SEASON 3

Crisis Leadership

With a world in constant upheaval, how do leaders cope in a crisis? In this season, Eksteen de Waal talks to leaders from different backgrounds and roles; Reformed leaders from organised crime, Politicians, military and police, as well as corporate leaders, consultants and leadership coaches. What do you need to lead when the chips are down, and what are effective strategies to not only cope, but thrive.

New Episodes Airs

Wednesdays

Podcast Duration

60ish minutes

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Season 3 - Crisis Leadership

With a world in constant upheaval, how do leaders cope in a crisis? In this season, Eksteen de Waal talks to leaders from different backgrounds and roles; Reformed leaders from organised crime, Politicians, military and police, as well as corporate leaders, consultants and leadership coaches. What do you need to lead when the chips are down, and what are effective strategies to not only cope, but thrive.

Alan Stevens – Managing Crisis When Faced with Cancel Culture and Accusations
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Alan Stevens - Managing Crisis When Faced with Cancel Culture and Accusations
Alan Stevens is known for helping some of the best known brands react to public adversity and keep their image untarnished. Alan has written several books about professional speaking, the most recent one being “The Exceptional Speaker”. Alan is highly experienced in brand reputation management. Essentially if something were to potentially tarnish a brand’s reputation or image, Alan is brought into the organisation to help the company share their truth and prevent reputational damage to the brand.
Rieneke Deelstra: Leading from confidence in yourself and your employees
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Rieneke Deelstra: Leading from confidence in yourself and your employees
One of the things that’s always struck me about Rieneke is that she’s not somebody that brags, even though she’s done some amazing things in life. She’s led large-scale transformations within government, she has consulted and coached leaders at the highest level in local government and in the civil service, and at the same time, part-time, she’s also qualified as a clinical psychologist. She just gets on with it and gets it done, and it’s such a way that everybody just feels comfortable with her. Now, most coaches probably achieve this, but Rieneke is really special in this regard. She’s got a way of helping you see a different perspective without it being forced, and I think that’s an amazing ability. Now can you imagine how wonderful that is in a time of crisis?
Welcome Witbooi – Gangster Leadership and Business Management 
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Welcome Witbooi - Gangster Leadership and Business Management 
Well today I’m talking to Welcome Wibooi about that. And we talk about how he got into gangs and what that meant. And then we move on to the hierarchy where we talk about how does the structure of such a gang or such an organization work because it’s been around for a while. So, how does it police? How does it govern? How does it operate? What are the operational parameters? What are the sales parameters? What does your supply chain look like? How do you manage all of that? And then how do you discipline? How do you make choices that you know, could cost someone their life? Not just that. How far do you think that through?

Season 2 - Connected Leadership

When Eksteen began to season two, he wanted to focus on how leaders connect with those they lead and how meaningful and valuable those connections are. This season contains insights from fields as diverse as Neuroscience, surgical teams, and professors in organisational behaviour and strategy to Ukrainian refugees and charitable foundation leaders. It became a season looking at how people assist each other and how leaders can help and support those they lead .

