Rod Yapp: Next Level Business with High-Performance Leadership

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What makes a great leader in today’s world? Has leadership changed over time? Rod Yap is a high-performance leadership expert who answers those questions for us in this discussion.

Rod Yapp is a former Royal Marine Officer and the founder of Leadership Forces, a program that takes the high-performance principles of the Royal Marines and applies it to leadership development. Rod has exemplified leadership on the front lines (literally) in Afghanistan and Libya and now uses that experience in order to develop leaders within organizations such as Land Rover, HSBC, and NATO.

Learn more about Rod and his work at >

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Transcription of Interview

(Transcribed by, there may be errors)

Adam G. Force 00:11

Hey, what’s up, everybody? Welcome back to the Change Creator podcast show hope y’all are doing well. This is your host, Adam force. Today we’re going to be talking to somebody about leadership. But before I get into that intro, just a reminder, if you missed the last episode that was posted about a week ago, Amy and I spoke about the hard truth around delegating for your startup. This can be a tough one man, you can really get yourself into a financial pickle if you’re bringing in the wrong people at the wrong time. So this is something that we’ve been through ourselves and was kind of like a growing pain, if you will. So some really valuable input there just from our experience that we kind of kick around and share some insights that you may or may not be aware of. So I think it’s it’s a really healthy conversation. And as you’re looking to grow your business, you’ll find some good nuggets in there. So go back, check that If you haven’t already, this week, we’re going to be speaking with somebody by the name of Roderick Yap, calm rod. He’s the CEO of leadership forces. So he’s got a lot of experience as a speaker, a leadership coach, and all that kind of stuff. And he was actually in the, he’s a former Royal Marines officer. All right. And so he led the Marines, all different operations all around the world, whether it was in Somalia, Afghanistan, Libya, and all these different places. And then in 2012, he joined a group called the, your Renko group, and he was actually responsible for developing leaders using an operational excellence model. And then as of 2015, he decided to found found the leadership forces business which focused on developing leaders within organizations and he’s worked with clients such as HSBC, Deloitte, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce and NATO and all kinds have other great organizations. So he’s really stepped up into this leadership role, and he has a lot of great experience to share. Because it’s so important for our businesses. I mean, great leadership can be a game changer for long term differentiation and success. So we’re gonna dive into this conversation with rod in just a minute. Just a reminder, we always have lots of fresh content coming out on Change, Creator calm, so swing by get all the new goodies. And if you haven’t already signed up for the captivate method, there is a waitlist there, you can jump on our site on the homepage, you’ll find that you can sign up. This is all about how do we how do we communicate effectively with storytelling? And how do we apply that to our business? We call this a digital conversation. really powerful stuff. And we’ve seen some great success from our current students and members. It’s a really fun community. So check that out, and we’ll send you some information. All right, guys, I’m gonna dive into it. Don’t forget to stop by iTunes and other places that we are like Spotify leave us reviews, ratings, all that good stuff. It helps us a lot and we really appreciate your support and ongoing, you know, listenership so thanks again and we’re gonna dive into this conversation with rod. Okay, show me that he Hey rod, welcome to the Change Creator podcast show how you doing today man?

Rod Yap 03:25

Good thanks very, very pleased to be here.

Adam G. Force 03:27

Yeah, well Awesome. Thanks for being here. So, you know, I’m just I leadership is something that as we go into 2020 I’m putting more emphasis on just because it’s such an important part of operating a business that becomes you know, profitable successful. And I think leadership especially when it comes to building a team is really important. So tell me just a little bit about like, what’s going on in your life right now. Like what’s, what’s the latest, the greatest just to kind of tell us where you are

Rod Yap 04:01

So I’m continuing to develop my business I started in July 2015, how they felt that there was sort of something that I could add to this industry. I sort of looked at the kind of market and felt that most leadership development professionals tend to tell us a lot of ex HR, or organizational psychology backgrounds, and I had different, you know, I was more of a sort of practitioner. So I felt I could sort of take that experience, and, and sort of build a business around that. And when I sort of think about, you know, my background is, is obviously, as an officer in the Royal Marines, I think about my career in the military. You know, it really was developing people it was helping my Marines to get better at their jobs to become more effective to comply performance. That was what I enjoyed most about the whole my, my sort of seven years in the Corps. So I wanted to see if I could replicate something similar to that in the commercial world.

