Keeping Momentum In an Ever Changing Environment

Andy Martin

In this episode, ” Keeping Momentum In an Ever Changing Environment”, Andy Martin – an enterprise client partner for Franklin Covey Europe, builds on his thoughts on Achieving Results in Unpredictable Times.

Andy encourages us to show up as our best self every day to set up a winnable and compellable game. A habit of renewal is crucial combined with a positive mindset and intent. The three buckets or the real issues leaders confront, the evidence that is presented and the impact of actions and companion behaviours for success.

Structure and trust play a part in reshaping innovation and helping people to pivot faster .  Even in a changing environment there is a need to clarify and communicate vision and strategy consistently. Underpinning this is a greater need to be intentional in engaging teams especially in a remote working environment.

Living a life of adventure, curiosity and inquiry is one way of navigating an uncertain world”

Beyond doubt is trust as a relational capital and equity investing in the emotional bank account. Openness, honesty and increased certainty can help build back better. Stephen MR Covey reminds us in #speedoftrust that you can’t talk your way out of a problem you’ve behaved your way into. But you can behave your way out. “Living a life of adventure, curiosity and inquiry is one way of navigating an uncertain world” says Andy.

Andy Martin is an enterprise client partner for Franklin Covey Europe.   He is responsible for managing some of the firm’s most strategic global clients. Over the past seven years his experience in personal improvement and leadership development has fuelled his passion for personal development.   Martin can be found at a.


TesseTalks – Part 2 Featuring Andy Martin

Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okonneh, where we share with you, top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk with us. In this adventure, our guest today is Andy Martin, and we will be talking about achieving results in unpredictable times.

Andy is an enterprise client partner for Franklin Covey Europe, where he is responsible for managing some of the firm’s, most strategic global clients and growing the UK business. With over seven years’ experience in the performance improvement and leadership development industry, Andy is passionate about personal development, broadening perspectives and living a life of adventure.

Tesse: 00:01:04 And I have been so touched by what you’ve said, and I find it so inspiring, and so touching in more ways than one, the whole concept of being and doing. The bit about the alignment and presencing, the concept of servant leadership and humble leadership, which I really love. I love all that stuff around that.

And Patrick Lencioni’s work around “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team,” and they can be so about all the things that you’ve said. So, I got greedy. I have to say, what is there not to like? So, we have invited you back for part two and you kindly have agreed to come. So, we are delighted to have you, Paula how about you? Because I speak for myself that I am more than ecstatic to have Andy back.

Paula: 00:01:52 I think you’re speaking for both of us. I think he’s a brilliant young man.

Tesse: 00:01:56 Absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. So, thanks for coming back, I guess that you enjoyed our presentation. Before I go into my car, I want to ask you, how does it feel being back because I’m being greedy. So, how does it feel?

Andy: 00:02:08 It’s good to be back. You guys are fun. It’s great to be back.

Paula: 00:02:12 Thank you. That means a lot to us. We love the fact that it’s serious topics but peppered with a lot of fun and laughter. That’s what it’s all about.

Andy: 00:02:20 It is. Especially during these times

Paula: 00:02:23 Especially during these challenging times. Yeah.

Tesse: 00:02:27 So Paula, do you want to kick off with a first question there?

Paula: 00:02:31 Yes. Yes. Yes.    So, the things in your experience that you think are important in achieving results in these unpredictable times. Can you list at least three for us.

Andy: 00:02:43 Yeah, absolutely. So, a couple of things come to mind right now. And I always start with mindset and I think fundamentally it’s important right now to understand and believe it’s going to be okay.  In the big picture, in the grand scheme of things, it’s going to be okay. And that sense of belief as an anchoring, and we know that our behavior and what we do flows out of our belief in our mindset. And I think that’s important. The second thing is the habit of renewal. And really prioritizing your energy drivers, right? And whether it’s mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually looking at those things so that you are renewed and showing up your best self every day.

And I’m really big about this. This has really helped me during this time is. We at Franklin Covey, we use this terminology around setting up a winnable game. And what I mean by that is when the results are unpredictable right now, and we have some control over those. And then there’s a lot of external factors that play shifting the focus from those outputs to

the drivers of those things for the activity, or the inputs of those things. And what you’re doing is you’re setting up a compelling game that gets you excited, that defines what winning looks like from your perspective, that is completely in our control. And I think that’s been a big piece for myself personally, from the leaders that we’re working with and the organizations that we’re working with is I would say those three things of understanding that it’s going to be okay.

