Episode 13: Living & Leading Authentically with Jo Wagstaff

In this week’s episode, I got the chance to sit down with Jo Wagstaff, former corporate highflyer turned coach, speaker and author. After climbing the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, Jo found herself burnt-out, facing divorce and feeling ‘not enough’ as a mother to her young son. 

Realising that things had to change, she left her high paying job and underwent an amazing transformational journey to find her authentic self.

There are so many great takeaways from this conversation, one of which has resulted in me adding something new into my own wellbeing routine. 

This was such a wonderful and authentic conversation, I can not wait for you to hear it.


01:35  From Corporate Burnout to Starting Over: Jo’s Journey

08:33  The Meaning of Life – Part I (Jo’s early years)

10:52  The Importance of Wellbeing for Leaders

15:34  Jo’s Daily Wellbeing Practice

20:12  Practice: Three Things I Liked About Myself Today

21:19  Introducing Jo’s New Book ‘Lead Like You’

26:28  Know Yourself, Care for Yourself, Be Yourself

30:31  Key Areas Leaders Want to Improve

34:27  Quick Wins for Leader Wellbeing and Team Sustainability

39:08  The Meaning of Life – Part II (Redefining Meaning)

Jo Wagstaff Podcast



[00:00:10] This is the Balanced Leader Podcast. The podcast that helps leaders elevate their wellbeing and create healthier workplaces. My name is Rob Hills and I am your leadership and wellbeing coach.  


In this week’s episode, I got the chance to sit down with Jo Wagstaff, former corporate highflyer turned coach, speaker and author. After climbing the highest rungs of the corporate ladder, Jo found herself burnout, facing divorce and feeling ‘not enough’ as a mother to her young son. 


Realising that things had to change, she left her high paying job and underwent an amazing transformational journey to find her authentic self.


There are so many great takeaways from this conversation, one of which has resulted in me adding something new into my own wellbeing routine. 


This was such a wonderful and authentic conversation, I can not wait for you to hear it. So let’s dive into today’s episode with Jo Wagstaff. 

[00:01:10] Welcome Jo to The Balanced Leader Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today.

[00:01:14] Thanks very much for having me, Rob. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

[00:01:18] Me too. Jo, you have a really interesting background where after experiencing some burnout, you walked away from a super successful corporate career and basically started again. Can you tell us a bit about how that all unfolded?

[00:01:35] It sounds a little crazy when you say it that way, but, um, but I think you’re, you’re right, and it’s interesting, you know, it’s like where, where do I begin in this journey that I went through, but I’m, I remember vividly someone saying to me once, we burn out when the way we are working isn’t working. Um, sometimes we must change the way we work, or sometimes we have to change the way we handle how we work.

[00:02:02] And I think that really sort of sums up my experience from a, from a work perspective. Um, so I, You know, [00:02:10] there was a lot going on for me in the background as well, as, as there always is for us in, in the workplace, at a personal level, uh, but I had reached the height of my career, which I had not imagined I would reach until I was, you know, kind of well into my 40s or 50s, uh, at a very young age, and I was sitting at the executive table of a, um, a, um, top 200 listed financial services company, I was the only female on the executive team, um, I was the youngest by quite some years, And at the time I was working in a very male dominated industry, you know, when I think about it now, I used to go to conferences where I would literally be kind of the only woman or one of two or three women in the room of a hundred men.

[00:02:52] And so it makes sense to me looking back why I was working the way I was working, why I was needing to kind of prove myself and fit into this very kind of masculine dominated world. Um, and, feeling often [00:03:10] less than because I overly, um, uh, pedestalized the intellect that, that sort of, um, what I saw, what I then saw as masculine intellect.

[00:03:21] I don’t think it is masculine intellect. I think it’s just a really highly intellectual, but in that I kind of undervalued my own strengths and what I thought I brought to the organization, although, although others didn’t. And I, you know, I got, Um, as I said, I got a long way in my career, but from a work perspective, so, and from a personal perspective, you know, I was married, I had a young son.

[00:03:41] And I, I talk about in, in my, um, book that I’ve just released, I talk about this story where I was at James Packer’s apartment for a, uh, executive leadership get together that, uh, he was sitting on the board of our business. And, um, and again, being the only female there and going to the powder room and, Um, putting on my lipstick and looking at myself in the mirror and noticing that what was looking back at me was not someone [00:04:10] who was kind of deeply fulfilled and feeling deeply satisfied with who they were and the life that had, um, that I had created very willfully, I think, and with a lot of striving and driving.

