May 31, 2022

Are Great Leaders Born or Made? Hannah Balogun knows.

Today, TribePod interviews an expert on the topic of leadership - Hannah Balogun.
Questions asked in this podcast:
  • Do HR and politics converge in the UK workplace? 
  • Should today's HR practitioners require therapist credentials to do their jobs?
  • What is the difference between a leader and a boss?
  • What makes a great leader?
  • Can you nurture someone into a great leader or are great leaders simply born? 
  • What is the most difficult part of being an HR leader?
  • What part does emotional intelligence play in leadership? 
  • How can organizations enhance performance development?
  • How does company culture impact company leadership?
  • How do you nurture talent?
About Our Guest: 
Screen Shot 2022-05-26 at 4.24.30 PMHannah Balogun has over 20 years’ experience working in Human Resources in the UK and internationally. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a credentialed Coach and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), a credentialed NLP Business Practitioner and an accredited Achieving Communication Excellence (ACE) Licensee.
She uses her people and coaching expertise to provide a solid basis of engagement for leaders, teams, organizations, and individuals to achieve long lasting improvements in performance, development, and communication strategies. This enables the embodiment of self-awareness, behavioral change, goal clarifications, the achievement of development and career objectives whilst unlocking potential, leading to continuous growth. Connect with Hanna at:  



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Jim Stroud (0s):
Hello, dear listener, and depending on when you are listening, Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening. Quick question for you, do you know Hannah Balogun? If not, you are in for a treat. Let me tell you a little bit about her background. Hannah has over 20 years experience working in the HR field in the UK and internationally. She is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management, and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute, a credentialed Coach, and a member of the International Coaching Federation, a Member of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, a credentialed NLP Business Practitioner, and an accredited Achieving Communication Excellence licensee.

Jim Stroud (45s):
Wow, that's a lot. That is a lot. She uses her people and coaching expertise to provide a solid basis of engagement for leaders, teams, organizations, and individuals to achieve long lasting improvements in performance, development, and communication strategies. I had the most interesting conversation with her. I really enjoyed it. We talked a lot. We talked about HR leadership. We talked about coaching executives, culture development. We talked about politics as it affects the HR world. We just had a good conversation. I really enjoyed it. I think you will too, and it all starts right now.

TribePod (1m 39s):
You are listening to TribePod, a podcast series of interviews of interests to the HR community. It is hosted by Jim Stroud, sponsored by Proactive Talent, and enjoyed by you. Today's episode begins right after this.

Proactive Talent - Male Speaker (2m 3s):
Let's face it. We're in a whole new world now. We know that the reactive old way of hiring in the post and pray model is expensive and it's getting more expensive every year. What employer brand does is it is a long-term strategy that will help you get better at hiring faster and at a higher quality.

Proactive Talent - Female Speaker (2m 21s):
75% of candidates will research a company before even applying, and an 86% of candidates will not work for a company that has a bad or non-existent employer brand. Some of the many benefits of having an effective and strong employer brand include doubling the amount of applicants you get per job posts, decreasing your cost per hire by 40%, improving employee retention by 60%, and overall just yield better Glassdoor reviews.

Proactive Talent - Male Speaker (2m 47s):
We know that companies with stronger employer brands spend about 10% less overall for talent. Proactive Talent helps out clients with their Employer Brand like going in and working with them in several phases to learn more about the culture, the people, what are the important values to each and every employee, and then to share that story and refresh the Employer Brand, or build it from the ground. Now, the benefits of having an effective Employer Brand is that you're going to be able to attract the talent that you really want to join your company and not just people who would be simply applying for whatever requisitions you have out there. They generally love your message, love your culture, and are there to be with them for the long haul.

Proactive Talent (3m 27s):
For more information on Proactive Talent, visit them online at or click the link in the podcast description.

Jim Stroud (3m 33s):
Hello, and welcome once again, to another exciting episode of TribePod. Today, we have a very special guest. Special guest, Tell us who are you and what do you do?

Hannah Balogun (3m 43s):
Hello there. I am Hannah Balogun and I am an executive and leadership coach and HR consultant. I focus a lot on supporting individuals, leaders, execs, teams, and organizations just thrive through their people.

Jim Stroud (3m 58s):
Interesting. Interesting. I bet you have some very busy days.

Hannah Balogun (4m 4s):
Very busy days. A lot of it is sometimes just doing some coaching, sometimes supporting organizations through HR consulting, lots of different topics coming up in this day and age, whether it's culture, whether it's diversity, quality inclusion. "How do I even start thinking about culture? I've been in business for six years, but I don't know what to do. I've never really brought my people along with me. How do I start? I've never written a policy." It all changes every day so I love the work I do. It's varied and wonderful.

