High performance team & leadership coach. Author of Is This A Question?

Gritty Leaders Podcast Ben Wales and Ian Windle

Welcome to the Gritty Leaders podcast

Asking the hard questions of leadership

Leaders are pulled in all directions. There is no rule book.  Published fortnightly Gritty Leaders Club explores the hard questions of leadership asking how founders, entrepreneurs and scale-up CEOs decide which way to turn.


Note: Show notes containing Key Ideas, Resources, Episode Timeline and Transcript are usually added a few days after episode publication and access by a link below the player.

April 18, 2023

This Bonus ‘Short’ revisits episode 31 where we sat down to talk about getting the right people in and keeping the wrong people out. Tune in to this clip as we delve into the differences between hiring for strengths versus the absence of weaknesses – and what larger organisations can learn from startups when it comes to this.

Ian’s Ironman 70.3: Rising to the mental and physical challenges of an 8 hour endurance race

April 11, 2023

Ian opens up about his battle with prostate cancer, which ultimately led to taking part in a gruelling half Iron Man. During training Ian quickly discovered his inner strength, as well as realising that he is a ‘starter-finisher’ when it comes to substantial challenges. Some of the key takeaways in this conversation are the importance of preparation, and the benefits of taking a risk.

Bonus Shorts: Master Your 1to1 Meetings

April 4, 2023

Each Bonus ‘Short’ episodes of the Gritty Leaders Club Podcast, revisits a standout moment from previous episodes. This one is from episode 25 where we reviewed the art of 1to1 meetings. Tune in to this clip as we explore giving regular feedback and how to create the space to discuss the most important things.

Here’s To The Crazy Ones

March 30, 2023

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do” – this comes from Steve Jobs’ iconic Think Different Apple campaign. The message still rings true today about creating radically different futures for businesses when we think beyond the status quo.

We explore attitudes towards risk-taking, asking “what if?” questions, building a culture of playing to win versus to lose, the role of playing devil’s advocate, and a visioning exercise that will bring clarity and ambition to the team.

Shorts: Say ‘No’ To Bad Meetings

March 23, 2023

In these ‘Shorts’ episodes of the Gritty Leaders Club Podcast, we select our standout moments from previous episodes. This one comes from episode 22 where we delved into the good, the bad and the ugly about meetings. Tune in to this clip as we discuss how to structure a good meeting – and why more often than not we don’t need even need it.

Shorts: The Power of Acting ‘As If’

March 21, 2023

In these ‘Shorts’ episodes of the Gritty Leaders Club Podcast, we select our standout moments from previous episodes. This one comes from episode 21 where we sat down to talk about building the Dream Team. Tune in to this clip as we delve into the mindset of acting as if you are the dream team today – and how that helps you keep oriented.

Shorts: Failing Before Winning

March 16, 2023

In these ‘Shorts’ episodes of the Gritty Leaders Club Podcast, we select our standout moments from previous episodes. This one comes from episode 16 Jim Kirkwood, CEO of TTC. Tune in to this clip as Jim talks candidly about why we need to be able to mistakes in order to win on the long term.

Bonus Shorts: Your ‘Stop-Doing’ List

March 14, 2023

In these ‘Shorts’ episodes of the Gritty Leaders Club Podcast, we select our standout moments from previous episodes. This one comes from episode 15 where we delve into how effective leaders maximise their impact every week. Tune in to this clip as we explore how having a ‘stop-doing’ list helps you focus on the most impactful tasks – and finally remove those distractions.

Bonus Shorts: Working with Multiple Strategies

March 9, 2023

Bonus Shorts: Your Hidden Strategies

March 7, 2023

Bonus Shorts: Becoming a Gritty Leader

March 2, 2023

Bonus Shorts: Tactics for Building Employee Engagement with Luke Fisher of Mo

February 28, 2023

January 12, 2023

Hiring & Firing: Part 2

December 17, 2021

Hiring & Firing: Part 1

November 2, 2021

B Corps, Better Business and Happiness with Hannah Cox

October 12, 2021

Is better business harder business? Is it better for the business itself as well as people and planet? And what are B Corps anyway?  Find our as we talk to Hannah Cox, entrepreneur and founder of sustainability impact agency BetterNotStop.

