This episode is a testament to the power of leadership, the resilience of the human spirit, and the boundless potential of organizational change. You’ll be inspired, enlightened, and perhaps even transformed.

Dr. Stephen Barden joins us from Germany. He is the founder and CEO of Stephen Barden Coaching Limited and the author of the book “How Successful Leaders Do Business with Their World.” With over a decade of experience working closely with CEOs and boards across various industries, including media, technology, and communication, Stephen is renowned for his leadership coaching and mediation expertise.

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  1. What is the alignment between organizational culture and strategy?
  2. What are the challenges of remote work during the pandemic?
  3. What are the principles of leadership, and how do they contribute to effective decision-making?
  4. How do leadership, resilience, and values evolve after a difficult transition?
  5. What is the relationship between leadership and intrapreneurship?

[The most successful leaders] will do the best possible until that best is no longer possible. Then they will [expand] what’s possible.”

Dr. Stephen Barden

CEO, Stephen Barden Coaching Limited


[05:00] Journey of a Strategic Nomad

[07:45] The Vital Link Between Organizational Culture and Strategy

[10:57] Navigating Remote Work Realities: Trends and Challenges Post-Pandemic

[17:55] Partnership Leadership: The Foundation of Success in Business and Beyond

[30:00]  Signature Segment: Stephen’s entry into the LATTOYG Playbook: Resilience at the Top, Life After CEO Transition

[33:14] Signature Segment: Stephen‘s LATTOYG Tactics of Choice: Leading with Intrapreneurship

[37:16] Signature Segment: Karan’s Take


Dr. Stephen Barden is a seasoned professional with a background as a former CEO, now specializing in organizational leadership at both strategic and managerial levels. Holding a Doctorate in Professional Studies (DProf), he has conducted extensive research on how highly successful leaders wield power and authority, a subject he delves into further in his acclaimed book, “How Successful Leaders Do Business with Their World.” Also, Stephen hosts two podcasts and is a certified executive coach and mediator.

Drawing from his wealth of experience and scholarly pursuits, Stephen is a passionate advocate for “Partnering Leadership,” emphasizing the importance of leaders and organizations collaborating closely with all stakeholders, leveraging their resources, ideas, and talents while considering their interests. He collaborates with organizations to ensure their culture aligns seamlessly with their strategic objectives, recognizing the detrimental effects of misalignment on both strategy and culture.



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Episode 70 | How Powerful People Master Powerful Partnerships with Dr. Stephen Barden

 Dr. Stephen Barden  00:00

They accused me of, of bullying. And I thought Okay, so once again, you know, resolve that and in fact, my lawyer said to me “Barden, you’re much too soft to be a bully. So I think you aren’t.” But the point that I went was hang on why did they choose bullying? Why did they choose the fact that I didn’t have any hair? Do you know what I mean? Why did they choose weenie, there must have been something in there that was, and I realized that one of the things was that I had not taken into account the change in culture.


Voiceover  00:33

Welcome to the “Lead at the Top of Your Game” podcast, where we equip you to more effectively lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. Each week, we help you sharpen your leadership acumen by cracking open the playbooks of dynamic leaders who are doing big things in their professional endeavors. And now, your host, leadership tactics, and organizational development expert, Karan Ferrell-Rhodes.