Dorine Veldhuyzen – Gaining Experience and Growth Through Travelling 
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Dorine Veldhuyzen - Gaining Experience and Growth Through Travelling 
I think what I found most interesting in this conversation with Dorine is that there’s always a sense of connection. There’s always a sense of connectedness, no matter where she is in the world is looking for those connections that will bring together a network or create a new network that supports not only people locally in a community but attaches them to an international community. I also think those connections, those abilities of hers to ask the right questions. I mean, she’s challenged me quite a few times, by asking me some amazing questions, I learn from it all the time. And I think that is one of the things that. I’ve learned here in the Netherlands and to me, is that they’re the epitome of” ask the right question”. Keep on asking the questions till you get the answers that you need to find the best solutions. Don’t just take for granted what people give you as information, always dig a little bit deeper, always find out is that the real reason behind things?
Anastasiya Lutsenko – Finding Stability in an Unstable Environment
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Anastasiya Lutsenko - Finding Stability in an Unstable Environment
I think what I learned most today from my interaction with Anastasia is that when the proverbial shit hits the fan and you have to find a way forward looking at the possibilities, the options, looking at ways in which you can find some form of resolution to just put your one foot in front of the other helps you to find the direction that you need in the moment to keep going. I’m not sure if that is part of long-term resiliency, but definitely in the short term, because I think in long-term resiliency, We will also need to deal with those things that have happened to us and all of us deal with things differently.
Lynda Shaw – The importance of emotional awareness in today’s workplace 
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Lynda Shaw - The importance of emotional awareness in today’s workplace 
Our guest today is a neuroscientist, business psychologist and recalibrating your brain expert. She has owned three businesses, she is an international professional speaker (in fact she is the current National President of the Professional Speaking Association UK&I) mentor to senior business people, founder of the Neuroscience Professional Development Programme and the Learning Lab, and is often in international newspapers and magazines and a regular guest on national radio. I think what really stuck with me today is that for starters, when you start getting to the metaverse, we’re not quite sure yet what would form in and outgroups, I personally think it is the way that we can represent ourselves within the metaverse. If we look at gaming, for instance, who has the best gear, who looks the spiciest, who has the most knowledge of the environment, each one of those creates its own little group. You also have things like formalised structures like gills , will those kinds of things happen in the metaverse as well, we have these VR worlds that we’ve been around for awhile, but the full immersion of it, now looking at at the metaverse, what will that mean for team engagement and for a biological need to be able to see people’s facial expressions and how much of that would already happen.
Mark McLaughlin – Leadership Under Pressure, a Neurosurgeon’s take  
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Mark McLaughlin - Leadership Under Pressure, a Neurosurgeon's take  
Today I am talking to Mark McLaughlin. Mark’s a neurosurgeon, and at the same time, also a youth wrestling coach. Can imagine that? How do you explain what you do to the youth? And at the same time, inspire them to be their best selves, Give them self-confidence. And how do you learn from that again? And bring that back into a neuro-psychological surgical team in hospital, we’ve got to lead brain surgery in essence. I mean, we’ll even use that as reference, “It’s not as bad as brain surgery”. Now, Mark does that on a daily basis. So what can we learn from mark? And from the way that he leads and the way that he coaches and the way that he talks to west point about what leadership is. He wrote a book about cognitive dominance. That sounds really dominating, or as he calls it almost like Darth Vader, but in this case, it is about how we act in a crisis. I think no more relevant than it is today. So I hope just like me, you look forward to this talk today with Mark McLaughlin. When I reflect on what I just talked to mark about, one of the things that he said in one of his talks that actually came to mind. Casual and casualty. If we treat leadership casually, we don’t use this as a learning process to become a little bit better every single day, then our people are the casualties and in a world dominated by violence at the moment and by war, why should we still accept leadership that causes casualties. Can we take ownership duty? Take that little bit of care with people’s lives to make sure that we can actually make a difference, make it better and leave no casualties behind. Let’s all not treat our people casually, our leadership casually and let’s learn, grow and become the best leaders.
Mark van Rijmenam: How the Metaverse will Affect Identity in The Workplace
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Mark van Rijmenam: How the Metaverse will Affect Identity in The Workplace
