Disruptive Leadership: Sparking Purpose-Driven Change with Mark Bateman


In this episode of Evolve: A New Era of Leadership, I’m joined by Mark Bateman, author of “Disruptive Leadership.” Mark shares his profound insights on purpose-driven leadership and the power of disruption in fostering meaningful change.

Mark Bateman

Mark Bateman, CEO of WeQual, is a visionary disruptor, corporate adviser and executive coach with a keen focus on leadership development. He partners with global leaders to spark impactful, enduring change and offers unique, real-world insights and actionable strategies to foster authentic, influential leadership. He has decades of business experience, first making his mark as a successful entrepreneur. Now he is committed to the development of leaders worldwide and has amassed over 3,000 hours of executive coaching experience. By boldly questioning the status quo, he helps leaders shape purposeful legacies and drive positive transformations within their organizations. He is the author of ‘Disruptive Leadership’.


🔑 Key Themes & Takeaways:

  • Disruption as a Catalyst for Change: Mark discusses the concept of disruptive leadership, emphasizing the need to challenge and change the status quo to drive meaningful impact. 🔄 
  • The Essence of Purpose: Exploring Mark’s philosophy on the crucial role of purpose in authentic and influential leadership, guiding leaders toward leaving a lasting legacy. 🧠 
  • Igniting the Fire Within: Insights into Mark’s personal journey of self-discovery and reconnecting with his purpose, likened to starting and nurturing a transformative fire. 🔥 
  • Components of Purposeful Leadership: The conversation dives into the three key elements of purpose-driven leadership: Heat (purpose in action), Fuel (people and resources), and Oxygen (market influence). 📚 
  • Levels of Thinking: Mark introduces a framework for organizational thinking, highlighting the importance of operating at the highest level of questioning: “How do we decide what’s right?” 🌍 
  • The Power of Validation: Mark shares a powerful moment of self-awareness and validation, emphasizing the significance of understanding one’s strengths and uniqueness. 💼

We talk about:

  • 00:00 Intro
  • 06:47 The Birth of ‘Disruptive Leadership’: From Concept to Book
  • 13:06 Exploring the Core of Rekindling Leadership Fire
  • 16:39 The Mission of WeQual: Gender Equality in Leadership
  • 19:40 The Power of Energy and Frequency in Leadership
  • 25:32 Igniting Change: The Components of Starting a Fire
  • 29:00 The Power of Quality Leadership
  • 30:46 The Journey of Writing ‘Disruptive Leadership’
  • 31:20 Challenging and Changing the Status Quo
  • 33:52 Learning from Failure: Kodak and Blockbuster
  • 35:01 Maintaining the Fire of Purpose
  • 35:10 Evolving Leadership Thinking
  • 43:25 The Personal Journey Behind the Book
  • 44:46 Connecting to Purpose Through Self-Awareness
  • 47:24 Rapid fire questions 

🌈 Closing Thoughts:

This episode with Mark Bateman provides a captivating exploration of purpose-driven leadership and the transformative power of disruption. Mark’s insights challenge conventional thinking and offer a fresh perspective on cultivating authentic, impactful leadership that leaves a lasting legacy.

We encourage listeners to reflect on their own sense of purpose and consider how embracing disruption can ignite positive change within their organizations and communities.

#DisruptiveLeadership #PurposeDrivenLeadership #SelfAwareness #Transformation #MeaningfulChange

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Carolyn: Hi, I’m Carolyn Swora, host of Evolve a New Era of Leadership. And today’s guest is coming to us from the other side of the world. 

His name is Mark Bateman and Mark released a new book earlier this year called Disruptive Leadership. Today, we’re going to talk about his book. What is disruption? What are the different elements of disruptive leadership?

And hey, let’s see where that goes because I think we all know one thing is that status quo is not the reality of the environments that we work in. Looking forward to this conversation with Mark and hey, just a few more things about him. Mark is the CEO of WeQual. He calls himself a visionary disruptor.

He’s a corporate advisor and an executive coach. He’s got a really keen focus on purpose and how that impacts how we lead. He partners with several global leaders across the world to spark impactful, enduring change and offer some really unique insights to help foster this authentic and influential leadership.


Carolyn: Welcome to evolve a new era of leadership. I’m your host, Carolyn Swara. And today we are talking with Mark Bateman coming to us from a very lovely place in the world. Mark, welcome.

Mark: Thank you. It’s a real pleasure.

Carolyn: It is, you know, I’m really excited to have you on the show. I know you wrote this book called Disruptive Leadership.

So we’re going to dig into that. And I guess, you know, I know you’re coming to us. We started talking before we pressed record about this beautiful location you’re at, but I’m going to guess it links into your book and all that you do and sort of your why behind this. Is there some sort of connection between why you do this work and where you live right now?

Mark: Gosh, that’s actually a really interesting question. 

So hello everybody. Yes, I’m based on a tiny little rock, literally in the middle of the Mediterranean called Malta. And if you’re on the West coast or Western hemisphere, US, Canada, et cetera I’ll give you 10 out of 10. If you know exactly where it is.

If you imagine the very Southern tip of Italy, and you imagine the very Northern tip of North Africa. Malta sits between those two places. So actually the Northern tip of Africa is further North than Malta, which is quite interesting. So we’re in the Mediterranean, which basically means it’s a better kind of temperature all year round, 300 days of sunshine.

And is my decision to be here deliberate? 100 percent it is. We were just talking just previously, like why Malta? So

Carolyn: you go to Malta?

Mark: did I go to Malta? So I was we started Wequal, which is the company that I’m the CEO of. Basically I joined during COVID, right? So during the lockdown of first period of COVID.

And I had a two bedroom apartment in London. And my office was in the second bedroom and it was due North. And if you’re in the Northern hemisphere, you’ll know if you have an office that’s facing due North, you never see the sun.

Carolyn: sunlight.