Karan Rhodes  01:08

Hey there, everyone, and thanks for joining another episode designed to help you better lead at the top of your game. As you know, for season three, each month we’re featuring leaders who have interesting roles in a particular profession or industry. And on today’s episode, it’s part of our special series featuring the perspectives of leadership coaches, who focus on a particular angle of leadership. And on today’s show, we’re featuring an expert who has completed extensive research on how successful leaders leverage partnerships. We’re honored to have Dr. Stephen Barden. He’s the founder and CEO Stephen Barden Coaching, Limited, and he’s also the author of the book How Successful Leaders Do Business With Their World. Now, believe you me, you’re gonna be absolutely captivated as you listen to Stephens journey from once being part of the anti apartheid movement when he was younger. And then because he was part of the anti apartheid movement in South Africa, he was expelled to Great Britain. And then from there, he went through school and started his career journey. Rising up the executive ranks to the top of the top only to be accused of bullying due to his hard charging attitude. Now, this experience motivated him to conduct his doctoral research, where he uncovered one of the critical success factors of successful leaders from across the globe. So definitely stay tuned and listen to all of his insights and lessons learned. And remember to stay just tuned for just two minutes after the episode to listen to my closing segment called Karan’s Take where I share a tip on how to use insights from today’s episode to further sharpen your leadership acumen. And now enjoy the show. Hey there, superstars, this is Karan and welcome to another episode of the Lead at the Top of Your Game Podcast. We are so happy that you have given us the gift of your time to join in on another episode, we have a tremendous friend on today’s podcast, a friend from across the pond, either further and based in Germany today, but he’s gonna tell his story. But we’re so pleased to have on today’s show, Dr. Stephen Barden. And Stephen is the founder and CEO of Stephen Barden Coaching, Limited, and he’s also the author of the book, How Successful Leaders Do Business With Their World. And you know, you’re gonna want to know deeply what his book is all about. And the research that he conducted based that was the production of the book that it was the foundation for the book, I should say. He is a renowned leadership coach and mediator with over a decade of experience at the CEO levels and board levels of companies. And he has been in a variety of industries, including media technology in the communication sector. He’s worked across Europe and the United States. And he’s really fantastic at helping organizations develop sustainable and ethical cultures that are aligned with their business strategy. And for my HR friends out there, he’s also a tremendous partner in helping HR departments on governance and sustainable work practices that you know, we all struggle with. So welcome to the show, Stephen.


Dr. Stephen Barden  04:30

Thank you very much. Thank you. Good to be here. And thanks for the invitation.


Karan Rhodes  04:35

So honored to have you. Well, before we jump into a lot of media information and audience members, get your notepads ready, because I’m sure he has a lot to share. But Stephen we would first love for as much as you feel comfortable for you to share just a sneak peek into where you base your personal life and maybe your passion or two that you like


Dr. Stephen Barden  05:00

Well, a bit of a nomad a bit like you, I think bit of a nomad, I was funnier born and brought up in Tanzania, in East Africa. Then my parents for their sins sent me to South Africa in the bad old days of apartheid, where I went to university and started off as a broadcasting career. And then because I got involved with the anti apartheid movement, I was then detained briefly by the apartheid regime, and then expelled into Britain. So that was quite fun. And I arrived there with my then wife, my baby son, and a Nagraj, tape recorder. And I spent the next 30 years in Britain as a CEO, and first as a journalist, and then as a CEO, and then a CEO and, and then went into practice. And I now live in in Germany for just over six months, careful with this one’s all about tax purposes. And then the minority of the dive in the south of France, so and my, my company is still based in the UK. So that’s where I’m passionate. I love it when strategies work out when I’m able to work with an organization. And this was my passion. Because when I was when I was also running organizations, when a plan works out, and it works out, not because it was perfectly planned, but because we had plan A, plan B, and Plan C, and we got to where we wanted. That’s really what makes me truly happy, I promise you Yeah,


Karan Rhodes  05:56

Right! You know what, we’re so like, in that fashion, because, you know, I’m all about leadership execution and making sure people don’t, you know, stall because they don’t or know their next step, or they’re afraid of their next step. You know, I always say we can work it out or figure it out together. But we, you know, we get through to the end, boy on the first pop the bubbly and celebration, because that journey is so much fun. And it sounds like it is for you too.


Dr. Stephen Barden  06:58

Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting, because I think I used to irritate the my executive directors when I was running companies, and I think I irritate my clients as much when I say to them, so we’ve worked into, you know, we work a plan and what we’re going to do, and then I say, so when are you going to do that? And they say, Well, what do you mean? I said, When are you going to try it out? You’ve got to go and try it out? Don’t? When are you going to do that. And they go, Do I have to? Yes, you. It’s a good idea to go and do it, then come back, let’s review what went wrong. But I can see still see the same sort of mark of irritation on the forehead when they do that.


