Archive for trust

A New Manager’s Guide to Honesty

LeadingFirst, a short story.

Not long ago, a team we are familiar with described their experience with a difficult manager. The frustration level was such that the core team were ready to quit.

Their issue? A lying Manager.

The team was weary, distrustful, often cranky and angry at each other, and they were beginning to unravel thread-by-thread. It was easily traced to the manner in which the manager had been handling the team.

Sadly, the issues they had went on for a number of years:

  • They were all privately told different versions of what was going on in the team.
  • The manager made promises to all of them, separately, but did not always back it up or follow it through.
  • The manager continually deflected accountability for actions by pointing in any direction but his own, including pointing up the chain or at other team members.
  • Many of the stories pitted members of the team against one another.
  • The manager promised roles to team members when that role already belonged to other team members, without using professional due process.

In addition to lying, the key ingredients to frustration were the manager’s inability to take ownership or accountability for most actions, especially anything the employees disliked or when they challenged his lack of willingness to be open about future planning.

The thing about lying is, as mentioned in a previous post Liars get caught, period, the lies are almost always found out, eventually. When a manager lies to his team, he destroys trust. Avoiding difficult situations, or conflict altogether, are as good as lying and continues to diminish trust within a team.

Ways to be an honest Manager, especially through change

Hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for moving the team forward. The manager who falls into the habit of blaming their bosses for decisions made loses the team and creates an ‘Us against Them’ environment. This can be avoided by one of the foundational principles of management, keeping the team unified and in alignment with the company strategy.

  • Take ownership of the decisions which are out of your control and made at a higher level.
  • Champion these decisions as your own and encourage your team to do the same.
  • Recognize when you are powerless to change the decision and move on professionally, even if you disagree (keep it to yourself) as you are the ambassador for the people who lead you.

Build the functional capability of the team as a team. Many a manager believes that once given the title they are empowered to make all the decisions and the team must simply follow it through. While that may be true in terms of power and authority, by disrespecting your team members’ valuable knowledge and ignoring group decision making, a manager may be putting the team, and ultimately the company, at risk.

  • Make meetings productive by listening, not by trying to be the smartest person in the room. Ask a lot of questions and get answers from your experts, leverage the team ‘on the ground’ and utilize and respect their knowledge.
  • Mine solutions from the whole group then ask all in the room to question the validity and be the ‘friendly critic’ who can identify associated risks.
  • Keep ‘water cooler’ conversations away from planning and decision-making unless you are focused only on that team member’s performance.
  • Never make promises you cannot keep, the entire team will slowly begin to distrust your leadership.
  • Focus on the strengths of the whole team united, the importance of a team that works together and is not in conflict.

These are a just a few ideas for helping your build honesty and trust within your team. An honest, transparent and trustworthy manager is far more effective than a top-down, distrustful one. Leadership is not about you, it is about the team and what is best for the company. Open, honest transparency will be a far better guide through change and will serve you as a new leader in all walks of life.

What ideas can you share with new managers?


The Real Reason Your Team Doesn’t Trust You

Today’s guest post is by Mike Figliuolo, the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. Here’s Mike:


Your team doesn’t trust you. Honestly. They don’t.

Trust is key to effective working relationships; yet, as you climb the corporate ladder, trust seems harder to earn and easier to lose.

What causes a team to not trust their leader? You. Yes, you. You’re unpredictable and your team doesn’t know what to expect from you. But, these are fixable problems.

Trust is about an ability to rely upon or expect a predictable outcome. When you act in ways your team doesn’t expect, it erodes trust and makes them wonder what you’re going to do next. If you want to get a sense for how much your people trust you, you can take this Trusted Leader Assessment online – it only takes 3-5 minutes and you’ll get a comprehensive analysis of your results after taking it.

If you can clearly lay out how your people can expect you to behave in a variety of situations, they’ll have a basic expectation upon which to build a foundation of trust. These expectations have to be personal and meaningful enough to you that they guide your behavior. I refer to these guiding principles as “leadership maxims” which are rules of behavior or conduct. The collection of all your leadership maxims becomes your personal leadership philosophy.

