Kevin Murray is a globally recognised leadership coach and communications specialist. He is one of the world’s greatest Leadership experts
Kevin has advised companies including BSkyB, Lloyds TSB, Emirates Airline, 118 118, British Gas and McLaren F1 to name a few.
He is the author of TWO best-selling books, including ‘The Language Of Leaders’, both of which deal with how top leaders communicate to inspire, influence and achieve world class results.
Kevin is now ‘Chairman of Public Relations’ for Chime Communications, who currently employ 280 people serving 300 clients internationally.
This episode is all about teaching us how to become better leaders, which is such an intrinsically important skill in entrepreneurship, business, creativity and life in general.
Kevin’s wisdom and knowledge on the subject of leadership is second to none and provides so much value and so many practical tips for leaders of all sorts – startup founders, CEOs of blue chip companies, people running teams, entrepreneurs and intrepreneurs alike.
We discuss Kevin’s incredible journey; how he went from a junior Crime reporter for a newspaper in South Africa, to becoming Director of Comms for British Airways. As we progress through the conversation he shares and explains some of the most powerful leadership tips and advice you will ever hear. We discuss:
- How he get’s the best out of teams and people who are better than himself
- The productivity hacks Kevin adopts to enable him to get so much done
- The leadership lessons he learned after interviewing 80 of the world’s greatest leaders
- What entrepreneurs can do to become better leaders
- How leadership is changing in the digital age, and what we can do to stay ahead of the curve
- How Kevin set his eyes on becoming the Director of Comms for British Airways, and single handedly turned that dream into a reality
- How Kevin made the front page of the newspapers when he was sacked from British Airways
- It became fascinating to me how a lot of the leaders I worked with were really smart but couldn’t take people with them
- Why do smart leaders fail?
- Inspiring leadership isn’t something you’re necessarily born with, it’s something you can learn
- Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back
- If you define yourself only be whether or not you win, then you’re going to be crushed an awful lot of the time.
- You’ve got to learn to fail and learn to accept failure, but be able to cope with it and move on from it
- If you worry about failing you’ll probably not do very much
- I know how to ask questions, and I am unafraid to ask stupid questions
- I really do believe in the power of stretching ambition, a real goal that may seem impossible. It can help you to achieve things that you never thought you could achieve.
- Always advance and be unafraid
- Always go for it, don’t be afraid of things you don’t know
- Let me be clear, I am plagued with self doubt but I don’t get debilitated by it
- I don’t think you do progress if you’re constantly looking for reasons why you might fail
- You have to put your own people first, because if you don’t do that you can never put your customers first
- You shouldn’t ever try to be inspiring, what you need to think about doing is leaving people feeling inspired
- If you want to be inspiring it’s about ego, if you want to leave people feeling inspired it’s all about them – and that’s what great leadership is all about
- Disrespect has a massive cost
- Respect brings out the best in people
- How you make people feel is everything in leadership
- As an entrepreneur, inspiring people to share that passion, to share those values, to see what you see is crucial
- Leadership is about the future it’s not about the past
- Sustainability seems to me to be a defensive word
- It’s about creating value for all, not just for shareholders
- There’s a whole new drum beat out there among young people who will soon be tomorrow’s leaders, so they will seek to engineer a different kind of world
- What you can’t do in this world that is so full of risk, is to make it to constraining because you’re afraid of risk
- You have to recognise that when you’re dealing with controversy you have to appeal to the undecided
- You can’t do everything, and you can’t do the things you do badly well
- I’m very conscious of my energy
- One of the things a leader is about is energising people
- As a leader, as an entrepreneur, you can’t exhaust yourself because that will lead to catastrophe
- Innovation is the lifeblood of business and of enterprise
- Seek first to understand and then to be understood
- If I want to be listened by you, I should first listen to you
- Bell Potinger PR http://www.bellpottinger.com/
- British Airways http://www.britishairways.com/
- The Language Of Leaders, by Kevin Murray (book) http://amzn.to/1WYe4Is
- YouGov https://yougov.co.uk/results/
- General Patton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Patton
- Bernie the Bin Man https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Pell
- FlipBoard (app) https://flipboard.com/
- Pocket (app) https://getpocket.com
- The Speed of Trust, by Steven Covey (book) http://amzn.to/28ZVVK0
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey (book) http://amzn.to/28ZVLlI
- The Leadership Challenge, by James M. Kouzes (book) http://amzn.to/28ZVPSu
- Travis Kalanick https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_Kalanick
