Minter Dialogue with Sally Henderson

Sally Henderson is a high-stakes leadership mentor, creator of The Real Method framework to address challenging leadership issues of transformation, growth and development. In this conversation, we discuss the definition and importance of the qualification of ‘high-stakes’ leadership, how to deal with the pressures and mental health issues at the top, creating trust in a professional setting, as well as purpose, meaningfulness and the power of conversation at work.

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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).

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SUMMARY KEYWORDS: work, people, client, day, sally, team, minter, challenge, change, professional, love, leader, high stakes, leadership, happening, personal, tribe, family, conversation, trust

SPEAKERS: Sally Henderson, Minter Dial

Minter Dial  00:05

Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 549. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit

So, this week’s interview is with Sally Henderson. Sally is a high stakes leadership mentor, creator of the real method framework to address challenging leadership issues of transformation, growth and development. And in this conversation with Sally, we discussed the definition and importance of the qualification of high stakes leadership, how to deal with the pressures and the mental health issues at the top, creating trust in a professional setting, as well as purpose, meaningfulness and the power of conversation at work. You’ll find all the show notes on And if you have a moment, I urge you to go and drop in your rating and review. And don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes. Now for the show. Sally Henderson I don’t know, but after 600 or so episodes, I think you might be that my first Yorkshire lass is Sally Henderson. You’re an expert in high performance in your teams. And I wanted to have you on my show to talk about leadership. In your own words. Sally, who are you?

Sally Henderson  01:40

Oh, thank you, Minter, and I’m so thrilled to be here. I am a proud Yorkshire lass. The northern roots are definitely in my DNA. But I love the fact that you know, I see myself as someone who, yes, I’m from the north, but I love multicultural. I love getting out there and just experiencing people of all shapes, sizes, beliefs and walks of life. And that that has led me to a focus and an absolute passion for high stakes leadership mentoring. So, professionally, I have my own global high stakes leadership mentoring practice. And personally, I’m a wife to David, a mum to two amazing boys, and also my third child, my Tufty child, is Rollo, our Romanian rescue, my eternal toddler.

Minter Dial  02:25

It sounds like lots of masculine alternatives in the house.

Sally Henderson  02:28

Yes, that’s very true. That’s very true.

Minter Dial  02:32

Well which might be an interesting starting point. But let’s start with high stakes. It’s very intriguing title, high-stakes leadership. What is high-stakes leadership as opposed to low stakes? And what difference does it make?

Sally Henderson  02:47

So, for me, the high stakes piece came from when I was really working out how to talk about what I do mentor and how the people I love to serve and in what situations, and I worked with a fantastic guy called Felix Velarde, who helped me to just really craft the language. Yes, I thought you did. So, he was the person who really helped me come up with that positioning. And we were talking about what I loved from my previous career as a headhunter where I always say one of the good ones, when I mentioned that, full of integrity and just doing what’s right. But what I loved about headhunting, what was missing in the classic definition of coaching, was the fact that in headhunting, there’s Jeopardy. And if something’s happened, there’s time bound as clear results to have to be delivered. And you’ll either succeed or fail. It’s very clear in results and value. And so, when I was chatting through with Felix, he came up with that definition, actually, of, well, you like operating salary when the stakes are high, don’t you? I said, Yes, actually, I really do. Because I think we forget at our peril that senior leaders are human. They have finite resources, not infinite. And they have emotional challenges, limited bandwidth, and they are constantly in situations of jeopardy, fast decision-making loneliness, and having to make the right call big bets. In a world that is also incredibly challenging. That’s been fought been challenging, relentlessly over the last, say, five years. And so, I thought, yeah, I can help their mentor, I can help and bring in calm, candid counsel, be the objective voice and use the cliché be the safe space. Because when the stakes are high, it means you’ve got to take decisions that you have to back 100% You can’t half make a decision to change the company’s direction, or fire a significant senior leader or hire a significant senior leader, or also put your own reputation on the line to stand up for something in the public domain as a leader, you know, so for me, high stakes means there’s change afoot. It’s not business as usual. And there’s some significant pivot moment happening in either a team, a business or an individual leader’s moment in time, and that sometimes can be very fixed to an one-off, and sometimes it can last over years if a company is going through rapid growth. But high stakes means there’s something that really matters, it’s fundamental that the leader is having and the team is having to make happen in the most effective way. And I can come in and support that.

Minter Dial  05:17

So, if I, the way my mind was processing, what do you said, Sally, it feels like it’s, there’s an element of binary yes or no, you can’t half hire somebody. And if you go about half assed, on a project unlikely to succeed, so it feels it’s more like all in all out. Is that another of saying it?

Sally Henderson  05:41

You’ve got to commit. Like the minute that famous saying jump, and the net will appear? Well jumping, when you’re the CEO of a major business, or the CMO, or any senior leader or owner in your own right, you’re constantly having to jump and just make decisions. Because if you don’t, you’ll fall over, you’ll get left behind. And also, let’s not forget back down to simple grass roots, you can’t be a leader if no one’s following, no matter the scale of your organization. And that comes down to decisiveness having a point of view, being different in a crowded world. And perhaps, you know, this world is more crowded than has ever been before. And nobody quite knows what’s true anymore, do they in terms of the fake news thing that’s happened to us in recent years. So, I think knowing that you are clear, confident and committed, both practically and emotionally around change, and the rationale for that, and what it’s going to take to deliver. That’s a lot Hey, that’s a lot to ask of anybody in any team. And why would we expect them to do it on their own? You wouldn’t expect an Olympic athlete — I know it’s a cliché; I am the queen of clichés — but you wouldn’t expect an Olympic athlete to just go out there and be amazing and have all that knowledge automatically at their fingertips, because they’re not a specialist in high performance, ironically. Olympic athletes, especially specialist in their own talent, but are only to a limited level. So, they would never be Olympian without the right team of experts around them, because they simply wouldn’t have that ability to compete against others who do have those teams of experts around them. So, no, it’s not a fair playing field at all. But if we’re expecting high performance that isn’t organic, it doesn’t just happen. It can be it’s got to be there. It’s got to be there as raw talent it does. But you can definitely sharpen it, boost it, accelerate it and refine it.