[00:04:23] Uh, but instead what was looking back at me was someone that was pretty miserable and unfulfilled and empty and sad. And That, quite unconsciously, I think, at the time, because things got very messy for me before I really, um, grappled with what that was all about and what I needed to do differently. But that was definitely the beginning of me questioning What am I doing?

[00:04:50] Why am I not fulfilled? And whose life am I living? Am I living my life here, or am I living the life that my family, my society thinks I should be living and should be happy with, um, within that? And, you know, as I said, my life got very messy after that. My marriage ended. My, um, [00:05:10] uh, father got sick and died of cancer very, very quickly.

[00:05:14] And in my kind of inability to hold. The grief that was coming up for me in that process. And as we know, Well, as many of us know, the grief that comes up for us in the present also brings any unresolved grief from the past. So there was a lot going on for me. Um, and in that I decided I was going to step away from my corporate career.

[00:05:36] I was offered a very lucrative redundancy. I was, um, from that moment kind of financially, um, stable as in, I, I thought I didn’t need to work again. Little did I know that there was a share market crash on its way and the shares that hadn’t vested didn’t vest. And I think that was kind of like the final rug that was pulled out from under me.

[00:05:59] But I, I think I felt like before that, I felt like, okay, I’ve now I can just go and be myself because I hadn’t been myself or didn’t [00:06:10] feel like I was myself in my corporate role. Um, little did I know again, that Being myself was a whole nother journey. And so I, I really, I was absolutely exhausted from the way I was operating in, in the corporate world.

[00:06:26] I then started my own business and yet again, completely exhausted myself in the way I built my business. a new business went about building a new business. And so, you know, I learned the hard way that the common denominator in that was actually the way I was working, the way I was operating, what was driving me, what was right, what was running me, why I was over, why I had a propensity to overwork, um, why I was kind of, you know, I had so much kind of self doubt and a need to prove myself, um, and feel that kind of important in the world was driving so much of my, of my behaviors.

[00:07:03] And so I did, I did start, as you said, I, I really did start very much from [00:07:10] scratch, uh, and that was a whole journey in itself to work out what did that mean, what, what was authentic to me. I remember joining. At one point joining a, I knew that I wanted to do kind of executive coaching and leadership development work that I had, I felt I had something to offer through my own experience of both leading as well as my own experience of the burnout, um, to executives.

[00:07:36] But interestingly, the first group I kind of joined, because I didn’t know how to sort of even begin to have my own business, was a kind of a business strategy organization. And so, yet again, I kind of jumped back into what I thought would help me make money or sound important and serious work with this business strategy.

[00:07:56] And no disrespect to business strategists, because it’s a really important part of, um, Of the piece, but it wasn’t me. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. It wasn’t what I, uh, what, what, what was kind of true to my values and, and what I, who I [00:08:10] wanted to be. And so, so it’s interesting that I kind of had the same journey in, in building my own business that I had had at, uh, um, in the corporate world as well.

[00:08:22] Yeah. You mentioned your father then. Um, and when you were 17, you asked your dad, what was the meaning of life? How did he answer? And how do you think that shaped your frame of reference? Your, uh, and how that shaped your early career and life in general, I guess.

[00:08:43] Yeah, gosh, we underestimate these pivotal moments, um, and, you know, I’m not going to blame it all on my father, that’s for sure, because the answer was a message I had been receiving for the previous 17 years, so, um, but his answer to me, we were out for lunch at the time, he was quite I think because that’s a big question to answer, to be asked and to answer.

[00:09:08] So I think he felt [00:09:10] kind of put on the spot. And so he looked frustrated and flustered and he said, Oh, I don’t know. And then he said, I guess it’s to work hard, be successful and take care of everybody around you. And. That seemed, that had been my experience of what I had kind of seen him do and, um, and the messages I guess I had felt that had been handed down to me from my grandparents, um, and from my, from my parents and from society at large, you know, I think.

[00:09:45] Uh, in my schooling, you know, it was like work hard, absolutely, you must work hard all the time. Um, yes, being successful is very important. And even me, people aren’t saying that. I think, you know, we didn’t have social media back then, but, uh, certainly the advertising told us that that’s what it was all about, looking successful on the outside.