One thing that interests me about the explosion of identity is how will we trust anyone? If this is going to be used for business meetings, will we end up optimising the technology to obscure our faces and hide our thoughts, so that when it turns out the client has twice the budget we were expecting, we can hide that glint in our eye, or will there be bright, interrogative lights and full motion capture, even in a smartphone? Which products and services will ride to the top, due to the inevitable pressures of market forces? Could AI bots be introduced by market opponents, not to steal our thoughts by hacking our devices and having to bypass all our security settings, but just by picking out tiny details in our facial and body language, or just the tone of our voice? We can always take about these things on a conceptual level, but I always keep in mind that when they become real, there’ll be incentives at play that will shape its practice for those of us in the business world.
Professor Patrick Flood: The Challenges of Leading Today and How to Overcome Them
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Professor Patrick Flood: The Challenges of Leading Today and How to Overcome Them
What does a fun working environment look like when everyone works remotely? Perhaps it comes as much down to intervening as it does leaving people alone to enjoy their own spaces. Restraint is a very important role for a leader, but maybe there needs to be an asymmetry. More effort put into the working environment when people come in. Maybe you could give people a budget to improve their working spaces, but this is of course an extra expense. But how does this impact fairness, when there are people who come in more and people in a financial situation where they can do up their spaces on their own. Maybe this is a situation where there just isn’t an easy answer.
Jackie Handy: Inclusion and Diversity in the workplace
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Jackie Handy: Inclusion and Diversity in the workplace
One thing that stood out for me is that Jackie said how often she feels she’s preaching to the converted. The people who turn up for talks on inclusion are people who are willing to spend an hour of their time on such things, it’s not the people who don’t care and want to be persuaded. Someone like JK Rowling has been publicly shamed for some of her comments, but that doesn’t appear to have altered her thinking. Jackie said it’s a brave thing to do to bring people in who question us. Trust is going to take time to build on both sides, so a sense of perspective to the scale of the problem is going to be really valuable. I hope trust is built properly, with mutual understanding, and not through fear of public shaming if somebody says the wrong thing.
Tsitsi Mutendi: Growing a family business
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Tsitsi Mutendi: Growing a family business
How useful is it to understand a society on paper? Tsitsi made a great point in showing the differences between what’s written in law and what’s actually thought by the people of a country. But I wonder if there’s a third factor in the middle? What norms they’re aspiring to. When it comes to family businesses in particular, this has to be the most important thing to think about when dealing with them, as such companies are held together by the core values of the founders and directors. The goals of a business can certainly go beyond profit. Perhaps thinking more about the type of business it might want to be, even if it it isn’t obvious to them, could make dealing with a company much more rewarding to both parties.
Beatrice Lukose : Love and business
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Beatrice Lukose : Love and business
Does the phrase “leadership is a relationship” hold the same for all cultures? I’ve approached this thesis for the podcast somewhat as a human universal. However, speaking to Beatrice showed me the culture differences between Africa and Europe in terms of relationships. It sounds like it’s a much lesser jump to have such a dynamic in the workplace in Africa, and more complex in Europe. The motivations and incentives are different, socially, so the end result of that kind of approach is going to change. Perhaps in Europe it’s more novel, something to set the company apart and motivate people. I wonder what the response would be in the more socially minded Africa.
Adrian Saville: Leadership and diversity for innovation
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Adrian Saville: Leadership and diversity for innovation
Adrian talked about economics should start with defining wellbeing. I wonder whether or not that works in practice the same way it does in the classroom. Who gets to define my wellbeing, and do they have my individual interests at heart? How often can a nation state get to work with specifics, rather than broad generalisations considering the vast differences across demographics? How aligned are they with mine, considering the goals of running a country, that being prosperity in order to pay for things, can play against what helps me stay happy day-to-day. He also said that very obvious problems make obvious market gaps for benevolent businesses. Comedian Henning Wehn (pronounced ven) said that charity is a failure of government’s responsibilities. But maybe there are some charities and benevolent companies that are just forced into existence based around this very dilemma. Perhaps the two will just always have to work together.

