SPARK: Video Series

Fire up your confidence, influence and courage through self-leadership

Sally talks Self-Leadership with Josh Grocke

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Josh Grocke
Head of Account Management
Flight Centre Business Travel

Josh Grocke has been in the travel industry for more than 16 years, and is currently the Head of Account Management for Flight Centre Business Travel.  In that time has worked in a range of Leadership, Account Management, Business Development and Coaching roles in the retail, corporate, adventure and active travel sectors of the Flight Centre Travel Group.

Josh has won numerous awards and attended the Flight Centre Global Awards on many occasions, the most fulfilling aspect of his career though has been seeing so many people he’s led and worked with achieve and move forward with their brightness of future, with many of them becoming leaders and industry experts both inside and outside the Flight Centre Travel Group.

Josh consults with his teams and in turn, clients and businesses to provide expert advice around corporate travel management solutions to varied industries including not for profit, retail, hospitality, health, law, construction, manufacturing, technology, education, sport, fashion, entertainment, advertising and design.

 #leadership #courage #confidence #influence #selfleadership #travel #travelindustry #australia

It’s not possible to be all things to all people.

 

What I wish I knew about self-leadership before I stepped into my first leadership role?

At Flight Centre Business Travel, we know firsthand the pressures that are placed on emerging and small to medium businesses every day and we’re here to make your business travel easy. With a growing business to run and staff to take care of, planning and booking your own corporate travel is the last thing on your mind. We’re committed to finding travel solutions that are the right fit for your needs, whether it be comfort, flexibility or the best rate, so you can focus your energy on the important stuff – your business.  

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Interview Transcript

Sally Foley-Lewis

Hi, Sally Foley Lewis here with a, another amazing senior leader talking all things. Self-leadership so welcome to the spark self-leadership video series. I said, absolute honor, and a privilege to be hanging out with Josh Grocke, who is the Head of Account Management with Flight Center Business Travel. Get a Josh.

Josh Grocke

Thanks for having a long day, Sally. It’s a, it’s a pleasure to join you as always.

Sally

So I am, um, I really appreciate you being able to spend some time with me because it’s, it’s, uh, you know, we’re on the, we’re still in a pandemic when we record this, but I would just love to get some insights from you and how it’s impacted the self-leadership of you and your team. Um, but before we go down that rabbit hole, um, you know, tell me a little bit about, uh, flight center, just in case there’s at least maybe one, possibly some individual on this planet who doesn’t know what flight center is,

Josh

Um, flight center, our leading, leading travel provider, uh, what global globally now, uh, you know, lots of, uh, lots of different brands in the company, lots of different angles from being that leisure space, premium space, retail, corporate technology, not in our bikes, there’s all sorts of parts of flight center these days. Um, and look, you know, no one’s going to sugar coat, the fact that flight centers involved in the travel industry, which has been significantly challenged in the last year. Um, but I think that we need to look at the fact that, you know, flight centers are fortunate to company. We’re fortunate to work for such a great company. Um, it’s been a time in everyone’s life across, uh, across the world, which is, you know, something we thought we’d never expect. And I think that, um, there’s also, there’s all sorts of stories out there that are, um, have been difficult.

Josh

Um, but working for flight center, you know, I’ve worked with flight center for almost 17 years. My wife worked at flight center, my daughter and my son-in-law. Um, so if anyone’s an endorsement for the company or flight center, it’s probably me. Um, but yeah, for us at the moment, we’ve been going through a sort of a, quite a big restructure, a lot of changes. Um, but I think the thing for me that comes out is that we’ve just kept the human element. Um, and for mine, you know, one of the things that flight center tries and strives to do best is that really, you know, remember that there is a human side to all business, there’s a human side to all sort of industry. Um, and I think that that’s what the pandemics really brought forward, not just in flight center, but just for, for all of us.

Sally

Yeah, definitely. And, and, and, um, I appreciate hearing that. Not, uh, because you, you do see these big brands and you wonder don’t you, cause you’re, you’re someone on the outside, not on the inside. So, um, like you are, so I’m really, it warms my heart to actually hear that because, um, you, not everyone everyone’s doing well and not everyone’s come out of this or coming out of this well, so to hear that is, is really cool and really, um, um, it restores my faith. So that’s good news. So that’s, and speaking of the human let’s, let, let me use that as a segue into, uh, what do you call or what are you, how would you define self-leadership?