Mark: I’m a kind of a sun worshiper. You know 

Carolyn: Um, even as, uh, even as a Brit, you’re a sun worshiper.

I don’t 

Mark: exactly. Even more so, do you know, I’ve never been to Scotland, which is North UK, because why would you want to go North? If you can go South, right? This is, this has been very much my mantra my entire life. So. Always go to the sun. And I remember, so, you know, doing a startup with my business partner, Katie Litchfield Katie actually said to me at one point, I’d been to Cyprus, which is also in the Mediterranean.

And she goes, Mark, if you don’t move to the sun, I worry about the future of Wequal,

Carolyn: Wow.

Mark: was an incredibly validating and affirming thing, because I’d been talking about moving to the sun for a long time. Now, because we set up the business during COVID, it meant that our entire business is remote, all of our staff are remote, they all work from home.

And so there was no reason not to, all of our clients big corporates around the world. So COVID. in, in the nicest ways kind of did us a favor because no company ever expected us to go and visit them because it was COVID. So it really didn’t matter where I was. And Malta I’d visited before I knew I needed to get out to the UK.

Gray, grayness doesn’t do me any good. So, I didn’t think I’d be able to stay in Malta because the UK did something really amazingly wonderful called Brexit. Which meant they left the eu, which means you can only stay in the European Union for 90 days out of 180. So when I came to Malta, I thought I’d have to stay maximum month and I have to go to India or America or somewhere else.

Then I heard about a digital nomad visa and two and a bit years later I’m still here. So, yeah.

Carolyn: here’s what I’m hearing, Mark. Disruption. You disrupted your life.

Mark: Well, truthfully, I dec So I decided on the Monday before Christmas, just over two years ago, by the Thursday of that week, I’d got rid of everything in my apartment. On the Friday, I saw my family, my parents, et cetera. Christmas day was the Saturday. On midnight Christmas day, I booked the flight to Malta because I had no idea where I was going to go.

I had three suitcases. And I landed in Malta on Boxing Day and then I thought, well, everything we do is over Zoom. You know, we’re meeting all these incredible people, all these incredible leaders worldwide, but it’s all over Zoom. I can air BNB for a month. And I realized very quickly that wasn’t going to work 

Carolyn: Hmm. 

Mark: as the CEO doing lots of one on one coaching, sales meetings, et cetera, I needed the professional background, I needed the stability, so, my daughter who was actually in New Zealand at the time said dad, have you heard about the digital nomad visa?

And as soon as I heard about that, I thought that’s it. So that was the Monday now. So Monday after bank, after boxing day, by the Friday, which was New Year’s Eve, I’d found an apartment, signed the contract on a three year lease. And here I am.

Carolyn: So you wrote this book called Disruptive Leadership and it just came out earlier this year, if I’m

Mark: It did January the 23rd. 

Carolyn: So what’s the tie here between this big disruption, this big decision that you made and disruptive leadership? Like, why did you write this book

and how is 

Mark: know, that’s a, I’ve not been asked that question. I mean, you’re in a similar sort of feel, right? I, life is so short and, you know, and certainly in my coaching practice, life is short. So how are you ensuring that your life is the life that you want to live?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Mark: And we can put off so many decisions.

We can not be aware of what we truly want. So I’m very purpose, I try at least to be very purposeful and it’s certainly in terms of the underlying philosophy behind my, both as the CEO of WeCopla, also my, in my coaching practice is that very strong sense of purpose with awareness. Yeah.

Carolyn: Yeah. So I’m glad I asked you a question no one’s asked you yet. 

So Mark, what inspired you to write this book?

Why? Why did you want to bring it into the world?

Mark: I think probably most people, certainly if you get to a place of I don’t know, maybe just if you have an ego, I don’t know. But I think most people probably think that maybe they have a book in them, right? But I remember, so the outset of the book, I’d been involved in another startup. So I’m pretty entrepreneurial by nature.

Carolyn: Yep. 

Mark: so I think I was in my third startup. I think it was my fourth and I’d been, I’d given two years of my life to a startup that hadn’t, it wasn’t doing what I wanted it to do. And I realized actually, if we were to succeed, I wouldn’t be doing the thing that I believe I’m on this earth to do. And so I had to make a very difficult decision at this point.

Do I basically walk away from two years of giving everything that I had, you know, money, blood, sweat, tears, everything. And the answer to that question was yes. And so I did. And I sat down and I asked myself, okay Mark, what is it you really want to do? Professionally, right? What is it you want to do?

I thought, well, I want to work with the world’s most senior leaders. Okay. Who do you need to be able to do that? And I thought, well, I need to walk into a room where there are CEOs and for at least a number of those CEOs to note that I’ve walked into the room. And when they see me, whether it’s subconsciously or otherwise, they’ll think, he’s got something that I want.

And I thought, okay, so what is it I need to have when I walk into that room such that those CEOs would think that? I thought I need to be walking in with a certain amount of energy and my energy, my vibration if you like, needs to be at a frequency that they’re operating at such that they need what I have in some way.

There’s some synergy there. And I thought, okay, am I there? No, I’m not, I’m exhausted, I’m burnt out, I really need to restore my energy. And so I gave myself permission to. Literally, I’ve just moved to London at this point to, to take time out and I had no money, but my father had lent me some money. So I knew worse, there’s a whole story here.

I’d actually I had, I was utterly penniless at this point. I’d moved in, into my sister’s house in London in her spare bedroom. And you know, not what you expect when you’re, whatever I was, 50 years old or what have you. And I thought, well, I’m not going to chase just doing something. I want to. be true to who I am and how am I going to do that?

Well, this is, it’s about this energy piece. And so I gave myself permission to, at that time, I wasn’t even sure what I was giving myself permission to do other than it wasn’t to chase work. It was to chase me. It was to reconnect back to myself. And so I’d spend hours just walking around London, sitting in the amazing Royal parks that exist in London.