Minter Dial  07:37

So, my mind goes to a conversation I was having with a world record holder of the four by four relay. friend called Josh out horrible. And we were talking about getting into flow. Because within the that were and of course, there’s a whole team, first of all, as a relay in this case, and then there’s the coaching and the person who’s doing nutrition and all these other things that get into making that performance in the ecosystem work. But there’s with knowledge of myself. But there’s other thing of getting into flow, to what extent do you talk about that with your clients?

Sally Henderson  08:17

I don’t think I use that exact lung language, but it’s all around. I think I sort of say in a slightly different way. But I think it’s the same thing. To me, it’s around being two things at work, no matter the challenges, no matter the goals, is to be happy and effective. And I think why flow becomes unstuck, especially around leadership, is because either someone is focusing so wholly on efficiency, they forget to enjoy it. Or they focus so much on their emotions. They don’t equip themselves practically to have the right techniques and strategies to be ahead of the change curve they’re leading. And for me, that magic moment comes when your emotions as a leader, and a team are aligned healthy and effective and not out of date. Because normally, when people are leading, they haven’t got any time to go inside and assess how they’re feeling about something. And I always say to my clients’ time and time again, we forget, we are animalistic beings, okay. At the end of the day, yeah, we’re primeval. And you can smile at someone and want to G them up. But if you’re feeling worried, you’ve lost belief in what you’re trying to lead. But you know, you have to follow the big companies’ guidance or, but if you’re not authentic, that word we were chatting about before. People feel it. They just know. Because we have this lovely gut instinct. We are trained out of weirdly, in modern society. It’s like go find data, go and find fat a little bit about feeling. You know, that’s our instinct, isn’t it? So, I think if you’re feeling great, I’m not talking about Disney and clapping and oh, look at dogs just flown by Isn’t it wonderful, but truly feeling alive, aligned and really able, and you have that practical knowledge of what does that mean in the real world. Hence, my methodology is called the real method because it’s about, let’s just keep it to the real world, not all theory. I think if you aligned emotionally and practically your skill set is up to date, and effective and relevant, you have flow.

Minter Dial  10:25

I love that. So, much have another conversation, because we’re talking about happiness. And my friend Matt feeling, he runs the Happiness Index, long, long, long debates around the word happy. And then, and I generally have a frown when I talk about happy because of, you know, it’s just a term, it’s a word and how you want to describe it, but it seems to be a little bit ephemeral, the happiness thing, whereas sort of profound joy or some deeper level is what we’re, of course, in what he’s talking about, is that deeper level, but then I was chatting with someone about the power of the smile. And, and, and how disarming, excuse me can be, how beautiful it is. And in the animal sense, it’s very instinctual, and has such a power. And then the thought is well, can we can we have that smile? That legitimate? beautiful smile? And underneath be anything but happy?

Sally Henderson  11:30

Not when it’s true? No, I think you Well, here’s the thing. Happy is quite an all-encompassing statement, isn’t it? And I don’t think it’s binary actually in it. Well, I’m happy therefore I am. You can be happy in pockets, as well. So, you know, we talk about jokes about me being a northerner, but funnily enough, when I first came to that there, London, and everyone was telling me oh, it’s so scary, and unfriendly, and it’s not like the North and people don’t smile, and people don’t say hello. And I thought, I said, Well, that’s not how I find London. I found London quite friendly, actually. Because I smile. And it’s in me to want to smile and connect with my fellow human. And I don’t know, humans, but when someone gives you that authentic smile, and it might just be a glance, in a list on a staircase, someone passing by, but here’s when I think a smile has the chain, the power to transform, it’s when you feel seen, isn’t it? It’s when someone smiles into your soul almost. And they are truly acknowledging even for a nanosecond, another human has. And it’s even more amazing when an animal makes eye contact with you, because they’ve got more choice about that, I think.

Minter Dial  12:40

They wag their tail too.

Sally Henderson  12:41

Exactly. But you just feel seen and you feel connected. And I think in this crazy world we live in currently, people are so not feeling seen. And they are so not feeling connected. But even more interesting, from my perspective around high performance leadership. They’re not seeing themselves first and foremost, and they’re not connecting from the inside, first and foremost. So, then that makes it nigh on impossible for them to achieve that with others.

Minter Dial  13:08

That makes total sense. So, I want to circle back solely to this notion of high stakes versus low stakes. In the way you described it, if I were to intuit the difference is the level of stress that’s involved with the stakes that are at hand.