Josh

I think it comes down to having sort of a framework of boundaries and expectations with your own values. Um, I think you’ve sort of got to look at like, you know, w what gets us up out of bed in the morning and what are you trying to strive for and achieve for, uh, you know, for a lot of people, it’s things like, you know, family, and, um, and I guess there’s also that drive to self-develop yourself and sort of move forward in a career, and people would talk about money and all the rest of it, but for mine, it’s very much a it’s a, it’s having a discipline that sort of talk to your boundaries and expectations. Um, I’ve got an expectation of what I need to have around my work and my career and my life. Um, but I’ve also come to realize over the years that, um, if you don’t have a discipline sort of approach to it pretty much falls by the wayside. And I guess that’s kind of what I say is that self-leadership, um, there’s times when you want feedback from others and there’s times you’ve got to find that drive within yourself.

Sally

Yeah. Yeah. And I liked that. I think that, um, understanding that sometimes no matter how much you’re looking to the external it has to come from within, at times now. I really like that distinction.

Josh

Yeah, absolutely. And I think it’s setting up some structures. I think that the word sort of around, you know, motivation and drive and that sort of thing, they they’re great ideas, but you’ve got a structure that it’s going to work for you. Um, you know, just because a, a framework for motivation works for someone else, it might not work for you. I’m not a big [inaudible] person, so I don’t need sort of cheerleaders on the sideline, um, to work, to motivate me, but that would not work for someone else. Um, so you just gotta find your framework and your structure. Um, that’s what I think works best for, I guess, that drive and that self, uh, self-discipline and self-leadership.

Sally

Yeah, yeah, yeah. And, and, you know, talking about understanding that struggle, creating that structure for yourself and what works for you. Um, what, I’m, what I’m reading between the lines here is that, you know, you’ve got to know yourself, so your self-awareness is so important.

Josh

Yeah, it is. And I think that I’ve been, I mean, I work a lot with our teams on the art of saying no. Um, it’s important to say yes. Um, when you can, um, it’s also important to set boundaries. Um, and I think for myself, I need to, you know, check in with yourself a lot of the time, instead of say, you know, where am I at? Um, w you know, w why am I saying, you know, getting frustrated or flustered with a situation, you know, is it the other person, or is it me, if it’s me, maybe I need to set boundaries, or maybe I’ll need to look at it from a different angle. Um, so I think that that’s important. I think setting boundaries is one of the critical parts. Um, so often we see these amazing people in business in particular who just keep trying to take on more and more and more and more, and they’re usually fantastic operators. Um, but then you sort of see them drown because they’re just, you know, they don’t know how to sort of say no or how to prioritize or how to set these expectations with people about, you know, timelines. So, yeah, I think it’s important.

Sally

Yeah. And that example you gave, it makes the red flag for me is why are they saying yes. You know, what’s, what’s under, you know, I kind of, I want to rip open the, or pull out the, uh, the onion layers and say, if they don’t have boundaries, why don’t they have boundaries? What’s, what’s the driver for saying yes. And is, and then the question then is where’s their self-leadership at, are they, are they misaligned with their values? Are they, are they being driven by a fear? That’s actually a perception. And, and does that need to be sort of course corrected as such so,

Josh

Oh, I couldn’t agree more, Sally. I think that that’s a really critical part. It’s sort of, it, it’s the why instead of a lot of the time, when a lot of the time for myself, when I went on getting in a situation I’m getting overwhelmed, uh, I’ll look at, I’ll have to look at it and sort of say, well, what, what’s happening here? Get curious. Like, why is that happening? You know, you, you, you know what you’re doing good at your job, but this isn’t working for you, or maybe it needed to come at a different angle or a different approach or, or delegate, delegate to great ones. Um, you know, so yeah, I absolutely,

Sally

Yeah. I love that. Get curious. And, um, and you know, this is a journey, isn’t it? This is our self-leadership, I don’t think ever, ever finishes. I don’t imagine that you get to a certain age and you go, well, that’s it, I’m done. I’m, self-actualized as good as it gets. Um, and if you have got to that and think that, then we need to have a chat, but yeah.

