Do You Have the Trust of Your People?

Emerson said, “Every great institution is the lengthened shadow of a single person. An individual’s character determines the character of the organization.” Is your’s the shadow that Emerson was talking about? 

 

If you’re in any leadership position you should know that you cast a large shadow on those who follow you. Your shadow can either shade them from difficulties or make their work environment a very dark place. 

 

It all depends on the level of trust YOU create with your people.

 

Only 45% of 400 managers in a Carnegie-Mellon survey trusted their top management. A third distrusted their immediate bosses. I truly hope your people trust you but you can’t lead by merely hoping you’re trusted. You must work intentionally, every day, to earn the trust and respect of the people you lead.

 

That trust can only come from a consistent display of integrity. Your integrity comes from your actions, not your image and not the statements you make. Your people will do what they see you doing far faster than they will do what you ask them to do.

 

When what you say doesn’t match what you do then you can be certain they will do what you did and not what you said to do.

 

When thinking about the quality of your own integrity consider these questions.

  • Are you the same person no matter who you are with?  
  • Do you make decisions that are best for others when another choice would benefit you?  
  • Do recognize others for their efforts and contributions to your success? (In writing?) 

Image is what people think you are, integrity is what you really are.  Asking yourself these three questions can help keep you on track and ensure that your image matches your level of integrity. 

 

Here is one reason integrity is so important for a leader: Integrity has huge influence value. If you have the ability to influence others then your ability to lead is unlimited. Integrity helps a leader be credible, not just clever.

 

Integrity is a hard-won achievement; it takes a long time to establish it with your team and you never fully complete the task. You must work on your integrity every day because while it’s a long process to earn it, you can lose it overnight.

 

It’s also a good idea to seek input from others about your integrity. You won’t always see yourself the same way that others may see you. So ask someone who knows you well, in what areas of your life they see you as consistent. (you do what you say) In what areas they see as inconsistent (you say but don’t always live.) 


If you don’t like their answers remember, you can change. You can become the leader you want to be, but also remember, you will only become what you are becoming right now.

 

 

 


If at First You Don’t Succeed….Quit!

Yes, you read that right. I know the popular thinking says to try again but really, what’s the point. It’s terrible advice. Actually the popular thinking says to try and try again but that’s even worse advice.

 

If you want to succeed then stop when you fail. Stop until you can figure out a better plan and then and only then should you try again. It’s possible the failure was even caused by not having a plan at all. 

 

I know planning isn’t fun for most people but it is an essential part of all long-term success. Successful people know that they aren’t “spending” time when planning, they are “investing” time. 

 

Even when the plan fails they get a return on their investment. The return comes from being able to pinpoint the cause of the failure and build a better plan for their next attempt. 

 

Despite what you may have heard and despite what you may have been told, there is nothing wrong with quitting. It can actually be healthy just so long as you begin again. Sometimes the fastest way forward is to take a step or two backward so you can rethink and regroup. 

 

That rethinking MUST include revisiting your plan to determine what needs to change before you try again. Never mindlessly try again. Trying again while doing the same thing is terrible advice. At least have some idea what went wrong. Why it went wrong and what needs to change to eliminate the cause of that particular failure from happening again. 

 

You may not succeed with your next attempt but at least you will not fail for the same reason. Successful people call that progress!

 

Somebody smarter than me said “If you always do what you’ve always done then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” I know that’s true. I learned the truth in that statement when I tried and tried again without stopping to rethink and regroup. 


Don’t make the same mistake. Fail and then quit. Quit long enough to consider why the failure happened. Consider also what needs to change to prevent it from happening again. Once you have a better plan then by all means possible begin again because success is often just one better plan away. 

Do You Know What’s Really Going On?

Not everyone in a leadership position is actually in touch with the “realities” of their organization. They think they know what’s going on but as Mark Twain said it’s not what they don’t know that gets them in trouble, it’s what they know that just ain’t so. 

 

There are a lot of reasons that happens but regardless of the reasons, if the situation continues for too long a time those leaders end up with an actively disengaged team. Yep, actively disengaged, not only do they look for ways to unplug, they try, even subconsciously, to help those around them disengage too. 

 

So, how about you, do you really know what’s going on in your organization?      

 

Can you list at least five challenges your front-line employees currently face, and what’s being done to resolve them? If you can’t it might be a sign that you’re not in touch with the people in your organization who really know what’s going on. The good news is that an easy fix exists for that situation… get out from behind your desk and go and talk to them. Skip the org charts, bypass their boss and their bosses’ boss, go directly to the source. Ask them!

 

Can you think of three recent examples of someone below you in the organization disagreeing with you? If not then they may not have the courage to speak up. That could be because of you or it could be because of them. Either way you need to find a way to encourage them to speak up. If you can’t then you may never know what is really going on in your organization. 