[00:10:05] Um, and, And particularly as a woman, but I think as a man, [00:10:10] there’s a lot of responsibilities that we, you can experience of needing to look after everybody around us and in that kind of looking after ourselves, I think was often the message that I took away. So, I think it was definitely one of those pivotal conversations, as I say, I don’t think it was on its own.

[00:10:27] Had it been on its own, it might not have been, but it was at that time at 17 years of age when I’m, um, about to enter into the workforce and understand what life is all about. I think it’s, uh, um, it, it, it made, uh, a really big impact on me.

[00:10:46] Yeah. I, I bet. Um, I imagine life looks So now that you’re out of the corporate, you know, rat race, uh, doing your own thing, what does your What does well being mean to you? And why do you think it’s important for leaders?

[00:11:05] Yeah, it’s interesting. I’m just caught. I’m caught a little bit by what [00:11:10] you said about now that you’re out of the rat race. Um, because I think you and I both are really passionate about leaders finding their well being in the rat race, you know, and I, and I, one of them is, um, I don’t know if it was a mistake for me, but one of the mistakes I sometimes see people making that I work with is that they think, well, if I leave the corporate world, then I can do all of these things, but I can’t do them in the corporate world.

[00:11:37] And that is not my experience, because my experience, again, is. Both working with leaders that put really strong well being practices and boundaries in place and work differently and are incredibly successful in that. Um, and as I shared, my experience is even stepping out of the rat race. I. I have still struggled to put those practices in place.

[00:12:04] I think it’s a, uh, it’s a mindset or an understanding of why it is so [00:12:10] important. And for me now, well being goes across kind of a gamut of, of areas. One is my mental wellbeing, which, uh, I think is so important. Thankfully, I think is something we’re all allowed to talk about a lot more now and is since particularly since COVID, I think it’s one of the gifts of COVID that we started talking about mental well being.

[00:12:29] It includes my own emotional well being, it includes my physical well being, uh, it includes my financial well being and my spiritual well being. And I don’t say that from a religious perspective, I’d say that from a sort of a soul, you know, doing things that bring my soul alive, um, is how I kind of think about spirituality.

[00:12:47] And, um, You know, as I said at the beginning, I think we burn out when the way we are working is not working. And for leaders, I think why this is so important is the presence that we bring to our teams and to the organization, in my opinion, is as equally important as the [00:13:10] Capabilities and skills that we bring and so our ability to be fully presence, the state of which we are in plays a really key role in creating psychological safety within our teams.

[00:13:25] It plays a really key role in how we motivate and innately inspire people and I believe it’s it’s critical to kind of collaboration and creating successful teams. So if we’re not doing things to Enhance our presence, enhance our ability to contain ourselves, to hold ourselves, to hold the space for our teams, to focus on what it is that we need to do, particularly when we’ve got so many demands and teams have so many demands coming at them.

[00:13:58] Um, yeah, if we’re not spending time looking after those components, I think it, it’s, plays a very detrimental role in our ability to, to be a highly [00:14:10] effective and sustainable leader,

[00:14:13] Yeah, I absolutely agree. And I think it’s a around a mindset shift. I think often we can get caught up doing the things and not focusing on our own well being and our team’s well being. So the circumstances might not need to change, but something about the way that we approach it needs to change so that we can move forward.

[00:14:33] Create that environment where well being is at the front and people feel safe to talk about their mental health or, uh, to do practices throughout the day that helps see them get to the end of the day in a great state, not, you know, depleted of all their energy.

[00:14:50] 100%. I mean, there was some Gallup research that came out recently that said, um, workplace stress levels in Australia are amongst the highest in the world. And so from a, from a productivity perspective, I mean, I, I mean, I think from a humanistic perspective, [00:15:10] but even if you want to put that aside and you just want to think about performance and productivity, if we’re not doing as leaders, all we can to role model sustainable success to, and to support people to, to look after themselves, then we’re doing a disservice not only to ourselves and them, but to the business as a whole.

[00:15:34] yeah, absolutely. Jo, what does your wellbeing practice look like? So I follow you on a couple of different social media channels, so I think I already know what the answer might be, at least on a couple of accounts anyway. Um, but what do you do on a daily basis to enhance your wellbeing?