And I found myself. It’s going to sound strange or alternative to some, maybe, but I would just be staring at a tree for like an hour or two hours or three hours. And it’s as if the universe opened up and I started to see something that I’d never seen before. And throughout this, you know, when I was thinking about what I really wanted to do and work with senior leaders, and I thought, well, do I want to run a leadership retreat?

What would that look like? Well, I’d want to take them away for five days, but what would I do? And I planned it all out. You know, I’ve done a master’s in leadership coaching. I can’t, Oh no, wait a minute. I’m just going to do the same as what everybody else has done. And especially if there’s this executive level, they’ve already done every single course known to mankind.

So I can’t just regurgitate everything that everybody’s already done before. It needs to be something that’s kind of a fresh, something that’s insightful. Okay, fine. And so, but it was during these you could call it meditation, reflection, sitting there with no agenda giving myself permission to be and to experience and It was literally as if I started seeing, and it’s going to sound very alternative now, but it’s literally as if I could start to see energy flow before I started coming across any of the books or podcasts or anything else related to law of attraction or energy or vibration or anything else.

But I started seeing something I’d never seen before. And this analogy of fire came to me. And my, through my childhood, my dad had been a church minister. That’s the calling that I’d sensed earlier on in my life that I was going to go into the church. I knew the Bible very well. It also talks about the refiner’s fire as in fire cleanses and purifies.

And I started thinking about this analogy of fire in the context to leadership. Organizations, and that was the birth of my book because I saw I going, well, what, how do you start a fire? How do you grow a fire? How to protect a fire? How do you stop yourself from burning out? This fire just came alive and then I spent the next six months writing my book.

Carolyn: Wow. You know, I can’t help but think, Mark, that sort of some of the similarities that I saw when I started my business, well, no, I guess it was a few years in. So I call myself a human spirit igniter, which really came down to how can we spark that fire that’s in us?

Cause I don’t believe it ever gets put out. It might get diminished and it might like settle in the embers for a little bit. But I’m like, I’m with you. I think it’s there and

Mark: And what would you say is that. 

Like, what would you say is at the very heart of, let’s go with that rekindling for a moment, right? So somebody who maybe feels that they’ve lost their spark, lost the fire in their belly, lost their purpose, whatever it is, from your experience, like that reigniter or igniter of the human spirit, which I love, like what is that for you?

What’s the core aspect of that?

Carolyn: The core aspect of that is, is really kind of similar to what you said is giving yourself permission To look at life through different lenses, giving yourself permission to step off the hamster wheel of life. And that’s hard because it literally is a drug that just kind of keeps us going. And I think when we do find something, something will pull us out of that.

You know, there, there will be something stronger. I think that is part of the fire. I think at a point and maybe age is part of it, where it will it’ll just sort of start to eat, like just rumble up and you do find the space and you have those moments and you start to look at other things like energy or frequency those are all different ways that can help.

Not can, they will help people be better leaders. But it’s different than what we’ve grown up with or what we’re told about or what we see in mainstream leadership work. What do you think?

Mark: Yeah, for me, I think the core aspect is getting back to our purpose. who are you? Why are you here? Ultimately, there’s all different questions that we can ask ourselves to help us determine if we’re not clear about our own personal sense of purpose, but what’s the legacy? What’s the impact that we want to leave?

What is it we want to be known for? What really matters to us? And that’s, as you say, if we get stuck on that hamster wheel where either we don’t ask ourselves that question, or we’ve never stopped to ask ourself that question, then we can’t Life has a way of suddenly stopping the hamster wheel through illness or through some trauma or whatever it happens to be.

And then, and if we take that opportunity and ask those really horrible, deep, uncomfortable questions and sit with it, then yeah, then if we’re not, I always thought I was really purposeful in everything I did. And yet I’ve still had a number of periods in my life. Yeah.

Carolyn: And I think that is, I think that’s. I don’t want to say what are the secrets, but I think that’s one of the biggest challenges of leadership is, are you truly connected to who you are? Cause your purpose, your true purpose won’t show up unless you’ve got a very true connection. And I think, I mean, I’ve known you for 15 minutes here, but my guess is that with age comes a bit of wisdom and some experiences that help us really, truly connect to who we are.

Mark: I think if we I think only if we allow ourselves to,

I think all of us, it’s that whether we want to stay in our comfort zone, which may actually be uncomfortable, but becomes our comfort zone, or whether we’re willing to leave our comfort zone for the discomfort of where we may find out something more about ourselves or our purpose, or if we’re a leader in an organization, what that means I don’t think it’s a given that age equals wisdom.


Carolyn: Love it. Yeah. And do you find that with your clients?

Mark: What’s interesting now is, so it’s just a bit of backdrop on WeQual if I may. So WeQual

Carolyn: Yeah.

Mark: Is its mission statement is to drive gender equality within the world’s largest organizations. So we tend to work with maybe the top 1000 companies in the world by revenue or market cap. And we have, you know, amazing relationships with CEOs, CHROs, and then all these amazing women that either sit at the C suite minus one or maybe minus two.

And I would just launch something for manager level. So we’re meeting like, know, amazingly talented women. And we have a, we call awards process where we we seek to identify and then showcase women that are ready for a C suite role through it, through a whole basic assessment process, which culminates in an interview with a global CEO.

So. One thing that I am constantly amazed at is how amazing these women are. And they, obviously women even if they feel that they got there by chance or very driven, very capable not all of them actually even aware of their own personal sense of purpose. And yet here they are at the very top driving global change in some way or other.

What was your question again?

Carolyn: Well, at the age, it was about the age with

wisdom and you said that it’s not always that wisdom isn’t necessarily attached to age,

Mark: No. I mean, I think we could probably all think of, you know, leaders on the world stage who if we said, are they wise? No.

Carolyn: right?