Sally Henderson  13:25

Well, stress is one potential outcome. I mean, my job is to take the stress element away as much as possible, because I think, here’s what’s interesting about physiology isn’t it, here that excitement and stress are the same. It’s physiological, physiologically, I can just about say that. It’s your it’s your interpretation. It’s your belief system. You can have two leaders in hashtag high stakes situations, one thriving and telling their friends and family how amazing it is. And they’re growing and they’re developing and the team’s rallying round. And we I can’t believe we ever came down. I never thought we would. But we did. And the team was amazing. And oh my gosh, and they’re just happy about it. They’re motivated. They’re, they’re lifted by the challenge. Now sliding doors effect, you could have the same situation exactly the same situation, but a different leader. “Oh, God is hard.” It’s stressful. They can’t get the team connected. It’s nothing but barrier after barrier. It seems elusive. We’re so close, but I really don’t think we’re ever going to break through. I feel like giving up it again, I’m being quite black and white with those two analogies. But the situation hasn’t changed. It’s the experience. It’s the interpretation. It’s the mindset. It’s the active choice one makes about how we engage with stress. And is it actually stressful or is it exciting? And I think we’ve kind of fallen into this weird, weird habit of needing stress to be successful. You know, this whole imposter syndrome. industry that has grown so Hmm. And it’s almost like it’s a badge of honor to have weakness to go, Oh, here’s my imposter syndrome they call Barry. When I talked to Barry every day. It’s like, Well, how about focusing on your strengths? How about focusing on what you can influence, rather than looking internally for all the flaws and the weaknesses and the things you have to overcome, and the things that might unravel you at any moment. And I think we’ve kind of indexed too far into stress and worry and doubt. And, you know, I think the vulnerability piece is really brilliant. But again, it’s all about waiting and balance. And if, if we hang out in vulnerability to long, we can just get a bit kind of stuck in that, in that, you know, revolving doors. And also, I think, we can’t forget how the world has been changing so significantly over, but I guess forever, actually, I was talking to someone else who was comparing this chapter of business to when the miners’ strike was happening, the three-day week was happening. And I was like, Oh, God, you actually that was pretty stressful for that generation, wasn’t it? So, again, it’s really interesting how your perspective can change. But we’ve just got used to being in worry and stress and difficulties. And, and that has had a toll. But we can, we can make the mistake, I think of always looking for what’s wrong, rather than going well, okay, you are vulnerable. And in COVID, it was important to show that it was important to really dial that up, because that ripped up the rulebook and everyone got a shock, and to some people to the most horrific extent of that. But I think we can’t now just keep that pattern for this current market, because it’s different. And I think if a leader or a team constantly share about their vulnerability, the people who want to follow them and need certainty might be like, Oh, my God, if you got your got your act together, can you actually the industry? So, again, I’m not saying be fake? I’m not saying don’t be authentic. Absolutely the opposite. But I also think, be clear on how to dance that dance, you know, and when it’s right to share, because it is right to share. But when also you have to lead, and you have to be the one who goes, I’ve got this on follow me because it will be safe.

Minter Dial  17:04

So, if I were a little cynical, I might say it sounds like yeah, to have a vulnerable stiff upper lip.

Sally Henderson  17:10

Potentially, Minter. Potentially, because I think you need both truly do. And there is no right or wrong. So, again, I’m being quite black and white, and how I’m positioning on our chat. Because I also do like to be a bit provocative, because I think, again, you can’t be vanilla in this world. And we were talking about the art of debate before we started recording. And I think that’s been lost around just debating Oh, well, is it the stiff upper lip? Or is it vulnerability. And it doesn’t mean that you’re suddenly you know, out of camp or income, but you can have a dance with it and go, Well, I have the range. And I think that’s an important word actually in leadership in high stakes. And high performance is your range. So, it’s absolutely appropriate, sometimes to be 100% over towards vulnerability dial. Because that is the right thing to write for you. It’s right for the team. It’s just bloody honest. And sometimes you might even have a choice about that might just be needed human response comes out. Yeah. And there’s nothing wrong with that. And it shouldn’t be encouraged in the right way. And as again, my role comes in because I’m like, how are you? Really, because with me, there is no agenda, you can just be you. But let’s not forget leaders, when they’re working in their businesses, people always have an agenda. And that’s fair, that is fair. So, then we get to be really vulnerable, but at the same time, then still manage everyone’s agenda the next day. That’s quite difficult, isn’t it? Also, the range of material to go the other way to be able to say, Look, these are difficult decisions. Not everyone’s going to like them. However, it’s my job to take us through this. And I’m going to do that. And that is that is not the time to be potentially vulnerable about that. Mm hmm. So, again, it’s the range and, and that’s what I think we’ve lost the art of in terms of society and conversations and connection is embracing range. Because it seems to be especially on Twitter slash x. Not that I’m very big on that world at all. But whenever I dive into it, it’s like, wow, there’s no range here. It’s like you’re in the black or the white camp red or red or yellow camp. And even that people say, I can’t believe you use those colors. Sally. What Uh, what about neon blue? Oh, God, sorry, I forgot neon blue!

Minter Dial  19:23

Poor neon blues egos been bashed!

Sally Henderson  19:25

I mean, you can’t say anything because someone’s out to have a really, you know, one ended the agenda or other end and they’re not open to debate and I think that’s a lost art.

Minter Dial  19:36

Yes. For me, the word that it strikes me is nuance. I do love this term of range. So, going back to your two mindsets that you were talking about with regard to high stakes leadership, which is your favorite client, the one who is you know, get excited and going for it or the one who’s done down in the dumps,