[00:15:51] Um, I do, I do a lot. And so, and I say that as a caveat because I think sometimes when you hear these things, it’s like, Oh my God, I can’t do all of that. But I just need to say, this has been a prick. These, this has been a, A practice that has built for me. So I didn’t go, okay, I’m going to do these [00:16:10] five things or these 10 things.

[00:16:11] And then all of a sudden I did them and I did them consistently and religiously. I still don’t always do them consistently and religiously. The consistency has been the biggest. um, challenge for me. Um, and I know all the research, I know what I need to be doing, and yet it’s still hard to consistently take care of myself.

[00:16:33] Um, so can I say that as a caveat? I also am very conscious that I don’t have young children anymore, and I work with a lot of young people. Men and women that have young children. And so it’s not as, I have a lot more flexibility in how, in how I orientate. But what is mandatory for me is sleep. So I’ve learnt very much that if I don’t have a good seven to eight hours sleep and wake up feeling kind of refreshed, then that is a big no. a game. It really is a game changer for me. It’s particularly in the work that I do. Um, before I even get out of bed, I meditate. So I [00:17:10] simply set up it, sit up in my bed. I cross my legs and I sadly put my phone on a timer. Um, and I sit and I just be with myself. And again, that has grown. So, If I’ve got a really busy day or more usually because I’ve got a really busy head and the urgency in me is going, come on, I’ve got to get on with my day.

[00:17:33] I’ve got time for this, which happens regularly. Um, you know, I might only do five minutes, but five minutes is my mandatory lowest. Um, usually it’s 15 or 20 minutes where I will sit and just be with myself. And I always say to people, Meditation for me is not necessarily about being finding stillness, albeit that is a really lovely gift.

[00:17:51] When it arrives, it is about me understanding what is going on for me. Um, so yeah, how busy is my head? How stressed is my nervous system? Um, so it really is a self awareness tool, um, within that. I then have the privilege of living near the beach and my husband and I wander down to the beach [00:18:10] every morning, winter and summer.

[00:18:12] Winter or summer and we walk along the beach and we swim in the ocean even when it’s freezing cold. And I used to wear a steamer wetsuit to do that, now I don’t. Um, and what that does for me is two things. Connection, so connection, that’s my, in terms of my emotional well being, there’s a really lovely connection for that for me and my relationship.

[00:18:32] Um, and um, Uh, and it’s also movement. So exercise, uh, and there’s something quite spiritual for me or sort of soul filling up for me about diving into the ocean and kind of connecting with nature. Um, those things really kind of work for me. I do do kind of, more physical exercise regularly. So I do Pilates three times a week and I do a yin yoga once a week, which is just about actually learning to get my nervous system to rest. Um, which has been a big part of my journey. Um, and that’s kind of my, I would call that my emotional, uh, physical well being, [00:19:10] when I sit down at my desk, I am very conscious and intentional about the day ahead of me. And so what are my top three priorities? Uh, I look at the meetings I have ahead. How do I want to show up in those meetings?

[00:19:23] What do I need to do to prepare for those meetings? How do I need to be in terms of my presence for these meetings? And this is a conversation that I have with all the leaders that I work with. So again, we come into our day, Having set ourselves up well and being prepared for kind of what is ahead of us.

[00:19:40] Um, I, you talked about taking time throughout the day. I take a minimum of four, what I call one minute conscious pauses throughout the day. So that will be just me being stopping and coming back to myself. resting, breathing, closing my eyes before I kind of come back into whatever it is that I have next.

[00:20:02] I will try and do walking meetings if depending on what sort of meetings I’ve got on to get myself some movement throughout the day. [00:20:10] And then in the evenings, I am a big proponent, and it’s a really short process. When I get into bed at the end of the night, I’ve got a little journal next to my bed and I do a little gratitude list.

[00:20:21] What are the things I’m really grateful for in my day? That’s been a. game changer and there is science around it as soft and gooey as it sounds. Um, I also do three acknowledgements. So what are three things that I really liked about myself today that I really liked that I did? Um, and they’re not necessarily actions.

[00:20:40] It might be, I had that conversation that I’ve been putting off today and you know, I kind of patting myself on that was, that was courageous of me. And that’s been a really important part for me to. learn to feel more satisfied within myself, um, and kind of just kind of checking in with myself, um, off the back of the day.