Adam G. Force 04:56

Yeah, I love that and what led you to the Marines

Rod Yap 05:00

Really, it was just a desire to do sort of something completely different. I believe in the concept of service. Certainly serving my country, but sort of serving other people. And I sort of thought about it much in the way as many people might think of sort of a graduate scheme. But then I was like, well hang on a sec, what are the graduate scheme puts you through 15 months of pretty demanding leadership and management training, and then your first job is line managing 30 people? Nothing like it right? And no one gives you that sort of that level of responsibility, that level of training, you know, that development as it gets, and I guess in a nutshell, that’s probably what took me in that direction.

Adam G. Force 05:41

Hmm. Interesting. So it sounds like you’ve been are all around the world. And just before we get into some of this, you know, a deeper conversation around leadership. I’m curious. Just about some of your experiences Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, I mean, anything stand out to you experience wise that kind of maybe hits you

Rod Yap 06:01

I mean, a lot of them were unique in their sort of own way. Afghanistan was a very kinetic war fighting environment. What What that means is that people were shooting at us an awful lot. And Libya was one of those environments where we really didn’t have a clue what was going on. Are you really making up as we went along, and then working sort of off the coast of Somalia was, was actually sort of quite quite a lot of fun. I quite enjoyed it, you know, working with small boats in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Yeah. And when I think about some of the lessons that I take from all of those experiences, I think really, serving in the military, like, a bit like travel, gives you a much sort of broader perspective. I served in Afghanistan in 2007. And, you know, when I look back on my sort of time there, we had no real grasp of how that country or how those people lived and operated. Did we approach that that world in that environment with our own sort of set of values and our own ways of thinking about a world? And it just didn’t? It just, it just didn’t compute, if that makes sense? Yeah. And, you know, I remember being there. And sort of one one story from my time there was that when I was based in San Diego, the district district center in the heart of Helmand Province, you know, we would get firefights from time to time with the Taliban. And if we accidentally sort of, you know, hurt some civilians who got sort of caught in the crossfire, what we do is we sort of patch them up, and we would bring them into a bring them into the base and sort of give them some compensation. There’s a fairly, fairly blah, sort of method of reparations, if you like, yeah. And what we started to notice was that, you know, certainly some groups this was kind of incentivizing that behavior. So there’s one tribe or one family that would that would actually grow In members of their family of their group with gunshot wounds, because we were paying to fix these people, you know, despite the fact that this had nothing to do with us that we haven’t been involved two or three days, I just remember thinking, you know, like, if that’s, you know, if that’s how people live here, I just, you know, I don’t have the, you know, the values or that sort of language to really compute how people can do that to each other in order to get paid. So, it just made me realize that, you know, it’s incredibly lucky to be born in the West and, you know, just by pure accident of being born in the UK, you know, I kind of won the lottery that he respects

Adam G. Force 08:40

Hey, now, it’s funny, as you were saying that I was thinking in my head, that birth is a lottery.

Rod Yap 08:47

And you know, it’s a total accident that we were born, you know, in, in the sort of developed world. Yeah, we just have things like you know, eating clean running water, easy access. So those things because they’re things that, you know, a lot of people don’t have.

Adam G. Force 09:03

Yeah, which is it’s an eye opener, it makes you grateful, that’s for sure. And, you know, it’s that I’ve noticed with about at least 80% of the people that I interview, especially when it’s, you know, different social entrepreneurs and such that their inspiration to start something really powerful as a business and change the trajectory of their of their life is from a travel experience. That’s usually what jolts them, it’s like a sensory overload.

