Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Trust and Respect: The Bread and Butter of Leadership

I was trying to think of a leader that I respected and didn't trust. No one came to mind. The two qualities go together like bread and butter, car and driver, or politicians and rhetoric. Perhaps they can exist independently but they are better together.

Can you trust someone without respecting him or her? How about respect without trust?

When we talk of trust we make the choice of being vulnerable based on our positive expectations. Respect is a deep admiration for them based on their abilities, qualities or achievements.

Can a good leader be respected if there is no trust?

I’m not someone who automatically respects or trusts someone because of their title or position and I expect that many feel the same way. I may respect the person for the hard work that they put into achieving their position, but I won’t necessarily trust them.

Thinking of those people I do trust and respect, I see they act on these six principles:

1. Give to Get

"What you do speaks so loudly I cannot hear what you say." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson ~
Both trust and respect are earned. Being both trustworthy and respectful of others is the fastest way to earn it. Treat people with dignity regardless of their position.

2. D.W.Y.S.Y.W.D.

Do what you say you will do. Leadership is complicated and sometimes what we agree to do changes and, even with our best intentions, we can’t deliver what we promised. So, ALWAYS circle back and explain why and ask to be released from your original promise.

3. Communicate

Being a great communicator means listening with your mind as well as your heart. What is being communicated by what isn’t being said? Listen to people and consider what they have to say with an open mind. Great communicators address both the why and the how of the situation. Trust your gut and learn to ask great questions. A great book to help you is “Quiet Leadership” by David Rock.

4. Confidence

Respect is born through the competence you show, one of the 5 pillars of trust. (The 5 pillars are Caring, Commitment, Consistency, Competence and Communication.) Have the confidence born of knowledge and experience. When you speak, know what you are talking about. Remember: confidence is not arrogance. A confident leader is willing to admit their mistakes - hiding them is a sign of duplicity, a trust breaker.

5. Make People Safe

A respected leader I spoke to told me that you may not want to have everyone sitting at your dinner table, but you can learn a lot from people if you realize that everyone has something to teach you. Show the person that you “see” them. Many leaders intimidate because of their power and title. The really successful leaders make others feel that it is safe to speak up and know their opinions will be heard.

6. Go First

Do you want trust and respect from others? Start by trusting and respecting yourself. It means not putting yourself down when you make a mistake, but rather own up to it and move on. The best leaders know themselves and their values. They use them to guide their decisions.

7. Follow the Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Trust and respect are best when they operate together. What are you doing to build on both?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trust and Talent Management: Retaining the Best Employees

According to a study by Deloitte, over 1/3 of employees will look for a new job when the economy improves.

48% of the reason to move: loss of trust in their employers

How good is the trust in your organization? Is it enough to keep good people? How do you know?

Imagine a tank of water, slowly dripping away. Eventually it runs dry. Same with employees: the loss of trust occurs one drop at a time. As it fades, performance drops - and soon your talent is draining away.

Trust erosion occurs when employees don’t receive credit for work done, or hear a belittling comment, or witness a broken promise. Trust dribbles away when a manager doesn't walk the talk, or when policies are applied to one person but not another, or when they feel unimportant.

No one action, on its own, drives the employee away. But when nothing is done to offset the small betrayals, the employee’s ‘bucket runs dry', and the result is a loss of talent. Even worse are the months before the employee is fully committed to leaving. In that time, you've already lost the employee but they are still at your company bringing a toxic attitude to work.

So what do you do?

Get Real: Where’s Trust Leaking Now?

First, assess the level of trust in your organization. Bring in a coach or consultant to measure the levels of trust and the leaders’ ability to create it. You can also do an informal assessment by spending time communicating with others using positive, open and non-threatening dialogs.

Use the framework of the 5Cs as a basis for your inquiry. Which are fully present? Which are only occasionally making an appearance?

If you are a leader, commit to your employees by taking the time to give support. If you are the employee, make the shift from talking about problems to actively helping to solve the problems. Commitment is staying the course until the job is done and showing up to tackle hard issues head on. It is working as part of the team and moving beyond "it's not part of my job description" to "yes, I can do that."

Do people know what to expect of you? If you change your mind, do you let others know? You can show your consistency by matching words and deeds.

Spend time getting to know others who work in your organization. Take a genuine and caring interest. Show others that you care about them as a person and not just for the skill they bring. If you have a problem, speak to them in private. Starve gossip and feed praise.