Karan Rhodes  07:33

But I know that doesn’t deter you, though,


Dr. Stephen Barden  07:35

No. Not at all.


Karan Rhodes  07:36

You just keep pushing…gently, gently pushing to keep them on track.


Dr. Stephen Barden  07:41



Karan Rhodes  07:43

Oh, fantastic. Well, see, I’m just curious, you know, you’ve had so much experience, especially in the organizational development round, you know, why do you think organizational cultures are so important to a business’s success? And the people who were there their success?


Dr. Stephen Barden  08:02

I have this… is it a mania? Almost a mania that part of it, which is basically says that organizational culture needs to be completely aligned with the strategy of the organization. So it’s, I remember in the financial crash, when I walked into some number, I was working with a number of banks, a number of investment banks, and there was one I remember, I walked in to do some coaching there. And they were engraved on the wall, deeply engraved on the wall was team spirit, and it partnership and integrity. And I thought, well, the first time I walked onto the floor, I remember there were I found two traders, knocking the heck out of each other. Because they were simply there was no team, they, you know that the entire purpose of the organization was independent trading. So what was all this team spirit about? And I learned quickly a lesson there that basically unless you have a culture that says, unless you start with a strategy that says, This is where we want to go to, this is what we’re doing, this is how we’re going to do it. These are the talents and skills etc, then you’ve got then that culture has to grow. From there, you’ve got to have an artist who cannot impose a culture on something on a strategy that is not aligned. You know, the facetious example I always give is, if you’re running a company of sharpshooters of snipers, you’re not going to impose a culture on this organization of compassion and, and team spirit and all those things. Because it’s simply one or the other will go awry. Either the strategy will break down and you’ll create some really bad sharpshooters, or, you know, or the the culture will arise. So there’s got to be aligned. And once you do that, then you’ve got a chance and keep on enforcing that and keep on reviewing that then you’ve got a chance of making sure that your culture and your strategy work together. So culture for me, you know, I think somebody said, what was it the culture eats strategy for breakfast? Well, you know what, they actually can eat each other to death. You know, that’s, it’s like that, that symbol of the snake eating its own tail, you do have to have those to align. So that’s massively important. And it’s an interesting thing for you to have brought up there, because I’ve been one of the things I’ve been thinking about is what happens to organizational culture. And that whole ethos of community that we want to add is so powerful in organizations, if we stay only at home, if we work only at home, what happens to that culture? So you know, when people say to me…


Karan Rhodes  10:51

Well, we’re in a real life case study right now write it write life after the pandemic? And what do you think? What are some of the trends that you’re seeing out there with remote work? Is it working or not?


Dr. Stephen Barden  11:02

Well, it works, and it doesn’t, it depends how rigid it is, if people you get certain organizations where they’re basically saying, No, everybody’s going to come in, that’s it finished that the issue with that is, then you’re saying no, that now I’m going to have to regiment you and I’m putting you in place where you have to just completely abide there is no room for any flexibility, the ability to be able to go back into the home, if you like, at times, whatever it is, once or twice a week, whatever it is, is important, because it gives you that space to do that. But to have either, you know, totally remote working, where you can with professional services, legal services, etc, etc, or totally at work totally in the office is problematic I think. The other thing is that when you work from home, you’re not working from home, actually, you’re living at work.


Karan Rhodes  11:58

Ah, interesting, kind of interesting point. Say more about that.


Dr. Stephen Barden  12:04

ertainly during the pandemic, and afterwards, I found people becoming more and more exhausted. So I’d say so why are you exhausted? Well, I finished, you know, I finished at 11 last night. Why did you finish at 11 Last night, you’re not doing surgery here? Why did you finish at 11? Well, because you know, I was at the desk and I needed to do so I just carried on doing it. You know, what did your husband say? Or what did your wife say? Well, she gets they get very frustrated. But the temptation one to continue working because I am at work. Right?