Mark: Are they, do they have great influence? Yes. Do they have great power? Yes. Are they ego driven or status driven? Yes. Are they wise? No. So, I actually generally, there’s a completely separate topic, but I do believe there’s a dearth of quality leaders at a global level in terms of countries.

Carolyn: What do you mean by that? There’s a dearth of

Mark: Maybe I don’t want to touch really on politics, but I’m talking about politics. I’m talking about prime ministers. I’m talking about, you know, state leaders. Who is there right now? Who? through their actions are demonstrating a purposeful, dare I say, humanistic approach,

Based on awareness, based on a desire to do what’s right for humanity versus personal status, personal ego

Carolyn: my belief with that, Mark is that the system is bigger than the individual in those instances. And until there’s sort of a mass amount of leaders willing to really shift the system, which we haven’t seen yet, but I do have hope that it will happen. We are going to see different types of leaders in those roles. And you know, it kind of comes back to the energy, the frequency that you were talking about. I mean, there’s not a lot of healing type frequency operating at, in those

Mark: The way 

Carolyn: systems. 

Mark: if people have not heard this frequency bit or think it’s too alternate, I’m going to give you an example of what I mean by that. So, and I often use this in my coaching analogies as well. So if you’re a leader, that is unclear about your sense of direction. You’re off in some way.

You’re not clear. Maybe, for you personally, Carolyn, you’re focused on this, you know, understanding how previous traumas basically are driving your leadership style and influence today. So let’s imagine you as a leader are leading, but you’re the way that you’re behaving is actually because of a past trauma.

So maybe as a result of that past trauma, you’re wanting to be a perfectionist or you’re very driven or actually you’re seeking to protect your own ego at all costs as three examples. So when you are now emitting your frequency, your vibration, it could be the equivalent of a D sharp, right? In musical terms.

Now, I always use the example of if you have a room that has a piano in it, and it has a guitar in it. And I sit down at the piano and it’s well tuned. It’s a well tuned piano. And I play middle A, provided the guitar is in tune, the A string will start to vibrate, right? Synergy. If I play a middle E provided the guitar is in tune, actually the lower E and the higher E will start to vibrate.

So if I’m a leader and I’m setting a direction, I’m really clear and I’m giving a really clear E, I want it to attract those low and high E’s if you like. If I play a D sharp, for those that didn’t see, Caroline’s face just screwed up. Then only badly tuned guitars are going to respond.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Mark: So for me, that, that’s kind of a very clear working example of what I mean by energy or vibration or frequency.

How clear are you? Oh, how messy is it? 

Carolyn: . How messy or clear do you think leaders are being while they lead?

Mark: Well, all of us bring mess cause it’s a part of being human. And I think those of us who, of us, those quality leaders, and this is kind of ultimately where we arrive at in the book, when you’re starting a fire, what is your fire going to achieve? And there’s lots of different types of fires, right?

You can have a very tightly constrained fire that achieves a very specific outcome. For example, heating up a pan of hot water on a gas stove or a bonfire outside that wants to do something very specific, right? Or in a car engine, even, you know, that one spark that ignites the fuel that allows the car to go that extra little bit, you know, they’re very highly constrained, purposeful, value driven.

Fires. But if you have an unconstrained fire, it means that it’s like a wildfire or a flash fire, which kind of burns indiscriminately. And so as a leader, as we’re setting to, ’cause all leaders try to influence outcomes in some way, so you’re starting a fire. What’s the fire that you’re wanting to build?

For what purpose? How are you gonna constrain the fire to make sure it’s for good and not for bad? And so this is why I come to it. And ultimately it’s quality leadership that defines how you start a fire. How you grow a fire, how you protect a fire. 

Carolyn: Nice. Well, and Mark, have you run into examples where the fire, the purpose behind the fire, where the leader feels pretty clear on it, but you’re sensing a disconnect, does that happen often?

Mark: I, I think there’s probably different ways to answer your question. It depends exactly what you mean, but leaders can be driving change, but not understand why they’re doing 

Carolyn: be good at it,

Mark: Very good at it. Yeah, because they’re very intelligent, very capable, very driven, lots of experience.

Go and do X, Y, and Z, go and increase market share in this territory. Go and transform the digital strategy for how we engage with our customers. Whatever it happens to be. Yeah. The super capable, very capable. But if I might, one of my favorite questions I ask anybody is, you know, what, why, like, why are you doing what you’re doing?

Carolyn: Because I’m just gonna give you an example. Because I want to be a good role model for my kids.

Mark: Okay. Well, that’s a great example, right? Why do you want to be a great moral model? And why this thing?

Carolyn: And then digging down from

there.. I have a bit of a belief that the system that we have to operate in to be successful and productive can really quickly blind us or get in the way of us connecting to our why.

 Is that a belief that you see or that you

have or that you 

Mark: sure. No, for sure. Cause you know, quality leaders me, those that achieve meaningful purpose. So my professional purpose is to enable leaders to achieve meaningful purpose.

that’s my one sentence that I’ve distilled over many years. And so I know in any conversation I have with any leader anywhere in the world, if anybody, but any leader anywhere in the world, ultimately it’s about that.

So I want to know, what are you about? Like, what’s the difference you’re on this planet to make?

And do you understand why? And do you understand maybe how past trauma is driving your behaviors today? And if you’re not where are the past traumas from your childhood basically have created your superpowers today, right?

Cause that’s your adaptability. Your survival instinct is you couldn’t, to get what you needed as a child, you develop superpowers, but now where are your superpowers becoming your kryptonite? 

Carolyn: Right. 

Mark: So this essence of superpower and kryptonite is all around self awareness, which is around personal development, personal growth minded, being a curious learner, staying open.

I want to grow, I want to develop, and I want to ensure that ultimately the fire, the thing that I do is as clean, as pure, as good as it can be.

Carolyn: I just had an image of a campfire that was like, if you put like yucky things in it, like plastic or, and it will give like a, just a smell and won’t be healthy. And so when you said clean fire, that really hit.