[00:21:01] I think that’s most of what I do.

[00:21:03] Yeah. Okay. They, they sound like some really great practices. Um, and I really liked the last one that you mentioned there, the [00:21:10] acknowledgments. That’s not something that I do, but I think I really liked that. I’d like to give that a try. Um, I’m always looking for new ideas to incorporate and to, you know, build around my own wellbeing practices.

[00:21:20] So if you don’t mind, I’m going to actually start

[00:21:22] I’d like to hear how you find that actually. What I often hear from people is it’s really uncomfortable to begin with. And I know it was for me. It’s almost like a, um, I don’t know, letting ourselves off the hook or, or, you know, it’s, it’s, for me, it’s the beginning of this really strong self compassion practice, which has been a game changer.

[00:21:42] Yeah. And I think for me, there’s those layers of, um, self doubt, uh, imposter syndrome. So it is hard to find those things that I do appreciate about myself and that I, I do want to, you know, pat myself on the back for, but same as the gratitude practice, which I started many, many years ago, it’s about bringing it into light, I imagine, and then celebrating it.

[00:22:06] And you will find them more easy. You will, you know, it won’t be [00:22:10] as hard as you progress.

[00:22:12] Yeah. And I think for me, that’s where true inner confidence comes from, you know, when we are able to acknowledge our strengths as much as those areas that we need to and want to grow in.

[00:22:29] Speaking of great ideas, you are the author of a brand new book, Lead Like You, How Authenticity Transforms the Way Women Live, Love and Succeed. Tell us a little bit more about that and why you wrote it.

[00:22:42] Oh, what a journey. I, you know, in truth, it’s been excruciating to write. I overshare, it’s very raw, and I kind of had to live it in, or relive it, I would say, in, in the writing process, so it’s only just gone into the world in the last couple of weeks, and Um, I’ve been blown away, actually, by how beautifully it has been received, which has helped the [00:23:10] rawness, uh, for me, and, and I guess the kind of vulnerability, um, for me.

[00:23:16] The book, you know, in a kind of a nutshell, it, it, although the title I think says it, says it all, it, but it is a, it’s a handbook for Um, living and leading true to ourselves, uh, for understanding why we do what we do, where we might be out of alignment with who we are or who we actually want to be, and coming back into alignment.

[00:23:37] It’s about creating sustainable and fulfilling success without sacrificing ourselves. Um, I wrote it, It’s been a, it’s, I’ve been asked that question a couple of, a couple of times now. And so it’s been really interesting to reflect on why did I write it and how that has changed in truth. I, I didn’t know if I would ever publish it.

[00:24:01] I think I wrote it initially for myself. I wrote it to. Make meaning of my life, um, both the [00:24:10] things that had happened to me in my history as well as the things I had done, um, that I wasn’t proud of. And, um, and in some ways wished I could have done differently. And that’s particularly around my mothering of my son in his first few years.

[00:24:27] And I Yeah, I get in that I was probably looking for to find some acceptance, some self acceptance and some self forgiveness, I think is, is ultimately why I wrote it for myself. The journey for writing the book though, I wrote the introductory, um, kind of two pages 10 years ago and then I put the book down for eight to avoid it and then picked it up and finished it in the last couple of years.

[00:24:56] And, you know, I really get that in that process. The reason I wrote the book was because in that time I had worked with thousands of executives originally the book was going to be for men and [00:25:10] women or for all genders. It was just that my story, you know, a lot of it has to do with my experience as a woman and so that’s, but there’s a lot of men reading the book that are getting a lot out of it.

[00:25:20] Um, and I just saw how similar we all are in our struggles. And so somewhere in that process, I realized or believed that actually my journey, and I share a lot of other women’s journeys that I have worked with a lot of other clients that I’ve worked with in the book with their permission, um, uh, We’re, yeah, we are just so human in our struggles.

[00:25:45] And that was such a relief for me to realize, oh my God, I’m not alone in not knowing how to do this thing called life. Um, I, all of you out there look like you know exactly what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Um, but somehow I’m the only one that didn’t get the memo. And

[00:26:00] Yeah.

[00:26:01] what a relief to know that that’s not true.

[00:26:04] Um. And so, yeah, I think they were kind of the main [00:26:10] reasons that I ended up publishing the book and, you know, may it be of value to others.