Sally Henderson  20:02

Oh, if only was that simple Minter? Go through my quick survey and I will find, no, I welcome all of it. I have a saying that personally, I’m not here to fix the broken birds. Yeah, that is not my skill set, nor were my, my purpose in the world is best put to action, I’m here to take your best and make them better. Your top high-performance talent who will have those broken bird days, but it’s not their overall current reality of state constantly. So, the range that I work with my clients is amazing. So, with some clients, we stay very in the practical, it’s all about just equipping them to be that high stakes team or leader with others, we go into what I sometimes very technically term, my woowoo side. Okay, where it’s all about emotion beliefs, doing body work, how are we holding emotion in our bodies, how’s that affecting how you show up in the world, not just as a leader, as a human, I was talking with one client recently, who is the most incredible CEO, with the most incredible Fast Track success story only getting better on a real pivot moment of like, boom, global. And what’s fascinating is, I believe that you don’t need nor want to be your whole self at work all the time. And I’m a great fan of boundaries and distinction. And that it’s really healthy to have a personal identity and a professional identity, and know how to cherry pick between the two. So, I said to this client, I said your professional identity as CEO of this business is on fire, like you are a game. Whenever you share it with me, it’s a pleasure to work with you. I love what you know, the pace and the range that we cover in our work is astounding. And the way your performance is growing is astounding. What’s interesting, if you swap to the personal side, this is not gender specific personal side, you have you are not investing the same amount of attention and growth around your personal identity. So, that part of yourself is causing friction, because you’re not having conversations back at the ranch around how this professional growth is going to impact domestically. And how you are having those conversations is as a CEO. So, there’s no one that your partner is not responding as you might be expecting, because they are not your employee. And they hadn’t even realized that this was what was happening in their world. And so, we were able to go there and pick it and create strategies that will a maintain that amazing growth professionally, but also enable the personal side to be in congruence and to be in balance. So, that one was not at conflict with the other, which at Senior High-Performance Levels is often sadly the case. So, when I work with my client, yes, I always come to the lens of leadership and work. So, I love that interaction and that pivot point between business and people, human leadership job, you know, business objectives, strategy, you know what, that’s where I play, I could not be a life coach, I’d be too late. What does it mean by kind of your career and your business. But equally, I won’t stop where the human comes in. And even one client and this is a long, long time ago, we were talking they were about to become a CEO, in an entrepreneur led highly successful business with quite a demanding founder. Because founders often are demanding, let’s be honest, that’s why they’re a founder. And they were talking a lot about their wife, and they just had a had a baby. And we had a toddler and a baby on the way. And they were very concerned about not being able to maintain the role of husband and father in balance with the role of CEO which was great, very enlightened to even be thinking this made a lot of people just go forward and go, I’ll make it work. And I said, Look, we’re talking about your wife a hell of a lot on her behalf. Should we just get her in? What do you do that? Well, instinctively, I kind of feel that’s the right thing. And this is in Soho square back when I used to have a room there. And the mother in law was literally walking the baby around Soho square. Well, so I went with my client and his wife and how their rhythm was going to maintain domestically the success professionally. And we had one session and we sorted it. So, I don’t do that with everybody. But when I’m working my client, it’s my job to spot what they’re needing from me. And, and that’s their entirety. And there’s some clients who have deep emotional trauma that they’re holding in their self, which they have really successfully as an adult quashed and put down. But it’s, it’s there and I can see it. That’s my skill. I can read people really quickly, quickly in very different levels, sometimes to the absolute astonishment. They’re like, how have you learned that about me Sally in 15 minutes, man, I can just do it. And sometimes it’s very funny because I like went home and told my partner about what you said, and they’re like, I’ve been telling you that for years.

Minter Dial  24:59

But it’s true. Wouldn’t that there wouldn’t be women’s intuition, would it? No,

Sally Henderson  25:02

it absolutely wouldn’t. It would just be intuition which men have just as much.

Minter Dial  25:09

I’m not sure about that person.

Sally Henderson  25:10

I think some do, I think…

Minter Dial  25:13

Sure, some do. I think generalizations were they being well, yeah.

Sally Henderson  25:17

But this this other client, I worked with talking about the emotional side, and as I say, the slightly more woowoo. But it’s important. And I think that’s what often is missing in leadership growth is the EQ and the intuition and the guts and the bravery and the magic side. I asked him one question in our first session, which is on my trust framework, I always have a tool and a framework for pretty much everything. And if not, I create one. And I said, I’m just going to ask you one question, you won’t go for it. And it really senior guy, very technical guy in a very technical business. So, the least emotive kind of beginning you’d expect to a program together engineer, ish ish, you know, of that of a technical world. And I just said, I want to ask you one quick two questions. I said, First, I want to ask you trust yourself. And it goes on and off. Gosh, it was very interesting, their body very uncomfortable. And then I said, and then I just want to ask you is one question? Do you like yourself? Whoa, tears? Yeah, just that was the that was the lancing the boil. And just out came all this deeper, very emotive, very personal stuff, that you might say, was that your realm to work on that? And I say, well, listen, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a counselor. I’ve no interest in being and that’s not where my skill set and training lies, either. But I know my line. So, I will take my client up to the line of which is right for our work. But I will not go where I’m not qualified nor meant to go. Because it’s, I think it’s also very dangerous to play where you’re not confident, you know, how to take someone out and leave them well, you know, so when a client leaves my session, they’re going to be really able to go on and have a great day, we’re not going to be unpacked all that good luck. I’ll see you next week.

Minter Dial  27:02

It was it’s just like vulnerability, too much vulnerability, can really end up leaving you in the shit.

Sally Henderson  27:08

It adds what I mean, and you’ve got to know how to manage it. And that’s why I get crossed with the coaching courses out there who say, Oh, you know, your clients are all resilient and whole at the end of the day, and you can go off and do a weekend course and suddenly go off and be, you know, coaching people, it’s like, well, no, you can’t actually because when you’re in the role that I hold, and many people do you have incredible professional responsibility, and integrity.

Minter Dial  27:32

So, certainly, I think on this personal professional, I mean, my last book, The subtitle was how being yourself makes you a better leader. You talk about how you should have a professional persona and a personal persona or these persona me mask of course, but the idea of having two different spheres and I don’t subscribe to being 100% vulnerable 100% authentic 100% naked? Of course not 100% intimate you know, there’s a there’s a definite line. However, I don’t I don’t see how it’s possible to be in my challenge piece to be on personal to gain trust is the here’s the thing, if you if you have separation between the family which of course happens but who you are as a father who you are as a partner and such and then the boss piece at work and I have a specific recollection of a CEO or no name him however he would say things like it work well you know, work we’re a family will add his family side he had two mistresses one of whom tried to kill herself because of the way he treated her. And that impacted my regard for this individual. Smart as though he might have been what an arse as a person!