Mark: So within my book, when I talk about starting a fire a fire has three components, heat, fuel, oxygen. So, I’ve defined heat ultimately as purpose in action, because the moment you start expending energy in the pursuit of something, you generate heat because there’s an action involved. Like if you rub your hands together you, you generate heat.

So the moment you’re, you get about doing something. Physics shows us it generates heat.

Carolyn: Yep.

Mark: So the moment you say, wait a minute I’m not happy with the situation. I’m going to change it. Or I want to start a business to do whatever it happens to be, or I want to, whatever the difference is that you seek and is the moment you start expending energy and it can be in any context.

It can be community centered. I mean, your family, it can be in an organization. It can be a startup. It can be anywhere. The moment you set about trying to bridge a gap, cross the divide, the difference you see, you have to expend energy and it’s energy over time, which generates heat. As you set about that, you start to attract fuel, which is people, ideally wonderful, talented, amazing people and cash, right?

Your resources. So you need that. And then your oxygen is your market, your customers, those that you seek to influence in some way.

So if I want to start a fire, I’ve got to bring the right level of heat. I’ve got to be able to attract the right fuel to impact the market to get the oxygen that I need.

If I want to grow my fire, I have to increase my heat. I have to attract increasing levels of fuel and of fuel, which is the cash and people and ensure I have a following headwind, right? There’s more and more oxygen coming 

Carolyn: Right. Need to be blowing into the fire. Yeah.

Mark: make sure that there isn’t a headwind that’s going to steal my oxygen.

I need to make sure that I don’t burn out my people, right? Because my people is my fuel. I want to burn it out. So otherwise my fire goes out. So that comes down to me as a quality leader. How do I do all of that? How do I ensure I stay as a quality leader with the right amount of heat where I’m not burning too hot, burning everything out or burning too cold or not cleanly enough, causing trouble everywhere.

How do I ensure that I maximize our cash and allow our people to be engaged? in a purpose, in a mission, in achieving something that’s worthwhile and meaningful, and then ensuring that we’re connecting with our market such that they’re buying us from us or whatever it is that you’re doing.

Carolyn: And so what, in your experience, do you find with those three pieces, the heat, the fuel and the oxygen is there a typical pathway that you see, are there typical areas out of those three things that are less developed than others?

Mark: For me, it always comes down to leadership because the leader sets the tone on everything. I say in the book, you know, the moment you even have one direct report. You’re now in charge of another person really during the hours of nine or five or whatever hours you work. When can they go to lunch?

What should they wear? What should their language be? Can they swear or not swear? If you swear, they’re likely to swear. If you dress really smart, you’re setting an expectation that they have to be really smart. If you work really long hours, you’re setting an expectation that they have to work really long hours.

If you’re really clear about what you want this individual to do, then they’re going to be really clear. 

If you’re really unclear, sending mixed messages, If you’re micromanaging or if you’re whatever your approach is as a manager, you’re having now a direct impact on that one person.

And multiply that by five or by 10 or by a hundred or by a thousand or by 10, 000 or a hundred thousand. 

So quality leadership is so important because it’s only quality leadership that sets the clear purpose, which has the vision, the mission, and the values. That attracts the right fuel and as human beings, we’re amazing, right?

Because if we get, you know, we run out of our energy during the day, but provided we rest well overnight, we’re amazing. Absolutely incredible. But time gone, right?

Time you, that’s it gone. 

So how do we not only use our own energy and our own time, but actually how do we use the energy in the time of our people as 

Carolyn: right. 

Mark: How do we engage them in something? And engagement means they bring, if I can say, they bring of their all during work hours, but you don’t want to burn them out. You want to enable and create an environment for them to grow and develop. 

That’s leadership. And then how you engage with the markets, with your customers.

That’s leadership. Cause what’s the messaging? What’s the communication? How are you prioritizing what you’re working on? How do you prioritize what the customer needs? Are you meeting that need? Are you communicating with them? 

Are you clear as to your sense of purpose, which comes through in all your marketing 

Carolyn: I was going to say that purpose just disseminates over everything. It’s the why, right? It’s the why behind

Mark: the why. Absolutely. Yeah. , looking at the sort of, the new form of leadership that you’re calling for me. You know, this, some might see it as idealistic or utopia, but it’s this purpose centered leadership, right? And therefore purpose centered organizations.

And I think there’s so many leaders, managers, people in the world that want to belong as part of something that is truly meaningful, but how can they, if it’s a listed company with shareholder returns and dah, then does the company lose its soul? That’s a more difficult question.

Carolyn: It is. 

Well, so why did you call the book Disruptive Leadership? Which kind of ties into how do we disrupt ourselves as leaders to really connect to that deep, true purpose?

Mark: So I called the book Disruptive Legion and I thought long and hard about the title because 

Carolyn: hard. Titles are hard for a book.

Mark: titles are hard, you know, I could have called it make a difference or, you know, leave a legacy or impact or, but it was my working title right from the very beginning, because to me, if you want to make a difference.

You have to challenge the status quo. And not only do you have to challenge the status quo, you have to change the status quo. Well, that is the definition of disruption. To disrupt means you literally change, you challenge and change the status quo. So as a leader, you are continuously battling against status quo, always.

So that’s why the disruptive, because it is. Any moment you want to change something, you’re being disruptive.

Carolyn: Exactly. And I come back to what, you know, what I said earlier about systems. If we’re going to disrupt systems, we need to disrupt ourselves first so that we have the energy, we have the frequency, we have the stamina and the resolution and the why to do things differently. It’s not for the faint of heart at all.

Mark: It’s not, it’s very difficult. And I was literally just coaching somebody earlier on. I think one of the hardest things for any one of us is to take full responsibility for our own lives.

Carolyn: Say more about that. What do you mean?

