CEO/MD Forum | Featuring Cedric Bru, CEO, Taulia

3rd September 2020

Founders Keepers hosted the latest CEO/MD Forum on Friday 19th June, featuring 20 leaders and special guest speaker Cedric Bru, CEO of Taulia. Cedric shared his insights on how companies, organisations and leaders can deploy a culture of resilience – personal and organisation wide – through challenging times.

Cedric Bru, CEO, Taulia

Cedric’s own experiences in the sporting and corporate worlds have developed his exceptional take on the subject. He puts much of Taulia’s recent successes – record profits, significant fundraise and 90% staff satisfaction and engagement survey results – down to the culture of resilience he has led.

The key takeaways from our conversation, featuring leaders from private, private equity and venture capital-backed businesses from across the world, are summarized below.

 Sport can teach us so much: The need for resilience is embedded in the day to day life of an athlete. Every match has ups and downs. Top athletes, who may find themselves winning or losing multiple times within a single game, learn to recover, get back to their state and perform in a matter of seconds.

Equally, every team and athlete has, at some point suffered injury, lost a race, match or competition. Resilience to recover and come back stronger than before, ahead of the next game, is crucial.

As a result, an athlete’s entire preparation focuses on the need to build resilience. Many of these ideas are completely applicable to the corporate world. Yet, for some reason, they aren’t adopted.

 Feedback in the moment: In sport, when a game ends, the team get together to discuss what happened. Feedback is given and received in a safe, open environment. The receiver is actively engaged in seeking out any thoughts on how they can better perform for the team.

Somehow, this doesn’t happen in most corporate environments. The overriding desire to be nice stops people going deep on what is not working. These moments are lost opportunities for individuals, teams and the whole company in learning how to “win the next game”.

 Feedback cultures show strength, not weakness: Going back to the world of sports, every world champion athlete has a coach. Most often, that coach has not achieved the same level of success as the athlete they train. And yet, the athlete will go to the coach every day for feedback on how they can get even better.

It’s exactly the same for the most tenured executive. If the world champion is vulnerable enough to watch themselves on TV every day, in slow motion, and then ask for constant feedback from their coach, who are we to not give live, frank feedback to our employees, and receive feedback on ourselves? At the end of the day, both the athletes and our staff want to win. Resilience enables growth.

 Culture is everything: It’s the glue that makes people work together, that makes people go through the roller-coaster of an entrepreneurship venture. The single most important factor for children to gain resilience is the presence of at least one supportive parent. Translated into the business environment, the “committed parents” enable a culture of honest dialogue, managing relationships across the organisation as anchors for the rest of the business. That starts with, but is not limited to, the leadership.

 Provide a voice to everyone: Communication is everything. People disengage when they feel the fear of not knowing what’s next. It’s a barrier to thriving. As soon as they know their fear is shared, it brings relief: “it’s not just me, but a group issue.”

And it’s ok for the leader of the company to voice a concern. It helps people connect their emotions to the entire hierarchy.

 Consistency and repetition in the plan matter: Type A people innately want to go from issue to solution. If leaders’ communications are unclear or contradictory, they inhibit the ability of colleagues to come together and work through a solution together.

 Being in the moment promotes active listening: In sport, during “game time”, when the balance can shift in seconds, total concentration is demanded. When an athlete is midgame, they are totally focussed on the moment, not thinking about anything else.

Creating the same mindset in our businesses makes us better listeners, focussed on the topic we have to tackle right now and open to immediate adjustment through chaos.

 

 Cedric’s personal resilience routine: The world’s a difficult place at the moment. It’s important to choose your own mindset for the day. Checking the phone early in the morning presents challenging emails, news stories etc. that hijack our ability to control our own mindset.

Rather than start the day with the phone, I adopt the following daily routine:

  • I leave the house for a brief walk. I perform a deep breathing exercise to supercharge my body with oxygen, waking up my skin and body.
  • I express gratitude, consciously focusing on what I’m grateful for, personally and professionally. It’s impossible to be angry when you do this.
  • I think about three things - not ten - I want to achieve for the day. I use the Volition Matrix, moving the mind from “I want”, to “I can’t”, “I’d like to”, “I will try”, and, finally, “I will”.

 

If I come home having conditioned my mind to achieve these three targets, I can be so much more robust against the outside challenges of the world, the news cycle and the inbox.

Stephen Rosenthal is a Director at Founders Keepers and the facilitator of the FK CEO/MD Forum, a global virtual meeting for senior leaders of the world’s most dynamic businesses, across every asset class, sector and geography.

If you would like to join the CEO/MD Forum or learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact Stephen on Stephen@FoundersKeepers.co or +44 7725 144 124

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