Karan Rhodes  12:40



Dr. Stephen Barden  12:40

And I don’t have to do anything other than go and get myself a cup of coffee from the kitchen. That’s One, number two, the temptation for employers to phone people up at 10 o’clock at night and say, Oh, by the way, I forgot this, could you do this? Which they wouldn’t? There is not like the walls go down. That’s the issue.


Karan Rhodes  13:01

Yea…Can I share just a little anecdote with you very quickly. So before I started, my firm, the last big gig I had at in corporate was working at Microsoft, and all my listeners know that. And I was there for 14 years. And 12 of those 14 years, I was 100% remote. And to your point, and it was fantastic. I mean, it was absolutely wonderful. And I did a lot of roles there…I had five or six roles, as well as at Microsoft. But every single one of them, I was able to work from home. But to your point, I think it can work, working from home because obviously myself and our team was very successful in doing so. We had a global team and most of us work from home. But we had prepared all of our key stakeholders for that meeting. We had boundaries on what were the norms of contacting versus not contacting, we were intentional about meet up every quarter, you know, meeting in a different country. And we all come together for some, you know, collaboration and what have you. And we were very self disciplined. And so I know it can work. But what I think that what happened with the pandemic is we hadn’t…we meaning the globe…hadn’t prepared our workforces for that type of transition or visioning that. So the small group of people like me and my team who were able to do it well, we had been intentional around putting together an infrastructure to help it go as well as it could be. I mean, granted, yes, you know, seeing everybody every day, it brings a lot to the table as well. But I think that’s what the pandemic did. It didn’t allow us to prepare our workforcees for that new way of working, and what didn’t allow us to prepare our leaders to lead through the new way of working, and I think that’s where a lot of the tension came aboard. But I’m curious if if you see that as well, if you think that was a one of the reasons why it didn’t work.


Dr. Stephen Barden  15:20

I think that’s right. I think that’s right. The other thing that worries me still a little bit about it is that when you’re doing… there are two sides. One, by the way, when you’re running a multinational organization, or in a multinational organization, you’re going to do a lot of remote working. A lot of my relationships, certainly when I was running organizations, were, you know, a general manager or a CEO in a different country. So you know, we would contact each other by video or whatever, at the time. But the other thing is that those relationships that were remote, were much more transactional, you’re sitting in the same place, you know, during your video conferencing, or whatever you’re doing, and then my relationship with you is going to be (not here, but if we were working together) would be much more transactional than to be able to say, Hey, should we just go and have some coffee together? Or hey, changing location in a funny sort of way, doing things together helps to create relationships beyond that purely transactional professional relationships, but not purely transactional. And that’s what creates the bond. The real cementing in relationships. That’s what worries me.


Karan Rhodes  16:31

I agree. And I think I definitely agree with you, because one of the things that I was intentional about was, when we call it the mothership, when we had to go to Redmond into near Seattle, where Microsoft is based, I had to get there frequently, obviously, being a leader and having to meet with other leaders. But when I did, I made sure my whole week was full of coffees, lunches and dinners with colleagues, just to increase that personal connection. Because you’re right, when you’re on video, you’re doing the work, you know, you might have a little small talk, but other than that, it is very transactional.


Dr. Stephen Barden  17:12

Yeah, yeah.


Karan Rhodes  17:12



Dr. Stephen Barden  17:13

And even when you’re sharing ideas, I think, you know, sharing ideas over a coffee over a lunch or walking in the, you know, the on the campus that generates trust generates, I get you get to know your colleagues in a different way. Yeah.


Karan Rhodes  17:31

In a deeper way.


Dr. Stephen Barden  17:32

Yeah, I think that’s true.


Karan Rhodes  17:34

All right. Well, Stephen, I hope you don’t mind Switching gears, I want to spend a bit of time really understanding the background and foundation of your book that is called how successful leaders do business with their world. And I’m fascinated about that. So can you share what drove you to do the research and maybe some of the findings out of it out of your book?


