Does being nice help you get far in business? With Dr John Blakey

November 13, 2023

In a recent episode of the Inspiring Leadership Podcast, gunnercooke founder and host Darryl Cooke interviewed global CEO, coach and international speaker Dr John Blakey. Darryl is joined by co-host Sir Peter Fahy, the former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

Dr John Blakey is the founder of The Trusted Executive. As part of The Trusted Executive, he helps CEOs and boards worldwide create a new standard of leadership defined by trustworthiness. His best-selling books include The Trusted Executive and Challenging Coaching.

The following is an extract from the episode:

What drives a person? There’s a story about you being challenged by a former managing director for being ‘too nice’ – would you tell us that story and what it pushed you to do?

It was a defining moment in my career, it ignited a spark. I was fresh into a new corporate role and my boss walked towards me and said, “how’s it going Blakey?” and I replied, “Yeah it’s going good! We just signed the biggest deal in my sector the day before.” He said “Do you think that’s good, do you?”, and I replied, “yes, I think it’s great.” He then pointed a finger in my face and told me that my problem is that I’m too f******* nice. I thought to myself – what does that mean? Too nice to get to the top without cooking the books, too nice to lead a team without bullying or harassing them, too nice to deliver outstanding results?

I thank that boss to this day because he ignited something in me. I wanted to prove that nice folk who can be trusted can also deliver outstanding results. I set up a coaching business because I wanted to find more leaders who believed what I believed, which is that the world needs more leaders who rely on the power of trust rather than leaders who trust in power. I believe that the currency of power is depreciating and the currency of trust is appreciating. What has motivated me for the last 20 years of my career is researching and finding business leaders that are fit for the expectations of a modern world.

We’re all still trying to navigate the path of having the right mindset and being fit for the modern expectations of a leader, but there are leaders who are committed to it and are trying their hardest. I have in turn become committed to helping those leaders as best I can through my coaching.

I often say that you can’t be half pregnant, and the same is true of leaders. You have to make a choice with your stances, they can be quite ideological. Do you stand on the currency of trust, or do you stand on the currency of power? You have to be wholehearted with whatever choice you make. I’m always looking to connect with people who stand on the currency of trust and hold the same beliefs as me.

To listen to the full podcast or the rest of the series visit Spotify or Apple Podcasts.  

Previous guests of the Inspiring Leadership Podcast have included Vikas Shah, Hassan Damluji and Damian Hughes, who discuss how to have integrity in business, the balance of process and innovation, and how CSR drives a business forward.  

Darryl is welcoming inspiring leaders who are making a difference in their business or community to join him for future episodes. Get in touch here to recommend a guest.