Rod Yap 09:29

Hmm. Yeah, I think I think certainly with this sort of social entrepreneurs that that I’ve come across, they really kind of get this concept of, you know, making a contribution towards making a better place somehow. Yeah. And I think whilst a lot of veterans or a lot of people serving the military wouldn’t necessarily Connect as strongly as a social entrepreneur that certainly some absolutely would, you know, some of them join the military or, you know, join the police of the army. Fiber graded because they want to have a positive impact because they want to splice. And I completely see that I get it.

Adam G. Force 10:06

Yeah, I mean, there’s many ways that we can all contribute and you know, so not everybody is the same. And, you know, I can appreciate all the different formats and lifestyles that people have that, that make a difference and contribute and stuff like that. And I think, you know, as business is really transforming quite a bit over the past couple decades, you know, being a great leader, like redefining what a great leader is and how they think and what they accomplished, like, I think is really important, because there’s that trickle down, right, the leader of a different company or organization, when you have values in place that are important to not only the company, but the people that the company serves and all that stuff. It starts kind of like pushing good business. Right. Do you agree?

Rod Yap 10:53

Yeah. You know, I think you know, how you behave sort of sets the tone, certainly if you’re in leadership positions. For the organization, so, you know, I, I contract with a number of organizations that will often say to me, you know, we’ve got a cultural problem. You know, we’ve got an issue that our culture is not quite right. You know, I’m actually Well, you know, I might often say this in the kind of first in a pitch presentation, but actually the problem, they have a problem with the way in which they leaders are behaving as a leader, you need to need to pull off. You know, understanding the culture simply is a reflection of leadership, positive or negative. Yeah, it’s kind of really, really important. And that fundamentally comes down to the behavior of the leaders in your organization. It’s what they do, every single day. It’s the impact that has on the people around them. That’s what sets the tone for the culture of your organization. And I think when you’re relatively small, that’s something you’ve really got to focus on. Because if you’re only a sort of team of nine people and you may you hire someone in who’s potentially toxic as your 10th employee. Now 10% of your organization is going to cultural issue. But 100,000 people that that’s not so much of an issue, but, you know, when you’re small those you know, you need those kind of people that can muck in and help out are willing to roll their sleeves up and do work outside of their job description. And, you know, lots of people aren’t willing to do that. So you know, then certainly right for your your organization.

Adam G. Force 12:23

Yeah. 100%. And I’ve heard a couple, you know, interesting lessons that I’ve learned, which are one great leaders hire great leaders. So you definitely want people that are the right fit for your company culturally and have the mindset that will push the company in the right direction. But also I was interviewing the founder of Tom’s Blake Mycoskie and he said that, you know, one thing he would do differently if he started over would was his hiring because I guess as they got more established, when they were hiring the executive team, you can find people that have great resumes, but what happens is they have this experience As leaders in their particular space and their history, and they bring all that baggage with them, which may not jive with the current culture that you’re trying to create?

Rod Yap 13:09

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s really easy, you know, check yourself and consider, you know, the impact of the things the brand names have on you, and all the assumptions that you bring with them. Because if you, for example, work in a FinTech business, for example, you know, off top my head and you hire people from sort of larger banking organizations, you know, often their experience, you know, if even if they’re particularly senior can be very, very specialized, and they understand how one area, you know, to go and work on what much smaller team will require them to have a far broader remit for the things that are going on. And frankly, to to kind of get involved with actually doing stuff. Well, maybe just to wrap up is I think the hiring was a really interesting one because again, you know, a lot of sticks or a lot of people that want to build a high performing team. Yeah, really thought about that hiring process. is still very much a kind of, you know, couple of interviews, you get off of the job kind of thing and my view that you know, anyone can be good for a couple of hours down the route or you know, give give people some work or give people a kind of case study and see what questions they ask to their, how they approach something that is relevant to the job they’re going to be doing. Because as you know, when you’re a small team, right, that those jobs are going to evolve, the responsibilities are going to change rapidly. So you don’t need people that can do something, you know, very neatly fixing with into into a job description. You need people that are flexible and malleable and can roll with the changes that the company is going to go through. And I realize you know, his family is giving people some work and see how they handle it will give them some things to think about in a sort of scenario based scenario based process.