Invest in others and continually improve yourself. Find something that interests you and be a continuous learner. Boredom in a career can eventually lead to loathing; that level of negative emotion brings with it a lot of damage.

Above all communicate with people. Bring them along. This is especially important in times of economic uncertainty: decisions are made that effect livelihoods and alter the workplace, often in negative ways. In the absence of information, people fill in the blanks. The severity of whatever you have to tell them pales in comparison with stories from their imaginations. Observe and acknowledge what has happened and reflect on the feelings that people may be experiencing. Communicate the needs that are surfacing. Honestly and openly let them know what can be done.

Stop the Leaks: Rebuild Trust

Second, restore trust where it’s broken. Remember, you’re not just doing this to be a good guy. You’re making an investment to be an organization where talented people will come do their best work – and stay.

Look at the values in your organization and consistently find ways to honor and live the values. Focus on what is working and build on it, rather than focusing on what isn't working and talking about it. Train your leaders to pay fierce attention to the value of trust and equip them with the emotional intelligence skills to attend to trust as an invaluable emotional asset. Click here to read more tips for building trust and try them out.  There’s no 'silver bullet' - it’s an ongoing commitment.

The bottom line: Trust is the key to keeping and maintaining the talent in your organization. Are you doing everything possible?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Trust Vacation

As leaders, our choices shape trust. If we want more trust in our teams, we need to accurately assess competencies - and give people chances to grow to the next level. Here are some keys to do so. Perhaps a vacation is the perfect opportunity to take the kind of risk that builds trust?

How many of you are able to unplug from technology? How many times did you check your emails and see if there were any problems at work that you needed to answer?

I’m also wondering if you recognize that unplugging and stepping away from your office and letting others handle the problems that may arise is a sign of your trust in them. It involves taking a chance and a leap of faith and with that comes a level of risk. Things may be done differently than you would do them and, yes, there may even be a few things that aren't done at all. If you are going to develop your team and your business, you have to be able to trust and by unplugging and allowing them to make decisions and take action you show that you do.

This risk-taking is at the center of building trust. If we want to strengthen trust, we need to use it – and that means giving people opportunities to go a little further than they did yesterday.

When the COO of Six Seconds, Josh Freedman, first started traveling to develop international offices, it was with the trust and blessing of his mentor and advisor Anabel Jensen. Anabel knew important decisions would set the course for the global operation of Six Seconds and she let Josh know she trusted him to make the decisions negotiating contracts overseas. “She said, I know you’ll make the right decisions because you’re the one who will be there making them!” Josh tells me that her faith and support in his abilities gave him the confidence to step into a bigger role.

In TRUSTED – A Leader’s Lesson, Hunter Birket (the protagonist) talks with Susan Cannon (his boss and mentor) about the competency levels of his staff.

Competency Levels:
  1. “Wait to be told.” or “Do exactly what I say.” or “Follow these instructions precisely.”
  2. “Look into this and tell me the situation. I’ll decide.”
  3. “Look into this and tell me the situation. We’ll decide together.”
  4. “Tell me the situation and what help you need from me in assessing and handling it. Then we’ll decide.”
  5. “Give me your analysis of the situation (reasons, options, pros and cons) and recommendation. I’ll let you know whether you can go ahead.”
  6. “Decide and let me know your decision, and wait for my go-ahead before proceeding.”
  7. “Decide and let me know your decision, then go ahead unless I say not to.”
  8. “Decide and take action – let me know what you did (and what happened).”
  9. “Decide and take action. You need not check back with me.”
  10. “Decide where action needs to be taken and manage the situation accordingly. It’s your area of responsibility now.”
(Competency levels from Bob Brooks – Adjunct Facilitator at University of Phoenix)

In the book, Susan helps Hunter see that his perspective on an employee’s competency is one of the drivers of trust. When Hunter sees an employee as a “3 or 4,” he’s unwilling to give the guy a real chance. In this case, Hunter was making some assumptions based on incomplete data, so he was under-utilizing his employee, and creating a mess. Fortunately, Hunter learns that the only way to really know, is to give someone opportunities to demonstrate his abilities – to perform at a higher level.

Where would you place your staff?
Where would you place yourself?
Where would your boss place you?

