How Trust is Really Built

I’m not sure why but I’ve seen a ton of blog posts and various articles lately about building trust. Most of them are about particular words you either should or shouldn’t use if you want to build trust. 

Some of them talk about tone of voice or making eye contact when you want someone to know you’re being particularly truthful. I love that word combo “particularly truthful.”

Imagine someone writing about building trust and in the article seeming to indicate that sometimes you’re more truthful than others. When you want to convince someone you can be trusted then you should be “particularly truthful.” They don’t explain what you should be the rest of the time so I’m left to wonder about it. 

What surprises me about every single article and post I’ve read the last few weeks on building trust, and there have been many of them, is that not a single one of them talked about being trustworthy. The talk about using “trustable” words and phrases. A few even talked about behaving in a certain way to convince people you can be trusted. 

But not one said to build trust by actually being trustworthy. 

To me being trustworthy is saying exactly what you mean and doing exactly what you say. All the time. It’s about honoring your commitments, every commitment. All the time. 

When your words match your actions, even if not everyone agrees with them, you will be trusted. 

If you’re forced to use certain words for people to trust you then I’d have to say it’s possible you’re not trustworthy. If you have to behave in any other way than being your normal self then it’s very possible that people shouldn’t really trust you. 

If you want to be trusted then don’t say yes when you know your actions are going to show you meant no. Don’t commit to doing something today when you know darn well it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to do it today. 

Trust isn’t built on what we say, it’s built on what we do. There’s no need to read a bunch of articles on how to be trusted. All you need to do is be trustworthy. 

One other thing, if you’re wondering how you can tell if someone else can be trusted there is only one sure way to know. Trust them, they will quickly show you if your trust is deserved or not. 

On a another subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day, people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

My goal with SuperFollowers is to build a better connection, one where I can perhaps help more and have a greater impact. I’m hoping it gives me a chance to mentor to a wider audience. It’s still new, we’ll see how it works. It’s a $5 dollar investment that may just be the extra “push” you need to get to where you want to be. I’d be honored to be able to help get you there. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help. 

Saying Thank You is Not a Weakness

Isn’t that a ridiculous title for a post on leadership? I mean why would anyone think that thanking someone could ever make you look weak?

Except for too many people in leadership positions, that is exactly what they think. I often encourage leaders to thank their people for a job well done. Most of them see the wisdom in committing to that basic human relations principle. Most, but not all. 

The response I get from a surprising number of people who occupy leadership positions is that their people get a paycheck, that’s enough thanks. I also hear that when you start thanking people for doing their job they begin to expect it. But perhaps worst of all is the “I’m not their mommy, they do their job and we pay them…that’s where it ends.” 

Even though I’ve written about this before and even though I’ve said it a thousand times, let me say it again. If you don’t possess the most basic ability to be nice to the people you’re supposed to be leading then whoever elevated you to a leadership position made a mistake. 

Sometimes even the best leaders get busy. So busy that they “forget” that basic principle of of saying thanks to their team members. It is important to note here that “forgetting” to show appreciation for your team causes the same lack of engagement issues as choosing not to appreciate them.

Being nice costs you nothing but it can mean so much when it comes to keeping your people engaged and motivation. Being nice is the fastest, easiest way to demonstrate that you see the people you lead as actual human beings. It shows you care about them as people and not just an “asset” that fills some role or does a job. 

It’s probably a good idea if we look for a second at the difference between being nice and being kind…yes, there is a difference. Being kind to someone means doing something for them. It likely has a cost to you associated with it. Most often that cost is in terms of time but it can also be financial. Helping someone with a project at work when there is no benefit to you is an example of being kind. Going out of your way to give someone a ride home is another example. 

Saying hello to someone, holding the door for them, and yes, saying thank you, are all examples of being nice. It’s that simple.

If you want to be an actual leader, rather than merely occupy a leadership position, then you must realize that truly leading comes with a lot of responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is earning the commitment of your people. If your people think you don’t care about them as human beings they cannot commit to you. 

Many times being nice, which includes saying thank you from time to time, is all it takes to show you care. If you can’t even do that then you can’t actually lead either.

On a different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing leadership topics, sales tips and ideas for better overall relationships. I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular Twitter followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Leadership Visibility

Much has been written about the most important characteristics of an Authentic Leader. Some would say judgement, some would say integrity. Some would say its something else but after integrity and judgement it kinda depends on the circumstances. 

But one characteristic is seldom mentioned. That characteristic is being visible. If your people can’t see you then your people can’t follow you. 

As a leader you are the model for the culture of your organization. You are the face of the values your organization represents. You are the cheerleader in chief and the light of hope when circumstances look dark.

But you can’t be any of those things if you’re not seen…on a very regular basis. 

There are many ways to communicate with your people these days. You can write a company blog. You can publish a weekly video. You can do email blasts a few times a week. But none of those can come close to just being “out there” among the people you lead. Short hallway conversations with anyone and everyone in your organization makes everyone feel as if they belong. The higher up you are in the organization the more these brief conversations are valued by the people you lead.