Mark: It’s so easy to fall into the trap of doing something because we believe others expect us to, or because it’s the ultimate, the status quo. So I say in the book, the status quo is like a powerful cartel. That seeks to protect its own, right? So it seeks to protect where the power currently sits and anybody that comes along, tries to challenge that the status quo, the cartel will actively resist you.

So any disruption you want to lead, this is why to me, purpose is so important because if you’re just pursuing money. Or status or ego, you may be successful in that, but you’re ultimately not really going to change the world. In fact, you’re likely to start a wildfire of some kind. You’re likely to cause harm either to yourself, but certainly to your followers.


disruptive leadership, I mean that the whole time is disruptive leadership using fire to drive purposeful change because fire is always disruptive. Like, you know, when you meet somebody and they are so passionate about the change they want to make. It does not matter what you say to them. You can call them mad.

You can call them delusional. You can resist them at every turn, but they will keep going regardless because there’s like a fire in their own belly. They can’t stop, right? They just can’t stop. And that’s why they will then attract fuel and they will impact the market because they’re generating heat wherever they go.

They will not stop. And for me, that is the core requirement, determinant of any successful business over the longterm as well, is to stay true to purpose.

Carolyn: Right.

Mark: You know, we’ve all heard the example of Kodak, right? Now the original vision statement was to make photography as simple as using a pencil. I love that vision statement.

Like that, that every business decision should be really clear. And that’s the thing that’s written on the wall. And yet they became the mass dominant player in film. They had the vast majority of the market share. They’re making really good margins. Some guy in a lab coat, sometime in the 1970s, deep down underground created the first digital image.

No. That’s gonna stop. And so they’d moved away from their purpose. Their purpose was to make photography as simple as using a pencil. And they actively shut it down.

Carolyn: Well, and that’s where ego came in too. It was just like, well, that’s not going to happen. I mean, Blockbuster is a similar

story. Absolutely. Yeah.

I mean, I think of it, I used to work at Blockbuster,

uh, when I was in school and I just think of the arrogance that might be every time I watch Netflix or some streaming service, it’s like, how did people sitting around a table actually think that people would want to go pick up a box?

Mark: Especially as blockbusters had the opportunity to buy Netflix.

Carolyn: I know

There was no fire going on there. There was some bad fuel.

Mark: Well, so another component of the book is how do you maintain or how do you protect the fire that you have? Because a fire will automatically burn out over time unless you keep feeding it with heat fuel and oxygen.

So, I talk about there’s three levels of thinking that takes place inside an organization.

The organization is able to maintain sustainable competitive advantage over the longterm. There’s what I call level three thinking. Level one thinking, which is where circa 55 percent of most managers and leaders operate at is level three. Level one thing, which is, am I getting it right?

Carolyn: Okay.

Mark: So it’s a focus on kind of on the here and the now binary decision making.

It’s potentially validation. I don’t want to take any risks. I want to play it safe. You’re almost pretty much playing into the status quo, right? It is the basis of how we learn a new skill, right? You have to understand what’s right and what’s wrong. There is an aspect maybe of governance and compliance, or Where you want to answer the question.

Am I getting it right? The trouble is though, if you only rely on level one thinking, you don’t know you’re asking the right questions. You can be putting ticks in lots of boxes, but they don’t mean anything. They’re the wrong questions. So I remember I was working with National Grid, which are the big UK power infrastructure company in the UK and some of North America, and we were talking about the regulatory compliance aspect and they were saying, well, surely this is where we need the level one thinking again.

Well, talk to me about your level one thing. So they started explaining what was happening, and they would like, I can’t remember all the details, it was years ago, but they were spending a lot of time pulling together lots of data to prove that they were. Meeting and regulation, regulatory requirements.

And I’m like, yeah, but are they the right regulatory requirements? What questions are you actually trying to answer here? You could spend a month, every single month proving that you’re answering question X in the right way. And then something really terrible happens. You realize you’re asking yourself the wrong question.

So actually no, right? When you’re training somebody, yes, you do want them to go. Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no. Level two question is. Are we doing the right thing?

Carolyn: Okay.

Mark: Hang on. Wait a minute.

Carolyn: questions?

Mark: It’s challenging assumptions. It’s challenging beliefs. It’s far more difficult to answer that question.

Far more difficult.

It takes, there’s no simple answer anymore. I have to spend some time thinking about this. I don’t know. There’s some stuff I don’t know. That makes us feel uncomfortable. It’s far easier to stay with level one thinking, yes, no, right? Level two, hang on, am I doing the right thing? Well, I think I am, but I’m not sure.

But how do I find out?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Mark: I don’t know. Okay. All right. So that’s often where coaches might come in or consultants might come in, somebody from the outside or a good manager operating in that level, maybe circa ish, 40 ish percent of managers operate at that level.

Carolyn: Okay.

Mark: And then the top 5 percent of leaders operate at level three thinking, which is, you ready for this?

How do we decide what’s right?

Carolyn: Wow. so can you go back to that example with Kodak? Let’s go through that with Kodak or

Mark: so Kodak, so level one thinking, maintain market share,

Carolyn: Yep.

Mark: right? Protect the numbers.

Carolyn: We don’t need to worry about digital stuff.

Mark: No, and nobody’s ever going to tell us we’re getting it wrong and for protecting the numbers.

Nobody ever market share. We’re good. So level two question is, are we doing the right thing? Oof, are we doing the right thing?

Well, you could argue, well, there’s no way we could foresee that this, you know, whoever his name was, who probably wasn’t he, but whoever created this first digital image, who could have known where that was going to go? Great question. Don’t know. Because level two starts to bring in some unknowns, some uncertainties.

How do we as leaders deal with uncertainty with not knowing? And yet we still have to set clear direction. So, level three question is how do we decide what’s right? Well, Our vision is, or our purpose is, making photography as simple as using a pencil.