Jim Stroud (4m 43s):
Here in the states, it seems to me that there is a combination of HR, politics, and culture. We're seeing a lot of it over here. I'm curious as to how they view that across the pond.

Hannah Balogun (4m 59s):
Yes. I think it's worldwide now, especially since the pandemic. I think that politics has always played a part in HR, especially thinking about local government and how we support our people. Just recently, there was something in the news on the UK about how, and I'm not quoting word for word here, but potentially, the government is out of touch with real life people and how you support them. There was a conversation about, "Oh, just go and get a second job." Prices are rising. Energy prices are rising. I remember the news reporter saying, "Some people already have two or three jobs.

Hannah Balogun (5m 43s):
How would you propose they still manage to get another one on top of that?" Some are on minimum wage, some are at the top of their game, but they still can't afford it. What is there to do? I think, really, it is still about that people piece where you need to understand where everyone's coming from. It's all good. You have your big fancy house and these policies and procedures, but are you listening to the people? Are you listening to their voice? Are you understanding their day-to-day struggles? Maybe struggles that you've never even had to face in your life, but as a leader, you actively listen and consciously think about how you can make a difference.

Jim Stroud (6m 26s):
Yes, interesting. It's almost like HR has to become a therapist in a lot of ways.

Hannah Balogun (6m 32s):
In some cases. During COVID, yes. Coaching, for me, took precedent over like counseling and therapy, because it's about asking people those questions and making them dig deep for themselves to come up with their own solutions.

Jim Stroud (6m 42s):
What would you say is the difference between being a leader and being a boss?

Hannah Balogun (6m 51s):
Oh gosh. A leader seeks inspiration, is an influencer, is supportive, takes people along the journey, understands the holistic view, as well as the view on the ground and what that means from the top of the organization to the bottom of the organization, and the leader, from my point of view, conducts everything they do based on their values. Very much, "What is our mission? What is our vision? What does that look like? How are my people going to come along on the journey with me?

Hannah Balogun (7m 34s):
Is it right the things we're doing? If we're not doing it, why? What should it look like? People speak to me, what's not working? What is working? Where there is failure, how do we see that as an opportunity to move ourselves forward?" Whereas a boss would say, "I'm blaming you for this. Why did that?" A boss is much more authoritative in their thinking. A boss is potentially looking at just the policies and procedures, and being very black and white about the direction they go in, and essentially exercises that control.

Hannah Balogun (8m 14s):
A leader almost makes their people feel free to use their voice, to create that power and vision for the organization to go forward. The one wonderful thing I heard the other day is, as a leader, when you walk out of the room and you've still got your people in the room, what will they be saying about you? Those things that they do say, would they say if you were still in the room? When you think about a boss, the boss potentially has that fear factor. If the boss comes in, they would say, "Have we done that yet?

Hannah Balogun (8m 57s):
Have we met this deadline?" A leader is, "Really sorry, I wasn't able to do that." "Okay, let's talk about why. What stopped you? Is there any opportunity in the way we do things differently here?" That essentially, by asking those powerful questions, those engaging questions, allows people to say, "Wow, this is someone that wants to listen, even if they don't take my view's point and they've explained why they can't take it forward." They've listened. That's crucial.

Jim Stroud (9m 25s):
Interesting. Would you say then that a leader and a boss both have authority to tell you what to do, but a leader makes you want to do it?

Hannah Balogun (9m 39s):
Oh, I love that.

Jim Stroud (9m 40s):
They both can tell you what to do, but a leader makes you want to do it.

Hannah Balogun (9m 42s):
Yes, to an extent. Now, a leader would outline what their vision and their mission is. They will give you your opportunity to say, "Does this fit with our values? Is this forward facing? In terms of our stakeholders, this is what we want to portray, but is it inward looking as well? Are we at the values that we're portraying to our stakeholders outside? Are we portraying the same to our people on the inside? As you know, there are so many organizations these days that talk a good talk about, "Yes, we're customer driven.

Hannah Balogun (10m 26s):
We do this," and they're doing great things on the customer front, from an advertiser perspective, but then the way you see they treat their own people internally, it's very different. I would say that a leader wouldn't even say, "I want." A leader would say, "Let's do this. Are you with me?"

Jim Stroud (10m 45s):
Interesting. Interesting, so it's easy to spot a bad leader, for sure. They all seem to be in politics I think a lot of times, but when it comes to great leadership, you've mentioned how before great leaders listen to their people and they're empathetic to them. Any other character traits you could point out that, when you see them, you think, "That's just great leadership there."