Defining Your Leadership Philosophy

I encourage you as a leader to define your own set of leadership maxims. They can be as simple as one of mine which is “What would Nana say?” For reference, Nana was my grandmother. I can use that maxim to guide my behavior. When faced with difficult choices, I simply ask “what would Nana say?” and my choice becomes clear. When I explain this maxim to my team, they’ll better understand how I make choices and they’ll see my behavior as consistent with this maxim. It is this consistency that forms the basis of trust.

If you want to define a powerful leadership philosophy, here are a few steps to start with:

  • Be yourself. When you write your leadership philosophy, spare your team the corporate-speak and tell your personal story instead. They can spot a phony a mile away.
  • Give in to emotion. Articulate your leadership philosophy as a set of reminders of stories that have deep emotional meaning for you. The reminders are touchstones to guide your behavior. The stronger the emotions associated with the story, the more likely you are to change your behavior to be consistent with the lesson the story reminds you of.
  • Lead yourself. You have to know where you personally want to go in life and define your personal code of conduct before you can lead someone else. Write down reminders of your code as part of your philosophy.
  • Lead the thinking. Your job is to set direction, challenge outdated thinking, and define standards. Create reminders that force you to do these things on a regular basis – not only during the annual strategic planning process.
  • Lead your people. Get dirty. Know their jobs. Know them as individuals – not as a box on an org chart or a job title. When they know you care about them as a person, they’re much more willing to give you everything they’ve got.
  • Lead a balanced life. If you’re burned out, you’re worthless. Set your boundaries and stick to them. Let everyone else know what they are. Balance applies to your work too – have enough work you love to do to balance out all the mindless tasks you don’t enjoy. Again – create some simple yet personal guidelines that remind you make decisions that keep you in balance.
  • Pull it all together. Document all your reminders of how you want to behave on a single piece of paper. Tack it up on your wall or carry it on a card in your wallet. Having that simple reminder of your approach to leadership always within arm’s reach will help you live up to that standard every day.
  • Share. Tell people your personal story. Share your triumphs and failures. Help them understand the experiences that have made you who you are as a leader. When you share, you help them understand you better. That understanding and the vulnerability you demonstrate while sharing builds trust between you and your team members.

The Bottom Line

The sooner you commit your leadership philosophy to paper, the better off you are. Be sure it is personal, authentic, and free of jargon or buzzwords. Share it with your team. Live it every day. Help them see you’re really not that complex or unpredictable. Morale, productivity, and trust will all increase as a result. Take the Trusted Leader Assessment to see where you stack up. The results can make a big difference in helping you build trust with the members of your team.

Mike Figliuolo is the author of One Piece of Paper: The Simple Approach to Powerful, Personal Leadership. He’s the managing director of thoughtLEADERS, LLC – a leadership development firm. An Honor Graduate from West Point, he served in the U.S. Army as a combat arms officer. Before founding his own company, he was an assistant professor at Duke University, a consultant at McKinsey & Co., and an executive at Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He regularly writes about leadership on the thoughtLEADERS Blog.


Say what you do & do what you say

Happy April Fools day!
Today’s post is no joke, values are an important part of building a strong Corporate Culture.

Anything that changes your values changes your behavior. ~George A. Sheehan

Company Values

image courtesy of Billy Alexander

Mixed messages are prevalent in many companies. Companies who are truly innovative and collaborative address these conflicting statements and work with the entire employee population to develop a set of values and guidelines for the company. With a set of clearly articulated values and guidelines, all actions in regard to company direction, decisions and risks can be based by following that clear set of values or in other words; “Walking the talk of who we say we are as a company.”

Companies without a clear set of values are taking a scary risk.