Josh

And I think that, I think that you need to, for me, I correlates across, it’s not just my career, it’s across all parts of your sort of life. I think that I think that anyone can compartmentalize it from their career to their family, to their outside interests and things. I think it’s sort of a, you’re cutting yourself a bit short. I think you’ve got to sort of look at it and go, well, the self-leadership needs to be an Hattaway encompass my whole life as well as instead of just your career.

Sally

Mm. Yeah, totally. And well, which lends itself to the whole point about your emotions. And sometimes, you know, you have sort of some leaders who would say, and I don’t know if I’m using the term leaders loosely on that one would say, leave your emotions at home. And it’s like, well, how do I get them out of me and leave them on the kitchen table? You know, we can’t, and I think that’s that lens. I’m stretching from your point to that, because it’s about, uh, being, you know, your emotional intelligence, you need to be aware of your emotions and therefore as one thing, and then being able to regulate your emotions. And so they come with you, all of you has to go to work and all of you has to be at home. So

Josh

I think that it was something that we, that we’d often spoken about before the pandemic, um, about the ability to be vulnerable in the workspace. I think that that’s something that’s, you know, always, I think it’s something you need to look at. I remember the days when you were told to leave your emotions at the door. So that was when I sort of started in flight center on time ago now. Um, but I guess the thing that the pandemics sort of really brought to the fore is that you’d need to be vulnerable. You need to let your emotions be there yet. Um, I mean, I’ve had heartbreaking phone calls with businesses that are hit the wall in the last year. I’ve been long-term clients of ours. Um, I’ve also had conversations with clients where they’ve been able to, you know, get back from an ridiculous situation and then that together we’ve been able to solve, for example. Um, so I think that what the pandemic shown is that it’s a human element. I think that there’s still going to be a cutthroat business world in some areas, but I think more and more we’re seeing that, that empathetic type, um, relationship building is becoming critical and key to business. Um, and even over zoom is a great thing, but, um, a lot of the time you need to sort of go beyond that. You need to be able to show your emotion as opposed to just be a robot.

Sally

Absolutely. I totally agree with you and, and finding ways down the lens to be able to do that is it’s challenging, but it’s not impossible. And, um, and I think that, ah, look, I’m not a marketer. I mean, you’re obviously probably a better marketer than me, but to me is that, that whole concept of the know, like then trust, then buy economy. Um, I’ve heard that a lot over the, you know, sort of pre pandemic. Um, but hasn’t that been ramped up when I, when I know you and I like you and I trust you because we’ve actually gone another lie of deeper and with that vulnerability and with that relationship building and, and even just, just being present that little bit more.

Josh

Yup. And that, that, that, and that’s exactly it it’s that it’s those sort of things that you in the past, over the years, I think they were a nice to have. I think there was a, the words were bandied around and it was a nice to have in business if you could have it. Whereas now it’s becoming a real non-negotiable. You need to have the, you know, you need to be present, you need to be empathetic. You need to be transparent. You need to, you know, give, give that to people because otherwise they see it as a transactional type scenario. And I think we’re moving away from that transactional type relationship.

Sally

Mm mm. Which I think is a blessing. And I think that we could only benefit from a way, so yeah,

Josh

I think that, um, the transactional side for not, if nothing else, it’s, it’s pretty mundane.

Sally

Well, yay. Tick done. Move on. Where’s the experience of it, you know, where’s the, where’s the ability to have a good banter and just, um, and, and, you know, even just to just light in someone’s day, just for five minutes, you know, it can mean a lot.

Josh

I think what you said there, the experience of it, you know, embrace the experience. I mean, we’ve been through rollercoaster rides with some of our clients, but I think some of the most empowering things have been when things have gone wrong and we’ve got to be able to be on the journey with them to hopefully come out the other end. And I, I think that w I guess us as a account management team, for example, we’ve talked a lot about embracing the journey, um, when not out of the woods yet, where we’re in trouble, we’re in a very interesting place still. Um, but it’s been about embracing that journey and going on those experiences with people and, you know, when we’ve had people on the phone crying to us, it’s not because they’re, you know, you’ve got to show some empathy, know you, can’t just sort of be able to be a robot and try to sort of say, you know, Oh, well, too bad. So sad. I think that that’s, that might’ve been a way business has done 30, 40 years ago, but, um, I think it’s not the way forward.