Carolyn: Mm. On, have we moved away from our where why are we in film?

Mark: How is film helping us make photography as simple as using a pencil? Oof,

Carolyn: Brilliant.

Mark: the importance of purpose is so simple. It’s so simple to say, it is so hard to do and it comes back to energy and time. So the companies that maintain sustainable competitive advantage over the longterm are asking themselves that third question. And it’s actually about learning how to learn.

It’s like thinking about thinking. It starts to do your head in when you think about it, but in the same ways, you can think about how you think you learn about how you learn. So in our last board meeting, what worked and what didn’t work?

What were the powerful questions and how could we improve them?

And how do they fit with our values, with our mission and with our vision?

Carolyn: Yep.

Mark: So integrity, we have integrity as a value that we’ve nailed to the wall somewhere inside our corporate office building. Okay, well, I’ll be walking the talk here. Hmm. does integrity mean for us as a board? What does integrity mean for us as an executive committee, as a leadership team, as a department, as a team?

What does it actually mean? What does it look like? Ooh, they are really tough are. And they’re not hard questions, like, so hard to integrate them in and I’ll come back to like, like getting off of that hamster wheel of doing things the way that we usually do. Yeah. Oh, Mark, where can people find your book?

Carolyn: We don’t have to go to Malta to get it, do we?

Mark: No, you’re very welcome to if you go onto Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Amazon just look for disruptive leadership, Mark Bateman, and you’ll find it, it’s got big disruptive leadership written in orange and white on the title. So, what’s amazing is, so I wrote the first draft pre COVID.

If we can remember when that was, and actually COVID now is this kind of weird blip that we’ve completely forgotten about until somebody mentions. And then we think, Oh yeah, there was that whole period, right? Where the world stopped and everything changed. And now we’re here we are again. And then again Katie Litchfield my business partner, I said, I’ve written this book and she said to me two years ago, Mark, you’ve written a book, you need to get it published.

I’m like, I don’t have time. I don’t have, I like, we’re growing this business. I don’t have time. No, you can’t write a book. And not publish it. I said, well, what I really want to do is I want to interview some of these amazing leaders that I now know as a result of working with WeCall, right. you know, major CAs and all these incredible women around the world.

And so that’s exactly what we did. So I,, I interviewed about 14 or 15, just outstanding leaders globally across different sectors, different geographies, et cetera. then I paid for a ghostwriter. I said, I have no idea if I’ve got anything that’s good here or not, but here it is.

Can you work your magic please? And can you incorporate these. These interviews that I’ve done. So she got rid of about half, basically all the old examples where I’d written about Kodak and Blockbusters and on all of those, got rid of all of those. Cause like everybody knows about those Mark and put in these living examples.

And so, yeah, that took me two years and on top of trying to grow a business. So January 23rd and within two days got to Amazon number one across various. 

Carolyn: Oh, 

Mark: which

Carolyn: Congratulations.

Mark: was such a strange feeling after so long, because it’s a bit like I wrote it so long ago and even the last two years, you know, it’s like number 99 on my priority list, right?

And yeah, I remember, so the first day it came out and because the network through WeQual et cetera, it definitely helped and helped with a few chairs and a few CEOs posting on LinkedIn, et cetera. Thank you so much. And I got to number two across various categories at the end of the first day and I thought, Oh, that’s awesome.

Okay. Oh, you know what, Mark, just, and you have two days, the way Amazon works. Don’t ask me how or why you have two days and how, oh, well, how am I going to feel if I got to number two? I go, well, it’s, you know, by any measure, it’s the remarkable achievement. And if I, when I first sat down to write the book, you know, the idea that I would have all these interviews in there and I’d get to number two, you know, it’s, Would be remarkable.

I just thought that would have been a dream come true. Yeah, but I, you know, so close to number one. then the next morning I woke up and my team said, Mark, you’ve only done it, you’ve only gone and done it. And it’s like, Oh, that was incredible.

Carolyn: Well, I’m going to encourage all the listeners out there to get into your bookstore, whatever platform you like to purchase off of and have a look at this book. I just, I really love your analogy, your work behind it and your why. Your purpose behind this is wonderful and deep and rich.

Mark: So, the reason why I wrote it when I did was because I wanted to figure out how to work with leaders in a different way outside of an MBA or an executive development program, but I’ve written in my acknowledgement section, dad, in a strange way, this book is written for you

Because I saw my dad.

As a leader, church leader, from a very small boy, and without even realizing it, A, I wanted him to succeed, and rightly or wrongly, I believed at the time I could see why he was and why he wasn’t. I was studying leadership from being knee high, and so, , I’m very aware of why I do what I do today.

And it is in such large part because of my dad, whom I love dearly, and I’m so grateful he’s alive, and in many senses it’s everything I wish my dad had known, but never had access to,

Carolyn: Wow.

Mark: So that is very personal to me as Yeah. Which you can absorb that. You can feel that. We’re back to frequency when that’s in there for people. Shout out to Mark’s dad.

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Carolyn: Well, Mark, as usual with amazing, rich, deep conversation, it goes by really

fast. So I’m, I’m sad to say that we have to head into wrap up mode.

Mark: Yes,

Carolyn: So usually with that, I ask three questions all the guests, are you ready for those three questions?

Mark: I am. Just thankfully, you prepared me.

Carolyn: Well, the first question has to do a lot of like what we were talking about, self awareness, and if we’re going to build this spark and understand our purpose what is a moment?

A lot of people have different moments or times they can remember where their awareness went from here to, Oh, whoa, this isn’t what I thought it was, but it really opened their eyes. So just curious if there’s a statement, an anecdote, something that you’d like to share about your

Mark: difficulty is choosing which one. I think I’m going to, I think I’m going to share, when I started my master’s in leadership coaching, I was I, my first marriage was ending. I’d been married 22 years and then in our desperate bid to keep the marriage alive and working, we both went into therapy. I started training as a psychotherapist and I started this master’s in leadership coaching.