Habit of renewal and setting up a winning ball game.

Paula: 00:04:42 Great answer.

Tesse: 00:04:43 That is absolutely brilliant. And I was struck when we talked previously about your curiosity, the way that you have this spirit of inquiry, questioning, discovery.  I’m really interested in knowing how you use your natural curiosity to understand the complete picture of a leaders, challenges, and what they, the leaders are trying to accomplish. How do you use that?

Andy: 00:05:18 I think curiosity is ingrained in me. One of my core values is around openness. Which fundamentally has to do with instinctive curiosity, but when we’re in this space, that I’m in, in the consulting world I think there’s two things that are important.

One is the mindset and intent. And we say that intent counts more than technique. And so, if you have a pure intent and your desire is really to help your clients succeed, versus whatever my own agenda is coming into that meeting. If I can suspend that and really get focused on what they are trying to do.

My behavior flows out of that. And then having a little bit of a structure or a framework around the conversation is also really helpful to drive some consistency. So, I would bucket it into three things, issues, evidence, and impact.

So, if you can have a really meaningful conversation with a business leader around the key issues that they’re trying to drive or the key results, you can then prioritize those from their perspective. Understand what evidence that they’re seeing, allows them to indicate that’s even a real issue or not.

How is that actually showing up in the business? The last piece is as you think about all those things in that list, you just created feeding it back into. Okay. How are those things affecting and impacting the organization, which is where you get into the results or cost or revenue growth or whatever it is, but something meaningful.

And I find that going through that kind of structured conversation is a really valuable way of it’s great that somebody can be curious and curious, which can send me into a bunch of different rabbit trails, and all kinds of directions. So, giving some structure around that is often helpful.

Paula: 00:07:22 I love it.

Tesse: 00:07:23 People won’t be seeing, seeing each other in Zoom. And it’s a podcast. So, I’m laughing so much because last week I went to my usual walk in the park and I started taking pictures of trees with rabbit holes in them. And now it seems…some kind of reasoning there. Because I’m thinking, all of a sudden, why am I looking at rabbit holes?

You’ve just given me my answer. So, I’m a happy bunny right now.

Andy: 00:07:47 I guess I use that phrase and I don’t even really know what it means all the time.

Tesse: 00:07:51 It is a leadership concept to avoid rabbit holes. Because you can’t just go down there and there’s nothing productive coming up. So, it’s really in this particular case last week, the squirrels, which I love squirrels these days for my own mindfulness, they were jumping into the hole.

So, I thought, it’s supposed to be rabbits, not squirrels, but I they’re doing great. So, for this particular episode, I now make the connection. My subconscious knew that I was going to meet Andy who was going to talk about rabbit holes. So, I’ve made the connections, Leaders, please do the same. No rabbit holes. Avoid, those and then focus on really what matters.

Paula, what do you think?

Paula: 00:08:31 When he was talking about rabbit holes, I love that he now brought it back and said you need structure, right?

Tesse: 00:08:37 Yeah.

Paula: 00:08:38 So stop chasing squirrels down rabbit holes.

Andy: 00:08:43 We say don’t eat the marshmallow.

There’s this study that was done, you can watch this YouTube video on it, but there was a piece of research that they did where they put kids in a room put a marshmallow in front of them and they. Studied how much time each kid could wait and restrain themselves before they ate the marshmallow.

And they said, after a certain amount of time, we’d come back in, you’re allowed to eat the marshmallow. Then they videotaped this project, and you can see these kids just squirming right on the edges of their seats you watch them. And it’s so funny, because you would do the same thing.

Then they tracked those kids throughout their lives. And it translated to their level of discipline and their success in life, where they were able to withhold from going for the easy thing, knowing that there was something better on the outside. So, it’s the same thing in conversations, a leader says, gosh, we have a big turnover challenge, or we have a challenge with our employee engagement or something like that.  Or our leaders just are not where they need to be. And I could easily go into that conversation and prescribe, here’s what you need to do.