Sally

That’s right. Yeah. And you told her about vulnerability, so we’re not to just go from that to some other elements of leadership, if we can. Um, and, and thinking about, uh, you know, as a leader, we often need to put on display or, or at least have some, some modicum of confidence, courage, and some influence. And I’m wondering about where your, in your, uh, your thoughts on the impact of self-leadership on elements, such as confidence, influence and courage.

Josh

I think it comes down to you. You’ve got to sort of lead by example in some way, should I be more so that self-leadership sort of thing you need to impart that on other people? And I guess for me, I talk, I talk about boundaries and expectations a lot because I’ve got them for me, um, within how I do my role and how I sort of conduct myself. And then I guess when someone in my team is challenged, I’ll sort of always press back on where are your boundaries with this person, or where are your boundaries with the situation? So for me, the self-leadership comes from having those boundaries and expectations, but then you’ve got to revisit it. It’s not a set and forget type scenario. So if someone comes along and thinks that we find a self-leadership walk, leading a team, that they can just have a once a month meeting, or once every three months meeting set to expectations and boundaries, and then off you go, it’s, check-in, it’s, it’s, you’ve got to communicate, you’ve got to talk to people. You’ve got to check in with them. You’ve got to, um, it’s a constant reinforcement. Um, so I guess for me, for me personally, in self-leadership, it’s very much, it’s a set the boundaries and expectations, and then the constant reinforcement, and then that sort of extrapolates onto how I lead teams.

Sally

Um, and I, and it shows you as a confident later, and then also about how you can influence others. And I think that’s a really, it’s a very clear link between them and I, and I totally agree with you when the minute you set a boundary, something will try to test it. And, and I think your point about it’s not, it’s not set and forget is, is absolutely, um, true. Um, and I think also sometimes there will be situations that arise where you actually have to say, okay, well I have this boundary, but I can see that I need to, you know, loosen it in this instance. Um, and it’s how you handle that with, with courage and conviction to say, in this instance, I’ll loosen it, but we need to make sure we address this differently next time.

Josh

Oh, I couldn’t agree more. So, I mean, it speaks to you, it speaks to courage. It really is, is that you’ve got to have the courage to be vulnerable because you can set that all the boundaries and expectations in the world. But if you’re rigid in your thinking, um, you know, I think you’ve got to be able to challenge boundaries, but be able to challenge your expectations and make sure they’re robust Juul need to be in a position where you can actually say, no, that’s a better point of view than I had, or that’s a different angle or things have changed. We need to be agile. Um, and that, yeah, you’re actually right. So I think that, that’s the thing that takes real courage. Um, the courage to be able to change your mind or have someone changing one, um, that takes a long time to learn.

Josh

Um, but I’d say that’s the sort of thing that, um, that’s what you got to look inside yourself and speak to what you say about the self-leadership. You need to be able to look inside yourself and say, you know, what are my values? What are the reasons can be doing this? Um, I say to my team a lot of the time, I don’t know everything. Um, and so I think you’ve got to be gracious enough to have you, your opinions change your values change. I think one of the fantastic things we saw, we’ve seen over the last few years about some of the votes and referendums we’ve had, you know, I’ve seen people changing their mind. Um, and I think it’s really powerful when people can look inside themselves, have some courage and they may have set some boundaries and expectations in their life, but they’re also had the courage to change them.

Sally

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. That’s a great example about, um, what’s happening with our voting and our referendum. I think that’s okay. Yes. Exceptionally good example. Thank you for sharing that and reminding me, yeah. So, um, when you’ve had your self-leadership sort of dented a bit, or the flame has been dampened down a bit, um, and you can use COVID if you want, or there may be some others, some other example, and you, and, and you don’t necessarily have to share the story, but what I’d love to know, um, and what I’d love to for you to share is, um, you know, how did you, how did you identify it first and foremost? And then how did you go about, you know, re-igniting yourself leadership? Like what were the lessons?

