Gems from Crack the Leadership Code Season 3


Hello! I hope you enjoyed Crack the Leadership Code. Thousands of people joined in. And this year it blew me away – there were people from over 100 countries listening in. 106 in fact. I couldn’t believe it. Thank you!

We know that people join organisations and leave a boss. I host this summit because I want to get more good leadership in our workplaces. I know it’s key to making workplaces nicer places to be. And, unless you’ve been really lucky, we’ve all suffered at the hands of a bad boss somewhere along the line, or seen it in action.

The plan was to bring some of the top leadership experts in the world together to help you reflect on your leadership, work out how to improve and, most importantly, take action.

I hope you were able to implement at least one of the proven tips and strategies the experts spoke about. I know it’s easier said than done. And that’s why I wanted to do this video for you. I went through each interview and pulled out one gem to help you think about what you might want to take action on. There were so many but I thought, I’ll pick my favourites. One gem from each expert.

About Me

I know you’ve heard my voice, but in case you don’t know me because the summit was all about the experts, I am Michelle Pizer and I have a PhD in emotions and relationships at work. I’ve published in the field, won six awards and scholarships for my work and presented at local and international conferences. I still guest lecture and I supervise Masters students on their way to becoming organisational psychologists.

I applied for my first two jobs out of university and then I discovered I was able to land great jobs without having to update my resume. First as a consultant at Ernst &Young in the Change Management Practice. Next as a Department Head at Roy Morgan Research. Later I was invited to and ran the Research & Evaluation Department at Museum Victoria.

Then I employed myself. I’ve run a counselling and organisational psychology practice since 2001. I’ve helped hundreds of people turn their lives around and get through some of their darkest days. I’ve helped organisations with their thorny people problems. And I work with executives and middle managers who know they can do better, and I help them do just that.

It took me a long time to get going in my career though. Debbie, who used to sit next to me once said, “Why aren’t you more senior by now?” I used to wonder what was wrong with me!I sure looked successful but didn’t feel it.I wasn’t living up to my potential. Debbie knew something was up.My boss at Ernst & Young did too. When I asked him he simply said,“all fine wines mature slowly”.

Yes, I was a slow developer and I wanted to speed that up. I didn’t get to work that one out. It took me years. Unfortunately there weren’t summits like Crack the Leadership Code to give me some practical tips and a heads up to get me moving. That would have been helpful!

So here they are for you…gems from Crack the Leadership Code Season 3! I do hope there’s something in it for you!

Gems from Crack the Leadership Code

I summarised the gems into three categories:

  1. You
  2. Your work relationships
  3. The future

As you listen, start to think about your leadership and your career. Work out where you’d like toimprove. Think about where you could start to take action and then Nike it…Just Do It!

1. YOU

  1. Self Awareness
  2. Self Management
  3. Guiding Principles
  4. Courage
  5. Get the support you need

a) Self Awareness

Christele Canard helped us solve the mystery of the disconnect between why so many of us think we’re good bosses and yet Gallup research has found that half of us have left our jobs at some point to get away from our boss. It doesn’t add up. It’s because we tend to think we’re better leaders than we actually are. Not because we’re a bunch of narcissists. It’s because we judge ourselves on our intentions while others rate us on our behaviors.

To help us with that, Dov Baron challenged us to think about the people who upset you the most, and ask who they remind you of.If you can see they remind you of you, it’ll be easier to find compassion and that will help you be a better leader.

Eileen McDargh highlights the importance of self awareness so you can be true to your authentic self. I love how she talks about going for your sweet-seat, what suits the real you, and not the C-Suite, unless of course the C-suite is right for you.

Jim Dethmer and Michael Bunting both showed us ways to get more in touch and improve our self awareness. Jim said to locate yourself at any moment in time, where are you? You’ll notice how often you’re not even present. Michael taught me about the four pillars to being self aware– your body, feelings, thought sand assumptions. That’s self awareness. The next category is self management – how you see yourself as a leader, how you manage your energy, your brain, your work, the lot.

b) Self Management

I loved how Farnoosh Brock said if you don’t think of yourself as a powerful leader, no one else will. You need to see yourself where you want others to see you first, before they can see it. So don’t limit yourself, dream big!

Bob Rausch is all about how you manage your energy. Over any given week, how do you use your mental and emotional energy? Do you worry a lot? Are you anxious a lot of the time? Are you in conflict?The point is, you won’t get to where you want to be if you’re not using your energy to get to where you want to go. 

Sarah McKay shows us how to manage our brain. Exercise, sleep, naps, the Mediterranean diet, novelty. We need to look after our brain. We only get one. Get your rest!

Kevin Gazzara says to structure your time based on the task mixture that works best for you, as best you can. That’s the combination of routine, problem solving and project-based tasks.

Jackie Woodside reminds us that we actually can’t manage time but we can manage ourselves. My absolute favorite was her three-strikes rule – if you want to do something you schedule it. But if you move it more than three times, you have to tell the truth and you can’t put it on your schedule again. Because it means you don’t really want to do it.

Chris Savage – I love the whole premise of staying relevant now that you’re the oldest person in the room. To do that you need to work on yourself as a project. Project Brand You means working out what are you known for – above and beyond leadership skills. Have a strong point of view about the future. Be known as an expert in something – know just that little bit more than everyone else. Be collegial and supportive.

c) Get the Support You Need

Self awareness and self management is all fine and well. But are you smart enough to accept that you’re not self-disciplined enough and need help and do you feel that it’s okay?

Two of the most well-known leadership experts do this well and say it’s been key to their success. Marshall Goldsmith and Beverly Kaye.