And here’s the solution to that. But without pausing, and we’d say moving off the solution into that structured conversation so that you can truly understand their issues, evidence, and impact, and then you have the full picture, right? Because there’s a number of different drivers that could be underlying that problem.

Paula: 00:10:18 I love that answer. I do, because it brought me to the next question about encouraging leaders to think of new and creative ways to solve problems. How do you go about  taking leaders who are used to doing things in a certain way and sometimes not even getting the results, but now thinking outside of the box, using  creative methods, to get them to think in new ways and creative methods. Does that make sense?

Andy: 00:10:44 Yeah, it does. There’s a lot of different rain works or methodologies that exist, to drive innovation or divergent thinking or creative thinking, whatever kind of name you want to put her. And those are great in that it gives somebody a structure and a process to do those things.

What I would suggest, or what I also see is there’s something that has to be in place before they get there to be able to make that happen. And I would say the underlying principle would be, is there an environment of trust that exists within that team or psychological safety, and trust that creates an environment where people feel the freedom and the safety to try new things, to put their neck out on the line with a new idea to risk failure. And if there’s not that space and. Those people right there. There’s going to be a withholding of ideas. There’s going to be a withholding of synergy that exists within that say if it’s in the team space.

And so I think first and foremost, there’s got to be an environment of trust. And. There’s 13 behaviors behind that that exists in every high trust relationship team, organization, et cetera, that people can be much more intentional and deliberate about actually institutionalizing and embedding those behaviors in the dynamics of the team, to be able to get there. And once that environment exists, then you can then go to, okay, what are some frameworks and structures to help us drive creative drive synergies, et cetera.

And there’s a lot of different, ways that you can do that.  One of them that I’m fairly familiar with is based on Clayton Christensen’s work. Clayton wrote the book, The Innovator’s Dilemma. So they would say he’s the father of   terminology around disruptive innovation. He was a professor at Harvard and passed away a few years ago. He was on our board of directors, so we co-created a solution with Clayton called Find Out Why. Based on his Job To Be Done theory.

And it’s a process and a journey for understanding customers, struggling moments. And rethinking the innovation process to build your products based on the customer’s job to be done as he calls it. So the simple example is if you go into home Depot or Lowe’s or a retail store  you need a quarter inch hole in your wall.

You don’t care what kind of drill you’re buying to get that quarter inch hole. You just want a quarter inch hole. The solution makes no difference. As long as it does that thing that you’re hiring it to do. And so , rethinking whether it’s a product development cycle, whether it’s an internal system or process rethinking the innovation cycle to be able to put it in the point of view of the customer is one example, of a way of reshaping that innovation.

Tesse: 00:13:56 I love that work. I really do. And I’ve read the book. I read so much. I just love, I think there’s something that actually. Resonates with me when I read the books.

But when that reading of the book comes together with my other favorite, which is Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate, then you’re onto a winner. You can’t beat Marshmallows and Hot Chocolate and Innovator’s Dilemma together. Brilliant. Thank you for that.

But as you were talking to me, what came to my mind, Andy when you talked about trust and those 13 kind of characteristics that feeds build and sustain trust. What came to my mind was behaviors. And the desirable behaviors for leaders. And I’d be really curious about your thoughts about the desirable behaviors that leaders need to demonstrate, particularly during times like this, that they’re emerging times. So, really open to hearing what your thoughts are there.

Andy: 00:14:50 I think we’re seeing a couple things, that come to mind. Trust is a foundational one. And one is being intentional about building trust. Right now with shift to remote, working, to blended working, flexible working models, whatever it is, there’s, especially for cultures that had a culture of presenteeism, right?

Where leaders and teams and people saw people as productive based on how long they were sitting at their desk. Now they’re no longer able to see that the day-to-day operations. So how do you understand if your team is being productive or not? And that requires a shift in mindset to valuing the outputs, and the deliverables and activity that comes from that. But what it also does is it requires a greater extension, a greater need to extend trust to the teams. And the more centralized organizations are right now. It’s just, things are moving too fast right now to create all that, store all that control, centralized all that decision-making at that top level.

So, we’re seeing a need to push down decision-making deeper into the organization, to flatten structures, a bit to remove hierarchy. So that decision making can be moved quicker. And people can pivot faster and that. Requires a new level of trust that has always been important, but it’s really felt, I think right now.