And there’s the challenge. The higher you are in the organization the more likely you are to get bogged down with the day to day requirements of managing the organization. It may feel as if the last thing you have time for is a talk with Patty from the mail room or Jerry from the loading dock. You may not even have time to talk with all your senior leaders. 

But that’s a terrible mistake.

No matter how busy you may be managing, never forget you’re a leader first. The health and culture of your organization will be largely (or should I say bigly?) determined by the quality of the relationships you have with each and every member of your team. The higher you are in the organization the greater the impact your words will have on people. A quick question to Patty about how she is doing can turn a disengaged employee into an engaged one. An additional comment about how much you recognize and appreciate Patty’s efforts will help the engagement last. 

If you’re wondering about how to tell if you’re “out there” frequently enough here is the only measurement that counts. The measurement is your people’s opinion. If your people think you’re invisible then you are. If they never see you then you might as well not exist. You can tell yourself that you’re more than visible but you don’t get a vote. The perception of your people is all that matters.

Visibility is the characteristic that not all leaders possess, not even all Authentic Leaders, but all Authentic Servant Leaders do. What they understand is that leadership is about people, and they know that strong relationships matter to their people. 

They make building those relationships a priority and they know they can’t build them while sitting behind a desk.

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Angry Coaching

One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to coach and motivate their people. Coaching and motivating do not always go hand in hand. Although they should.

Sometimes coaching shows up all alone. Most often that is when the coaching is angry coaching. Angry coaching is frequently the only kind of coaching limited leaders know how to do. 

These types of limited leaders coach almost exclusively for corrective action. When one of their people has done something they consider wrong. Coaching someone for corrective action can always be an emotion packed conversation because it involves telling someone they have done or said something they shouldn’t have. If they disagree then they likely become defensive and that’s when emotions come into play. 

Sometimes the limited leaders bring their emotions to the conversation too. That’s always a mistake. Particularly if they are upset, mad, or frustrated with the actions of the individual they are coaching. 

The most effective leaders know it’s best to remove as much emotion as possible from a corrective action conversation. So if one of your people has made a mistake and you’re upset with that mistake give yourself some time before you begin to coach.

Generally speaking it’s best to coach in real time. That means as soon as you see something wrong you should say something. But if your emotions are in the way then wait. Don’t wait days, only wait long enough to regain control of your emotions. Your goal should be a positive conversation about something that may otherwise seem negative. Never, yep, I know that’s a big word but I’ll say it again, NEVER wait for an annual review to coach and dump everything on your team member at once. That’s a sure fire way to create a disengaged person.

I’ve had people in leadership positions tell me that sometimes the only way to get their people’s attention is to yell at them. If you agree with that then you may be in a leadership position but you are not a leader. Yelling is not leading…unless you’re cheering the success of your team. 

One way to ensure that your coaching is making a difference is to balance your coaching conversations between coaching for corrective actions and coaching for positive reinforcement. Yep, when your people do something right is also a perfect time to coach. 

Authentic Leaders don’t only look for what may be wrong. They look for what’s right and they seldom miss an opportunity to call that out. Letting a team member know you’ve noticed their efforts and that you appreciate those efforts is a very good way to ensure those efforts continue. While coaching for corrective action is always done in private, coaching for positive reinforcement can be done as publicly as the person being coached is comfortable with. 

A couple of more thoughts on effective coaching. Never use your passion as an excuse for losing control of your emotions. You’ve likely heard that before you can lead anyone else you must lead yourself exceptionally well. Controlling your emotions is but one example of leading yourself exceptionally well. If you can’t do that then you can’t lead. 

Remember as well that often it’s things we whisper that are easiest for others to hear. The loudness of our voice does not carry the message, it’s the tone of our voice that matters most. 

Coaching, honest, open, and timely coaching is an everyday requirement of Authentic Leadership. No matter your title or your position, if you go a day without coaching then you’ve gone a day without leading. 

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

Forgetful Leadership

Here’s a common trap that busy leaders too often fall into. Even very good leaders frequently have this happen to them. The busier they are the more likely it is to happen. 

The trap is simply forgetting to lead. They forget about the huge difference between managing and leading. Leading is a challenge that brings with it many rewards. Attempting to manage people seems easier but it brings a host of “people problems.” When leaders get especially busy they can revert to trying to manage people rather than lead them. 

That’s a problem but here’s what makes it an even bigger problem than you think. The busier your organization is the more stress everyone who works there is under. When the people you lead are stressed that’s when they most need your leadership. But you’re busy too and you forget that leading never stops, or at least it shouldn’t stop. 

When your people most need your leadership is when you’re most likely to forget to lead.

It’s why I recommend that busy leaders actually set reminders in their smartphones. Reminders to make certain they are doing the basic “blocking and tackling” of leadership every day. Especially when they and their people are particularly busy. 

A few of the basics of leadership would be things like recognizing a team member. Coaching for corrective action with a person who may be struggling. Coaching someone who is doing particularly well to reinforce their positive behavior. Showing your people that they matter and that you care about them. All of those things are important, they are even more important in times of stress. 