Dr. Stephen Barden  17:58

Sure. I mean, very briefly, when I decided to do a doctorate in 2015, so it was late in life one, so after accumulated quite a lot of experience, and the reason I did it was because I had been fired from my last job. My last CEO job, I was fired, it turned out well, but basically, I was at night and they accused me of, of bullying. And I thought, okay, so, again, once again, you know, that was resolved that in fact, my lawyer said to me, button, you’re much too soft to be a bully. But the point where I went was Hang on, why did they choose bullying? Why did they choose the fact that I didn’t have any hair or the fact that I perhaps was Do you know what I mean? Why did they choose bullying there must have been something in there that was and I realized that one of the things was that I had not taken into account, the change in culture, I had come from the media business, where it was very hierarchical in those days, you know, as an editor of an organization or as the managing editor as I had been and the CEO, if I said, this is what I want to be done, nobody questioned it, they did it. So it was quite hierarchical. It was quite normal to be so when I went into a business, which I was trying to change from a white goods company to a technology company, if you like to a service company, it was different, and these people were, so I thought, ah, that’s could be a reason. So let me go and find out. So I thought what I want to do is I want to find out from really successful, objectively successful leaders, how they experience their learning, and I selected and I promised that they would be anonymous, for a very good reason. A group of top notch 2, 3, 4 Star generals from Europe and from the UK. I selected top university academics from universities and colleges and schools, Federation’s, and I selected global CEOs, a group of global CEOs, and I said okay, so this is what I want. Tell me a bunch of experiences, how you learned what you selected why you did this way did that. And they kept on talking to me about their childhood. They kept on saying, when I was a child, I used to do this when I was a child, I was this relative. And I thought, why do they keep on talking, but it was important to them, because they kept on insisting on it. That To cut a long story short, what we discovered, and I’m saying we because it was the type of research where I kept on throwing back the research to them and saying, This is what you said, Can you validate? Can you validate for it? So it was that was what it was done. And what we discovered was that all these leaders, and therefore I’m extrapolating, we could have extrapolated to human beings, if you like, they formed foundational assumptions about the relationship with their world, and in terms of power. And it reminds me, by the way, William Isaacson’s book about Musk when he Musk also apparently, according to the book, kept on turning back to the childhood to the childhood. And it is that foundational assumption, the child will then say, and starts to build out as a foundation, this is my relationship to the world, my world is either so powerful, I can’t do anything about it, in which case, I have been, you know, mostly with totally abused children. Or on the other hand, you know, if you’re royalty, but my world is so weak, I can do anything I like with it, or the sweet spot with these really successful leaders was right in the middle. And they’re basically what they were able to say, as one person put them, I can do business with this world, the world is my partner, the world is my ally, I will use the resource and it will use me we can work together to achieve things. They never do anything alone, for example, these leaders. So that’s what I discovered with them. And they from there, there was and that’s what I called the partnering stance. It was the partnering form of leadership. And from there, I developed this, this model and what I continue to coach on, which is how do you become a partnering leader, don’t lead from the front, because leading from the front means you’re always going to have to look behind you and you will fall over and in the mud. How do you work with people, and they always this not, you know, when we’re talking about wartime generals, if you like who had served in conflicts, they always work with people around them always work with partners always took advice, always thought very carefully with people they didn’t, they never, you know, lead on their own. And they formed certain not trays, but certain behaviors, certain assumptions, if you like, for example, you know, they’re really, really aware of everything that goes on in the organization. And they treat it as an ecosystem. So all the linkages, they will always draw linkages, they never have just one plan, they will have plan A, plan B, and Plan C, and Plan D, if necessary. You they will, you know, they have things that when you were talking about, you know, having the courage to do things, they will do that they think I can’t remember whether I coined it or one of them coined the phrase, they will do the best possible until that best is no longer possible. And then they will change the possible.


Karan Rhodes  23:13

Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.