Josh

I find that this is an interesting one, because the self part of it can become a little bit, a little bit insular if you only keep it to yourself. I think for, for my self-leadership, I find I do lean on networks. Um, so I’ll, I’ll check with people. I trust whether it’s in business or family or whatever, it may be to sense check what, where I’m at and what I’m thinking. So I think that it’s all well and good for some things to like self-leadership to be self-driven. Um, but I think eventually, sometimes you’ve got a sense, check it with others because otherwise you can get too much in your own head. Um, and I, I guess for me, it’s a case of sort of saying, if I sense, check it with someone I trust, then I guess I can come back to myself and say, okay, you checked whether this is where the situation’s at. Okay. Now, how do you need to motivate yourself to get back to where you want to get to? Um, someone’s just not written, not easy. Um, the COVID, period’s been really interesting sort of a piece. Um, but again, I guess if you look at your values and what you’re trying to achieve, um, and, and again, why you get up out of bed and go to work in the morning, that’s got to be a self-driven self-leadership sort of style side of things, I think.

Sally

Yeah. So when you say sense, what’d you say sense check. So tell me what that is. Give me an example, or, or what you mean by that, your definition of back,

Josh

The main sense checking is a bit interesting. One. It could be a bit of a buzzword. Um, I suppose, um, the way that I think sixth sense checking is that if I’ve got no idea that I think, and, and, and even as a team have talked about it, um, but that’s in our world. So say in the account management world or in, in leadership, even if I’ve got a theory, but then you need to put it to someone, um, it’s in a different area or in a different sort of mindset. So it may be that you’ve got a, you’re a leader, and you want one of your team to just make sure that it’s not coming from a leadership angle. Or if I see an account manager need to talk to the operations department and find out if just because we think it’s right, we need them to sort of make sure it’s right on that side as well. And a fun sense, checking squad, a good thing to do because often it’s that final thing before you go ahead with something, okay, we’ve done all this planning. We’ve done all this ID making, but we’ll actually work in the real world.

Sally

Yeah. I love it. Yeah. You get all the ideas in the world of gripe, but will they actually work? So it’s about testing it and yeah, I love it. Thank you. So what about your team?

Josh

We see so many things for you in the real world. Um, you know, you, it sounds great in theory, but would it actually work in the real world?

Sally

Yeah, yeah, totally. And, and, um, my head just went to all those strange, um, inventions that you see on like Korean, Korean and Japanese inventions and let the toilet paper roll that comes down to blood. And that’s where my head just went. So I have way too much stuff going on up here right now, but I love it. It keeps me entertained. So, um, what about the team though? Like how do you, how do you help your reports and your team members, um, keep their self-leadership sparked up?

Josh

I’m big on empowerment. Um, and so, and again, I know, I know I’ve been saying this a lot, but setting boundaries and expectations. So I like to empower people, um, with the sort of, I guess their knowledge of, I’ll always, I think you’ve got to balance that up with being, uh, giving them the, the trust and empowerment, but also give them support. So you can’t just sort of let someone, uh, drift for a month. Um, but you also don’t want to be in their face. Micro-managing every five minutes because I find that and you’ve got to balance it up with the individual as well. Um, but then I find that if you give them that sort trust and empowerment, that sparks them to understand, well, what am I going to need to do to, to get, get myself going? Um, and, and there’s gotta be some structures in place. I don’t think you need to have overarching micro-managing type structures, but you’ve got to give someone some structure and boundaries, so then they can find their way to self leader or self lead.

Sally

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And I think I love that. And I think it’s about, um, you know, when you can say to your people, what do you need from me to help you do the best, the best you can do? You know?

Josh

Yeah. I think that because everyone’s different personalities too, everyone’s got different drivers. We’ve been talking a lot about, you know, some people are how people, some people are white people and some people are what people, um, and when you’ve got one of each in your team, you’ve got to kind of figure it out. We try to frame things up, um,

Sally

Because you both keep a little, uh, who’s who in the zoo here and how do I communicate with all of them, but, you know, I totally get that because you’ve got to, you’ve got to meet people where they’re at, but also I think, you know, when you step back and look at your team, the fact that you’ve got a nice diverse range, then that compliments that as a whole, as a team perspective.

Josh

Yeah. And that’s, that’s sort of critical for more. And when you’re building a team, I think you’ve got to look at what’s that person, what are people going to bring? That’s going to be different than what you’ve already got. Um, the last thing we need is, you know, four or five or 10 people that have basically the same style of person, because otherwise we’re not going to get dynamic answers. Um, so I think it’s important when you sort of team building, not to just fill the role, but how is that person going to fit into the team and fit into the brand and that sort of stuff?