 

If you were asked could you share several examples of how your thinking has changed due to employee feedback. No can do? Then it’s likely there’s a gap between what you say about the importance of employee feedback and what you actually do to encourage it. If you’re not receiving feedback from a very wide variety of people in your organization then it’s very likely that you don’t really know what’s happening in your organization. 

 

Every leader has an occasional lapse in awareness. You can minimize yours by frequently using these checkpoints to keep yourself plugged into reality. You will never know what’s really going on in your organization if you’re only communicating with your other top leaders. They may be just as unaware as you. 


If your team knows you “get it” your credibility goes way up and your ability to lead and their willingness to follow goes way up with it.

A Settled Life

It is a sad reality that more people have “settled” for the life they have than have chosen the life they want. 

 

People “settle” for less than they could have in many areas of their life. They settle on a unrewarding and unchallenging job. They settle on being paid less than they deserve for doing that job they don’t love. They settle on friends that hold them back. Sometimes they even settle on a life partner that doesn’t truly care about them. 

 

I have heard all the reasons, or actually excuses, for why that happens. Once in a great while I’ve even used those excuses myself. Fortunately I’ve resisted using those excuses far more often than I’ve taken the easy way and settled. 

 

Here’s the difference between settling and busting through the easy way to earn what you actually deserve… the uncertainty and discomfort of breaking through eventually ends, the never ending tinge of sadness that comes with knowing that you’ve settled doesn’t. It’s like you’re haunted by the ghost known as “what if.” 

 

I’m all for a compromise now and then but using your hopes and dreams to build that compromise is like building your home in quicksand. Sooner or later you’ll come to regret that kind of compromise and it’s far more likely to be sooner.

 

Refusing to settle is hard work. That’s why I so often recommend having a coach or a mentor who cares enough to hold you accountable for achieving your goals. Good mentors will not allow you to settle. 

 

You must have goals before you can be accountable to achieve them. The most successful people take the goal setting process very seriously. They set goals that mesh with their core values then they develop an actionable plan to achieve them. Highly successful people rarely settle for less than they believe they deserve. 

 

Goalless people won’t like this but it’s the lack of clear goals that makes it so easy to settle. Since they have no particular destination in mind they “rest” at the first convenient place that comes along. Before they even realize it, they have settled. 

 

The good news is they don’t have to stay settled. 

 

If you find yourself living a settled life then get a coach or a mentor. Find someone who cares enough about you to disrupt your settled life. Allow them to make you a little more uncomfortable than you think you can stand. 


You may hate it at first but that will pass. You’ll eventually be grateful that your motivation to achieve greater success was dislodged from under your settled life. 

Are You Making This Mistake?

Mistakes happen, everyone knows that. Everybody makes mistakes, even you, even me as a matter of fact. I actually never go too long between mistakes. Most are small and I’m the only one who knows about them. Some are large and lots of people find out about them and every once in a while I make a mistake in front of large groups of people. The mistakes in front of groups are almost always the result of talking and then thinking of what to say later.

 

Your next mistake might be just around the corner. I’m sure you don’t like to think about making mistakes but here’s a couple of thoughts that may help you avoid making one of the most common mistakes of all.

 

The first thing to keep in mind is that it is not a mistake to make a mistake. My dad used to tell me that the only people that never make a mistake are the ones who never try. Mistakes provide us with a real learning opportunity. They can show us what not to do and sometimes provide us with clues on what we should do.

 

An absolute key to learning from a mistake is to admit the mistake to ourselves. No one has ever learned from a mistake they were unwilling to admit to themselves. If that sounds like a cliche it’s because it is. Like most cliches however it is rooted in fact. Since we haven’t admitted a mistake we’re much less likely to review our actions to see where we went wrong.  People who refuse to even acknowledge their mistakes can’t ask for help because that would require admitting a mistake. 

 

Here’s the second key to “mistaking well” – when you make a mistake, and have admitted to yourself, then admit it to others also. Don’t hide it. Accept personal responsibility for it then and there. If you’re honest with yourself, a key to success all by itself, you know when you’ve made a mistake. The sooner you admit it to others the less likely you are to make a second mistake by blaming someone else. So admit it to yourself and then admit it to others too. Don’t kid yourself they may have even known about the mistake before you did.

 

Denying your mistake or even worse, blaming your mistake on someone else almost always makes things worse. It eliminates your chances of getting help to fix the mistake. It makes you look like a knucklehead to everyone who knows it’s your mistake. Denying a mistake often causes you to make even more mistakes when you’re trying to cover up the mistake you don’t want people to know you made.

 

Never make this common mistake of not admitting your mistake. Admit your mistake and reach out for help. People admire people who have the confidence to admit they can be wrong and the confidence to admit that someone else may know something they don’t.


If you have the confidence to mistake well then it’s also likely that you have the confidence you need to eventually succeed.