Hannah Balogun (11m 8s):
They have a coaching style as well. I'm not just saying that because I'm a coach. They do ask those questions. A boss will just tell you what it is, "This is what I want you to do. This is when I want it done by. Don't ask me any questions." Very profit-orientated, delegates blames. A leader will take the time to say, "What's going on for you to do? Is everything working all right? How's the family? What are the things we need to consider going forward for this project? Did we get it right the first time? I realized that we made a mistake there,"

Hannah Balogun (11m 48s):
and you hear the word we, not you. "We made a mistake there. How do we make sure this doesn't happen again? What are the things that we were lacking in being able to foresee this in the first place?" Versus a boss will say, "Why did this happen? Why didn't you listen to my instructions? This is your fault." You see the difference between the way an employee will view both? They'd be much more open to speak into a leader who is open to hearing that feedback. A boss almost instills that fear of failure is bad.

Hannah Balogun (12m 29s):
Actually, I really believe that failure is a time to look for growth, opportunity, and ways of doing things differently.

Jim Stroud (12m 37s):
One thing I'm picking up from our conversation is that a leader has a high level of emotional intelligence. They're very interpersonal. Am I picking up on that right?

Hannah Balogun (12m 47s):
Absolutely. You have to have emotional intelligence. As you just said that, I'm asking myself question, "Are you born with it or is it something you can learn, emotional intelligence?" I think, potentially, you're born with it, but it is a skill that you can learn because it's about also considering people's body language. You may be talking to them and they're saying, "Yes, everything's fine," but their face and their expressions are telling you something completely different. A leader will pick up on those things.

Hannah Balogun (13m 27s):
"You're telling me this, but your facial expressions and your hand movements are telling me something completely different. Tell me about them. What's going on?" Really digging deep into the individual because we have to remember as well that we're all human beings and we spend so much of our time working. It's important to remember that we also have a personal life as well. I do believe one of the things I always say to my clients is, I coached the whole person and say, "What does that mean, Hannah?" That means I also look at what's going on in your environment because we are a product of our environment.

Hannah Balogun (14m 14s):
Things that go in on for you outside of the workplace influences your ability to do with inside the workplace, so what does that mean? Even just asking the simple question of, "What did you do one for the week?" That could tell you a lot about what's going on for someone. If you're seeing that a high potential individual has been slipping over the last months, the boss would come in and say, "This is not good enough. If you don't get on with it, you're going to be sucked." The leader will sit the person down and say, "What's going on? Last month, you were doing this. Tell me what I can do to support you. What'd you need?"

Jim Stroud (14m 54s):
That's good. That's good. As you said that, it made me flash back to, I watch a lot of television. It's epic sometimes.

Hannah Balogun (15m 2s):
Me too.

Jim Stroud (15m 2s):
I was a big fan of The Apprentice, before he was president, what some may call Dragon's Den, I think, in your side of the world there. I always liked the different tests that the interview process took. Some of the tests that they underwent in the Apprentice I thought would be really good measures of emotional intelligence for leaders. I'll share my ideas with you now, because just in talking with you, I started thinking about it. One way to test emotional intelligence and to, I guess, gear it up and strengthened inside of you is to send your executives to a soup kitchen and say, "Okay, today's assignment, I want you to serve lunch to these downtrodden for two hours." Tell them it's two hours, but then come back and say, "No, it's going to be a little bit longer."

Jim Stroud (15m 47s):
Then come back in actually three hours or so. You're going to see their patience. You're going to see how well they maintain their professionalism. You're going to see if they think they're better than certain people, which is definitely a red flag when it comes to being intrapersonal. That's one test. Another test of three is take them to a senior living facility, what we used to call the old folks home back in my day, and ask them to interview the different people who live there and say, "What's your favorite show in the tele? What do you like to watch?"

Jim Stroud (16m 30s):
Then you give them a DVR and you patiently train them on how to set a DVR. You will see right away how patient they are. You'll see right away if they could still maintain a professionalism. The third test will be to go to a grade school. Talk to children that are in a third grade, second, third, fourth grade, somewhere in there, and ask them to give a presentation on some aspect of the business, a real presentation, but make it simple enough that third graders would understand it. Now, once you've done it, leave the room and then a teacher or someone else will come in the room and ask the kids, "Okay, what did he just tell you?"

Jim Stroud (17m 19s):
If these third graders can understand what it is you are talking about, you have the gift of gab, you're able to relate to different audiences, especially that. I don't know what philosopher said this, but more or less the saying goes, "If you can explain it to a child, then you're wise." I think those three tests really will test an executive or anyone's emotional intelligence. If they find themselves lacking doing more of the same, we'll make them better, I would think. Thoughts?

Hannah Balogun (17m 53s):
I love that because as you were just talking there, I was just writing down some of the key emotional intelligence concepts and just your way of being. What came up for me, as you were talking, is working under pressure, having patience, having that professionalism, and also, the one thing you did mention is teamwork.

Jim Stroud (18m 16s):
Wow, okay.