Sally

Yeah, definitely. I remember experience with an old boss who actually bought in someone and we all complained. We were not happy and we told her about it as well. Um, and then she shut us down real quick, because she said, before you go on any further and tear strips, any more strips off me, you need to know this, this team is missing this, it’s missing this, it’s missing this. And this person brings all three, go on. And we just, it, I mean, it was gold. I mean, she could see what was missing and she bought that in and it was just Brian.

Josh

It’s such a good, it’s the see that that’s, for me, it’s just amazing leadership because it takes that courage to be able to go, okay, I might say, I might upset the dynamic of the team as it, as it was, but what am I going to have in the future? And I think that not only will that team thrive, but the individuals on that team will thrive as well.

Sally

And we did, you know, I think it, it, um, because this person was a customer or a client and then turned into a teammate, you know, we only had one certain experience of that person. And so, uh, her sharing what gaps this person was feeling, I really opened our eyes up and it was the best experience as many, many years ago, but I haven’t forgotten it obviously. So yeah.

Josh

I love that. That’s a really good leadership example.

Sally

Yeah, definitely. I’ve been one of my good ladies that I’ve had, so I’ve been pretty blessed to have some great leaders and some that I’ve learned from is that we will have maybe one of those. So, yeah. Hey, what’s one thing you wish you knew about self-leadership, um, when you first stepped into a leadership role,

Josh

Uh, I’d say it’s more around that sort of vulnerability, courage type, sort of a thing. I think you’ve got to be when you’re, when you’re, when you’re, um, I’ve been in leadership for a long time, so it takes me a while to remember back, but, um, you’re only 21, right? Yeah. That’s exactly right. Well said. Um, I think the thing for mine though, is that you often have in pictures in your own mind, even if you’ve been to university, you’ve done courses about what a leader should be and you feel as though you’ve been given this role and you should be able to solve a lot of problems yourself. So you don’t necessarily know, you know, when to reach out again, like I found it difficult when I first started in leader as a leader to set boundaries, um, I’d say yes to everyone. I’d be like, yeah, I can do that.

Josh

Can do that, can do that. So I’m the man I’m doing it, I’m the leader. Um, and then eventually you realize that doesn’t really work. Um, I mean, I’ve got one of the things I got taught quite well early on is that, you know, how to delegate properly, not just to dump work on people, but how to delegate and empower. And I think that that was the sort of stepping stone for me to start to work towards. Okay, well, how do I develop my own self-leadership um, because, you know, delegating properly, isn’t easy and it needs to be done correctly. Um, and that was where I sort of moved away from having to be the big, the leader, the big guy, whatever, as a Tableau being around more, I’m just a facilitator. Really. I’m just a facilitator for the team. Um, you know, I can show the way sometimes I can empower you. I can delegate to you. You’ve got to have a lot of strings to your bow, I think in leadership. And when you first started out in it, you just kind of want to be all things to all people, but you realize that that’s not really possible. Yeah,

Sally

Definitely. And you burn out if you don’t,

Josh

That’s exactly right. You’re burn out and you also just, you lose it, just sort of passionate and if you draw it back to self-leadership, you sort of lose your way.

Sally

Yeah, definitely. Thank you for sharing that. Yeah. So, um, look, thank you so much for sharing some time with us and, and your, your insights into self-leadership. Uh, just any, any final words you’d like to share? Last words,

Josh

I think leadership is thrust upon a lot, some people, and some people sort of strive for it, but I think that anyone can be a leader, but I think you’ve just got to, you know, bring a human quality to it. Um, you know, there’s going to be times when you, you need to, um, you know, do what the business needs you to do, but I think if you fall back on a human element, most of the time you probably going to get the best results.

Sally

Yeah. Yeah. So keep it real, keep it human vulnerability expectations. And so thank you, Josh really appreciate you and thank you for your time. No problems at all. Thanks. There’s been another episode of the sparks self-leadership video series with the amazing self leaders, such as Josh Grocke, who is the Head of Account Management with Flight Center Business Travel. Thanks. And catch you next time.