[00:26:15] Yeah. And I’m currently reading the book and I can attest, you know, as a male that there is still so much wisdom in there and there is a lot of great things that I can relate to, and listening to some of the stories, they resonate with me, they sound a lot like me and what I’ve experienced as well.

[00:27:07] Uh, you break the book down into three [00:27:10] main parts, know yourself, care for yourself, and be yourself, which I love those three titles. Can you tell us a little bit about what people can expect from each of those three sections? Thanks.

[00:27:22] Yeah. Um, and they are in order for a reason, you know, sometimes I find the way forward is to take a step back and see what really matters. So the book opens with knowing ourselves and it really, uh, It tells stories and it also has a lot of kind of research and theory, if you like, in a psychological theory in it.

[00:27:50] But it really helps us to understand how our histories impact and influence how we show up in the world now. Um, so what is driving us? What are the limiting or not limiting assumptions and beliefs that may be holding us back in our leadership and in our lives? [00:28:10] Particularly if we go, have a tendency to kind of go into overdrive, um, it helps us to understand these kind of reactive coping strategies that we may have put in place, which again come out of our histories and our childhoods.

[00:28:22] It helps us to understand the impact of the society that we grow up in, and whether for men or women, we’ve grown up in a patriarchal society, and that, that has a lot of negatives for, for, for all genders, um, within that. A lot of expectations, um, albeit there may be different expectations within that. So it, it starts with, as I said, really helping us to understand why we do what we do, including, you know, how our brain operates, why it’s uncomfortable for us To be authentic.

[00:28:53] And you know, I used to ask the question, why is it so hard to be authentic now? I ask, now I understand. How could it not be hard for us to be authentic because that’s not what our society or the adult stages of development process would suggest for us. And so it explores all [00:29:10] of that and it invites people into reflections for themselves to look back at, at that, at really about what might be limiting them.

[00:29:19] And the second part. And I, and I, in some ways I kind of wanted to weave it into the first part. And it, it really compliments each other is the caring for ourselves. And I say that because what I noticed for me is when I learned about the gift of self compassion, which absolutely was a giant game changer for me and is with all of the executives that I work with, I am yet to meet, that’s not true.

[00:29:45] 70%, 80 percent of executives I work with have very harsh inner critics. And, um, that. The science tells us that is not the way to motivate ourselves and it’s certainly not the way to better understand ourselves because if we’re going to look back at ourselves at what we’ve done or not done and give ourselves a hard time for it, then why would we want to look back at ourselves?

[00:30:06] So they kind of go hand in gloves with each other. [00:30:10] It all talks about boundaries. It talks a lot about executive wellbeing, what I, what I call executive wellbeing. It talks about financial wellbeing. So it really is about how do we need to reframe and take responsibility for deeply looking after ourselves in that process.

[00:30:29] And then the third part is being ourselves. So Once we have, and again it’s, it’s not an iterative process, but once we’ve got kind of clearer or started the journey of knowing ourselves, we’ve got some really strong practices in place for caring for ourselves. Then that piece around being ourselves, so what is, what does life success actually look like for us?

[00:30:51] Not just work success. What are our core values? What’s our purpose? Our vision? And are we living in alignment with all of those? Again, this third part of the book really takes us on an exploration of that to ask the questions that I think we need to stop and ask and often don’t [00:31:10] stop and ask.

[00:31:13] Yeah, definitely. You mentioned some of the executives you work with in the past, uh, and they number in the thousands, tens of thousands, however many there are, what are some of the key themes where people struggle with most or where they most want to improve?

[00:31:33] Yeah, it’s such an interesting question. Um, I tend to start all of my work with executives with a 360 process. And I do that because It doesn’t, it’s not because we don’t necessarily know where we need to work, but it often shines a light on how other people are experiencing us versus how we may see how we are being perceived. And that’s in both a good way and a not so good way. A good way being, you know, so many people come back where they’re underestimating how they’re showing [00:32:10] up and others think they are showing up so beautifully.

[00:32:12] And that’s a, that’s a, that’s a jewel in itself. Other times. We’re showing up a certain way that’s really impacting people and we’re not aware of that. And so, um, so, so when I start working with someone I think it depends on the results as to those themes that come out. But the themes, and it talks a little bit to the 360 process that I take them through, but the themes are typically either somebody that is overly complying, so is trying too hard to please, to fit in, to belong.