Dr. Stephen Barden  23:16

Do you see what I mean? So in fact, even if some sometimes the possible that they’ve been aiming for is no longer best, so they’ll think that’s No, I need to do even better than so. And they always had, you could see throughout the careers, they had mentors that they worked with not these are not sentimental relationships, they would, you know, discard their mentors as they went along. Because that as they had developed, and the the astounding thing about all of them. And I’ve continued to do research, as I continue with my practice, they had very small egos. Because, you know what, it wasn’t their ego that was at play here. It was completing the job, what we talked about earlier on as being one of my passions. And by the way, I was not a great leader. But at least I learned this is it, the job was really important. The job was completing the job doing the job taking that whole ship forward, not just not just you know, parts of it, they wouldn’t work on behalf of the shareholders only or the or the staff only or HR only they would work on behalf of the entire organization. They told us that was really vital. So they that’s what they will do. And they also it reminds you just as a slight thing I remember when I first when I was first a CEO of number two to an organization. And my CEO said, could you run this could you meet at this meeting for me of senior senior stakeholders, because I’m going to be late so I did. And then he came in right at the end. And when we finished the meeting, I said, Sam, how did it how did I do? And he said Barden stop acting like a leader do the job, do the job. And that’s all it was. So from there just another might as well throw another one in, which is,


Karan Rhodes  24:47



Dr. Stephen Barden  24:49

Competing, is a complete waste of time because you’re doing the job you’re not competing against, you know, Microsoft is not competing against Apple is not competing against, it’s if it’s going to succeed, it’s going to do its job, what its vision is going to play. That was very important. And the other thing that I worry about slightly, which is not like quite a lot, actually, because is when people talk about style of leadership If you’re talking about style, then no, you’re not doing this. There’s no style here. What is your way of doing it to be able to take the whole ship forward? How do you do


Karan Rhodes  25:40

Oh, yea. Be effective in doing that?


Dr. Stephen Barden  25:53

Like, that title I was going to guide you use for this book before the publishers intervene was “Do the Damn Job.” Because that’s,


Karan Rhodes  26:04

I love that. I love that. Well, this one works well, too. But yeah, both of those times, well, that when you were just explaining, I had a moment of epiphany, aha, aha moment, when you said around childhood, and I was thinking, Well, how does that apply? You know, to me, you always think internally, you know, I was a daddy’s girl. And my dad had a small group, I call them kind of the wolf pack, if you will, of friends, who were dignitaries and significant folks in our where where I grew up, I always call them the big fish in a small pond. But to that extent, he always, I never spoke, but he always let me sit in the same room or on the, you know, do things while they were talking and planning and what have you. But what I observed were, these six individuals were superstars in their own right, I mean, very knowledgeable, very, they were great leaders. But what they did was pool, but they were specialists in certain areas, and they would pull their knowledge together, to talk and to help each other and to talk about approaches or to, you know, what have you, but observing them collaborating together. And to your point, they were no egos, they were friends, you know, they had a lot of laughs and, you know, things but the power was in collaborating as a whole and then taking their lessons learned and apply and it back into their own professions, if you will. And so when you were talking about the whole, you know, what you observed, I grew up understanding, and I grew up in the Deep South, where it was challenging to be a person of color back then. But I grew up with, there’s always a way, there’s no one that’s better than you. There’s always people that can be on your side to get me to move things forward. And so when you were explaining all that, I’m like, Oh, my God, this is just like therapy for me. Dr. Stephen’s research is spot on. That is amazing!


Dr. Stephen Barden  28:19

You were actually seeing this model of power. And of course, you were making your space in it, you were seeing what you were making your own space within it by saying, okay, because nobody was blocking you with, but they weren’t going to go away, don’t let no little girl go away. They were actually allowing you letting you to be there. So you were making your space in there. And you are also seeing them how they flowed within and seeing this partnering stance in action. These were big people, big brains, big, big achievements who were working together. And that must have been an extraordinary foundational assumption. So you’re quite right, as you said, you as you formed this basic assumption. There’s always a way there are always people who can help. They’re always That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right.