The other thing is with trust, there’s the piece around the behaviors, but there’s also, the other piece is it’s based on someone’s credibility as a leader, right? So, if people follow leaders they follow those people they see as credible. And so, helping leaders accelerate their own credibility in an intentional way so that people then follow, then people engage quickly and more effectively is a key bit to that.

The other thing, especially as organizations re-imagine the future of work and workplace and all that, empathy is a critical I would say mindset, but also, it’s a learnable skill. And so that skill around empathic listening. And what I mean by that, when I say empathy is there is a deep need right now to be highly curious and empathic on how their customers’ needs are changing.

How their internal and external stakeholders’ needs are changing, how the employees needs are changing. All of that requires a new level of leaders and organizations needing to lean into that and ask the right questions to understand from their point of view, what’s changing.

So, then it goes back to our previous conversation of the inquiry before the advocacy piece. And two other things. One is more of a need to clarify vision and communicate that vision and strategy consistently, even though it’s quickly changing and that’s okay.

But there’s a greater need to be intentional about engaging teams. In a remote working environment. So to keep people connected, and keep employees engaged when their personal lives are changing very quickly right now as well. And then the last piece I would say is keeping momentum.

In a time when the organizational performance, the results may not be spectacular. Or what they were, a year ago. It goes back to the winnable game, right? How do you keep momentum, keep people moving forward in a way that brings energy to the business?

Tesse: 00:18:27 That is absolutely brilliant, Andy, again, you’ve touched on all my favorite things, there’s a brilliant book and it because it’s one of the things that you support The Speed of Trust. And that was written long before this happened, but Steven Covey was onto something about how, actually gaining trust accelerates things.  I love that particular thing about the bank account deficits and surpluses.

Andy: 00:18:53 The emotional bank account.

Tesse: 00:18:54 Oh yes. The Emotional Bank Account, and I think at this point in time, that importance is even upped again because the deposits need to be upped in a remote environment.

Andy: 00:19:07 Yes.

Tesse: 00:19:09 And I wonder what your thoughts are because that book again, it just got me.

Andy: 00:19:13 Yeah. So, the idea of the emotional bank account is a way to help someone visualize. The relational kind of equity, or the relational capital. And the analogy is you are either adding to, or diminishing from within your relationship with someone else, with everything you do.

And so to help people be more intentional about where is that bank account with the other person so that they can then know how to show up. Based on that context. And I would say The Speed of Trust, think about that as a kind of a laser or a rifle, very narrowed approach to building that emotional bank account with someone else.

And that book actually came out of the merger between Stephen, M. R.  Covey who’s Stephen R Covey, his son. He wrote that book after Franklin Quest and Covey Leadership Center merged together. And, you would have thought that it was going to just go swimmingly.

But there were two very different cultures coming together. And those behaviors were the key things that he teased out through that journey, which is now a very successful organization.

Tesse: 00:20:27 Love it. And I want to actually be in a positive account with you. I want to hand over to Paula, to give you some fun questions. Just think, look, I want to have you back. And so having that kind of deposit that you will get some fun question. I hope it helps Paula over to you.

Paula: 00:20:46 Yeah. I was going to ask a more serious question, but I think it’s time for some fun. So, Andy, we always ask all our guests, this one. Do you have a favorite emoji?

Andy: 00:20:57 Do I have a favorite emoji? I would say it’s the one with the squinty eyes where it looks like a mix between someone laughing or crying and you don’t really know, but that’s the one I use the most.

Tesse: 00:21:12 What makes you use that one? Cause it’s one of mine, What makes you use it?

Andy: 00:21:17 It’s just that It captures an emotion that a smiley face. Doesn’t right. It’s something that’s hilarious. But it’s so funny that it almost makes you tear up.

Paula: 00:21:27 Yes. And they always have so many fun ones.

I remember when it was just smiley face. That’s all you can do, and you have to do it on the keyboards. Now we’ve got these, we have progressed.

Andy: 00:21:39 Now they have emojis with your faces on it.

Paula: 00:21:42 Yes.  Is that dependent on operating system because I get it on my Android, but others in my house who are Apple users, don’t seem to be able to create that.

Andy: 00:21:52 Oh.