Adam G. Force 14:52

Yeah, hundred percent. I mean, I think that’s a really important point for anybody listening is that especially when you have a smaller team you in the first couple years I mean, people start out as solo entrepreneurs often and and i would definitely encourage having co founders, but as you start building a smaller team to get extra hands on deck, you, you really do want to think about people that are not just good at a particular job, but that can kind of face challenges and pivot with the needs of the market or the business as you see what’s going on. And you can kind of like you said, Go with roll with the punches. Yeah, that’s powerful.

Rod Yap 15:29

Yeah, absolutely. You need those people that have that agility, flexibility and worked around you. That’s not my job description.

Adam G. Force 15:39

Yeah, yeah. I will tell me a little bit about just from your experience, then around leadership, you know, have you seen an evolution in leadership over the years? Has has the mindset of leadership changed?

Rod Yap 15:56

I’d like to think so. I like to think Leadership is moving away from something that is, you know, is really reserved for the kind of C suite executives and something that people, you know, do or responsibility that comes with a position of authority. I think it’s moving away from that. And I think it’s moving away from that kind of, you know, I’m a leader, I come up with a plan, I tell you what to do. I’m not convinced that approach has ever worked particularly well, but having spoken to, you know, people in the generation above me That said, I get a sense that that’s how businesses and organizations used to operate. And I think nowadays, there’s an expectation that, you know, if you were a leader in a position of, you know, in a position of authority, you know, you asked your team, you know, right, this is the end state that we’re working towards, you know, how do you think we should approach that, you know, you might have a challenge, you invite the feedback, you invite their ideas, and then your job is effectively to cherry pick the best things and, and to sort of build it into some kind of plan because I don’t buy into this nonsense that, you know, Millennials don’t work hard. I think that’s absolutely rubbish. I think that they will work hard, they will absolutely work their nuts off, but they have to be involved in that process, they have to be made to feel like, you know, they were part of the planning. And you know, I that I want to be fit, I want to feel like that as well. So, so that’s where I kind of see things going. I think that people have a different expectation about what their what their bosses are going to do and how they will involve them going forward. But some lasting change.

Adam G. Force 17:39

Yeah, no, I think that’s a great point. And and, you know, organizations are flattening out, you know, from the height, the traditional, like hierarchy structure. I mean, I think there’s always like decision makers, like you said, but the teams are more involved and everybody becomes a leader in their own right, in a sense that, you know, we have to be able to trust and rely that they’re going to get the job done. Based on what the end game is about, right, so if everybody’s on the same page, we can work towards those same goals. And I think that that’s, that’s powerful. That’s a powerful change in mindset. And, you know, interesting, I just did a quick talk about how there’s some new data out that I think 50% of millennials, and 75% of Gen Z are leaving their jobs for mental health reasons. And I was kind of blown away and alarmed by those numbers. And you know, everyone gives them the bad rap. They don’t want to work hard. And so you know, when you have like stagnant low wages, or you’re being overworked for those low wages, like there’s some burnout there, but I also think there’s a lot of misalignment of people trying to get jobs that one they’re overqualified for or two, they’re just not meaningful to them. So they’re kind of like just miserable, waking up every day and doing it so they might be in these bad, you know, job environments.