So it was pretty on full on intense, as you can probably imagine. And I felt that I was failing. in who I was as a person, as a man. And I remember doing you probably heard of it, Myers Briggs type indicator, MBTI it’s kind of evolved itself a little bit into insights and other things, but anyway, and it was my first experience of a psychometric tool.

I remember completing it and I came out with the four letters and then I read the description about myself. I remember exactly where I was. I was at Derby University in the Midlands in the UK. It was a Saturday. As I read it, there were tears just started streaming down my face because I was reading me.

It was very powerful. And up to that point, I felt like I was wrong. I needed to change who I was, right? That there was something fundamentally wrong with me in some way, because that’s the feedback I’d had over years. And yet I’m reading that I’m like, whatever it was in 4 percent of the population, whatever the number was, but they were describing the strengths of my personality type.

And that was very powerful actually. I’ve done a lot since and I have a mixed perspective on psychometric tools, but for me in that moment, it was very validating,

Carolyn: Sounds like it just opened the door a little bit for you to see a side that you hadn’t really seen of yourself

Mark: It, actually it brought a sense of validation for who I am. That I, that there is a remarkable strength to who I am, in a good way. And, All right. It didn’t suit every situation or every circumstance. Sure. We’re all different, but it was very personally validating to read. In a sense, me on a page and go, there’s others like me for starters, right?

I’m not weird. I’m not broken. I’m not any of those things. And actually these are real strengths. These, this is why I am the way I am. It was a very powerful moment.

Carolyn: Wow. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you. Second question. 

What is a ritual, a practice, something that you do that helps you stay connected to your purpose, to be present more regulated?

Mark: So I’d say two things, one, breathing. So, you know, probably all follow the same people and through the Instagram reels and everything else, you know, but the power of different breathing techniques. And how it, it can literally, we’re the only species in the world, apparently, that can regulate our anxiety levels or the amount of cortisol or whatever else that’s pumping through our bloodstream just by breathing.

So, whether it’s the double inhale through the nose, a long exhale through the mouth, or whether it’s the box breathing, or whether it’s, you know, 5, 6 seconds in, 5, 6 seconds out if I’m super stressed for some reason, That’s my go to just to bring myself back. I track my heart. I’m a bit of a geek on all this stuff.

I track my heart rate variability. I see the positive impact on that. And then in terms of connecting to self, it really is. So I talk about energy and time a lot in the book and it’s giving myself space for me to gain energy and to gain time. It’s one of the reasons I moved to 

Carolyn: I was going to say clearly. 

Mark: Yeah, just being, you know, I prefer blue on blue rather than grey on green. So, sitting in the sun, feeling the sun, whether it’s at sunrise, during the daytime, it doesn’t really matter. Creating space every day just to sit in the sun and feel the sun on my skin kind of just reconnects me to myself in a wonderful way.

Carolyn: oh gosh. I want to go to

Malta right now. 

Mark: I’m going to send you some sun over to Canada.

Carolyn: Taking it in. 

Now my last question is around connecting to something bigger than ourselves and specifically through music. So what is a song or genre of music that does that connect you to something bigger than

Mark: So anybody who knows me knows that I listen to music pretty much nonstop all of the time. And I love dance music. I, there’s a certain types as well. I don’t know whether you call it happy or melodic, but there’s a certain type. They’re the dance music. They might hear him playing an Ibiza at sunset, that kind of thing.

Like just when I hear that, I just want to throw my hands in the air. I want to dance. I feel it with my soul brings a smile to my face and it just reminds me. Yeah, gosh, this life is worth living. Let’s live it.

Carolyn: Well, I, you know, when I think of dance music I love British music. Like when I think back cause I’m, I like you just have a love of music. I go to concerts all the time. But my favorite, my most favorite band in the whole wide world is a band out of Britain orchestral maneuvers in the dark and I go see them anytime they’re too, they tour but I just love Brit pop.

I love

him. yeah. And then I just, I don’t know. I just think dance music. I just, one day I’ll make it over to the UK and get into a dance club over there. But.

Uh, well, Mark, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on

the show. 

Where could our listeners find you? Just social media.

Mark: Yes. It’s funny every time I get asked this question, I realize I should be doing more, but LinkedIn is always a great place. I share a lot of stuff on LinkedIn. I have a personal webpage, which is mark baitman. com.

Carolyn: Yep.

Mark: the WeQual company address is w e q a l, WeQual.

com. Those three best places really.

Carolyn: All right. Well, we’ll make sure that those are in the show notes and I know where you’re going after this podcast. My guess is you’re heading outside. Um,

Mark: From the UK and they’re going, Oh my God, it’s so blue and so warm. So yeah, we’re all going out for a meal. Yep. Excellent.

Carolyn: will be there in spirit with

you and thanks again for coming on the show, Mark. 

So one thing I learned today is that Malta sounds like a beautiful place and that there’s such thing as a digital nomad visa. Although it’s not realistic for us to all get one of those visas and move to Malta. What we did learn from Mark. is that it is extremely realistic and needed to get connected to your purpose.

That is the best way to disrupt the status quo and to really connect to what is meaningful for you. It’s not always going to be that first thought, that first answer about what your purpose is, but really digging deeper. I know I’m going to do a bit more digging as I shared with you a few weeks ago in my own solo podcast.

I thought my purpose was a little bit different than what it was. And I think it’s a good idea to continue to reconnect with it and make sure that it is truly what is guiding you. Thanks again for tuning into the podcast. Really appreciate your following us. And if you love what you’re hearing, Hey, even if you just like it, feel free to share it with a friend.

And if you could please leave a rating and a review on whatever platform you’re listening to. Once again, I’m Carolyn Swora. You can find me at carolynswara. com and you can find me on social media at Carolyn Swora. Thanks for tuning in and we’ll see you next week. 

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