Hannah Balogun (18m 16s):
One of the things we forget in those situations like the Apprentice and Dragon's Den is we have to work as a team. Yes, we still want to find a way to show our own individual, wonderful traits that we can offer the organization, but when it comes down to it, the team makes the dream work. When you think about bringing people together as one, again, another wonderful way that a leader portrays it, people will come along the journey with you. As I'm saying that, what was coming up for me is goodness, what is that show called?

Hannah Balogun (18m 59s):
Oh my gosh. There was a show that was really popular on the TV and, for the life of me, I can't remember the name.

Jim Stroud (19m 8s):
What was it about?

Hannah Balogun (19m 10s):
In the olden days. Oh my gosh. It's just escaped me, but it was fighting amongst themselves, and it was always the leader. When the other tribe arrived, he was the one.

Jim Stroud (19m 13s):

Hannah Balogun (19m 13s):
Game of Thrones.

Jim Stroud (19m 14s):
Game of Thrones.

Hannah Balogun (19m 24s):
He would always be the one at the forefront just saying, "Come on, let's go." That is a leader because when you think of a boss, the boss will say, "You go through. I'm happy to see you get slaughtered and then maybe, I'll go off and hide somewhere." A leader takes that responsibility, so I completely agree with you in terms of that emotional intelligence piece. You need to have those listening skills. When you were talking about being in grade school, that simplicity of talking, so being able to adapt as well to your audience is so important.

Jim Stroud (20m 10s):
Cool. Cool. I guess I'm smarter than I thought. I don't know. How would you say?

Hannah Balogun (20m 11s):
I never had a doubt. I never had a doubt.

Jim Stroud (20m 12s):
It's $20 bill I owe right there, 20 quid. How does a company culture impacts company leadership? Any wisdom around that?

Hannah Balogun (20m 14s):
I think it's everything I've already said. If you have a leader that has an open door policy, listens, articulate him or herself well, is able to be that visionary, has those missions and the visions articulated well, then people will start to see what kind of a person they are and the organization they're trying to build. Now, everyone has different values, right? For some people, it may just not fit for them. It's for them to make a decision about this is not the right organization for me. For others, they will see that as an opportunity to bring their own personal stamp to the table, to say, "This is an organization that's willing to listen to feedback. This is an organization that cares about my voice.

Hannah Balogun (21m 3s):
What does that mean going forward? It means I can speak free. I can challenge the status quo without fear of reprimand of retribution. Again, it's about that psychological safety piece that when you do bring a problem to the table, if you're a whistleblower, or your outlining a problem, you're not going to get negatively impacted in the organization.

Hannah Balogun (21m 47s):
Again, by having a leader who is saying, "This is the vision. This is the mission. What do you all think? Has it worked so far? What's missing? What could we do less of? What could we do move of? What do we need to strike out completely?" The leader will listen. A great leader will say, "Thank you so much for that. That was such a great idea, but I'll tell you why we can't implement it now for X, Y, and Z reasons. Let's talk about that again in two years time, because I think then, we'll be further along on that project we're doing.

Hannah Balogun (22m 34s):
Thank you so much," versus, "Nope, I don't know that idea. No, let's move on." As an employee, who do you want to go with?

Jim Stroud (22m 46s):
The one who listens and, at least, gives you some feedback. I like your point where they don't automatically agree with you, but they do listen to you because it takes a leader to make the right decisions or to make the decision. If they go along with everything everyone poses to them, are they really leading?

Hannah Balogun (23m 18s):
Exactly. Exactly. I had a great manager once actually. I call him a leader. One of the things he always said to me is, "Look, Hannah. We're not going to agree on everything, but I promise you that one thing I won't ever do is bring to the table in front of the whole board, our disagreements. We will have those disagreements." I liked that because it was just saying, "This is the way I work. This is the way you work. Sometimes, we need to show that united front, but we will make sure it's for the good of the business and the people within it still."

Jim Stroud (24m 2s):
I have thoroughly enjoyed his conversation. I hate for it to end.

Hannah Balogun (24m 1s):
Thank you so much for having me. It's been wonderful.

Jim Stroud (24m 0s):
Yes, no worries. Tell us, if someone wanted to get in contact with you and learn more about you and your business as a fourth, how can they find you online?

Hannah Balogun (24m 9s):
My website is, and I do free sample sessions for organizations, teams, individuals who want to be coached to really reach their goals. You can reach out to me for all sorts of things to do with organizational culture, person development, and I'll be happy to support you to see if we can work together to make you thrive.

Jim Stroud (24m 34s):
Well, Ms. Hannah, thank you so much again for your time and for being a guest on the show. You are appreciated.

Hannah Balogun (24m 46s):
Thank you. Take care.

Jim Stroud (24m 46s):
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. A thousand times, thank you for listening and subscribing to our podcast. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please send them to us. You can reach us at We look forward to hearing from you.
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