Sally Henderson  29:02

100%. And as they said, that is quite funny because when I do sort of bring about this idea of difference and boundaries and separation, people go, but you know, that doesn’t happen. It’s a mask and I’m like, not at all not at all. Your 100% yourself, it’s about your levers and gears. So, you know, I did an -ology at A Level, if you know the British Gas advert of it, “I got an -ology.” But I loved sociology as an A Level because I’m just fascinated my whole life around people because what I loved was the thing about tribes and in sociology, and I did the Martin S Weinberg nudist management of respectability. I can still remember it for my level, and all about how deviance and norms are reinforced in different ways depending on the tribe you’re in. So, for example, if you were to go to a nudist colony, I didn’t think we’d be talking about this today, but If you were to go to a nudist colony, and you wear shades, that’s a very different tribunal signal, aha than if you were down in the park in normal life, and even how you hold your body. Yeah, I won’t need to go any further. But how you hold your body in a nudist colony versus in a park. Now the situation if it’s a field, and people are set out around having beers, or soft drinks and some food, the situation is the same. Yet, if it’s in a nudist colony, it’s entirely different than if it’s in a family park. Okay, but you’re still being yourself, you’re just knowing the norms, and rituals and deviance that reinforce the codes of conduct that make you part of that tribe. Okay, so when you’re at work, I say to me, Look, it’s a terribly sad day, very genuinely, if I’m with somebody, and they’re exactly the same with me off the bat, as they are in a work context as they are with their closest friends and family. Because my relationship with them is not as their closest friend and family, my therefore my expectations, both subconscious and conscious, are different. Because I’m in a tribe that is a work tribe. And I completely agree around the family, I say, look, a business is never, nor can ever be a family. Because the rules of engagement are different, and your family hopefully should never fire you based on a spreadsheet. Can you imagine we’ve just done the sums darling, and I’m so sorry, but you’re going to have to leave your bedrooms, we need to rent it out. And actually, that means you’re no longer our son, or daughter. Yeah, you’d be like, What the hell. So, let’s be celebrating the beauty of difference. And that you’re still that same person, absolutely, totally the same person, you just know the tribal norms and deviance that you want to dial up or dial down. And also how you can then for receive and relax. Because when you’re with your friends and family, that’s a different level of intimacy and trust. Hopefully, not always. But hopefully, then if you’re at the board table. And here’s an interesting thing, again, which I hope brings this point home, I used to be a headhunter, and I get people coming to me wanting to get the next challenge. And let’s face it, most people don’t go to a headhunter because they’re so delighted with their life. Something that’s not working that they normally want to change, and often through the lens of fear and worry, which affects how they behave and show up. But say it’s the CEO, okay, I used to do a lot of work with senior C suite folk. And I’d be like, Oh, you’ve got an interview with so and so at work, and they’d be like, Oh, God, I have nothing to do for ages and Libby panicking and worrying. And that was fascinating. Because they’re PERT. They’re going into that interview as a personal identity. That side of them that hasn’t had an interview for 20 years, they’ve always been headhunted. Dadadada da, that side of this, their self is like I am so ill equipped for this. I’m so rusty. And I’ll say to them, Hey, listen, if I was going to say to go in and pitch to your favorite client, no matter how challenging that client is tomorrow with your best team, how would you feel Oh, fine. Because that’s in their professional self, a habit. And their muscles are really honed in and to the highest level. But personally, that muscle hasn’t been used since they had an interview when they were leaving university. So, the minute I would get them to realize, look, you have all these skills professionally, but you’re seeing this through a personal brain, and that’s not helping you. They’ve let I get it, okay. So, it’s just about shoot being much more conscious of the elements of your whole being that you choose to have switched on or switched off at any one time. And I think what’s going wrong in the world of work and why we have such burnout and such stress is because we are taught now it’s expected that we can be anything to anyone at any time. Just ask me. And it’s like, well, gosh, no, if I’m just coming off the school run, and it hasn’t gone, well probably don’t want to have my most important client call-in on the drive on the way home. Because I’m not in that mindset I haven’t geared up. So, it’s definitely not about fakery, or masking or not being yourself. It’s about wholly being yourself. But having that comfort to know that part of me can have asleep for a while. I don’t need to keep that up in my mind to make it accessible at any time, just in case it’s needed. And I think there’s boundaries and again since the world change, even though we had a lot of commuting back in the day and ways of work that were completely not right and helpful. They least had signals and rituals around tribal change. So, you get your train home, and you do your email. This is me talking about myself. Now I get the train from London to Tunbridge Wells. Don’t forget to seat and back in the day when that was your highlight or absolute hell of your day. I get to see I could squish myself terribly into my little seat and just going to get all my professional stuff finish. So, when I get off the train, I get a walk back to the house and I come to the house and I’m mum or wife. Yeah. Or perhaps even just me, you know? And I come in and I can talk about things that my family want because I’ve downloaded my professional self. With COVID. And the lack of those rituals around commuting, often you open the door. So, I just come off a really wonderful but intense and challenging mentoring session, I’d open the door, what’s for tea, give me a minute, like, just give me a minute. And that will collide and smash in the face. And that’s hard and difficult to manage and stressful and out of control. So, it’s about so I get people to do what I call a PI-PI, Minter, which is where you, you create a visual representation of your personal identity. So, everything about you outside of work from a friend, family, that tribal reality, where you from what you like doing in your hobbies, the people who mean something to you. And then on the professional side, it’s you at work. So, what how, you know, what’s your essence, your professional essence when you’re at work. So, for me, it’s around being a motivational facial speaker, the fact I’ve created the real method, I love doing away days, I like being the reason someone smiles in their working day, give them the lightbulb moments, and then as a big massive change in neon at the center of that visual board. And then I say like, that’s when I introduce myself to new teams, or when I’m doing a speech, I will say, look, here’s me personally, and I’ve got one slide, it’s about my lovely mother and I took her to an incredible restaurant, grave time, I know when she’d overcome bowel cancer, because she was one of the lucky ones. And I can see I’ve got a picture for her and, and I would never normally just share that, you know, openly with people because that would be a bit odd. Hello, my name is Sally. And did you know, we had this experience in our family, my mom had bowel cancer. Yeah. And she survived. So, you know, because not everyone has that lucky outcome. But when I’m doing my professional my personal identity, I can share that about me. And then if anyone has a similar spirit experience, they know that about me and like we can have that conversation afterwards in the right way. But they suddenly get a massive, quick, deep dive into who I am outside of work without hopefully getting bored, because only takes two minutes. And then when I’m doing my professional self, they can get a lovely flavor of who I am at work. And that side of me. And they suddenly know all of me in a much richer way than if I just stood there and talked at them. And then I say I’ve got this really bad, but I love it slide into where I go to the next slide and I go, you’ve got two columns, or you’ve got space. And then I say I’ve got these four really bad classic cherries that pop up, I think you can then cherry pick from either one of the artists so bad to kind of make the point. But you can cherry pick, because then I can if I’m working with a parent as a client, I can bring that part of myself into our work because it’s relevant, potentially. But if I’m working with a client who doesn’t have children, they don’t want that side of me to come into our work, it’s not relevant or needed, then if someone’s got a dog, or not a dog, or someone’s from the north, or not from the north, or, or whatever, or someone’s married or not married, or whatever it might be you, you can do a lovely cherry picking between those two parts of yourself without one, you know, scrambling around. And I just personally find, you can show up better, when you are clear on who you are and how those tribal pieces work together and when they also are separate.