Marshall Goldsmith wonders why “we deify willpower and poo poo that we need to get help. Remember that all the top CEOs have coaches now.” Marshall’s not too proud. He pays a woman to call him daily to ask him questions he made up. “Did I do my best today to…” He knows he won’t do it otherwise.

Beverly Kaye has been in learning groups for years. One has been meeting 4-6 times a year for 40 years. They support each other in whatever is challenging them today, they feel safe to say anything and will be called on their BS too.

Actually, having that support in a safe environment is why I love running my online group coaching program so much,and it’s one of the main benefits my clients talk about.

d) Courage

So you’ve got self awareness, self management and support. Actually, getting the support you need takes courage. And three experts specifically spoke about the importance of courage for leadership.

Peter Bregman says leaders don’t fail because of a lack of knowledge. It’s closing the gap between what we know and what we do. And that takes emotional courage.

Lennox Cornwall and Bill Treasurer talked about ways to make it feel safer to take risks and find the courage.

Lennox suggested creating a budget for failure. Bill talked about transitional safety. It’s where you remove the consequences for failure so a person can experience safety until they gain the confidence. And you can do with your staff by not giving them too much too soon.

You’re aware, you’re managing yourself, you’ve got support, you’ve found the courage, now, what are your values and guiding principles as a leader?

e) Guiding Principles / Values

Kevin Eikenberry has leadership touchstones. Like learning is a process (and all staff are expected to be learning all the time), and done is better than perfect (sloppy success) and that keeps him out of micromanagement and over-analysis. 

Laurie Sudbrink is all about grit, and that it takes more than hard work and tenacity. GRIT stands for generosity, respect, integrity and truth. Values to live by.

Karin Hurt advocates making a list of the things you value most as a leader. Everyone says honesty, integrity but then you go beyond the platitudes. Is it people who will challenge you, or people with different skill sets from you? For Karin it became your peers are your lifeline. So she collaborates.

She recommends asking yourself every time you change jobs, how’d you go against your own values, any you want to add or delete and how can you show up more as you really want to be your next role.


Now you’ve become more self aware, are better at managing yourself, have the support you need, are being courageous as a leader, and know your values and guiding principles, it’s time to look at your work relationships.

Are you taking people with you? How are you handling the conflict? And what about those emotions?

Taking People with You

Cameron Morrisey and Sue Langley both remind us that leadership is about leading people. Sue said at least our brains are wired for collaboration. To really crack the leadership code, we need to learn how to handle, care about and be interested in people. And Cameron highlighted that you need to be very flexible and work with each person as an individual.

Chris Taylor is a trust master. I think that’s what it takes to operate in a R.O.W. – results only work environment. He has a remote team of 22 he does that with. It works if you get really clear on mutually agreed upon objectives up front and leave them to do it how they want with regular touch points, and support to achieve goals.

Ron Friedman points out the obvious – so obvious that I never thought about it before! We get shown how to do our work but not how to get along and feel meaningfully connected. It matters because we’ll do a better job if we spend less time worrying about if we fit in or not.

One suggestion was to introduce people nicely. Like say something extra that could be a talking point – like we talked about chocolate – because knowing what we have in common is a strong predictor of closeness.


Dana Theus also reminds us that workplaces are relational and emotional. In fact, Michelle McQuaid quoted research that found that 20-30% of business performance is determined by mood, then rightly asks, “Do you have a mood strategy?” The leader is the person who impacts the team’s mood more than anyone. Takes less than seven minutes for your mood to infect an entire team. So watch your mood if you want more sales, happier customers, more productive staff members, and be less likely to burnout yourself.

And given that conflict is inevitable and emotionally charged, I loved how Cinnie Noble says that how we handle conflict is a habit. I also loved how she said we talk more about listening than actually listening. So zip it!


Megan Dalla Camina talked about being stuck in gender norms and putting on our cloak to go to work. But it was inspiring to hear about the rise in feminine qualities being valued in leadership – like intuition, kindness, empathy, integrity, morals, collaboration, relationships. Sue Langley also spoke about this as being the future of leadership.

At an individual level, Jodi Womack gave us the 30-30 rule – spend 30 mins a day on something that’s more than 30 days away. She’s been doing it for two years and finds she now has less emergencies and surprises. The message? Invest in your future now.

There were two experts that talked about using social media, Gordon Tredgold and Dionne Lew. We’ve got to get with the program, including me.

Gordon talked about millennials. He said good leadership is good leadership no matter your age. But Gordon communicated with them through Facebook and Twitter. Likes, friends, private messages. It’s helped him get the inside information he needed to succeed.

Dionne gives us the low down on why we can’t underestimate the power of social media. The reach is extraordinary and growing. A LinkedIn profile doesn’t cut it, but you better at least get that right!

There you have it. As I saw it, to improve your leadership…focus on yourself, your work relationships and your future. Of course there was so much more. These were just some of the gems I picked up along the way.

In case you were wondering, I’ve got more good stuff coming your way. So look out for more emails in your inbox.

Or maybe you’re wondering what I’m doing differently as a result of the Summit… here are just three:

  1. I’ve taken a leaf out of Marshall Goldsmith’s book. I don’t have someone calling me, but I do ask myself “Did I do my best today to…” the things that are important to me.
  2. I’m taking Farnoosh Brock’s advice and imagining my future and dreaming big.
  3. And getting real with Jackie Woodside’s three strikes rule. Who am I kidding about going to gym right now? It’s a relief actually. I’m doing walks around home instead.

What are you going to start doing differently?

Let me know. Send me an email. It’s easy. You just hit reply to an email from me (

I respond to every one and I’d love to hear about what you’re doing and how it’s going.

Bye for now.