Karan Rhodes  29:09

Can you if you’re uncomfortable with this, I totally understand. But we still rarely have someone on the line that was a CEO that ended up transitioning out. And I know you shared some of your lessons learned but it’s amazing that there’s life after a difficult transition when you’re the one at the top. Kind of share how you were able to be resilient and take that in stride and move forward. I know you did the some of the research probably drew you know your your feelings from this situation. But I’d love for the listeners to understand that sometimes you’re dealt a hand that’s not the one you’d love. But there is life after your current gig. Yeah,


Dr. Stephen Barden  29:52

I think it’s a very good question in the sense that I’ve thought about it a lot. So it’s a it’s a great question. Clever question. Well done. I think here’s the thing when I, when that happened to me, for the first time in my life, I didn’t panic. In the sense I didn’t go, oh, you know, because I’d always drove forward always drove for next job. Next job next job next year, I didn’t panic. I said, Nope. And this was the first time I’d been I’d been fired in any sense. Everything, absolutely first time. So I said, Okay, sit down, and just write, just write and think and reflect. So for a year, I’ve reflected and I, the core of my reflection was what has happened, what happened to my values, and to my, which ones are my values rather than the values that I’d inherited from, from society? What values had been distorted by being in corporate life for for 30 years? What had changed? So I, that’s what I did for a start, then. And of course, that was a cleansing process in itself. And then I said, Okay, do you want to get back into corporate life? And I thought, No, I don’t, I don’t want to go back into corporate. What are you good at doing? What can you do is help people who are in corporate life? And then who are you going to help people at your level, who had to, you know, at that CEO at that C suite level, who are able to do things? That was the sort of that was the protocol that I went through? The the difficulty, of course, in which was quite difficult is stopping myself from thinking that I had been a CEO, if that makes sense, in my head,


Karan Rhodes  31:39

That was your identity for so long.


Dr. Stephen Barden  31:41

Absolutely. I was the CEO. So I would go, you know, I was a CEO


Karan Rhodes  31:44



Dr. Stephen Barden  31:44

And then, somebody said to me with about, you know, six months experience in coaching, Stephen, don’t say you’re a ceo. If you do that, you’re not going to be able to coach to mentor to enable, you’re going to be managing, so stop. So that was a difficulty I had to shed, certainly in a shed within the first six months. And of course, you know, there is no status, you have to build your own self esteem, basically, which was, was actually wonderful to think come to think about,


Karan Rhodes  32:17

Oh, amazing. Well, thank you so much for for sharing, that it sounds like that. journaling. And the writing really helped you reflect and get to a point where you could figure out your next step. And that’s absolutely fantastic. Well, I know we are short on time, but before we let you go, and one of the questions that we always love to ask our guests is which of the leadership execution tactics that I wrote about in my book really resonated for you, and you were so kind enough to share that leading with intrapreneurship kind of jumped out for you. And for my new audience listeners, if you’re not aware of leading with intrapreneurship is all about building an organization by identifying new opportunities to improve products, services or processes. So it’s all about bringing that creativity and innovation to an organization. So I’m just curious, Stephen, why did that one particularly resonate with you?


Dr. Stephen Barden  33:14

Because I think particularly in corporations, particularly in well established organizations, and I’ve seen it here, by the way, in Germany, with the car industry, the temptation is to say, well, we’ve done this, we’re very good at this, we don’t really need to improve other than incrementally, as we’ve seen incrementally, in many ways, means that you the idea of innovating, the idea of moving forward and creating new products and services and thinking completely differently, is stifled. So, and we can’t do that, because the world is changing, and has always change very quickly, certainly in the last century. So for me, a successful organization requires intrapreneurship requires the ability to be able in that culture to be able people to say, This is my idea. What do you think? And for it to be to be welcomed with open arms and looked at critically Yes, but not looked at with defensiveness. So that’s what I really do truly believe is all the organizations that I work with. I tend to work with this to try and get them to think about how to innovate how to think of new ideas how to think differently, so that they don’t get caught by surprise.


Karan Rhodes  34:40

I love that. Absolutely. Love that. Thank you so much for sharing that, Stephen. Well, unfortunately, we’re gonna have to wrap up but before we do so, I know audience will always have a ton of links in the show notes to where you can find Stephen how to get his book, How to learn more about about his firm’s consulting. But I would love to give you a voice to share as well right here on the podcast. So how can people find you they want to connect with you?