Minter Dial  38:11

So, it sounds at the end of the day, fairly congruent with this idea of being yourself at work makes you a better leader. There’s so many so many things that you talked about. But let’s talk about the emotional piece a second because I’m a firm believer that the development of emotional intelligence happens mostly in the personal sphere. Where you school you’re being you’re learning how to lose on a pitch, or you have emotion of love that is happening at home. And in the conversations that you have with intimate friends where you, you figure out what is trust at a much more granular level, then professional Trust, which is you know, a trust you can you know, add two plus two and get the P&L correct. So, how do you, let’s say, cross those T’s? As far as the personal and professional when it comes to development of emotional intelligence and trust?

Sally Henderson  39:16

Well, funnily enough, I have a trust framework that I created, that I think helps people to understand where they’re at you talk about the Happiness Index, if we think about an index of where someone is at on trusting themselves, because I think we’re too quick to go to the external here, mentor, and how is it with your relationship? Do you trust your team? Do you trust your family, do they friends, but we very rarely asked the question. Do you trust yourself?

Minter Dial  39:44

And, and the other question you had was Do you like yourself? It’s very powerful question.

Sally Henderson  39:50

Well, they are because they’re fundamental. And again, I say the real method, my method, is all about looking at the basics. They get overlooked all the time, and If you did all the work till the cows come home on an incredible C-suite something or other person, but you don’t actually ask them or help them understand if they do those two things of like themselves and trust themselves, then all your work is bottlenecked because they’re fundamental to the EQ piece. So, when I’m doing the trust framework, I ask people those questions. Do you like yourself is the first question, then I asked them, Do you rate yourself? And then I asked them, are you being kind to yourself? And then the last one is, are you looking after yourself. And the index piece is they have a range between 1 and 10. But they cannot use seven. Because seven is a red herring. No one’s ever a seven, there are 6.9 or 8.1. When you take seven out of the equation, they can’t have it. And they have to make that decision between six and eight, you then get the truth. Because I have a saying Minter that the naked truth will always conquer. And that’s what we work with. You know, because if the naked truth, someone isn’t right for a job, and again, my background is a headhunter gives me an incredible practical talent lens under all the work I do. And that quick decision-making muscle and reading lots of the emotional, the practical, the commercial, the intellectual, strategic, all of that, if the Naked Truth is a team isn’t right. Or the person has outgrown their job, or they just are bored, but they’re too scared to move. You’ve got to look at that. Because trying to patch it over or get away from the naked truth. You’re just bottling up problems for the future. But I think if when you get people to do those four questions, especially senior people, what’s been funny what what’s been interesting, not funny, what’s been interesting to read. See, in the last couple of years, when I do this, and talks and workshops and one to one, the first two tend to be on average high in terms of liking self and rating self. In the senior leadership. Well, not always, by the way, I’ve had people change their jobs, having done this very quick, non-scientific ranking, gone, oh, my God, I got to do something to change because I don’t like myself, I don’t rate myself, I’m not being kind to myself, and I’m not looking after myself. That’s, that’s not good. But what’s been happening in recent years, because of the change of weights and working and the we forget the pressure that we’ve all been under, especially leaders relentlessly, from one massive disruption to the other. So, what scoring very low down at the twos and the threes is, am I being kind to myself, but especially am I looking after myself. And this is where I disagree with Simon Sinek about, you know, leaders should eat last, you should absolutely bloody first. Because if you’re not equipped, like the classic oxygen mask on the plane, which in COVID, was not the best analogy to be using, and rightly so. But if you’re not feeding yourself, first, you don’t have energy and reserves to look after your people, which is your role as a leader, then you’re not of service to them or anyone. So, it’s absolutely fine to be selfish. When it’s right, not black and white, not binary. If you’re not able to put your own needs on the table, and this is also around your domestic needs, then no one’s winning. If you’re what I call a neither either. So, you’re very quick example, when I had my second son, I show my agent because I had a Blackberry, I loved my Blackberry. I’d take him to baby group, and I’d be bouncing him and Humpty Dumpty, singing away, tapping away on my Blackberry behind his back, thinking looking at me winning having it all, but I was neither a proper mum present with my baby. And in that moment, and that’s understandable, because sometimes those sessions are really boring. But anyway, but I wasn’t there. And so, neither was there or either was like fully present with my clients. I mean, I’m just doing emails, don’t get me wrong, but even so, and that that kind of misunderstanding that I was somehow winning when actually I was losing. Because would it have been terrible to have made those emails? Wait, no, it would have been I would have been able to do that. I would. I was lazy with my own discipline. Under the illusion I was being successful. And I really wasn’t because I was being a neither either. So, I think boundaries and understanding what your needs are and how to put your needs in the mix just make you stronger.