Accountability or Bust

September 21, 2021

Culture eats strategy for breakfast – especially when it’s a no/low accountability culture.

No Bullsh!t Leadership

August 31, 2021

“Pick the top few things that create value. Drop all the other sh!t and don’t worry about it.” Gritty Leaders Club interviews Martin G Moore during the run-up to publication of his new book ‘No Bullsh!t Leadership’ in which Marty lays out his essential steps to lift your leadership, and your organization, to a higher level.

The Leadership Challenge

August 24, 2021

How do you measure up against the five behaviours exhibited by the best leaders as described by researchers Kouzes and Posner in their classic book ‘The Leadership Challenge’?

Why Change Fails

August 3, 2021

Why most companies and teams fail at change (and how to succeed).

The 1to1 (Meetings miniseries part II)

July 20, 2021

How good are your 1to1s?

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (High performing teams miniseries part II)

July 6, 2021

Patrick Lencioni’s ‘The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team’ has become a classic followed by teams worldwide.  In this episode we pull the model apart, explore when and how to apply it.

Leadership: Nurture or Nature?

June 22, 2021

Are leaders born or made?  How can leaders make themselves better?

Meetings: The Good, Bad & Ugly

June 8, 2021

Our angry rants about meetings followed by what good looks like.

Nightmare Team / Dream Team (High performing teams miniseries part I)

May 25, 2021

What really counts when building a dream team?

Measure it. Measure what? (Strategy miniseries IV)

May 11, 2021

What do you measure? What do you do with the information? Part 4 of our strategy miniseries explores the good, bad and ugly of measurement.

Fear In Leadership

April 22, 2021

With guest Colin Hunter: How can a leader help her team confront fear?

Buy Customers, or Bye Bye Customers

April 6, 2021

Some companies buy then exploit customers while others attract then add value to customers. Customer Lifetime Value can be divisive.

Strategy III Execution

March 23, 2021

Strategy is Invisible.  All you can see is Execution.

Leading With Purpose with Jim Kirkwood, CEO of TTC

March 9, 2021

Jim Kirkwood, CEO of TTC of discusses scaling the business, his approach to leadership, navigating challenges and the gritty leader he most admires.

168 Hours. What do effective leaders do?

February 23, 2021

How effective leaders choose what to do to maximise the impact of each week (each 168 hours).

What Is Strategy? (Part II)

February 9, 2021

How do the elements come together to produce a strategy?

Can Sport Teach Business?

January 28, 2021

What are the differences between sport and business and what can be learned?

What is Strategy? (Part 1)

January 12, 2021

Kicking off a series exploring strategy – this episode asks ‘What is Strategy?’

Books Books Books 2020

December 30, 2020

Our top picks of the books we’ve read during 2020.

Lazy Leadership

December 17, 2020

Exploring how leaders get lazy. And the opposite: What are the qualities of effective leaders? How do they create conditions for success?

Culture Defining Moments with Luke Fisher of Mo

December 1, 2020

Ben talks about engagement, culture, investment and taking a growth company to break out and beyond with Luke Fisher, founder and CEO of London based scale-up Mo.

Dream or Dream Team?

November 17, 2020

Which is more important – A Dream, or a Dream Team?

What is Marketing? With Grant Leboff

November 3, 2020

In this guest episode Gritty Leaders Club explores marketing with Grant Leboff.

Failure Is Not An Option

October 27, 2020

How do leaders, teams and whole organisations keep unwavering faith that they will prevail while at the same time confronting the brutal truths of their situation?

Under Pressure or Naked Ambition

October 1, 2020

How do leaders generate forward motion, energy and progress?

Peacetime CEO Wartime CEO

September 15, 2020

Exploring venture capitalist Ben Horowitz’s concept of Peacetime CEO and Wartime CEO this episode gets into questions of leadership approach, diversity and whether scale-up companies are, in a sense, always at war.

Leadership Begins at the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

September 1, 2020

Exploring getting uncomfortable as a leader.

No Grit, No Pearl

July 7, 2020

Getting into the substance of what it is to be a gritty leader.

Gritty Leader?

July 3, 2020

Ben and Ian introduce themselves and ask, “What is the Gritty Leadership Club?”