Rod Yap 18:55

Yeah, I mean, I think that’s a that’s a really concerning issue. But then when you sort of think about it, you know, certainly when my father came home, you know, if the office call, it’s because the building was broken down. Right. But you know, there was a real emergency. Yeah. Now, as companies are more global, you know, you could be working across quite a few different time zones. Yeah. Therefore, your emails and phone calls never really switched off. There’s not that many people or not that many bosses that will will, you know, advise you or sort of say to you that you need to put in boundaries, you need to push back when people are asking for you, you to deliver stuff for tomorrow. And, you know, it’s five o’clock here. And you haven’t, frankly, got any more working hours to give. I think, I think that is a contributing factor. But also, I think, again, I think some of this comes down to leadership, because most of us have worked in a team, right where, you know, let’s say you’ve got sort of six people in that team. Two or three of them are really sort of strong performers and maybe some others kind of, you know, coasting, perhaps a little bit of that generally tends to be a bit of a bell curve distribution around to the performance. And one of the leaders tend to do with the people that deliver all the time, they tend to give them more work. Because it’s a lot easier to do that than it is a performance management conversation with someone else and go, hey, maybe you’re putting your weight here. I need you. I need you to deliver in accordance with my expectations, because frankly, I’m not going to keep giving more stuff to those people who always deliver for me. I think I definitely think that’s part of it as well, that sort of inability to handle those difficult conversations.

Adam G. Force 20:33

Hmm. Yeah, I think that that makes a lot of sense. That’s important. And it is tough. I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with that. And, but I mean, there’s ways to approach it that I guess are it’s more beneficial because you can help somebody else kind of make progress in their own life by giving them that feedback and helping them move forward. And I’m, I’m curious, so you know, you do a lot of leadership training and development to help you know, create a High Performance cultures, I’m just kind of checking out your website here. And you know, I’m curious in some of the things that are important to your process that you see with a lot of the organizations you work with then some of the maybe some key takeaways that might be valuable for our audience to understand when it comes to this leadership. Dynamic.

Rod Yap 21:22

Sure. So I mean, I think the first thing is be really cautious of people that give you a nice sort of type, by definition of what leadership is. Leadership, by definition is about judgment. It’s about making good decisions that get the best out of a situation. So, you know, when people sort of say, you know, leadership is all about empowering people. Yeah, I agree with that. 99% of the time, you are absolutely right. But you know, if you only walk across the road and we see someone get hit by a car, the last thing you would necessarily want me to do in that situation is empower you to call the ambulance you know, you think it’s the right thing to do to Just call the police or the ambulance come and help this individual, you know, that’s an environment where sort of tight command and control and sort of, you know, taking, taking control and gripping that chaotic situation is sort of really, really important. I think some of the things that, you know, I work with with people on are, you know, creating that sort of clarity by having that aligned goal, you know, it’s a really, really simple and sort of common theme. There’s loads of other people that sort of talk about this. But I think it’s really important to have a unifying goal of the team are working towards because then once you’ve got that clarity in the how you can ask them for support on and you can, you know, you can say right, how do we how do we achieve this as a group of people who’s going to do what in everything becomes much easier. Once you’ve got that clearly aligned picture of what you’re working towards. I tend to use and sort of, you know, NASA version man on the moon by the end of the decade is a really good vision with a nice set of time boundary to as well. Once you’ve got that happen You know, it’s one of those things that you you over communicate, so you cannot afford to communicate what it is you’re working towards as a group of people so that people know instinctively right? How do I how does my workstream fit in with the achievement of that vision? You know, unless you’ve got that vision, you can’t really answer that question. You know, holding people to account is really, really important. And accountability is a sort of two way process for me. So accountability involves, you know, turning around to a leader saying, hey, look, you’ve been distracted by the new shiny thing. You said that that’s the vision, we’re working on that don’t change that unless there is a reason to change it. And then we should all get together and discuss it and make a decision based on the facts rather than following your instinct on what needs to be sort of worked on. So lastly, I mean, I’m sort of trying to, you know, try to keep this short. So I’m trying to be concise. You know, laugh, you know, the ability to build strong relationships. You know, how well do you know your people? How well do you know you’re doing I want to ask you that question. And I’m sure there’ll be a lot of people sort of nodding down. Yeah. Oh my people. Okay, would you know? Do you know the names of their spouse? Do you know the names of their children? How old? Are they? Where do they go to college? when they grow up? What do they do with their spare time? What are their interests? What do they want to have a career within your organization? Do they want to stay here? Do they want to be you know, or do they do they want to take this experience and start their own business? The answers to all this stuff, frankly, are less important than the fact that you answer them because you started you ask people that because right what you’re demonstrating by that is demonstrating that you care about them and that you’re interested. And fundamentally, people aren’t gonna follow you because you’ve told them to, they’re going to follow you because they believe they have their best interests at heart. So the sort of clarity that vision, relationships and accountability if I can be really succinct, those are probably the three areas to work on more than anything else as a star. Beautiful.