Minter Dial  44:25

Amen to that. As I was writing down your scale with one to 10 and no number seven, it made me think of the boots. I think boots has a skincare line no seven. Chris it means number seven, seven, maybe you should go talk to me in I want to finish in this area of safe spaces at work and mental health and boundaries and such. With the way I look at that to me taking care of yourself in my world as we say self-empathy. Which really means understanding enough of what you need to do that preparatory work, to sense your feelings to see where you are, in order to then take care of that, or at least recognize that you’re not taking care of it. But now you know that I’m grumpy. Why now I know that I’m not feeling well or a little bit irritable, then that helps me maybe pre, you know, change things. But in work, Sally, obviously, we’ve talked a lot about we’ve talked to some degree about loneliness, of being a head of a company is notoriously a lonely job. And mental health is now a raging problem, where one quarter of all young people 18 to 24, declaring themselves anxious or depressed in the last four months, HR teams are in the United States as a service. And so, 61% of HR professionals have had a case of anxiety or depression in the last 12 months. So, it seems to be raging out there. And when you’re talking to a boss, and I was thinking back to your image of this happy boss, or you know, the one that’s energetic, and so on, there’s, for me, there’s always this piece of what is meaningful about my job to me. In any event, how do you go about tackling the mental health issues? And? And do is it really about making safe spaces at work? We’re How do you cross those two?

Sally Henderson  46:40

Gosh, well, I think at first, start by saying, I’m not the most authentic person to give a detailed answer on that, because I can only speak from a lens, not so much as a mentor here, because I think there’s a danger again, to try and be all things to all people. And I’m not an expert on mental health and specific strategies for that. So, I want to make sure that boundary is clearly in place. And I think it’s, I think it’s that’s the danger to give a sweeping answer to that. Because it’s all so subjective Minter. And I think it comes from care and compassion, actually, and if you start by wanting to truly help, to truly understand without an agenda, that’s when you can start to have the meaningful conversations, where you just ask somebody, how are you? And then you can follow up with how are you really. But you’ve got to have such an integrity around this work. Because if you start going into someone’s space and ask them to open up and share, and then you go, well, thank you, I’ve ticked my HR box of being an empathetic boss. And I will see you next week and we’ll talk about your KPIs. Oh, you’re actually doing more harm than good. I always say to my clients, if you’re going to want to go into space, which is needed. I mean, I worry profoundly about my children about what’s happening in society around mental health and it to me, it just seems so incongruent, we have this so-called intelligence and now artificial intelligence, yet we don’t have emotional intelligence. And we are living in a society that seems to be fragmenting and breaking in front of our very goddamn eyes, not to mention the climate. And we focus on things that in one end don’t actually matter right now, because what’s the point of having AI if you can’t have healthy humans, and it seems that we just are going to blindly skipping over the fact that the young people of today, and I sound so old by saying that, but hey, I’m not a young person of today, I would have no idea of the pressures that they have to face with social media and the rules of game and that tribal norms that I talked about, you know, back in the day, and here’s also for work and, and the whole overwhelm of communication, etc. and expectation and that switched on this. I mean, in my day, you had a computer that sat at the at the company and the mobile if you were lucky. No WhatsApp, no slack, no discord, no text, no Facebook. I mean, God, people can get you from every angle, fax machines? I did. I used to fax EVs in my first job. But there’s no rules of engagement around when you don’t have to respond either. Because if a client WhatsApp to you, you know, what’s the difference? Can you ignore that? Like, because it’s not the same as an email, is it? But they’ve come into your private space, but what’s the what’s the rule around that? It’s not clear. Where’s the client emailing you at 11 o’clock at night? Not that my clients do any of this work with gorgeous clients? Yeah, exactly what I want but also I find that we’re not off either. So, I’m terrible mentor, I’m addicted to this thing. I know I am. I am. Many of us are and so I think mental health and it’s a societal question actually and our whole foundations around what is being a good society, what is being a good member I’m doing your part. So, I’ve noticed something interesting just for my own personal observations around trends in society remembering my ology back in the day. And it seems the more and more we become advanced, and we develop more systems and techniques and work at a faster pace, it becomes an eye conversation. These are my needs. These are my, this is my way I want to experience my world, this is my way want to be your employee, I have a hamster on a Thursday that needs walking, I must go home and do that. Obviously, I’m being very flippant on purpose. But I think the expectations of the “I” have massively become inflated compared to the needs of the “We”. And I think in older society, you’re looked after your neighbors I’m, you know, going to sound like a homeless advert here, but on purpose, you know, you have that village takes, it takes a village to raise a child, you’d know who your who the elderly were, you’d walk down as I come from a village, but you’d walk down the street and, and there’d be a sense of a sense of community not always beautiful, because it’s also suffocating. And people can be horrible. And let’s not be Disney here. But I think in society, we were a slower pace, and we cared greater for the week. Whereas now it’s all about the eye. And that to me, it’s just not a healthy way. It’s exactly the absolute detriment of the way because the AI is like, all singing, all dancing. But fundamentally, going back to our piece about being at the end of the day, we’re animalistic beings. We are a tribal thing, like humans live in tribes. So, what’s happened in our society at work at home that’s made the tribe less important. And that we seem to not be able to live in one tribe as well. I mean, it seems the more the world is going into economic difficulties, and the tribes are all fractioning. What was interesting about COVID that I observed because it was a pandemic, and no one in their lifetime had ever gone through this. So, it was a leveler. Not for everybody. I mean, as I said, some people had the most horrific COVID times. I was lucky, I didn’t. But so I speak from that bias. But everyone came together. Because suddenly all bets were off, everyone was equal, if something fucked up, because my language, it wasn’t your fault. Yeah, there’s this these rules are unprecedented. If we use the word unprecedented and pivot anymore, I think we’ll switch up however, all of us, Oh, my Lord. But it was a real kind of galvanizing community inducing, like I remember, you know, if you look back now, it’s kind of crazy, you know, the bashing of the pans on your roads. But I met neighbors I never met before we went out and bashed our pans on a Thursday. And it was a great sense of in it together. We weren’t taught by the government. Hey, but there was a great sense from the, from the country of being in it together. And then what’s happened with the economic challenges that have come hot on the heels and all the horrific war that’s going on everywhere, not just the ones that are reported. People have become fearful. And it’s gone back to survivalism. And so, therefore, what we’re seeing in the world is I think people aren’t as collective aren’t as community led aren’t as supportive. And that’s, to me a real shame that we’ve lost what came through the benefit that COVID brought us around that community spirit and helping so for example, Felix and I would never have met, If COVID hadn’t happened. Not that I’d wished that in the world. Don’t get me wrong. But we met because I helped him behind the scenes and without any expectations, and, and then we just sat somehow met. And then we helped each other and it was lovely. And that would never have happened in business as usual. And that’s, that’s sad. So, I think there’s a piece around mental health of going back to the Wii. Yeah, of who’s in my tribe, am I knocking on their door, both professionally and personally? Have I checked on my neighbor? Am I giving time to my child when they talk to me? Because that’s again, these bloody things. Take your attention all the time, don’t they? And I never walked my dog this morning. And I was very aware. And don’t get me wrong. I was doing emails and stuff. But the children I’m on a school route. Nearly every child who walked past me was like this. Sure. What a way to live. That’s, you know, so I just think there’s some fundamentals that we want to get back into the world not to sound too preachy, but it’s this is how big this problem is. You know that there isn’t a quick Oh, if you do this, it’ll be okay. It’s systemic. And that’s the challenge, and it’s only getting worse. That’s the challenge.