- Uber https://www.uber.com/
- Paul Polman https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Polman
- Unilever https://www.unilever.co.uk/
- Matthew Smith (Urbane Publications) http://www.bytethebook.com/the-hub/matthew-smith-founder-director-urbane-publications
- Urbane Publications http://urbanepublications.com/
- 00:04:24 – Why Kevin is so fascinated by leadership
- 00:06:56 – On the values instilled when Kevin was growing up
- 00:09:02 – On the subject of learning how to win, rather than winning itself (and failure)
- 00:14:00 – On money and quality of life
- 00:22:38 – On the importance of ‘purpose’
- 00:25:13 – Going from crime reporter to CEO of a global PR company
- 00:33:46 – How Kevin deals with self doubt
- 00:34:49 – Becoming Director of Comms for British Airways, and then getting fired publically
- 00:41:17 – Importance of putting your people before your customers
- 00:44:06 – On Writing the best selling book that is The Language of Leaders
- 00:48:35 – The 12 Principles of Inspiring Leadership
- Having a strong set of purpose and values
- Strong future Focus
- Obsession with customers
- Powerful conversations
- Being Audience Centric
- Great listeners
- Having a powerful point of view
- Story Tellers
- Highly conscious of signals
- Talking with passion and make a connection
- Constant personal improvement
- 00:55:23 – Leadership for entrepreneurs
- 01:00:31 – Audience Centricity, and the General Patton story
- 01:04:12 – The future of leadership
- 01:05:05 – Thriveability over Sustainability
- 01:08:43 – Kevin’s biggest risks in life
- 01:09:25 – On making controversial decisions
- 01:12:24 – How to lead people who are better than you (or know more than you)
- 01:16:15 – The biggest mistake Kevin ever made (Bernie the Bin Man)
- 01:19:46 – The flaw of being a big thinker
- 01:22:30 – How to utilise and mitigate your own flaws
- 01:22:37 – The are always occasions when you have to grind (and here are some hacks)
- 01:23:38 – Productivity and success hacks
- 01:25:27 – Self discipline and writing every night
- 01:29:10 – Morning routine, daily routine and routine hacks
- 01:35:31 – The 3 values FTSE100 companies stated they had: Integrity, teamwork and innovation
- 01:37:19 – Who Kevin looks to for inspiration
- 01:40:28 – The listening contract
- 01:42:40 – On money and success
If you could go back to any point in your life, and have 1 hour with your past self; what moment would it be and what would you tell yourself?
01:44:46 There’s nothing I regret doing. I would go back to those moments when I was feeling the most doubt, the most insecurity and say “don’t worry, you’ll be alright, just keep trying”. I would have stopped a lot of pain that was actually unnecessary.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received, who gave it to you and how has it positively affected your career?
01:45:22 An old boss who would buck the appraisal trend. He was supposed to use a 4 page appraisal form to mark and assess your performance. But what would happen there is you would look at the bad marks and think ‘you bastard!’. However, he believed that life was about assessing yourself, so he would get me to fill out the form and score myself. I would then take it to him, and he would inevitably scored me higher than I scored myself. It was the most inspirational thing that happened to me because he believed more, he saw more in me than I saw in myself. He wasn’t there to be critical he was there to draw out the best.
Who is the most disruptive, rebellious or revolutionary entrepreneur of the last 2 years?
01:47:05 Travis Kalanick of Uber
Who is the greatest leader of the last 2 years?
01:48:04 Paul Polman CEO of Unilever. He most amazing man and the most powerful leader I’ve met.
If you could change one law what would it be?
01:49:31 Laws around the culpability and responsibility of directors of companies and investors. Make them more accountable, to prevent the destructive greed and short termist profit driven actions we’ve seem – some of which resulted in the dreadful recession. Make sure they’re held more to account to be more long term in the way they think and act.
What’s your definition of entrepreneurship?
01:50:17 I always hate it when leaders of big companies say they want to have an entrepreneurial culture in their businesses, as I think that’s potentially a recipe for disaster. Entrepreneurs are people who are bold and courageous, who have a big idea, who are unbelievably disciplined and passionate about executing it. Who are very clear about what it is, who have seen a need and are never going to let the barriers get in their way to delivering it. Great entrepreneurs are those who can create customers where none existed before – and then deliver it with absolute dedication and ruthlessness around the idea.
What advice would you give to anyone listening to this who wants to become a creator entrepreneur or leader?
01:51:39 Go for it. Don’t be inhibited. Don’t let your cautionary side stop you from trying. You’ve just got to try, find a way. If that means doing what I do which means working a full day and then going home at night to do it because you can’t give up the day job as you’ve got mouths to feed; just find a way.
Who do you nominate to be a guest on the RebelHead Entrepreneurs podcast?
01:52:24 Matthew Smith. Founder of a new publishing company Urbane Publications