[00:32:51] to take on more than they are not necessarily capable of, but they’re going to drown in it. Um, that is kind of one area. And what that tends to do is that tends to take away from their ability to really achieve results in, in, you know, in a sustainable [00:33:10] manner. And so they, they might come into the process and they go, I’m not getting the results I want, or Or I’m exhausted because I’m so busy pleasing people and I don’t know how to change that.

[00:33:21] And so we start by exploring, well, what, why are you doing those behaviors? What’s really going on for you under that? Um, the other theme is definitely one of control. So I, I need to let go of control. I need to step up more as a leader. You know, I’ve had all this kind of validation and success by doing and task and achieving and, you know, But now I’m leading a team and I really need to learn how to trust in others, how to hold others accountable, um, and to let go of diving back into the nitty gritty myself.

[00:33:57] Um, because that’s my safe spot as a leader in the past. Uh, and then the third one is what I would call around the kind of the protecting or the distancing or the over intellectualizing where, um, we can be come across as kind [00:34:10] of quite critical of others. Um, And, um, you know, again, it’s a way of kind of not feeling our own vulnerability and needing to be the kind of expert in the room.

[00:34:21] And so, you know, again, that usually shows up of someone saying, I’m, I’m not very good at developing the relational side of my leadership. I need to sort of spend more time in that. Um, you know, And so, yeah, they’re, they’re kind of the key themes that I work with. I think in general, there’s also a theme for me, both in the work I want to do and in the people that seem to like working with me, is that we look at life holistically, that we’re not just focused on work, because I fundamentally believe that if we’re not looking at life holistically, we cannot be a great leader.

[00:35:01] We can be an okay leader, We can be a good leader, but we can’t be a great leader.

[00:35:07] Yeah. Yeah, that’s interesting. It [00:35:10] sounds like it’s a very personalized process. So my next question is going to be a hard one to answer then. Uh, Thinking about that broadly, what are some quick wins that leaders might be able to do with themselves and with their teams to start making a difference to their wellbeing and noting that they might not have the opportunity to, uh, do a 360 or work with a coach.

[00:35:33] What’s something that they might be able to just start doing with, you know, in their own local

[00:35:39] Yeah, totally.

[00:35:40] to make a difference.

[00:35:41] Um, I think there’s a lot of quick wins. The thing I think is that I really see work well is for leaders to understand, and you know, you talked earlier about this mindset shift, to understand that what they role model is probably, and you know, it’s the same with parenting, it’s not what we say, it’s what we do.

[00:36:02] The more we role model well being and create a culture of what I call a culture of sustainability [00:36:10] for our team. That is, that is the number one quickest way for things to change. So if your team members see that you have time taken out to go to the gym or go for a walk or go and pick your kids up or whatever it is that you need to do to look after yourself and they see that and, and I, and I can’t count the number of leaders I’ve worked with where They feel like they need to hide that stuff as opposed, as opposed to that’s the role modeling within it.

[00:36:41] Um, there’s some other little quick wins that I see working really well with some of the teams that I work within. Um, and again, most of this started through COVID or afterwards is walking meetings and together walking meetings. So it’s like, a manager and their team member. They’ve got a 30 minute catch up.

[00:36:57] Let’s walk. Let’s get out and walk and have the catch up. How’s it going? What are you doing? Um, and so, you know, I think we can help create movement and break things up and get out into the fresh air as a way of [00:37:10] doing that. Um, I’ve got another team, a guy at the moment, and he’s got a group of men and women Um, that they’re all going to the gym.

[00:37:17] So instead of going for a drink with each other on a Thursday night, they’re going to the gym together and they’re kind of doing a class together. So there’s lots of ways we can kind of help that. One thing I see some leaders do is book meetings over lunchtime and then their team doesn’t feel comfortable saying, I don’t want to, that was my, that was my one lunch break.

[00:37:37] I’m in back to back meetings. I’ve left half an hour or an hour. So I think it’s really important as leaders that we are conscious of creating space in people’s diaries for them, uh, for again, for this wellbeing, for this space. And then the last one I would suggest is make it an important part of the conversation you have, whether it’s on your weekly meeting or your monthly meeting, you know, asking them, what have you done to look after yourself this week?