Adam G. Force 24:59

Yeah. Ain’t no I, when you teach these types of things, I’m always thinking in my head, like, I hear that stuff I’ll make, you know, it’s just a matter of caring. It’s like, you know, who are these people, like you should care enough to ask about how they’re doing, who their spouses meet them. And like, these are people you’re going to spend a lot of time with as well. Right? So I spend I talk every day to my co founder. So these are people that you really want to get to know and you gotta, you gotta like them. You know? Yeah.

Rod Yap 25:29

Social Enterprise why, you know, that that’s confused about this. Because that, you know, if they share that enthusiasm for the problem that you are trying to solve for the people that you are trying to help, and they will walk through because to achieve your vision, and that’s a that’s a great thing.

Adam G. Force 25:47

Yeah, yeah, they need to believe in what the mission is. So you know, people overlook the missions in their company, especially early on like, yeah, yeah, I gotta have this mission statement. It’s just like, boilerplate crap. But it’s not like that clarity of like, where you’re going and why you’re doing what you’re doing, especially the why you’re doing it because people want to get behind something and not everyone’s going to start their own business to get behind something they believe, but they can certainly join something else that they believe in and be excited about waking up every day.

Rod Yap 26:17

Yeah, absolutely. And that’s kind of the key thing. I mean, that would be question number one for me, in a relatively small organization, a social enterprise. Why do you care about

Adam G. Force 26:26

Yes, yes. Love it.

Rod Yap 26:29

Like, you can’t convince me of that, then. Frankly, may I’m not sure there’s a but you know, I’m not looking for someone that just wants another job. Because the reality is, the job description I’ve just shared with you is probably going to change in six months. So I need someone that is kind of willing to be flexible, but enthusiastic and passionate about this purpose or the purpose of this organization.

Adam G. Force 26:49

Yeah, early on. I mean, that’s, that’s probably most important. I think that’s, that’s a beautiful, we’ll wrap it up there. And I want to just let people know where they can learn more about what you’re doing and your programs and stuff. So why don’t you give a shout out to where they can learn more and connect with you?

Rod Yap 27:05

Sure. So my name is Roderick. Yeah. The beauty of having a unique name is that I can pretty much be found on the internet. So hit me up on LinkedIn. I’m an open connector. So you know just assembling changing the text. just invite disconnects are always accept. And my website is leadership forces calm and I blog there about articles relating to leadership, human performance, taking the principles of what I’ve learned in the military, in the nuclear industry in the sporting world, into the corporate world. That’s that’s what I have to do. That’s my, that’s my mission in life anyway. Beautiful.

Adam G. Force 27:41

I really appreciate your time today and sharing your experiences and expertise.

Rod Yap 27:47

Thanks very much.

Adam G. Force 27:48

Great to speak to you. That’s all for this episode. Your next step is to join the Change Creator revolution by downloading our interactive digital magazine app for premium content, exclusive interviews and more ways to Stay on top of your game available now on iTunes and Google Play or visit Change Creator mag comm we’ll see you next time where money and meaning intersect right here at the Change Creator podcast.

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