Dr. Stephen Barden  35:11

I think the best way is via LinkedIn. So Stephen Barden, on LinkedIn. So that’s the best thing that I do very active and doing a number of posts a number of, of articles. I also have a podcast where in which I talk about the whole thing of, of this balance of power, or the power of balance, as I call it, and it’s called about the power of balance. I also just started just completely differently. I’ve also started a podcast on refugees, refugees and migrants people. So and here’s what I’m learning. By the way, just very briefly, I’m learning how we can learn about leadership from them about resilience, because extraordinary resilience, extraordinary leadership. So I’m doing that. So podcast, that podcast is called migrant Odyssey. Power of balances, the one that I do about my book about the research and about leadership, the LinkedIn is, is where you can find me mostly, in fact, all of me, if you like, and the book, if anybody should be you should want to take a look at it, as you said is How Successful Leaders do Business With Their World.


Karan Rhodes  36:24

Wonderful. Well, thank you so much, Stephen, for being a guest on our podcast, we really appreciate your time and your gift of knowledge.


Dr. Stephen Barden  36:33

Thank you very much and lovely, warm conversation. I really enjoyed that very much.


Karan Rhodes  36:38

Oh, wonderful. We loved having you. And thank you also listeners for tuning in to another episode. We know that there are many podcasts you can listen to. But we’re very honored that you joined us again for this week. And hopefully see you next week as well. Have a great one. Well, I hope you enjoyed our conversation today with Dr. Stephen Barden, founder and CEO of Stephen Barden Coaching, Limited links to his bio, his entry into our leadership playbook and additional resources can be found in the show notes on your favorite podcast platform of choice and on the web at leads your game And now for Karan’s Take on today’s topic of leveraging partnerships to be a better leader. In addition to what great insights Stephen has shared with us, I’d like to share just a few more thoughts. You know, while partnering with others can be complex, if you can navigate how to do so it has the potential to fast track your leadership efforts faster than if you had to operate alone. And to do this effectively, I feel you need to do three things. One, find out what your team or potential colleagues desire value. Don’t guess ladies and gentlemen, take the time to talk to them one on one because every human has their own set of values and list of incentives that will be meaningful for them. Secondly, during your conversation, take the time to validate which individuals would actually benefit from partnering with you. Just because someone has the knowledge or skills does not mean that they have the time or motivation. And without these to present, you’re inviting trouble onto your team. And then lastly, once you have your partners or teammates identified and bought in then I suggest that you be intentional, intentional about aligning all of them behind your leadership effort at hand and then motivating them to execute as much as you can without betraying their confidences. I really encourage you to invite the members of your team to be transparent about what a quote unquote win would be for them this way the entire team can be accountable for ensuring everyone gets what they need from the experience, versus only you been accountable alone. Just because you have the title of leader, for example, you can say something like, Hey, Jim, I know you wanted to learn more about pricing. So why don’t you take the lead in working with the consulting firm to evaluate the pricing and market data that they’ve come with and help see where the trends are. By doing so this verbal validation will help each of your team members feel heard, and will go a long way in increasing goodwill. So those are a couple things just to think about. And that’s all for today. But please remember to subscribe to the podcast and share with just one friend. Because by doing so you will empower them to also leave at the top of their game. Thanks again for listening and see you next week. And that’s our show for today. Thank you for listening to the lead at the top of your game podcast, where we help you lead your seat at any employer, business, or industry in which you choose to play. You can check out the show notes, additional episodes, and bonus resources, and also submit guest recommendations on our website at You can follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn by searching for the name Karan Rhodes with Karan being spelled K a r a n. And if you like the show, the greatest gift you can give would be to subscribe and leave a rating on your podcast platform of choice. This podcast has been a production of Shockingly Different Leadership, a global consultancy which helps organizations execute their people, talent development, and organizational effectiveness initiatives on an on-demand, project, or contract basis. Huge thanks to our production and editing team for a job well done. Goodbye for now.

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