[00:38:04] So, you know, again, I think when we create these conversations or in your team meetings, okay, what are we doing this week [00:38:10] to create a sustainable team? Yeah. Because it’s not about, What are we doing to skive off? And it’s, you know, it’s, what are we doing to create sustainable success for each other and to help each other through, you know, this really high pressure environment.

[00:38:24] And, you know, there was some research I talk about in the book that actually the leadership circle group did where they looked at really highly effective leaders and ask them about their daily habits. And one of the things they found is these highly effective leaders did more exercise. The more stressed and pressure they were under now, my own personal experience, me, myself, as well as those I work with, as soon as the pressure goes up and we get more stress, we stop.

[00:38:54] Um, it’s like, Oh, I just haven’t got time for that today. But then

[00:38:57] me too.

[00:38:58] but these leaders had really. Got that mindset shift of, okay, the way I’m going to show up and put and face into this pressure. Well, and it comes back to that presence that I’m going to bring [00:39:10] only going to happen if I get out and do that walk or that run and get rid of that excess stress and anxiety that I’m carrying in my body so that I can be the best version of myself today.

[00:39:21] Um, now that’s a big mindset shift, but I think it’s a really important mindset shift.

[00:39:27] Yeah. But, and it can make such a huge difference as well. And I know for myself, uh, I don’t always look forward to going to the gym or exercising, but man, I feel better afterwards. Uh, and that sets me up for a better day. So I love the word sustainable. I think that’s such a great, uh, Phrase to keep coming back to, uh, you mentioned they’re walking the talk and I don’t want to say permission, but it’s like, we have to talk about it more to make it more acceptable.

[00:39:55] So we want our teams to be feeling the best and yes. Okay. We don’t always roll model as well. We can, uh, but talking about it, making it known that we support it, I think makes a huge difference to people. and [00:40:10] encourage them to get out there and do it.

[00:40:12] Yeah, totally agree.

[00:40:15] Before I ask my final question, I just want to circle back to my question at the start about the meaning of life. So has your thoughts on the meaning of life changed since you had that conversation with your dad so many years ago?

[00:40:28] Yeah, fundamentally on every single level and, you know, what a journey to get there. And who knows if they will change again. Yeah, I, I get that stages of life create different meanings for us, but I think for me now, you know, so my meaning, if I remember going back to was, was about working hard, being successful, which was really about what externally success looks like, taking care of everyone else.

[00:40:54] So very focused from the outside in. The meaning of life for me now is. Not surprisingly, given the book is, you know, about living a life that is true to what I value, um, and to do that, I need to know what I value, um, and [00:41:10] as hard as and uncomfortable and scary as it can feel. is kind of really staying true to that, staying in alignment with what is important to me, which, you know, includes authenticity, which includes, you know, relationships.

[00:41:26] And that’s in how I spend my time, how I am in my relationships, the work that I do, what I prioritize. So for me, it’s really about living life fully, showing up to all that it offers. and prioritizing what is kind of deeply meaningful and brings me alive.

[00:41:51] That sounds like great advice. Uh, Jo, what’s one question that I didn’t ask you today that maybe you’d hoped I would have, and if I had asked it, how would you have answered?

[00:42:04] Probably a question on authenticity, something like, you know, what is authenticity? Because [00:42:10] I think it’s been a really big journey and I talk a lot about it in the book for me and for a lot of people to decide, decipher what authenticity is and isn’t. Um, and my simple answer without going into all of the detail of that would be, In my experience, authenticity is not something we do or don’t have.

[00:42:33] It’s a practice, a conscious choice for how we want to live and how we want to lead. It’s a daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Who we truly are.

[00:42:51] I love that. Thank you, Jo. This has been a wonderful conversation. Thank you for writing this book. Thank you for the work you do with leaders. Uh, and thank you for putting such great content out into the world. If people want to connect more with you and find out more about you, or if they want to buy the book, how can they do that?

[00:43:08] They can find me on [00:43:10] LinkedIn. They can find me, at www.jowagstaff.com. Uh, they can find the book in any good, uh, good bookshop at the moment. It’s a number two across Dymocks for business books. So that’s a bit exciting. Uh, and on Amazon and Booktopia, of course. And, um, and I’m also on Instagram and Facebook at Jowagstaffofficial.

[00:43:33] Um, thank you for today. I’ve really enjoyed the conversation and the questions.

[00:43:39] Thanks, Jo. Appreciate it.