Companies who do not follow a clear set of values risk paying lip-service to those values. Taking action and setting direction with tunnel vision, continuing to send conflicting messages about what they say and do only mixes up employees tying to take action. Employees WANT to do well for the company if they are given the opportunity.

Let me make myself clear – Values are not a list of things a company says they do on a website somewhere.  Values are a code of conduct for clients and employees alike, “This is how we behave here and we guarantee it”.

That means when a company identifies their values, they have to commit to those values at an executive and management level. Commitment means backing those values up with actions and support at every level, and yes, even the executive must live up to those values.

Mixed messages come in many forms, and a lot of companies are not even aware they’re doing it!

Here are some examples of mixed messages:

  • We are building an innovative organization

o We have a strong risk aversion process to avoid any and all risk

  • We want efficient and high performing employees

o We do performance review based solely on profit margins and net income

  • We want our employees to have passion for what they do

o Our employees must seek approval for every decision they make

  • Our employees are our greatest resource

o We do our strategy sessions without any input from our middle management down

  • We offer our guests/clients the greatest experience possible

o Cut back on every single ‘extra’ and reduce your budget by 5-10% per year

What does committing to a set of values involve?

  • It involves hiring and firing based on those values.
  • It involves identifying unacceptable behaviours and creating consequences for them
  • It involves ensuring the HR department is aware of the regulations regarding certain behaviours (such as violence and bullying)
  • It involves performance reviews based on those values
  • It involves repeated conversations around how to best meet those values at every level
  • It involves inclusion and transparency to ensure everyone is aware of whether the values are being met

Employees are smart people, mixed messages from a company only leads to anger, frustration and a culture of mistrust.

Keep issuing statements about “who you are” without the follow-through in behaviour management – and your values are simply lip-service. It doesn’t stop there, however, your customers will recognize you don’t walk your talk in an instant and you have just chosen the most difficult model for doing business that exists today.

Patti BlackstaffePatti is a speaker, strategic advisor and trainer in Leadership, Customer Service and Cultural integration through Mergers and Acquisition. You can book her to speak at her personal page. Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us for Leadership Development of individuals, teams, group training and company strategy. Happy Workplaces Succeed, take the path to get there. (403) 201-8512


Just Get Out Of The Way!

There are a lot of different descriptions of what a tool-kit really is, and it’s different for everyone.

Plumbers have a varied tool-kit to Electricians. Teens will need a different tool-kit than toddlers for getting through the learning curve that is teen life. Equally, leaders will benefit by understanding the tool-kits needed by their team members so they can do their jobs!

So what exactly makes up a tool-kit? It’s anything utilized by an employee to enable and enhance their ability to perform and exceed their expected role as an employee. You wouldn’t ask a software developer to write code on paper – you’d provide him with a computer, the right software, the ability to properly test it and (very important tools) the support to take as many roadblocks out of their way in order for them to do the job. That could include providing them with space to focus, limiting meetings and interruptions, fighting for the budgetary means to allow them to continue. It also means getting out of their way!

Leaders forget sometimes they are no longer the hands-on specialist. Often, they find themselves wanting to dig in and work with, rather than guide, employees. We’ve been hearing from a number of our clients that sometimes all they want is time to get the job done. Frustration over a manager who is keen to take part can provide the following impressions:

  • The Leader is micromanaging
  • The Leader is not confident in their employee’s abilities
  • The Leader doesn’t trust the employee to do the job ‘right’.

Often the case is simply an enthusiasm and keen desire to be part of something they have left behind.

So what is today’s message? Provide employees with what they need and then please get out of their way! Offer them the chance to shine, to improve and to make a difference on the team. We don’t suggest you abandon them, by any means; you are there to support and provide a tool-kit for them in order to enable them to shine. Avoid hindering them!

Patti is a strategic advisor in Leadership, Customer Service and Small business. You can book her to speak at her Speakers Page.

Need Strategic Sense for your business? – hire us if you prefer to rise above the status-quo, care deeply about employee and customer experiences and truly believe in living and performing with excellence.