Slowing yourself down in order to come along side of your people when they most need you pays terrific dividends. Dividends in the form of increased productivity, better morale and an overall culture of success. 

But…easier said than done right? Well tell me one thing worth doing that isn’t easier said than done. Most people reading this would tell me their people are their greatest resource. Then they say they don’t have time to slow down long enough to lead that “greatest resource.” 

Think about what that means. It means that you are intentionally making the decision to focus your attention on something other than your greatest resource. When your greatest resource most needs your attention.

Does that sound like a recipe for success? Does it sound like effective leadership? Does it sound like that would ever be a good idea?

Authentic Leaders do their best leading when leadership in most needed. Limited leaders often forget to lead when their leadership could have the most impact on their greatest resource. 

Don’t fall in the trap of forgetful leadership. Your people will reward you with their commitment when you put them first rather than the 100 other things vying for your attention. 

Don’t forget that either!

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new out over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

The Least Unqualified Person

A bunch of years ago I was managing a small training team within a much larger company. One of my team members accepted another position with the company in a different division. That left me with a position to fill, one in which there were no obvious internal candidates.

The person running the division I was in came to me with a “suggestion” on who could fill the position. The problem was he was completely unqualified for the position. When I pointed that out I was asked if anyone in the company was qualified for the position and my answer was “not that I’m aware of.” 

He replied, “so what’s the difference?” Just move “my guy” into the spot. When I pointed out that “his guy” was likely the least qualified of all the unqualified people he was okay with it. He said something along the lines of “since whoever we put in the role will likely not be qualified it might as well be his guy.” 

Luckily cooler, also likely smarter, heads above him prevailed and we found someone substantially more qualified to take the position. 

But how did we get to a place where putting a unqualified person in an important position was even considered?

We got there because I came up woefully short in a key responsibility of leadership. I had not been developing, looking or even considering who would fill the positions I managed if any of the people occupying them left, for whatever reason. I was like the vast majority of managers; I didn’t think much about a position until I had to fill it and that lack of forethought was expensive.

Waiting for a position to open before developing people to move up in your organization can be, and usually is, a very costly mistake. Effective leaders are always thinking ahead. They consider the “what ifs” at every level of their organizations.

We saw the benefit of having good “what if” strategies when the pandemic started. I don’t know how many organizations were fully prepared for that. I do know the ones who had thought out and prepared for the unexpected were clearly better off. 

Think about the key people in your organization. Do you realize that any of them, for a variety of reasons, could be gone tomorrow? What would you do then? You NEED to know and you’ll be a whole lot better off if you know before it happens. 

I asked about the key people in your organization because if you don’t have a succession plan for them it’s very unlikely you have one for anyone else in your organization. That will come back to bite you in places you don’t want to be bit. 

Have you identified the next generation of leaders in your organization? Do you have a plan in place to develop them. I mean a real plan. A couple of canned Leadership training courses a year won’t get it done. 

You need a well thought out, consistent, long-range plan. If you don’t always have people in your developmental pipeline then one day you’ll end up having a discussion about who is the least unqualified person to move up in your organization. 

Trust me on this…you won’t enjoy that conversation.

On a completely different subject…I’m trying something new over on Twitter. It’s called “Super Followers.” For $5 a month, that’s 17 cents a day,  people can follow a part of my Twitter stream that is for subscribers only. It features short videos of me discussing the kind of things I tweet and blog about. But the best part is I’m assuming there will be far fewer Super Followers than regular followers. That will give me the opportunity to answer questions more throughly than I can on regular Twitter. Most of the answers will come in the evening cause we all have day jobs, right? Think of it as ”mentoring on demand!”

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. http://twitter.com/leadtoday Give it a try if you’re so inclined, I can’t promise it will last for a long time but I can promise the content will be helpful as long as it does.

How to Spot an Authentic Servant Leader

In 2002 Pastor Rick Warren wrote an outstanding book entitled “The Purpose Driven Life.” I will always remember the very first sentence in the book… “It’s not about you.”

Every Authentic Servant Leader I’ve ever met, and I’ve been fortunate to meet a few, lived their leadership according to that simple sentence. They intentionally keep the focus on the accomplishments of the people they lead. They don’t simply share credit for success, they humbly give it all away. 

Authentic Servant Leaders measure their success by the success of their people. The goal of an Authentic Servant Leader is to grow people, to help them be “better” in every way a person can be better. 

They invest a piece of themselves in every person they lead. The do not prejudge anyone. They recognize that every individual has strengths and gifts. They work to make certain that their people are in positions where they can use their strengths. They do not set their people up to fail. 

Authentic Servant Leaders come in all shapes and sizes. They come in all colors and they can be a man or a woman. They can be old or young. They can come from the finest of formal educations or have a completely informal education. An Authentic Servant Leader could be almost anyone. But they are still easy to spot. 

You know one when you see one because they are they ones who through every word, every action and every interaction SHOW that they understand, without a doubt, that their leadership is not about them. It’s is always and only about the people they lead. 

If you aspire to be an Authentic Servant Leader then always always keep in mind, “It’s not about you.”