Season 1 - Relational Leadership

When Eksteen de Waal decided to do a podcast, he wanted to start close to his practice and his heart. The first series is a testament to the fantastic people Eksteen has met in his life. What if relationships were at the heart of Leadership? What would that look like? In the first season of the Exponential Leadership podcast, Eksteen explores what Leadership as a relationship could be and how we can learn from different perspectives. Guests range from an advisor to the American president on diversity and inclusion, a bar association president fighting racism to professors redefining Leadership and understanding neuroscience in the connections we form, to a start-up accelerator director and a professor looking at what makes start-up teams and leaders successful. Brilliants minds from the dean of research at one of the top management research institutions (ERIM) to the president and assistant dean of two institutes of academic research and education. Eksteen brings you people with a considered opinion, unique insights and brilliant minds. He shows that you do not have to be famous to ensure value to you, the podcast listener.

Pursey Heugens: Identity, People, Entrepreneurs
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Pursey Heugens: Identity, People, Entrepreneurs
What’s the line between a product for your identity and a product for necessity? I feel no connection to where I fill up my car and I’m not going to pay for artisan craft petrol, but I do choose my ornaments extremely carefully. Perhaps it comes down to how many people see me, and my connection is to those people around me. Although even if it’s just myself sometimes, I hardly want to drink a wine made by somebody I greatly dislike. I remember reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo, where she says you should hold something you own and ask “does this spark joy” as to whether or not to keep it. Maybe I’ll try a variation on that. Does this say something about me? I wonder what I’d end up being attracted towards.
John Molidor – Communication, neuroscience, and labels
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John Molidor - Communication, neuroscience, and labels
Reflection option 1 (I know I’m sort of putting words in your mouth about a sensitive topic on this one, but this is something I genuinely think about so it is coming from an authentic place) The brain being stuck in its ways at 25 seems like such a young age to me. I didn’t come out as gay until I was in my mid-30s, and at that point I was thinking about being “the other”. I wonder what could have happened to my thinking if I’d tried it in my early 20s? What sort of changes would that have had on me? I’m not saying that at 25 the record scratches and plays the same thoughts over and over, but I wonder how my values around helping others have been affected by that time difference.
Hannes Leroy – Curiosity, challenges and authenticity
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Hannes Leroy - Curiosity, challenges and authenticity
Hannes said that your non-verbal signals have to correspond to what you’re saying. I wonder how much people can trust somebody if their main point of contact is emails and the occasional zoom call. How many non-verbal signals can somebody’s brain pick up on, if they’re not around the person enough? That’s something I didn’t really think about in office working, the greater chance of creating that relationship just with your small day-to-day actions. I remember Cynthia Bryant talking about the importance of closing your eyes and trying to figure out what you can tell beyond that. Maybe I should now do the opposite, keep my eyes open but try not to listen, putting my fingers in my ears or something. How much information can I impart just beyond the words I’m saying?
Jennifer Johnson – Racism, Leadership, Relationships and the Mississippi Bar.
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Jennifer Johnson - Racism, Leadership, Relationships and the Mississippi Bar.
I was once asked as part of an exercise to write down five things somebody else would say about who I was, about then five things about who I’d say I was. The point was to realise how you may be thought of differently in the world. Maybe I’ll do that again, but try and think about how I can try and cross some of those fences.
Vlad Lakcevic – Leadership and relationships within a complex adaptive system.
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Vlad Lakcevic - Leadership and relationships within a complex adaptive system.
Vlad said that a leader may excel in a business at one stage of its life, and yet become irrelevant in a very short space of time when the business enters a new phase or the environment changes. It is a little scary on a personal level, but I think if we learn to dance in the moment and move like the proverbial willow in the wind, we can see the change for what it is and adapt. Rigidity is our biggest enemy as leaders.
Cynthia Bryant – Mediations, president Carter, diversity and working at Inclusion
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Cynthia Bryant - Mediations, president Carter, diversity and working at Inclusion
Something I found interesting was her mother deliberately exposing her to a wide range of cultures growing up, causing her to see empathy as an essential quality in a leader, especially as she talked about the difficulties of segregation. I know I have cast my net quite wide over my lifetime, but don’t we all sometimes miss something?
Vivek Chandrashekaran – How much of a role does relationship play in leadership?
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Vivek Chandrashekaran - How much of a role does relationship play in leadership?
Vivek spoke about how there used to be a narrow definition of success within firms such as consultancy and banking. In more recent years there does seem to be the appearance of being more inclusive. We have had two crises in as many decades. The impact on our youth is widely felt. I am not sure that organizations are realising that the youth are changing in their expectations. What will our future workforce look like? What will they desire and what will they demand? Maybe the answer is staring us in the face, and it would be as big a change as Keynesian economics. Perhaps we will just need an existential crisis to embrace it.
Mark Durno – Mistakes, founder relationships, remote working & investment decisions
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Mark Durno - Mistakes, founder relationships, remote working & investment decisions
Two things stood out to me. He said that communication breakdowns are the most common reason for failure. He also says that Nurturing can be too much. Some things a startup needs to learn the hard way. People appreciate their own struggles and success more. Some skills we learn through practice, failure or trial and error. I think it shows how there’s got to be that spark between people at the beginning. Going into business with people you have a good relationship with, and finding that sweet spot again and again. It is hard work, but essential. Maintaining work relationships working from home may be more difficult, but it is crucial, especially in startups.