If you want to develop a trusted workplace, understand the competencies of you and your staff and then ask yourself, “What do I need to do to help them to move up one level.” It starts with taking a trust vacation – stepping just far enough away from a responsibility so others can pick up the slack.

Are you going to choose to trust someone today?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

Do you remember the song from Tina Turner in the 80’s? Are you thinking, “Seriously? You’re going to talk about love? How does this help me raise the ROI and build my business?” Well, it seems love has a LOT to do with success in business and how much or how well we trust.

Dr. Paul Zak discovered that when oxytocin was released, the trust we feel towards others also increases. Oxytocin is released when we love, show compassion and appreciation.

How do we bring love into the workplace? How much love is in your organization and should you care?

When trust is higher there is higher productivity, employee retention, engagement and purpose driven work.

When I spoke with Paul he said there are 8 areas where we can raise trust and, coincidentally, we can use the acronym OXYTOCIN to remember them.

O – Ovation. This involves praising people who achieve their goals. Remember the adage, praise in public, and criticize in private.

X – Expectation. Give people a challenge to achieve. Expect the best.

Y – Yield. Give people control over their work lives. Don’t micromanage.

T – Transfer. Giving them autonomy.

O – Openness. Show transparency which facilitates trust.

C – Caring. Having empathy for the people you work with.

I – Invest. Invest in people, through your time and opportunities for advancement and education.

N – Natural. It is important for leaders to show who they are, warts and all, being honest and showing that it better to disclose then lie and hide who they are.

In a very public display that went against building trust, the AOL leader Tim Armstrong fired a manager at a meeting for taking a picture. When you read through the whole story you can see that he was under immense pressure and the manager in question had acted inappropriately when he took the picture. The furor that happened later was a perfect example of what happens when we criticize in public. Regardless of the transgression of the employee, what people remember is the lack of empathy and caring shown by the leader. The result was an atmosphere of distrust at a cost to the company. There was no love lost here!

Love in the workplace can be as simple as setting aside time to engage in deep listening. What do I mean by deep listening? It means setting aside time where there are no interruptions and listening to what the other person has to say, without interruption and without jumping in with whatever you want to say. It involves being empathetic and listening beyond the words.

It can be taking the time to socialize with your staff by closing the office early on a Friday and meeting for a beer (or tea) and conversation. It can be caring enough to talk one on one to an employee when you can see that something is troubling them.

What can you do to bring more love into your workplace? When will you start?

photo by torbakhopper/Flickr

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Can Leaders Build Trust?

Last year, a headline in Forbes: Why Trust is the New Core of Leadership. The old power-based leadership model worked in the past but as organizations flatten and become more collaborative, the old model is undermining success. Is it time to make trust a priority?

If so, can leaders just 'decide' to build trust? How does it work in real business?

Case 1: Take Ownership of Mistakes

John Caparella, President of the Venetian Resort and an award winning manager, spoke in an interview with Charles Wolfe on PRX radio on how to build trust. When he was opening a new hotel he challenged his HR team to use one abiding rule in every decision they made: "Do the right thing." John modeled the behavior he wanted from others by willingly admitting his own mistakes and let staff know that they were better served to self disclose than not.

Most organizations punish a person for making mistakes, which encourages deception. By creating an environment where it was safe to learn from mistakes, Caparella built a team where open communication, honesty, integrity and courage were internalized values. These all build trust.

Case 2: Demonstrate Trustworthiness

NIC builds official web sites, online services, and secure payment processing solutions for US government agencies. Harry Herington, CEO of NIC, is recognized as a trusted leader and was featured in the New York Times in an interview about trusted leaders.

Instead of asking managers, "Do people trust you?" Harry asks, "How do you know people trust you?" He knows that in order for his leaders to be trusted, they have to know what builds trust.  He’s pushing them to find evidence to back up their assumptions about trust.

Harry is onto something. In a recent survey about team climate, we asked leaders if people trusted them... and we asked team members if they trusted the leaders. Leaders perceived trust to be a full 40% higher than did the team members. There’s a serious misassumption going on and Herington’s question would help these unaware leaders get real.

The Take Away: Intentional Trust

In both these cases, a leader made a decision: Trust is an invaluable currency for organizational life. Maybe it’s even THE measure of leadership. So they took action. It’s not about a secret formula. These guys used basic, logical steps to build trust. And it worked.

How about you? How committed are you to building trust on your team?

What’s the simple, practical step you’re taking to do so?