Paula: 00:21:54 I don’t know if it’s just to do with the operating system a lot. I got that. I could share it to you guys one of these days.

Tesse: 00:22:03 I would love to see it. Don’t let me wait too long Paula. You know I’m not patient like that.

Paula: 00:22:07 I’ll send it to you.

Tesse: 00:22:10 The Speed of Trust.

Paula: 00:22:11 Well we’re about to wrap up.  It has been an amazing time.

I’ve learned about you Andy. Of course, I had never met you before, but I’ve learned a lot about you. And you’ve given me so many nuggets of wisdom. I’ve been taken down notes. In fact, I had to go old fashioned and go get my notebook to really be able to take down notes. Our listeners are going to learn a lot from you. Tesse?

Tesse: 00:22:33 The fact that you have to alert me, this is what Andy’s done for me. I’m now in a cloud of ore.

Paula: 00:22:40 This is funny. Yeah, I’m saying I learned a lot from him. I’m wondering what about you?

Tesse: 00:22:44 I love talking. That’s what Andy has done. And I’m thinking about the young people, particularly the young people, listening to a podcast like this, and the Generation Here Now, not the next generation. I think there’s so much from what you said that they can take away from this.

So, speaking to them, just what would you say to those young people who say, we are hitting this age and it’s pandemic and we have to wear masks and we cannot hug. What would you say to those people?

Andy: 00:23:16 I had this thought. Right before we were going into the second lockdown in London and we knew it was coming.

So we were like, okay let’s go see a show right before we can’t do anything anymore for the next month. And I left that theater and we walked out. And we saw, all the pubs and restaurants have closed at 10:00 PM, because of the current rules in place. And so, everybody left at the same time and you could see everybody on the street. it was this surreal feeling where you saw friends hugging each other and crying because they knew they weren’t going to see each other for another month or so.

And then you had some people that were Going back to living alone. And they were really isolated. And you saw family members, hugging each other cause they weren’t even allowed to go. And for our generation, we haven’t lived through a war.  This felt at least from my perspective that this was the first kind of significant, meaningful thing that is, really shaping.  You could feel in the air that something big was happening, there’s a weight to it. And while it was Kind of eerie, was special in a way too, in that,  there was a level of meaningfulness, right? It brought people together.

You, you feel like sometimes you take things for granted, right? And you don’t have certain conversations with people that you wish you did, or you didn’t encourage someone or say, I love you or something like that. And. You may look back on that and you wish you had done that, but for whatever reason, our own insecurity or protective nature, we don’t do it.

And so, I think that this is awakening people to an extent where They’re willing to do these things. They’re willing to express, be vulnerable. They’re willing to cherish what is important and it’s highlighting what is important. So that’s what I would say. And I would also say, we’re a lot more resilient, a lot stronger than we think we are.

And, while it’s important to manage that ourselves, it’s also, really hard to do it without other people. So, community connection is really important, whether it’s in a virtual environment, whether it’s In person. I’ve found that I am closer to my friends in the US that I went to university with that were some of my best friends than I have been since I left university.

Because it was like everybody was in the same boat and we had the time and space to connect and make that happen. We were just really busy before and consumed with our own stuff. So, we didn’t. So, I would say that there are positives in the midst of all the hurt and in the midst of all that. But we’re in a time where it’s meaningful.

Paula: 00:26:15 This is amazing Thank you, Andy. This is amazing.

Tesse: 00:26:19 I just, I say this because it’s something dear to my heart. When I see a gift that keeps giving, I notice it. And this time I’ve spent with Andy, with you, Paula as well. It’s just that gift that keeps giving and giving and giving.

Thank you for your expertise. I want to thank you for the presencing that you’ve brought. I want to thank you for your generosity. I want to thank you for your curiosity, and I want to thank you for your kindness and empathy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Andy: 00:26:56 Thanks for having me on the show.  Anyone that would like to connect with me. You can find me on LinkedIn.   Andy Martin is my name. My email is  Thanks for having me on the show You guys are great.

Paula: 00:27:12 Thank you, Andy. She has taken all the words, all the descriptions, all the adjectives and how I can say thank you, but I truly do appreciate you taking time out of your busy day. It’s night, you’re in England now, to be with us on TesseTalks.

Andy: 00:27:29 Thank you guys, it was fun.

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