Minter Dial  54:15

Itching in my seat, Sally, because, well, my next book is going to be about the society issue here we’re talking about. And I recently wrote a fairly long-form article, entitled, “Who are we?” What do we mean by we? And I feel in my article also talks about who am I and in the “I”, and the “We” we’ve got both wrong today. Because you talk to them, they will so I Yeah, hi, no, no, I’m part of a community. But the first piece is that they are actually not really aware of themselves at a deeper level. They’ve cast aside things like risk and pain and death, topics I don’t want to talk about, talking about reality. So, the version of I is inaccurate and will lead to other problems. And then the version of We is inaccurate too, because they think they belong to tribes. But they’ve never done the hard question: What does it mean by we? Easy example is well, I’m a fan of a football team from the north called Liverpool. And so, I’m a fan and I meet another fan from Liverpool. Oh, we’re fans of Liverpool. Great. What does that mean? Well, it means we follow 11 Red clad football players on a pitch and with verve and excitement, enthusiasm. Okay, good. And how does that differentiate ourselves from Manchester United fan or whatever? Well, that’s another set, by the way red of course, but um, you know, how different are we really? And so, the version of We that we are carrying around are these sort of amorphous, untethered, rather large and and certainly not grounded in a commonality, a true commonality, deeper commonalities, firstly, don’t know who you are, how can you belong to any group? Anyway, next year and I think 2024 will be the 100th anniversary of a rather remarkable book that was written in Russian, wasn’t publishing Russian for 60 years and was called “We” in 1924. “Mbi” in Russian and We is a tremendously interesting book to read so apropos and current. Sally as expected it was going to bound to be a fun conversation could have gone on for longer the your ideas of Pi-Pi and the professional, personal, the this notion of range, dealing with Jeopardy, emotional intelligence and effectiveness. So, many interesting things. How can someone track you down Sally, get your material, hire you as appropriate high-stakes leadership coach, and follow your workings?

Sally Henderson  56:59

Oh, thank you. Firstly, can I just say how much I’ve enjoyed being your guest? What a wonderful conversation and thank you for having me. So, my website is just Sally You can find a lot about my work across mentoring away days motivational speaking. I’ve also created something called the Learning Hub on there, which is all free. And it’s all about learning courses. I’ve created a two-year vault of walking talks, interviews with leaders, podcasts of which this will be one, Minter, that I’ve been a guest on just there to help and educate. So, and also LinkedIn, Sally Kay Henderson.

Minter Dial  57:39

Wonderbar many, many thanks, Sally. May we one day meet IRL, in real life.

Sally Henderson  57:46

Indeed. Thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Minter Dial  57:50

So a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”


I like the feel of a stranger

Tucked around me

Precipitating the danger

To feel free

Trust is the reason

Still I won’t toe the line.


I sit here passively

Hope for your respect

Anticipating the thrill of your intellect

Maybe I tell myself

There’s no use in me lying.


I’m a convinced man,

Building an urge

A convinced man,

To live and die submerged.

A convinced man,

In the arms of a woman


I’m a convinced man

Challenge my fate

I’m a convinced man

Competition’s innate

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


Despise revenges

And struggle to see

Live for the challenge

So life’s not incomplete

What’s wrong with challenge

I know soon we all die


I’m a convinced man

Practicing my lines

I’m a convinced man

Here in these confines

A convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


I’m a convinced man

Put me to the test

I’m a convinced man

I’m ready for an arrest

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman.


I’m a convinced man… so convinced

You convince me, yeah baby,

I’m a convinced man

In the arms of a woman…

Minter Dial

Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.

👉🏼 It’s easy to inquire about booking Minter Dial here.

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