mentioned it because it's kind of quite out there, right? It's not what most productivity advice would be. But I find it, there is a moment when we need to kind of double down and focus and get some serious work created and bring things out of us. And I find it's a useful way to get rid of the distractions, and zoom in.

Gresham Harkless 12:26
Nice. I love that. And probably, especially with a lot of the high performance that you work with, it's always trying to figure out, those things that they can do to kind of get to that next level, I imagine being able to kind of hear about certain things like this, and the impact that music and what we're putting into our body and put it into our minds and our ears can have such a huge impact on what it is that we're doing. Yeah, absolutely. Awesome.
So I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So this is little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice, and might be something you touched on. But I usually say something you would tell your favourite client, or if you have to do a time machine, you might tell your younger business self.

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Richard Medcalf 12:59
Yeah. So there are two ways to increase impact, where you can go faster, or you can change gear. But you can't change gear when your foot is on the accelerator. So you do have to slow down to speed up. It's a bit of a cliche, but when you try to go faster, you just hit the ceiling of complexity and you max out. And so it's always a question of how am I going to create space so that I can invest time in changing gear and playing at a higher level?

Gresham Harkless 13:27
Awesome, awesome. Awesome. So I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, and we're hoping to have different quotes of CEOs on this show. So Richard, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Richard Medcalf 13:38
It's taking the ultimate ownership for the success and impact of a business in terms of its purpose, its profit, and its people. I've tried to draw diagram like arrows between these three points, and I can never do it, because the arrows flow both ways, right? You know, if you're delivering on your purpose that inspires your people, which then allows you to create a great profit, right? You know, if you've got good profits flowing, that allows you to fund your people, and recruit great people who in turn can deliver on the purpose. And actually, we know that businesses who have a clear sense of purpose, generally are able to create high profits. So the arrows always flow both ways. The leads are intersections, they all go together. One of the things I love to do is to think about the system. You know, if this is a complex interconnected systems, you change one thing over here and something else changes in response completely unpredictably probably, because this is so complex. So you need to work on all of these areas. In my view.

Gresham Harkless 14:38
Richard, absolutely. Appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do now was passionate mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best people could get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on.

Richard Medcalf 14:53
Yeah, I was thinking about this, I think perhaps the best entry point that most people might find helpful is I've written a series called X financial leadership principles. And it really touches on all these things. What do we do to get to get past that current level of success? And without just incrementally working a bit harder or just tweaking a couple of things? Yeah. How is it that some people are able to have these absolutely incredible trajectories, where they leave behind almost completely what they were doing a couple of years back, and are making incredible impact on the world. And I wanted to really study that and look at that. So I've written, it's like a seven part email series, it's completely complimentary. And you don't even need to sign up. The first of those is actually on my website, you can just access that at xquadrant.com/I am CEO. So if you just type in IAMCEO in one word, you'll find it. And that's probably the best place to go to find me any way that you can find my website. You can also find me plus my podcast as well. I have a podcast. So if you like podcasts, as I'm sure you do,  if you're listening to this, It's called the Impact Multiplier CEO, and it's on every platform.

Gresham Harkless 16:08
Yeah, absolutely. I love that and we'll definitely have the links and information in the show notes for everything that you're doing your podcast and all the great work that you do and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of day my friend.

Richard Medcalf 16:17
It's been a pleasure.

Outro 16:19
Thank you for listening to the I am CEO podcast powered by CB nation and Blue 16 media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co I am CEO is not just a phrase, it’s a community. Don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at Blue 16 media.com. This has been the I am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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